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FILE- In this Oc. 21, 2018, file photo the company logo shines off the front of a vehicle at a Fiat dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling vehicles in the U.S. because they don't meet the country's emission standards. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the recall is the result of in-use emissions investigations it performed and in-use testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

FILE- In this Oc. 21, 2018, file photo the company logo shines off the front of a vehicle at a Fiat dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling vehicles in the U.S. because they don't meet the country's emission standards. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the recall is the result of in-use emissions investigations it performed and in-use testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)


Fiat Chrysler recalling nearly 900,000 vehicles on emissions

Thursday, March 14

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling 862,520 vehicles in the U.S. because they don’t meet the country’s emission standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that the recall is the result of in-use emissions investigations it performed and in-use testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations.

The vehicles involved in the recall include 2011-2016 Dodge Journey front wheel drive, 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 /Dodge Avenger front wheel drive, 2011-2012 Dodge Caliber front wheel drive continuously variable transmission and 2011-2016 Jeep Compass/Patriot front wheel drive continuously variable transmission.

The EPA said Wednesday that it will continue to investigate other Fiat Chrysler vehicles that are potentially non-compliant and may become the subject of future recalls.

The recall will be performed in phases during the year, with the oldest vehicles first. Owners of vehicles involved in the recall must wait until they receive notification from Fiat Chrysler before scheduling a dealership appointment. They can continue to drive their vehicles in the meantime.

The Conversation

Does most of your paycheck go to rent? That may be hurting your health

March 19, 2019

Author: Jessica Owens-Young, Assistant Professor of Health Studies, American University

Disclosure statement: Jessica Owens-Young does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

New data on health across the U.S. shows that high housing costs are harming Americans’ health – and that some communities are affected more than others.

The 2019 County Health Rankings, an annual collaborative report from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows that 11 percent of U.S. households are severely burdened by housing costs. This means that more than 800,000 households spend at least half of their income on housing.

In communities with high housing costs, residents rate their health as lower, are less likely to be able to purchase enough quality and nutritious foods, and have higher rates of child poverty.

As a health researcher, this is a theme that I have seen in studies over and over again.

The most burdened households

While many communities face high housing costs, these burdens are not universally shared. Renters are more likely than homeowners to spend more than half of their paycheck on housing. The costs of homeownership have improved over the past few years, but housing costs for renters have not.

There are also racial differences. More than 1 in 10 white households spend more than half of their income on housing, with a median income of US$56,000. But among households headed by blacks, the median income is $33,000 – and about 1 in 4 black households experience these housing costs burdens.

Another key finding from the County Health Rankings report is that segregated communities with more households headed by black residents are twice as likely to face severe housing cost burdens than white households.

Why are black Americans more likely to spend so much of their incomes on housing? One reason is that black neighborhoods were targeted in a process called redlining, especially between the 1930s and 1965. Banks and other lenders excluded black communities from favorable loans and charged higher interest rates on mortgages, leading to higher housing costs – even when homes were valued less than similar homes in white communities.

Redlining is not explicitly practiced in the same way today, but its damage and discrimination remains – such as how banks targeted black homeowners with subprime loans. The consequences of this became clear in the 2008 recession, when black homeowners suffered worse outcomes compared to white homeowners. These practices led to higher foreclosure rates and steeper declines in home values during and after the recession, limiting opportunities for black communities to build wealth through homeownership.

Effects on health

There is a powerful relationship between housing and health.

When people pay too much for housing, they must make tough choices between paying their rent or mortgage or paying for food, medicine and other resources that support their health. In 2015, households that are burdened by housing costs spent 53 percent less on health care, food and transportation combined, compared to households that do not spend more than half of their income on housing.

To afford housing, some families spend less on food, do not buy enough food, or buy less nutritious and cheaper food. These families may also live in homes with structural deficits and other inadequacies, where they are at higher risk for health conditions like lead paint poisoning and asthma.

