Most teen drug use is down, but officials fret vaping boom
By MIKE STOBBE
AP Medical Writer
Monday, December 17
NEW YORK (AP) — Twice as many high school students used nicotine-tinged electronic cigarettes this year compared with last year, an unprecedented jump in a large annual survey of teen smoking, drinking and drug use.
It was the largest single-year increase in the survey’s 44-year history, far surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking.
The findings, released Monday, echo those of a government survey earlier this year. That survey also found a dramatic rise in vaping among children and prompted federal regulators to press for measures that make it harder for kids to get them.
Experts attribute the jump to newer versions of e-cigarettes, like those by Juul Labs Inc. that resemble computer flash drives and can be used discreetly.
Trina Hale, a junior at South Charleston High School in West Virginia, said vaping — specifically Juul — exploded at her school this year.
“They can put it in their sleeve or their pocket. They can do it wherever, whenever. They can do it in class if they’re sneaky about it,” she said.
Olivia Turman, a freshman at Cabell Midland High School in Ona, West Virginia, said she too has seen kids “hit their vape in class.”
The federally funded survey released Monday is conducted by University of Michigan researchers and has been operating since 1975. This year’s findings are based on responses from about 45,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 in schools across the country. It found 1 in 5 high school seniors reported having vaped nicotine in the previous month.
After vaping and alcohol, the most common thing teens use is marijuana, the survey found. About 1 in 4 students said they’d used marijuana at least once in the past year. It was more common in older kids — about 1 in 17 high school seniors said they use marijuana every day.
Overall, marijuana smoking is about the same level as it was the past few years. Vaping of marijuana rose, however.
More teens, however, are saying no to lots of other substances. Usage of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin and opioid pills all declined.
Experts say it’s not clear what’s behind those trends, especially since the nation is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic ever.
“What is it that we’re doing right with teenagers that we’re not doing with adults?” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency that funds the Michigan study.
One leading theory is that kids today are staying home and communicating on smartphones rather than hanging out and smoking, drinking or trying drugs.
“Drug experimentation is a group activity,” Volkow said.
What about vaping? “Vaping mostly is an individual activity,” said David Jernigan, a Boston University researcher who tracks alcohol use.
The vaping explosion is a big worry, however. Health officials say nicotine is harmful to developing brains. Some researchers also believe vaping will make kids more likely to take up cigarettes, and perhaps later try other drugs.
So far that hasn’t happened, surveys show. But the Juul phenomenon is recent, noted Richard Miech, who oversees the Michigan survey.
If vaping does lead to cigarette use among teens, that may start to show up in the survey as early as next year, he added.
The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Why you should give your grandparents a 3D printer for Christmas
December 17, 2018
Author: Joshua M. Pearce, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University
Disclosure statement: Professor Joshua M. Pearce receives funding from the Air Force Research Laboratory (ARFL) through America Makes: The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which is managed and operated by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). He also receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for 3D printing related projects. In addition, his past and present research is supported by many non-profits and for-profit companies in the open source additive manufacturing industry including re:3D, 3D4Edu, Miller, Aleph Objects, CNC Router Parts, Virtual Foundry, Ultimaker and Youmagine, Cheap 3D Filaments, MyMiniFactory, Zeni Kinetic, Matter Hackers, and Ultimachine. He has no direct conflicts of interests.
Senior citizens might really like – and use – a 3D printer. That’s the surprising, and money-saving, conclusion of a new study I co-authored: 3D printers can save arthritis patients money by more cheaply manufacturing plastic gadgets that help them do routine tasks like open jars and put on socks.
By 2040, about one-quarter of the U.S. population is expected to have arthritis – a physical ailment making joint movements difficult and painful. In addition to their health care expenses, arthritis patients often have additional needs that do not show up on medical bills and are not covered by insurance. For example, people with arthritic hands can find daily tasks like opening jars – or even eating with a spoon – to be cumbersome and painful. Many companies make and sell adaptive aids like specially shaped spoons and special handles that makes a toothbrush easier to hold. Some patients need dozens of these sorts of items, to help with various daily tasks. But those devices can be expensive – a basic adaptive spoon can cost US$25, vastly more than a standard spoon in any shop.
Other assistive items like key holders and pill-splitters can help arthritis patients continue to live independently. Though many of these items are made of cheap plastic, the costs can be prohibitively high for poor people as well as better-off people living on fixed incomes. Research I participated in found that using free online designs and a basic 3D printer to make these assistive aids can save arthritis patients more than 94 percent of the cost of the commercially available products. A typical adaptive aid costs about $25; a 3D printed one costs about a dollar. That generates savings that add up to more than cover the cost of the printer itself.
What would Grandma make?
There are dozens of adaptive aids that can be printed for pennies, helping with tasks like refueling a car, chopping vegetables and using scissors.
