US health chief says overdose deaths beginning to level off
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and CARLA K. JOHNSON
Wednesday, October 24
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of U.S. drug overdose deaths has begun to level off after years of relentless increases driven by the opioid epidemic, health secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, cautioning it’s too soon to declare victory.
“We are so far from the end of the epidemic, but we are perhaps, at the end of the beginning,” Azar said at a health care event sponsored by the Milken Institute think tank.
Confronting the opioid epidemic has been the rare issue uniting Republicans and Democrats in a politically divided nation. A bill providing major funding for treatment was passed under former President Barack Obama. More money followed earlier this year under President Donald Trump. And on Wednesday Trump is expected to sign bipartisan legislation passed this month that increases access to treatment, among other steps.
More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year, according to preliminary numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer— a 10 percent increase from 2016. Health and Human Services — the department Azar heads — is playing a central role in the government’s response.
In his speech Azar suggested that multi-pronged efforts to bring the epidemic under control are paying off. He ticked off statistics showing an increase in treatment with medications such as buprenorphine and naltrexone. There’s solid evidence backing medication-assisted treatment, when used alongside counseling and ongoing support. He also noted much broader access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, and a documented decline in the number of people misusing prescription opioids as doctors take greater care in prescribing.
Azar said that toward the end of last year and through the beginning of this year, the number of deaths “has begun to plateau.” Azar was not indicating that deaths are going down, but noting that they appear to be rising at a slower rate than previously seen.
Earlier this month, the CDC released figures — also preliminary — that appear to show a slowdown in overdose deaths in late 2017 and the first three months of this year. From December to March, those figures show that the pace of the increase over the previous 12 months has slowed from 10 percent to 3 percent, according to the preliminary CDC figures.
Despite the slowdown, the nation is still in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. Opioids were involved in most of the deaths, killing nearly 48,000 people last year.
While prescription opioid and heroin deaths appear to be leveling off, deaths involving fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines are on the rise. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid much more powerful than heroin, used as an additive in street drugs.
Advocates for people struggling with addiction said they don’t believe the crisis will be quickly or easily resolved. “Even if we are beginning to make a dent in opioid deaths, we still have a really significant problem in this country with addiction, and with the hopelessness and despair so many communities feel,” said Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president at the National Council for Behavioral Health.
In President Barack Obama’s last year in office, his administration secured a commitment to expand treatment and Congress provided $1 billion in grants to states. Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Two major funding bills have passed under his watch. While Trump got headlines with his call for using the death penalty against major drug dealers, his administration has built on the treatment approach that Obama favored.
The Medicaid expansion in Obama’s Affordable Care Act has also played a critical role, paying for low-income adults to go into treatment. A recent Associated Press analysis showed that states that expanded Medicaid are spending their new opioid grant money from Congress more judiciously, going beyond basics like treatment for people in crisis. Trump tried to repeal the Medicaid expansion, but failed.
Advocates for treatment say that they’re pleased that more and more addiction is considered a disease and not a sign of moral weakness. But they say the U.S. has a long way to go build what they call an “infrastructure of care,” a system that incorporates prevention, treatment and recovery.
In an interview with The Associated Press this summer, a CDC expert said the overdose death numbers appear to be shifting for the better, but it’s too soon to draw firm conclusions.
Month-to-month data show a leveling off in the number of deaths, said Bob Anderson, a senior statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics. However, those numbers are considered preliminary, since death investigations have not been completed in all cases.
“It appears at this point that we may have reached a peak and we may start to see a decline,” said Anderson. “This reminds me of what we saw with HIV in the ’90s.”
Final numbers for 2018 won’t be available until the end of next year and things could also get worse, not better.
AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson reported from Seattle.
On the internet: CDC drug overdose deaths dashboard – https://tinyurl.com/y75vu2dv
Defensive resurgence helps Colts blow out Bills 37-5
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 22
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts defense got battered for three weeks.
A spate of injuries decimated their starting lineup just as they faced a daunting stretch of games. On Sunday, the Colts fought back.
Indy forced five turnovers, had two sacks and allowed no touchdowns as it snapped a four-game losing streak with the franchise’s most lopsided win in five years: 37-5 over the Buffalo Bills.
“The defense got us going with the turnovers,” coach Frank Reich said. “Mike Mitchell on the interception , (Kemoko) Turay had the sack-fumble. They got us going. I think we were good in every area.”
It was a major turnaround for a defense that started the season with three promising games before allowing nearly 40 points per game over the next three. Part of the explanation for the dramatic changes is injuries.
Indy (2-5) found itself playing musical chairs in the front seven for a few weeks. Losing safety Clayton Geathers with a neck injury against New England added another complication. Along the way, the Colts lost four straight.
But against the Bills (2-5), who have a league-low 81 points through seven games, the Colts found their early season form.
Mitchell, Kenny Moore II and Corey Moore intercepted 35-year-old Derek Anderson, who made his first start since December 2016. Mitchell also forced a fumble.
Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard recorded a team-high 12 tackles and recovered a fumble. Margus Hunt batted down a ball at the line of scrimmage and the Colts (2-5) consistently kept the pressure on Buffalo (2-5).