Research shows that segregated communities are more likely to be exposed to more threats to their health. For example, a study published in March showed that black and Hispanic populations are exposed to 56 percent and 63 percent more air pollution compared to white residents, even though white residents are more likely to contribute to pollution.

Segregated communities are also less likely to have resources in their communities that promote health and help prevent chronic diseases, like obesity and diabetes. Even if black families were not overly burdened by housing costs, they still are more likely to need to leave their own neighborhoods to access fresh and nutritious foods, quality health care services and places to exercise. And black residents living in segregated neighborhoods are also more likely to die prematurely.

I recently co-authored a paper, led by University of Maryland professor Caryn Bell, that shows that counties with 9 percent or more black residents are more likely to have resources that compromise health, such as fast food restaurants, and less likely to have resources that promote health, such as grocery stores. Research has shown that this is important, due to the relationship between access to health-promoting resources, like grocery stores, and lower obesity rates.

A growing problem

As housing costs have risen, incomes have not kept pace. Additionally, affordable housing is not available to everyone who needs it.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reported in March that only 37 affordable homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, meaning households with incomes at or below the poverty line or 30 percent of the area median income. That means that there is a shortage of homes with monthly costs that are 30 percent or less of the monthly household’s income. No state has enough homes for every extremely low-income renter household, which are the majority of households that are severely housing cost burdened.

Incomes are stagnating while housing costs, especially renting, continue to rise. As these two forces combine to limit opportunity, more U.S. residents are at risk of becoming burdened by their housing costs and damaging their health, especially low-income and black Americans.

The Conversation

Purdue Pharma: Bankruptcy filing would make lawsuits slower and costlier for plaintiff cities and states

March 13, 2019

Author: Nicolas Paul Terry, Professor of Law, Indiana University

Disclosure statement: Nicolas Paul Terry receives funding from the Indiana University Addictions Grand Challenge, https://grandchallenges.iu.edu/addiction/index.html

Partners: Indiana University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

A report that Purdue Pharma may file for bankruptcy has many wondering how bankruptcy would affect the ongoing opioid litigation.

Nationwide the OxyContin maker as well as other drug manufacturers and distributors face about 2,000 lawsuits related to allegations that they contributed to the opioid crisis through negligent marketing, fraud and unjust enrichment.

A bankruptcy filing by a defendant in such situations is always a possibility since the potential financial impact on companies in this type of tort litigation is substantial and future exposure is hard to calculate. The same thing happened in 1982 over asbestos litigation, in 1985 over flawed intrauterine devices and in 2017 over defective Takata airbags.

In a recent paper I argued that successful outcomes for the opioid litigation have always been fraught with uncertainty.

While a bankruptcy filing would definitely affect any litigation or settlement, it doesn’t mean plaintiffs wouldn’t get any compensation. It would mean, however, that there may be less money to go around and that plaintiffs would have to wait longer for a resolution of their cases.

Litigating the opioid crisis

A record 48,000 people died of overdoses related to opioids in 2017, including prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. That brings the total number of U.S. deaths since the epidemic began around 20 years ago to almost 400,000, at an estimated cost of US $1 trillion.

As a result, thousands of cities, states, counties and tribal nations that have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis are trying to hold drugmakers responsible and recover some of their health care and law enforcement costs.

The largest lawsuit is taking place in Cleveland and involves more than 1,500 plaintiffs. Originally, these were separate lawsuits, but they were combined using a procedure called multi-district consolidation. Consolidation is designed to promote a global settlement between all the parties, with so-called bellwether trials held to narrow down the issues in dispute.

In addition to the Cleveland case, another 300 have been filed in 45 state courts against most of the same defendants.

Purdue’s road to possible bankruptcy

The possibility that Purdue might enter into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings is not a surprise.

Back in August, the Oklahoma attorney general argued in a filing in his state’s case against opioid manufacturers that Purdue was “trying to buy time so it can move assets and employees overseas … and either file bankruptcy or leave an empty shell here in the United States for all of the victims of its corporate greed.”

