ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 112

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 112 FEBRUARY 26, 2016   WITH Justice Scalia’s death and the Republican refusal to even discuss any potential appointment, it is increasingly likely the next President will appoint successors to Scalia, (The Kiplinger Letter, February 19, 2016), and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg (currently battling cancer), giving the next President at least 2 chances to tilt the Supreme Court in a liberal, conservative, or middle of the road position. Scalia’s death may prevent Supreme Court rulings on various issues such as abortion law, the right to have a “union” or “agency” shop in the public sector and other significant areas. 712 Democratic convention members will be “Superdelegates” (out of a total of 4,763 delegates), who can vote for anyone they want on the first vote while most delegates must vote as their state did on the first vote.  (The WEEK, February 26, 2016.)  The vast majority of the Superdelegates are expected to support Hillary Clinton. EVEN as the Flint, MI, water system was being changed over to Flint water, cases of Legionnaire’s Disease were popping up, only to be met with a deafening silence, with government emails recognizing the possibility as early as October, 2014, but “state officials did not inform the public until last month”, (New York Times, February 22, 2016), at least 15 months since reasonable concerns were raised.  For obvious reasons, the city is being sued for this, too. JUVENILE lockup costs in Los Angeles County have soared to $233,600 per child per year.  (Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2016.)  Even considering there are probably extra services (however inadequate), this dwarfs the cost of raising a child at...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 111

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 111 FEBRUARY 19, 2016 OPIOID (O-PEE-OYD) deaths (47,000/yr) are on the rise throughout the country, resulting in more deaths the car accidents or gun violence.  Due to recent government crackdown on prescribing painkillers, addicts to opioids sometimes switch to heroin, it being both cheaper and without a prescription.  Opioids are especially dangerous when mixed with drugs such as valium or Xanax.  (The WEEK, February 19, 2016.)  Opioids are so common one can now see commercials for “OIC” (opioid induced constipation), on television.  (Cheaper solution: raisin bran.) APPLE Computer opposes government request for Apple to design entrance into iPhone system to expose criminal activity when the iPhone was owned by one of the killers of 19 people in San Bernardino.  Apple expresses concern for the protection of the privacy rights of its customers but none for the safety rights of the public.  (Bloomberg television, Los Angeles Times, others.) In this case the government has substantial evidence this iPhone was a tool used to assist and facilitate the commission of a crime.  Apple intentionally designed a disable switch into the iPhone (one is reminded of Volkswagen’s auto emissions fraud “defeat’ switch) to render information in the phone inaccessible by anyone, including the owner, after 10 tries with incorrect access codes. Apple is correct to oppose open ended fishing expeditions by the government but here Apple is similar to a motel operator who refuses police access to a murder scene because the patron had a right of privacy in their room.  Here there is probable cause to believe the phone could lead to additional information regarding other terrorists or possible attack sites.  Should Apple successfully...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 110

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 110 FEBRUARY 12, 2016 ON this President’s Day weekend let us remember some of our finer presidents such as Washington (founded the county), Lincoln (preserved the country), the Roosevelts (protected environment and guided us safely through WWII), and Eisenhower (general who warned of us the military industrial complex and built the interstate highway system), among others. SUPREME COURT Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, February 13, 2016.  Known for his acerbic wit, love of opera, personal conviviality and “original intent” views which looked only to the specific wording of the Constitution, Scalia rejected the view the Constitution is a “living and breathing” document which must be read in light of current times. One of the Justice’s last decisions rejected a gun control law, emphasizing the Second Amendment’s statement that the “right of the people, to bear and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.  In so writing Scalia overlooked to introductory words in the same sentence of the amendment, which state “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” which is only then followed by the phrase “right of the people, to bear and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.  While constantly criticizing “activist judges” Scalia was able to take the parts he wanted when interpreting the Constitution.  (See U.S. Constitution, Second Amendment.) SUPREME Court temporarily blocks Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan designed to reduce emissions from coal-powered plants.  (The WEEK, February 19, 2016.)  Power plants are America’s greatest source of greenhouse gasses, accounting for 1/3 of all emissions.  (The Economist, February 19, 2016.) Readers will recall the ongoing efforts of Exxon-Mobil in the 80s...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 109

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 109 FEBRUARY 5, 2016   LEE Ann Walters is the one person most responsible for bringing the gross negligence of the City of Flint’s Emergency Manager, as well as other government officials, to the public eye in a big enough way that now the unnecessary devastation and injury, especially to the children of Flint, are now receiving appropriate attention.  (Roll Call, February 4, 2016.) However, David Mastio in USA Today states we are losing perspective; that only 10.6% of Flint children have blood lead levels over 5 micrograms, while in the 1970s 88% of children had blood levels over 10 micrograms.  Since the 1970s we have banned lead based paint, treated lead as a toxin, and learned the harm it causes.  A little poison to save a very little money $100 per day), with unknown long term costs, is not so harmless as Mr. Mastio argues. MORE than 40% of Flint’s mostly black population lives below the poverty line (The Economist, January 3, 2016), and therein may lie the reason so little media attention was initially given to this travesty. ANOTHER day, another disclosure, as L.A. County sues Southern California Gas for failing to disclose the leak for 3 days after it began.  (Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2016.)  Porter Ranch is regularly described on the news – both local and national – as an “affluent” community. SUPREME Court refuses to review lower court that rejected North Dakota law that banned abortion as soon as heartbeat could be heard, which could be only 6 weeks into the pregnancy.  (The WEEK, February 5, 2016.) FORMER Coastal Commission agency...