Our study technically and economically evaluated 20 fully free open-source designs for adaptive aids designed by Michigan Tech students and made available on Appropedia and MyMiniFactory. This is just a tiny fraction of the 3D printed products available for anyone with access to a 3D printer. People can download not just the designs for free, but also software that lets them adapt, personalize or customize the items for themselves or their loved ones.
We found that we could 3D print all 20 example adaptive aids for $20 – the cost of the plastic filament the 3D printer uses to make items. On the commercial market, the adaptive aids would cost over $20 each. A person, or family, who 3D printed 25 aids would save enough to more than pay for a relatively inexpensive $500 3D printer – and a senior center that 3D printed another 50 could easily recoup the cost of a middle-range commercial desktop 3D printer.
Some people’s insurance or Medicare plan does help pay for adaptive aids. But even then patients usually must pay a portion, with copays around 20 percent. Our analysis found that even this group of patients would save significant amounts of money 3D printing their assistance items at home.
Arthritis attacks the young, too
Arthritis is not just for old people. For example, professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 28, just a few weeks before the 2018 U.S. Open. Like most young people diagnosed with arthritis, she was shocked.
Younger people diagnosed with what is often viewed as an old person’s disease may feel embarrassed and want to limit the number of people who know about their condition. Those patients would no doubt be glad to save the money, but perhaps be even more interested in 3D printing because it would let them customize and build their aid items in the privacy of their own homes.
Consider, for example, the normally private act of clipping your toenails. Some people with arthritis find it difficult to do this with small nail clippers, so they get pedicures that cost in general between $35 and $60. Some might pay $36 to buy a plastic handle that attaches to a standard nail clipper, letting them cut their own nails at home. But a 3D printed handle costs about a dollar – a 97 percent savings.
How can you get 3D printed aids?
Making adaptive aids using a 3D printer is particularly useful because of how easy it is to customize printed items for a person’s hand size or personal aesthetic. The software programs that make and modify designs, and that control 3D printers, are getting easier to use; in any case, many older people are technically adept. In fact, some of the best 3D printable designs for recyclebots were made by a retired engineer.
Of course, not everyone is interested in buying the machinery or learning how to use it. In many communities there are volunteers who are willing to help people with disabilities or medical conditions make what they need. The Makers Making Change nonprofit group even takes requests online. Many community centers and local libraries also offer machinery, software and knowledgeable helpers. Senior centers and medical offices may soon start offering similar services as well, helping people with arthritis help themselves every day.
NO TAXES FOR CONFEDERATE MYTHS
by Bob Morrison
Dec. 16, 2018
“This glorification of States Rights Doctrine—the right of secession, and the honoring of men who represented that cause, fosters in the Republic, the spirit of Rebellion and will ultimately result in the handing down to generations unborn a legacy of treason and blood.” Those are the words of John Mitchell, Jr, a member of the Richmond, Virginia city council and editor of the Richmond Planet.
Mitchell was uniquely qualified to speak on the subject of Confederate memorials. Born a slave, he nevertheless became literate and was elected as a councilman during reconstruction. That was before violence and Jim Crow laws made it impossible for black men to hold elected offices. His words were written in opposition to the use of taxpayer money to erect a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. A white majority outvoted Mitchell and two other black councilmen. The statue has been on display in a place of honor since May 29, 1890.
According to Smithsonian Institution researchers, Virginia has spent $174,000 maintaining the statue in the past decade and Richmond police spent $500,000 keeping the peace during Neo-Confederate rallies there in 2017.
Today the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees can’t decide what to do with its “Silent Sam” Confederate Memorial. For many years, most students and faculty have wanted it removed. The State Legislature forbade that. Students took the statue down and it’s now in some form of protective custody until the University Board determines its fate. One proposal, a $5 million building to securely house the statue, was turned down. The statue will not be safe on campus without security. A large number of students and taxpayers are no longer willing to subsidize maintenance of monuments that honor the Confederacy and white supremacy.
My previous column about Silent Sam (Editor: included below) suggested alternatives to removing him. It’s too late for that. The arrogance of Republican legislators who took away the University’s control of the statue and the resurgence of White Supremacist views have generated such hostility that compromise is unlikely. The bloodshed that John Mitchell predicted is happening again. His tragic prophesy has been fulfilled for 130 years as governments at all levels used tax money to glorify the Confederacy as a noble “lost cause.” The voices of opponents were mostly silenced for more than a century by white supremacists who controlled local and state governments in collaboration with NGOs like the Ku Klux Klan. Those voices will not be silenced again.
Smithsonian researchers have documented $40 million taxpayer dollars spent in the past ten years honoring Confederate mythology — some of it in the form of direct grants to Confederate heritage organizations. John Mitchell predicted a “legacy of…blood” from monuments. Here’s an example. Dylan Roof toured former plantations and a Confederate museum on the day before he killed nine black Americans at a prayer meeting in their Charleston, SC church.