In addition, Purdue left visible breadcrumbs by hiring a law firm as well as a new board chairman with expertise in corporate restructuring.

While the the Cleveland litigation has stalled, attention has shifted to actions brought by some states, notably those in Massachusetts and Oklahoma.

The Massachusetts complaint made public some incendiary allegations about some members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue. For example, the Massachusetts attorney general claimed that family members “directed deceptive sales and marketing practices deep within Purdue, sending hundreds of orders to executives and line employees. From the money that Purdue collected selling opioids, they paid themselves and their family billions of dollars.”

Considerable attention has also been paid to the leaked deposition of one of members of the Sackler family in the Oklahoma case. The Oklahoma lawsuit became even more important when it became clear that it would be the first to go to trial. On March 8, a judge ruled against Purdue and other drugmakers that had asked to delay it.

Cases brought by states in their own courts pose great risk to the defendants, a consideration that likely has amplified the bankruptcy chatter. For its part, Purdue “categorically denied” that it would affect its decision on whether to declare bankruptcy.

Assessing the impact

A bankruptcy filing by Purdue would be like hitting a nationwide pause button on all the claims against the company, whether in federal or state courts.

The claims against Purdue would be put under the exclusive jurisdiction of a federal bankruptcy court.

It would then be the responsibility of that court to determine any damages to be allocated to plaintiffs as part of the company’s restructuring and possibly establish a trust fund that would apply to future opioid claims – for example, those individuals suffering from opioid use disorder not just their cities or states – after the company emerged from bankruptcy.

In advance, the court might also have to appoint a new attorney to represent the plaintiffs during the restructuring, just one of the many procedural issues that could delay the resolution of the case.

The multi-district and state litigation could still proceed, except that Purdue would no longer be a defendant. However, the exit of a major defendant – and the only one to have pleaded guilty to related conduct – is bound to have an impact on the representation and tactics of the other parties.

Further, complex legal rules could come into play in deciding the extent to which the remaining defendants could be responsible for damages partially caused by Purdue.

Possible upside for co-defendents

Purdue, of course, isn’t the only drugmaker on trial.

Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Actavis are also defendants in most of the lawsuits, including the multi-district litigation in Cleveland. While the impact of a Purdue bankruptcy on individual co-defendants is complex, there is at least one scenario where it might actually end up benefiting them.

The opioid cases have always been viewed as an uphill battle, in contrast to the litigation in the 1990s that led to the $246 billion settlement between Big Tobacco and 46 states in 1998.

After all, the opioid defendants can argue their products, unlike cigarettes, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Furthermore, in the case of Big Tobacco, whistleblowers revealed documents demonstrating that the tobacco companies were fully aware of the dangers of smoking, prompting the settlement.

It is only recently that the hint of a potentially damaging smoking gun has emerged in the opioid cases, first in the allegations made in the Massachusetts case and in deposition testimony of the Sackler family member in Oklahoma. If Purdue is removed from the litigation, this possibly damaging evidence likely exits along with the company.

Asbestos not tobacco

Eventually, the litigation will reach a resolution. But most likely, compensation will be too little or too late for the victims who are suffering from the overdose epidemic.

And even if the lawsuits result in a substantial settlement resembling that in the tobacco litigation, there is little likelihood that those settlement dollars will find their way to the individuals or families most affected by the epidemic.

If the bankruptcy courts become involved, even those prospects may decrease. And instead of parallels to the tobacco litigation, we’ll see more comparisons to the asbestos litigation, which, in over 40 years, has failed to produce a global settlement.

Comment

Jimmy Kilpatrick, logged in via Facebook: They should sue these criminals and take the company down if necessary. These people are nothing short then Wall Street Drug Dealers!

