Editorial: Will it ever end?

Another week, another mass killing.
This may be an exaggeration but it certainly feels like the awful truth. An unbearable truth.
This week proved yet again that the buying and owning of guns in this country has become too lax. Otherwise, how else could a deranged ex-Air Force man who had previously physically abused his wife and child, and escaped from a mental health facility, have had access to a firearm legally?
David Patrick Kelley joins the ever growing list of mentally unsound men who have gone on shooting sprees targeting innocent civilians. In his case, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot to death 26 parishioners, including an unborn child. Another 10 remain in critical condition as of this writing.
This makes the massacre the deadliest in modern day Texas history.
Kelley committed the heinous act just like other mass murderers of recent years – with an assault rifle.
Everything about his history says that he should never have been allowed to own a gun, much less an assault rifle. Yet he owned the weapon that he used to murder the churchgoers legally.
With every mass murder that occurs in this country, calls to regulate gun ownership rise. The NRA, meanwhile, comes up with a generic statement that expresses sadness at the event, while insisting that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This is a faulty argument, of course. It is highly improbable for Kelley to have killed so many people if he had been armed with an ordinary handgun, instead of an assault rifle that was designed solely for use by the military and the police.
We have never said that there should be an absolute ban on guns. Civilians should be allowed to own guns for sport, hunting, or self-defense. But there is no justification for any civilian to own an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle.
What makes the Texas shooting so tragic is that it occurred in a peaceful, small town where violent incidents are rare. The tragedy resulted in four percent of the town’s population being killed.
President Trump refused to call the killing an act of terrorism, merely the actions of a sick mind. That does not change the obvious fact that Kelley should not have even owned a firearm in the first place.
When, we must ask, will our lawmakers see that there is now an urgent need for regulating the sale and ownership of guns? Specifically, why can’t the sale of assault rifles be controlled?
At best, if the NRA lobby proves too powerful, then maybe the sale and ownership of assault rifles can be limited to men and women who are proven to be of sound mind. Otherwise, we may as well allow even the most criminally insane or deranged person to enter any gun shop and buy the deadliest weapon he can afford.
Time and again we are reminded that there are too many firearms in the hands of mentally unstable people. Unless something is done about this, the unending series of mass murders with the use of assault rifles will never end.
  • Published in U.S.

The buck stops at the Oval Office

It was the late President Harry S Truman who said, “The buck stops here.” It was his way of saying that he assumed ultimate responsibility for all the acts done in the name of the US presidency, even when he himself did not take the direct action.

Clearly, the incumbent POTUS is no Harry Truman.

Donald Trump refuses to take responsibility for the actions taken by his inner circle when they did things in his name and with his implied approval. This is true now that he is president, and it must also hold true when he was a candidate.

This week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ordered the indictment of Paul Monafort and Rick Gates, two key figures in Mr. Trump’s campaign. Also indicted was a third party, George Papadopoulos, who admitted lying to the FBI.

The three are accused of collusion with the Russians in seeking dirt against Hillary Clinton during last year’s campaign period, among other things.

Evidence gathered by Mueller’s team appear to show that the Trump inner core were hellbent on doing anything and everything in order to defeat Clinton, and this includes possible treason against the US.

The Cold War may have ended almost three decades ago, but Russia under Vladimir Putin has often acted like an enemy of the US. Taking action that would undermine the will of the electorate is but one of the many acts that the Russians have been committing against this country.

While Messrs. Monafort, Gates and Papadopoulos should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the reputation of Mueller says that he would not have indicted the three unless he was certain that his team had built a strong enough case against them to assure their conviction.

President Trump wants nothing more than the Russia issue to disappear, but the opposite is now happening. Eventually, the public will know the degree or level of knowledge he had where his people’s dealings with the Russians is concerned. Earlier, his own son-in-law had grudgingly admitted to have met with Russians known to be close to Putin, claiming that there was no devious intent for the conversations.

Mr. Trump is not helping his cause by muddying the issue. He continues to point to Clinton and the Democrats as being the true parties that should be investigated because they dared spend millions to determine if then candidate Trump did have Russia connections as was widely suspected.

Mr. Trump now expects the Republican Party to rally around him, defend him at whatever cost, and prevent the situation from going out of hand. Under a worst case scenario, enough Republicans may opt to turn against him and support legal moves to remove him from office, be it via impeachment or forced resignation.

The chief executive does have reason to be deeply concerned. The indictment of the trio may just be the first of many more. And if any of his closest associates are found to have colluded with the Russians, Mr. Trump will discover that Mr. Truman was right. The buck stops with him at the Oval Office.

Hep B Free – Bay Area program launched to eradicate hepatitis B

A spin-off of San Francisco Hep B Free program to unite the San Francisco Bay Area in the fight against hepatitis B and liver cancer by raising awareness of the single largest health disparity within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community was launched recently in San Mateo County,
Dubbed as Hep B Free – Bay Area, the program also seeks to create a unified voice to encourage screening and vaccination, and improve health outcomes throughout the Bay Area to make the San Francisco Bay Area free of hepatitis B.