Like slavery, secession, and the civil war, Confederate memorials are part of our history. That doesn’t entitle them to places of honor at taxpayer expense. The question before us is this, “What values and actions do we want to honor today?” The debate is upon us and decisions will be made — but none of them will be final. A future generation will also get to decide what they want to honor — just as we get to decide it today.
It’s up to us to acknowledge that slavery is the cause that the Confederacy fought for and lost. There was nothing noble about human slavery. History is not always written by the victors. In our case, the victors allowed the losers to create their mythological story of glorious heroes fighting for honor and state’s rights. But the documents of secession tell a different story. The Confederacy was founded to preserve the wealth of slaveholders who controlled state legislatures. The seceding states actually opposed states’ rights. They wanted federal intervention in northern states that refused to forcibly return escaped slaves to their owners. That was an important justification for secession.
An astonishing example of how the Confederacy created its mythological version of history comes from Kentucky. Slavery was legal there but Kentucky didn’t secede. 90,000 Kentuckians fought for the Union compared to 35,000 for the Confederacy. But the “lost cause” mythology took hold in post-war Kentucky to such an extent that there are 72 Confederate monuments compared to 2 Union monuments — and they are maintained mostly by tax dollars.
John Mitchell had it right 130 years ago and we should take his advice today. There should be no use of tax money or government property for monuments or other glorification of the Confederacy’s treasonous rebellion against the United States of America. A few statues might be preserved in museums. Others can be made available to the highest bidder to display or do with as they choose on private property. We should have no more Confederate battle flags on state-issued license plates or sales of Confederate memorabilia at taxpayer owned facilities.
Those who believe “lost cause” mythology have the right of free thought and free speech. But the rest of us should refuse to pay for it. The war is over. It’s time to move on. Let the dead bury their dead.
Much of the information for this column came from an article in Smithsonian Magazine:
Silent Sam needs company
October 24, 2015
By Bob Morrison
The lady justice is depicted urging Sam to drop his books and his studies and go to war for the Confederacy. Sam looks victorious despite losing the war.
While walking across the University of North Carolina campus, I paused to see the controversial statue of “Silent Sam“, a memorial to students who joined the Confederate army. Some North Carolinians want it removed because it seems to celebrate the causes of racism, slavery, and rebellion against the United States. Others want to preserve it and similar monuments across the Tarheel state that recognize those who served the Confederate cause. They say that removing the monuments is tantamount to rewriting history. The argument raises two questions. What is the purpose of the statues? Why did we fight a civil war?
Julian Carr, a wealthy Civil War veteran who delivered the keynote speech at Silent Sam’s 1913 dedication, made it clear that the monument was erected to honor and perpetuate the cause of white supremacy. Here are a few of his words. “The present generation…scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the Anglo-Saxon race…the purest strain of the Anglo-Saxon is to be found in the thirteen Southern States — Praise God…One hundred yards from where we stand, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted…a southern lady…” Today, a century after the statue was erected, that speech is proudly displayed on the website of the Durham Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The reasons for the war are evident in the reasons for secession declared by the legislatures of Confederate states:
Texas: “…the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations…”
Mississippi: “There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union…”
Southern state governments claimed slavery as a legitimate social structure that was vital to their economies and they saw the election of President Lincoln as proof that slavery would be ended in the United States. Underlying slavery and the war was greed that justified ownership of humans, theft of their labor, sale of their children and accumulation of wealth through brutality.
There are “heritage groups” (a polite description) who regularly honor their ancestors’ loyalty to the Confederacy at its monuments, making speeches and waving battle flags while dressed in Confederate uniforms. Siding with them this year, Republicans in North Carolina’s legislature made it illegal for local governments and state institutions to remove state-owned memorials; and they rejected repeated requests to stop issuing license plates featuring Confederate battle flags.
It is necessary to acknowledge history before we can rise above it. Rather than rewriting their Nazi past, Germans acknowledged the holocaust and other horrors of the Third Reich with new monuments alongside Nazi concentration camps and symbols. An alternative to moving Confederate memorials or preserving them would be to update them by adding a 21st century perspective. Americans should support victims of Jim Crow laws and descendants of slaves in creating monuments documenting the evils that the Confederacy fought to perpetuate and erecting them beside those of the Confederacy.
Some will deny the comparison of the Confederacy to Nazi Germany, but they have much in common. Eleven million people, six million of them Jewish, died in the holocaust. I can’t find an estimate of how many humans died as American slaves, but approximately four million were emancipated in the aftermath of the Civil War. Any estimate of the number who died during more than two centuries of pre-emancipation slavery would produce a count larger than the number of holocaust victims. Is slavery a fate better or worse than a holocaust death? I like to think that most humans would fight to avoid either one.
Now is the time to cease government sponsored glorification of the Confederacy, either by removing its monuments or by supplementing them with the values that we have learned in the century and a half since emancipation. Republican legislators have not yet taken away the authority of local governments and universities to create new monuments alongside old ones. We are the generation and now is the time for Americans to unite across lines of race and geography into one nation. If not now, when? If not us, who?