Opinion: Talent Gap Is Exacerbating America’s Opioid Epidemic

By Claire Fiddian-Green

InsideSources.com

Foundational to combatting America’s opioid epidemic is ensuring those who want to receive treatment can access it. Yet, across our country, there’s a growing gap between the supply of workers trained to treat substance use disorder and the demand for help from those who suffer from the disease. Grim statistics tell this story.

Two out of three primary care physicians seeking mental health services for their patients said they couldn’t secure outpatient care in part because of worker shortages. Across the United States, 316,000 people who sought addiction treatment were unable to obtain it. Without action, the problem will get only worse. By 2025, the chasm between the supply and demand of behavioral health professionals is projected to balloon to 238,000 workers.

If we’re going to make headway against the opioid epidemic — undoubtedly one of the greatest health challenges facing our generation — we must find ways to bridge this gap. The burgeoning nature of the opioid epidemic should fuel our collective urgency: for the first time in history, Americans’ odds of dying from an opioid overdose are greater than their chances of being killed in a car accident.

Addressing the talent gap among behavioral health professionals requires confronting long-standing obstacles for those entering the field: high burnout rates, cumbersome licensure processes and financial disincentives like high student loan debt and relatively low pay. Overcoming these will take myriad actors working together on a multi-pronged approach.

Changes to federal law would play a critical role in helping to solve the problem. While there are many types of behavioral health professionals who could treat substance use disorder, under current federal law only licensed clinical social workers can bill Medicare for treatment. Since funding for behavioral health services already is constrained to a handful of sources, such as self-pay, insurance, Medicaid and Medicare and limited grant dollars, this reimbursement limitation impedes other behavioral health professionals who could treat substance use disorder — or get trained to treat it — from doing so.

By opening Medicare reimbursement to these other categories of workers, such as licensed clinical addiction counselors or licensed medical health counselors, it would broaden the funnel of talent to specialize in this treatment area and help infuse the worker pipeline at a time of unprecedented need.

At the same time, locally driven approaches — typically partnerships between public and private actors — offer solutions that can be scaled nationally.

In Indiana, for example, universities, health care providers and workforce development groups are collaborating to create a streamlined pathway for licensed clinical social workers to get dual licensure in treating addiction. That ensures they receive the specialized, addiction-focused training they need, along with the ability to be reimbursed for treating those with substance use disorder.

This effort, known as the Community Behavioral Health Academy, is designed to combat low pay, high student debt, cumbersome licensure processes and other hurdles to attracting and keeping talent in the behavioral health field. Program participants receive up to $10,000 in financial incentives, support with licensure attainment and built-in opportunities for employment. Other communities could look to this model as inspiration in addressing the behavioral health worker gap.

Challenges on the scale of the opioid epidemic historically have played a powerful force in bringing our nation together. Consider that even in the most fragmented political times, American policymakers have united to tackle the opioid epidemic, as shown by a sweeping package of bills designed to combat the nation’s opioid crisis that sailed through Congress late last year.

Our nation’s leaders can build on this momentum by combating America’s behavioral health talent gap. Let’s work together to solve this pressing problem.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Claire Fiddian-Green is president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.

The Conversation

Journalism needs to practice transparency in a different way to rebuild credibility

March 22, 2019

Authors

Michael Palanski, Associate Professor of Management, Rochester Institute of Technology

Andrea Hickerson, Director of the School of Communication and Associate Professor of Journalism, Rochester Institute of Technology

Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: Rochester Institute of Technology provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Public trust in media continues to hover near all-time lows, driven by perceptions that the news industry is partisan and peddles inaccurate information (“fake news”), as well as ambivalence about news from social media.

According to a new Knight Foundation report on news media trust, transparency is a key factor in restoring trust.

Although media organizations promote the inherent value of transparency, they often do not explain what it means in practice.

In contrast, research in business organizations points to a clearer meaning and more specific practices of transparency that, if applied to journalism, could help journalists regain greater public trust.

What does transparency look like now?

There are many definitions of transparency in journalism.