As a result, the Bills’ defense scored nearly as many points as the offense — thanks to a third-quarter safety that cut the deficit to 24-5.
“They beat us in every phase,” coach Sean McDermott said. “There wasn’t one good moment other than some moving the ball.”
Buffalo’s No. 3-ranked defense also struggled.
Andrew Luck threw four touchdowns for the second straight game — three in the second quarter when the Colts turned a scoreless game into a 24-0 blowout.
The only scoring by the Bills’ offense came courtesy of a 34-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
Otherwise, the defense kept the Colts in control.
“It’s a sign of a good day,” Mitchell said. “We need to have a bunch more good days.”
Marlon Mack missed four of the Colts’ first five games because of a hamstring injury. But over the last two games, he looks healthy.
Mack followed up his 12-carry, 89-yard game against the New York Jets with a 19-carry, 126-yard game — the first 100-yard game of his two-year career. He also caught a 29-yard TD pass.
“It feels great,” Mack said after playing only his third game ever with Luck. “When Andrew can just sit in the pocket and we can run the ball, it’s lovely.”
McDermott benched the turnover-prone Nathan Peterman after last week’s loss to Houston.
Yet Anderson struggled just as much in the fourth quarter when the Bills were forced into desperation mode as they attempted to rally. He was 20 of 31 with 175 yards and the four turnovers, which the Colts converted into 24 points. Could there be another change coming?
McDermott wouldn’t say after the game.
“You have to be realistic and try to put players in a position to be successful,” he said. “He’s only been here two weeks. That’s part of it, but that’s not an excuse. We can’t use that as an excuse.”
Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton returned after a two-game absence because of a hamstring injury and helped Luck get in sync, too.
While the numbers didn’t jump out — four catches, 25 yards — Hilton’s 5-yard TD catch late in the first half made it 21-0. His 1-yard catch, as Luck scrambled toward the sideline, gave the Colts a 31-5 lead early in the fourth to seal the win.
After scoring five points Sunday, kicker Adam Vinatieri needs five more to break Morten Andersen’s NFL career scoring record. Andersen has held the mark since December 2006.
But it wasn’t a sterling day for Vinatieri, who missed two extra points wide right — the first time he’s ever missed two extra points in a game during his 23-year career.
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NBA suspends Ingram, Rondo, Paul in Lakers-Rockets dustup
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 22
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lakers teammates Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul of the Rockets were suspended without pay Sunday for an on-court fight, with Paul taking the heaviest financial hit.
Ingram was suspended four games, Rondo will sit out three games and Paul two games. The NBA handed down the punishments a day after the incident in the fourth quarter at Staples Center.
The penalty was costliest to Paul, who has the highest salary of the trio and was fined a total of $491,782. Paul is president of the NBA Players’ Association. He began serving his suspension Sunday night and wasn’t at the arena when the Rockets lost to the Clippers 115-112. Rondo will be docked a total of $186,207, while Ingram’s total is $158,816.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni disagreed with the severity of Paul’s penalty.
“It’s just not equitable,” he said. “If you wanted to suspend him one (game) I get it, just to make a statement. Then you’re talking monetarily, he’s paying three times more than the other guys are paying for missing games? That doesn’t seem to be right.”
Ingram and Rondo will start their suspensions Monday night when the Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs.
The league said Ingram was suspended for aggressively escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting referee Jason Phillips in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden.
“It is what it is,” Harden said. “I don’t know how to decide how many games.”
Eric Gordon, who started in place of Paul against the Clippers, defended his teammate, saying, “If somebody is attacking you, you got to somewhat protect yourself.”
Rondo was suspended for instigating a physical altercation with Paul, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at the Rockets star. Paul was suspended for poking at and making contact Rondo’s face and throwing multiple punches at him.
“What is he supposed to do? Just stand there and get spit on and then take a punch in the face and say, ‘Well, that’s OK,’” said D’Antoni, who called Rondo’s spitting “pretty disgusting.”
“In the heat of the moment when somebody does that, that’s tough, that’s really tough,” D’Antoni said.
The Rockets led 109-108 with 4:13 remaining when Ingram fouled Harden and then shoved him and confronted Phillips after getting a technical foul.
Ingram, Paul and Rondo were all ejected. Houston won 124-115, spoiling the Lakers’ home debut for LeBron James.
“We don’t want this to happen again,” said NBA executive vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe, who handed down the penalties. “(We are) sending a clear message that this is not acceptable behavior and you cannot do this. So in this particular instance, the multiple-game suspensions are pretty severe both to their teams and financially to the players.”
The suspension to Ingram is the longest for an on-court incident since April 2012, when Metta World Peace of the Lakers received seven games. World Peace elbowed Harden, who was then playing for Oklahoma City, in a game also at Staples Center to earn that penalty, the irony being Harden is the one who Ingram fouled to start Saturday’s fracas.
There have been longer suspensions in recent years, but none for an on-court altercation than what Ingram got.