HepB Poster FilipinoFamily FL hi page 001
San Francisco Hep B Free – Bay Area Program Coordinator Richard So announced that what they underscore is that the San Francisco’s Asian and Pacific Islander residents that comprise of 34 percent of the City’s population bear a disproportionate burden of liver cancer and undetected hepatitis B infection.
“In the United States, 1 in 12 Asian Americans is chronically infected with hepatitis B in comparison to 1 in 1000 non-Hispanic Whites. While Asian Americans constitute only 4% of the population in the United States, they comprise over half of the nation’s 1.2-2 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B. This is one of the greatest racial health disparities in the United States. Fortunately, hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease. A safe and effective vaccine has been available since 1982,” shared So. “SF Hep B Free - Bay Area is a new re-branding of SF Hep B Free to unite all Bay Area efforts starting this month. San Mateo County is the first official expansion under this new banner and falls directly under SF Hep B Free leadership. We have a set of metrics we are determined to accomplish in year 1, but we are eagerly planning to surpass that.”

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According to a page devoted on Hepa B by the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, the first non-profit organization in the United States that addresses the disproportionately high rates of chronic hepatitis B infection and liver cancer in Asians and Asian Americans, “Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease of the liver and leading cause of liver cancer worldwide caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).”
Its initial HBV infection or acute infection symptoms could be so mild that many people including their doctors may not know they have been infected but could result in an illness with symptoms of fatigue, lost of appetite, dark urine and yellow discoloration of the eyes, lasting for several months and even death from liver failure.
It is estimated that 1 in 30 people worldwide or approximately 240 million individuals is living with chronic hepatitis B which causes 60-80% of liver cancer cases worldwide and without appropriate medical management, as many as 1 in 4 people chronically infected with HBV will die from liver cancer or liver failure, resulting in about 600,000 to a million deaths annually.
The campaign was launched in San Francisco in 2007 to promote collaboration between government, healthcare groups, community organizations and businesses to end viral hepatitis B disease and serves as a model nationally for (1) creating public and healthcare provider awareness about the importance of testing & vaccinating Asian and Pacific Islanders for hepatitis B; (2) promoting routine hepatitis B screenings and vaccinations within the primary care medical community; and (3) facilitating access to treatment for chronically infected individuals.

HepB Poster FilipinoFamily FL hi page 003
“For us, we wish we did not have to be here. Hepatitis B shouldn't be killing people anymore. A vaccine that can prevent liver cancer induced by hepatitis B has been there since 1982, screening is simple and free but must be requested from your health care provider but there is no cure. Treatment of chronic infection does exist in the form of a 1-a-day pill and is affordable with good insurance,” So added. “It is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth if the child does not get the hepatitis B vaccine soon after birth. It can also be spread from sex, and contaminated injection drug equipment, although this is less common.”
So believes that even with the advancement in research for screening of and vaccine for Hepa B, stigma still exists around hepatitis B for it is still seen in many countries outside the US as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or injection drug disease and associated with promiscuity, unsafe sex and drug use despite the fact that the most common form of transmission is mother to child.
“This stigma that causes fear, shame and discrimination still exists in many cultural circles within the US today. Ignorance of the disease and its method of transmission causes people to fear "catching" hepatitis B by sharing toilets, utensils and living space with an infected person. Furthermore in many Asian Pacific Islander cultures, talking about disease and death is taboo so people remain unaware of the disease,” lamented So. “Education, awareness and engagement are keys for Asian communities including Filipinos. Breaking the silence and the stigma is enormously helpful. In previous efforts, shifting the focus from STDs and drugs to mother to child transmission (which is the biggest cause of infection) was very useful. Getting community members to visit their doctors and get tested is the best way to save lives.”

  • Published in Health

A most welcome step

A statement this week from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is one of the most welcome developments to come out of the Middle East in quite some time.
The future king of the key nation in that part of the world vowed a return to a more moderate Islam, even as he said that he would lead the way in putting an end to extremist ideologies.
It is no secret that a number of Saudi citizens have been at the forefront of terrorist organizations, the likes of Osama bin Laden among them. Some Saudi youth have joined extremist organizations, while other wealthier nationals are known to donate large sums to support their ugly causes.
Crown Prince Bin Salman said, “We want to lead normal lives, lives where our religion and our traditions translate into tolerance, so that we coexist with the world and become part of the development of the world.”
It must be noted that the kingdom is presently undergoing cultural changes, not the least of which is now allowing women the right to drive. More importantly, Saudi Arabia is also entering a new period of rapprochement with Israel, which can only bode well for the peace in the region.
As Saudi goes, so go the kingdom’s allies in the regions such as the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.
As the global seat of Islam, Saudi Arabia wields much influence in most predominantly Muslim nations in the world. It is where Mecca lies, and all Muslims are expected to take a pilgrimage to the holy site at least once in their life.
It is also worth noting that after the US, Saudi Arabia is where the greatest number of overseas Filipino worker can be found. Thus, the changes taking place in the kingdom should be welcome developments for OFWs and their families back home.
This is not to say that everything will be fine now that the future king has promised to create a more moderate society. Saudi Arabia still does not allow dissent and does not have a free press.
The kingdom also has serious economic issues that need to be solved if it is to maintain its lofty status as one of the richest countries in the world where citizens enjoy such perks as free education, free health care, and pay no taxes at all.
Its financial reserves may run out as early as three years from now due to the global drop in oil prices. The crown prince is addressing this serious problem with his vision to diversify the economy and lessen its dependence on the oil industry, where some 70% of citizens are partially or wholly dependent for their existence.
Perhaps the biggest problem of the new policy of the kingdom is the large number of clerics who remain cultural extremists and who will not readily abandon their ultraconservatism.
Still, the monarchy is the single most powerful institution in the desert kingdom, and Crown Prince Bin Salman is showing that he is not averse to positive change.


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