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics defines transparency as “explaining one’s decisions to the public.” The recent report from media funder the Knight Foundation referred to transparency in journalism as “disclosing potential conflicts of interest and making additional reporting material available to readers.”

Both of these definitions suggest that transparency should constitute some sort of explanation to the consumer about the decision-making involved in the story.

These could be in the form of editorial disclosures that would explain, for example, if there was reader backlash to a story, why an editor felt a story was newsworthy, like in the case of The New York Times profiling a white nationalist.

Or they could be a longer “story behind the story,” published as a sidebar that explains both how and why a story was reported, such as Vice News did when covering ethnic cleansing in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In practice, however, transparency in journalism is most often treated as a simple transaction between news organizations and their audience. Two common examples are journalists hyperlinking to original data sources that provide evidence for a story’s claims or nonprofit journalism organizations listing their sponsors.

But research in organizational management shows that while both the explanation and disclosure aspects of transparency are important for building trust, they are not enough and they need to be coordinated. In fact, by practicing only a partial version of transparency, journalism may well be harming itself and further damaging the public’s trust in its work.

Where transparency falls short

Organizational scholars Andrew Schnackenberg and Edward Tomlinson have proposed that transparency in organizations actually consists of three parts: disclosure (information is released in a timely manner), accuracy (information is correct), and clarity (information is understandable in context by the intended audience).

To understand how this definition of transparency could help media organizations, consider a recent example where the media reported on a controversy without the benefit of all three elements.

Prompted by the revelation that a Virginia governor’s 1984 yearbook page had a photo of a man in blackface on it, USA Today recently released a story about racism in college yearbooks.

Reporters reviewed over 900 yearbooks from 120 colleges and universities published over the past few decades for the story. The story that they wrote describes the pervasiveness of racist pictures in university yearbooks. (This article mentions a racist picture from our own university, Rochester Institute of Technology.)

USA Today also published a story behind the story, whose stated purpose was “to be as transparent as possible about what we found.” The supplemental article described the process by which photos were identified and analyzed.

The supplemental story states: “We found questionable photos virtually everywhere we looked – what amounted to a montage of everyday, casual bigotry memorialized among pages that captured daily life on campuses. Many of the photos did not have captions, making it difficult in some cases to determine what was going on. It is possible that some were part of a school play or had other explanations. But we built our report around images that had little or no ambiguity.”

This supplemental story seems to be an attempt at providing some clarity about the main story by helping the reader understand the motivation and process for writing the main story.

The supplemental story, however, does not provide full clarity. There are no images of the offending photographs in their larger context within the yearbooks, for example. Similarly, the supplemental story lacks disclosure; there is no comprehensive list of the 900 yearbooks or the 120 schools surveyed.

We believe that providing clarity (examples in context) and disclosure (a list of sources) would allow readers to independently verify the data in the story.

In this example, using Schanckenberg and Tomlinson’s definition of transparency could have led to better journalism – to a story that readers could trust more fully.

Competence, integrity, benevolence

Drawing on earlier research about trust, Schnackenberg and Tomlinson suggest that greater transparency can improve trustworthiness in organizations by helping to improve the public’s perception of their competence, integrity and benevolence. Those are the three key building blocks of trust.

What would this look like transferred from a traditional business to a news organization?

The news organization would report events in a way that is understandable and accurate and act according to its stated values, and its primary goal would be serving the public interest.

So when a news organization discloses – to the extent possible – its sources and own motivation for doing a story, it helps to build perceptions of integrity and benevolence. When it makes an effort to bring clarity and accuracy by explaining the overall context of a story, or when it provides insight into its own decision-making processes, it helps to build perceptions of competence and integrity.

How not to do transparency

To understand how the more nuanced definition of transparency borrowed from organizational business research can help news organizations build trust, consider the cable news network CNN. It recently hired Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokesperson for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to lead its 2020 election coverage.