“We have so few of these and we’re very lucky in that regard,” VanDeWeghe said. “This game is played with a lot of passion and it’s an aggressive game and obviously there is contact in the game. Our players play with a lot of respect for each other and for everybody else.”
With Paul and Rondo, that hasn’t always the case.
They have a history of raising the ire of the other, going back to at least 2009 during a Boston-New Orleans game. Rondo was with the Celtics and Paul with the Hornets when players from both sides had to get between the two point guards as tempers seemed to flare after a game where they got tangled up in the second quarter.
VanDeWeghe clearly indicated that Rondo did not acknowledge spitting on Paul.
“Rajon has his own view of what happened,” VanDeWeghe said. “I think that we had a clear view that, however you want to interpret it, that there was a spitting in Chris Paul’s direction. I think I’m going to leave it at that.”
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.
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Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus again lead the nation for quality programming
COLUMBUS, Ohio (OFBF) – Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus won eight of the 24 County Activities of Excellence awards presented by the American Farm Bureau. The awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programming and serve as models of innovation for local program development. The winning counties receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in New Orleans in January. AFBF received more than 100 entries across all membership categories, with only 24 activities nationwide being selected to show at the convention.
“Once again, Ohio has more CAE winners than any other state,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau director, leadership programming. “We are always proud of the county Farm Bureau programming in Ohio, but we are thrilled to see 11 counties recognized at the American Farm Bureau level.”
Belmont County: Veteran’s Salute
The county Farm Bureau’s partnership with KFC and a local Ford dealership provided the opportunity to provide a free thank-you dinner to veterans and showcase the Ford member benefit. The county Farm Bureau worked with its local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts to advertise and encourage attendance.
Butler, Preble, Hamilton and Montgomery counties: Farm Safety IS a Big Deal
The program provided a well-rounded education about Farm Safety to three age levels. Topics included SMV (slow moving vehicle) and SIS (speed indicator sign) signs, teenagers operating tractors, riding ATVs safely and more. The counties developed a plan to encourage elementary students to learn about farm safety by using a county designed AgMag. Volunteers spoke to high school students and reached out to local farmers to post Caution Farm Equipment signs on roadways that experience large farm equipment traffic.
Fayette County: Celebrity Chef Competition
A local Celebrity Chef competition highlighted the county’s Farm to Fork Dinner. Local chefs participated in a fun competition to show their recipe development skills and cooking abilities. The chefs received a list of seasonal produce available from local growers and requested the produce they needed. At the dinner, chefs showcased their restaurant and dish, interacted with guests and talked about their dishes. The winning chef received a plaque and the winning recipe will be used on the event promotional materials for next year.
Jefferson County: ChickQuest
Using curriculum developed by Ohio State University, Farm Bureau volunteers placed egg incubators in 3rd grade classrooms throughout the county. Volunteers visited each classroom several times and carried out STEM experiments. Students learned about the life cycle of chickens, and the composition and attributes of an egg and cared for the chicks for 3-5 days. As a result of this program, over 800 students in 33 classrooms throughout 14 elementary schools were exposed to hands on STEM and ag education at no cost to the schools.
Lucas County: Nutrient Management Meeting
The Nutrient Management Meeting brought farmers, researchers and educators together to better understand the agriculture impact on water quality. The meeting demonstrated that the county Farm Bureau wanted to encourage farmers to have access to and use information about best management practices and enhanced production systems. This activity positioned the county Farm Bureau as a resource for water quality issues.
Noble County: Ag School Days
4th grade students were invited from two counties to the event at an area research farm hosted by SWCDs. Farm Bureau presented a program on corn for all 800 students. A popcorn popper was set up and students tasted samples as they learned about the varieties of corn and its many uses. American Farm Bureau’s AgMag on corn was distributed to all of the students.
Pike County: Rural Family Safety Day
The event informed the public of the importance of various safety challenges that are faced everyday. Farm Bureau partnered with the local Extension office, SWCD, the county sheriff, county fire departments and a local insurance agency to present displays and demonstrations that covered multiple safety topics including sun protection, ATVs, food, animals and rural crime. A second day of the event hosted 30 first responders from nine local fire departments who received training on grain bin rescues.
Wood County: Crafting Cocktails with Herbs
The spring event took place at a local greenhouse. The greenhouse owner explained the tools needed to grow a successful herb garden. Guests learned from a mixologist who demonstrated how to use herbs in cocktails. Attendees selected and potted herbs to take home. The county Farm Bureau gained new members, expanded knowledge and awareness about horticulture and agriculture, promoted a local ag business and encouraged growth in the industry.
News from Ashland University
William Summers Member of Philosophy Club at Ashland University
ASHLAND, OH (10/24/2018)— William Summers of Westerville, OH, is a member of Ashland University’s Philosophy Club.
Summers is majoring in religion.
Summers is a 2015 graduate of Westerville South High School.
The Philosophy Club at Ashland University provides students with the opportunity to discuss various philosophical concepts and ideas. It is an open forum in which members can examine their current belief systems and evaluate them with those of their peers. Guest speakers also are invited at various points during the year to lecture on current affairs, such as political ethics and religious issues.
Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2018, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.