Trump taps Karen Pence to lead veteran suicide-prevention campaign

President Trump on Wednesday announced that Second Lady Karen Pence will lead a national public-awareness campaign to prevent veteran suicide.

“She’s going to be leading us into the promised land on this very tough subject,” Trump said at a White House event.

Trump spoke after a task force presented a “road map” to reduce veteran suicides, including increased awareness. Roughly 17 veterans commit suicide every day.

The campaign spearheaded by Pence “will mobilize every sector of American society to encourage heroes in need,” Trump said.

The president said the campaign will include a team of ambassadors the second lady was involved in selecting, including the Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

“You’re only there, Jerome, because Mrs. Pence wanted you there. It’s a nice compliment, she’s tough,” he quipped.

Others federal initiatives to reduce suicide include partnerships with companies and researchers, as well as a review of $1.5 billion in federal anti-suicide funds, Trump said.

“If I can do anything as lead ambassador, it’s my goal to help take away the stigma of mental health,” Pence said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said the issue goes beyond veterans, and that suicide “does not discriminate against its victims — the poor, the rich, people of all races and creeds.”

“It’s a scourge that’s impacting every segment of this society,” Wilkie said. “Each one of us can work to change the culture that made it acceptable to ignore the signs of mental health and distress. Each one of us can learn to identify the signs amongst our friends, our neighbors and our coworkers.”

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Swiss parties request Nobel Peace Prize for Cuban doctors

Bern, June 17 (Prensa Latina) The Swiss Party of Labor-Popular and Workers Party highlighted on Wednesday Cuba’s solidarity in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and requested the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to the healthcare professionals of that nation.

Through a press release, the group noted the work of Cuban physicians and advocated delivering the award to the Henry Reeve Contingent’s brigades, sent to nearly thirty countries to support actions against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

While the US President Donald Trump dismantles the World Health Organization, the socialist island of Cuba sets the example again and shows that another world is possible, indicates the press release.

Likewise, it highlights the internationalism of Cuban healthcare workers and recognizes the achievements of that nation in facing the pandemic, despite the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington.

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More than 55 million domestic jobs are at risk, reports ILO

Geneva, Jun 17 (Prensa Latina) Seventy-five percent of the world’s domestic workers, more than 55 million people, are at risk of losing their income, an International Labor Organization (ILO) report said on Wednesday.

According to the analysis, due to the confinement applied to cope with the expansion of Covid-19, and the lack of effective social security coverage, this sector is particularly vulnerable to job losses.

The June data indicate that the most affected region is South-East Asia and the Pacific, where 76 percent of domestic workers are at risk, followed by the Americas (74 percent), Africa (72 percent) and Europe (45 percent).

The report also noted that the vast majority of these workers, 37 million, are women.

At the current situation, the study said, both people in formal employment and those working informally are being hurt, but the latter represent 76 percent of those who may lose their jobs or hours of work.

According to the research, only 10 percent of people in domestic work are covered by social security, which means that the rest are not entitled to paid sick leave, guaranteed access to health care, benefits for occupational injuries, or unemployment insurance.

Thus, many of these people are paid no more than 25 percent of the average wage, so they lack savings with which to deal with a financial emergency.

In some regions, the report added, domestic workers are predominantly immigrants who rely on their pay to support the family in the country of origin, so both non-payment of wages and closure of remittance services put their relatives at risk of hunger.

According to the report, the ILO is working with domestic workers’ organizations and employers’ organizations to ensure the health and livelihood of these people.

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Don’t Count on the Feds to Fix Your Local Police Force

In the past few days, both President Trump and Senator Tim Scott have put forth plans to reform policing: an executive order for the former, a piece of legislation for the latter. There are some worthy ideas in both documents, but perhaps the biggest takeaway from these efforts is that there’s only so much the federal government can do. Many key discussions need to take place at the state and local levels instead.

There are both constitutional and political reasons for the federal government’s limits. Most policing is done by state and local cops, and the governments in control of these agencies are constitutionally separate from the federal government, with many powers reserved to them specifically. The official “section-by-section” summary of the Scott bill says that it will “maintain the Constitutionally-limited role the federal government plays in local law enforcement decisions.”

The federal government can redress the constitutional violations of lower levels of government, and it can also provide grants that are conditioned on police departments’ being run in a certain way. But in order to do even that, federal policymakers need a consensus of the House, the Senate (60 votes in the event of a filibuster), and the president. Since many specifics of police reform are controversial, and since many lawmakers hesitate to have the federal government dictate policy to the states anyhow, such a consensus is often hard to come by.

The way Trump and Scott treat “chokeholds” is a good example of both of these issues. Both their proposals limit these maneuvers not by banning them outright, the way a state government could, but by conditioning federal money on their being eliminated except in situations where lethal force is justified. (The section-by-section of the Scott bill, however, says that there’s so much money at stake that the threat “should essentially ban chokeholds across the nation.”) And both define “chokehold” in a narrow way, as a hold that “restricts an individual’s ability to breathe for the purposes of incapacitation.” Many departments have barred holds that block a suspect’s air flow for years already, because they’re incredibly dangerous; nowadays, the debate is more about “carotid” or “blood” chokes that, when applied properly, leave the airway free but reduce the supply of blood to the brain — which can knock someone unconscious quickly and can sometimes stop a situation from escalating into lethal violence. There’s much less consensus about how much to restrict such holds, and neither Trump’s nor Scott’s language would appear to restrict them.

Even issues that unambiguously fall under the federal purview are left out. As alluded to earlier, the 14th Amendment empowers Congress to stop states from violating citizens’ constitutional rights — and a big issue this past month has been a doctrine called “qualified immunity,” which police officers can assert in court to get themselves out of lawsuits alleging constitutional violations. (See here for a much longer discussion of the doctrine.) Congress can change or eliminate this policy at will, because it stems from the way courts have implemented a statute it enacted after the Civil War. But police groups strongly oppose any weakening of qualified immunity, and both the president and Scott have said it’s off the table.

To be fair, there are good things the federal government can and should do. The executive order will create a database of excessive-force incidents so that bad cops can’t move from one department to another without the new department being aware of their history; the Scott bill requires states to report serious use-of-force incidents and “no-knock” raids to the federal government, requires departments to retain disciplinary records for 30 years, and backs these requirements up with federal funding incentives. Scott’s bill also provides money for body cameras and training.

Both also call for new reports and studies regarding the best practices for departments to follow. As I wrote last week, there is far too little research about what works and what doesn’t. For example, as more and more departments ban carotid chokes, we might want to study what other types of force replace them.

But there’s a lot that the federal government can’t accomplish. For example, only states can rewrite their justifiable-homicide laws and curtail the power of police unions, and it will fall to lower levels of government to actually train cops.

It’s good that federal lawmakers are paying attention to this issue. But a lot of the real action will be on a much more local level.

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Jordan King warns about regional instability due to Israel’s plans

Amman, Jun 17 (Prensa Latina) The King of Jordan, Abdullah II, warned about the instability that will be generated in the Middle East if Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank become effective, local media reported on Wednesday.

In a videoconference with the Congress of the United States Abdullah II noted that any unilateral measure by Israel on the occupied territory is unacceptable, because it undermines the possibilities for peace and regional stability.

According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s project, the sovereignty of the Tel Aviv regime will extend to the Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank as of July 1.

Israel occupied that territory from Jordan during the six-day war in June 1967, and it is where the international community expects to create a project for an autonomous Palestine State.

In his speech to US congress people, Abdullah II noted that peace would only come from the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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