As The New York Times noted, Flores was hired as a “political editor, not a pundit, and departing an administration in which the president routinely criticizes the news media, including CNN.”

CNN’s own media reporter, Brian Stelter, wrote about the hiring and the associated outcry about a political hack being placed in charge of supposedly objective reporting. His reporting verified the initial report from Politico, and Stelter wrote about Flores’ previous employment in his lead. It was an attempt to bring transparency to CNN’s actions.

But CNN executives would not speak for attribution with Stelter to defend the hiring, instead preferring to provide anonymous responses.

So, while Stelter attempted to tell the “story behind the story,” he was rebuffed by his own network.

This was confusing for audiences trying to understand Flores’ hiring as a political editor.

If CNN had accepted a definition and practice of transparency that included accuracy, disclosure and clarity, perhaps they could have given better thought to how this hire would be perceived and how they might publicly comment on it.

In the end, Flores announced that she will be a political analyst instead of an editor – a change in title she, not CNN, initiated.

When an important concept like transparency is only partially applied, it leads to something of a transparency trap. Media organizations may believe they are acting transparently, but incomplete attempts at transparency may damage credibility and thus do more harm than good.

Comments

Gregory McColm, logged in via Facebook: But do people who are convinced that Network X is biased actually look at Network X news? Or have they reached that conclusion because of all that anti-X articles that they have seen in the more-trusted Network Y? (Or because of the anti-X memes they’ve picked up on Facebook and Twitter?)

I have heard people tell me that all the established news sources are biased, and that is why they get their news from reliable sources like 4chan and Reddit. Stephen Colbert’s truthiness, not SPJ-style transparency, is the issue.

Andrew Taylor

A quality news organization will:

Not take money from political parties or party donors in any form, not in direct advertising, not in advertising for the companies of the party’s donors, not in corporate B2B link-ups (like legal assistance or 3rd-company co-investments), nothing. The current situation where media companies literally ignore politicians and parties who aren’t buying ad spots, and gaslight anybody not from the D/RNC with the claim “that party isn’t a serious contender” because they haven’t bought enough ad spots must be made illegal. It’s literally the opposite of freedom-of-speech, it’s pure money-speech. Right now the same donors donate to each D/RNC party (Trump reminded us of this long and loud in 2016), these parties take this identical money and give it to identical media companies. This way the media companies have become mouthpieces not of the parties, but of the donors of the parties. And both parties have the same message because both parties have the same donors propagandizing America through their media puppets.

A true quality media organization will Respect the Ballot!. An official ballot for an election should have legal enforcement power over media organizations. The fact that a politician got enough signatures to get their name on a ballot should have enforceable meaning for media comapanies. Once the ballot for the upcoming election is published/announced, from that moment until the election the media must give equal airtime to each name on that ballot, and the nominated CEO of the media company should get criminal charges and actual jail time if they break this law. Freedom of Speech will still be satisfied, that media company can say whatever they want about the names on the ballot. The only requirement is that they talk about EACH name equally in time. The effect will be that minor party candidates, no matter how vilified or ridiculed, will still attract voters to their websites.

Give the “debates” back to the National Organization of Women, from whom they were literally stolen by the D/RNC. That act was illegal, and the control of the debates to include only two politicians is the most anti-democratic act of all of history other than actual killings. The NOW had it stolen the day after they announced that two politicians wasn’t enough for a quality debate for America.

FILE- In this Oc. 21, 2018, file photo the company logo shines off the front of a vehicle at a Fiat dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling vehicles in the U.S. because they don’t meet the country’s emission standards. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the recall is the result of in-use emissions investigations it performed and in-use testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/03/web1_122508230-bac09479e8b4479295a7035e63c86dbc.jpgFILE- In this Oc. 21, 2018, file photo the company logo shines off the front of a vehicle at a Fiat dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling vehicles in the U.S. because they don’t meet the country’s emission standards. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the recall is the result of in-use emissions investigations it performed and in-use testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
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