Month: September 2012

Foreign trade boosts state’s economy

In tough economic times, Americans tend to look inward. We see foreigners as competition — for business, for jobs, for all the things that underpin our livelihood. Combine tough economic times with a bitterly fought, hike-stakes presidential campaign, and globalism can really take a beating. But the truth is that an increasingly interconnected global economy is more likely to save us than sack us. And right now, the biggest risk to the modest momentum we’ve got going is not that foreign countries will overwhelm us with their economic juggernauts, it is that the economies of China and Europe are slowing down. Nowhere is that more true than in California, which has led the nation in a rebound of exports as we’ve begun to crawl out of the Great Recession.

Program has Impact on Late Life Depression

The brash exuberance of fly boys in the 1986 hit movie “Top Gun” became a cultural phenomenon, a testament to youthful bravado, the ideal representation of a society enchanted with adrenaline and speed. So when Tony Scott, the film’s 68-year-old director, committed suicide last month it illuminated an otherwise shadowy world of despair: elder depression. The scourge of late life depression is wide-spread in the United States and California. As many as 10% of older adults who visit their primary care physician suffer from severe depression, while nearly 15% have been prescribed an anti-depressant. As the state’s rapidly aging population of four million citizens 65 and up is expected to top eight million by 2030, several California health systems have adopted a popular treatment model for late life depression that – in some cases – has doubled the effectiveness of traditional care.

Khmer group advocates school-based care for children of refugees

Khmer Girls in Action, an activist youth organization aimed at developing leadership among young men and women, wants better health care for high school students and their families, access to pregnancy testing and contraception and help with their community’s overwhelming mental health issues, which they chalk up to the torture and deprivation many of their parents experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and their later life as refugees in a strange new country.

911 Good Samaritan Law Passes

Last week Governor Brown signed the 911 Good Samaritan law, which is intended to prevent deaths from drug overdose. The law gives limited immunity to people who call 911 to get help for a friend who has overdosed – neither they nor the victim will be prosecuted for possession of a small amount of drugs. The law is aimed at reducing the accidental poisonings – mostly drug overdoses – that kill 87 people each day in the U.S.

SAT scores down, participation up

California scores declined this year on the SAT test used by many colleges to screen applicants, according to a release from the state Department of Education. But the pool of high school seniors taking the test grew — which may have accounted for the lower average scores. And for the first time, Latinos were the largest ethnic group taking the test in California.

Can Ceasefire work in Richmond?

Every Friday at 1 PM Pastor Henry Washington meets other Richmond community members concerned about gun-violence at his church—The Garden of Peace Ministries. They walk around the parts of Richmond most devastated by violence, handing out anti-violence literature and talking with residents. He is working as part of a hands-on effort to stop the shooting in the city, a program known as Ceasefire, the city’s latest effort to stop gun violence.

Photo: Surroundsound 5000/Flickr

A small clinic’s big task

Dr. Dimitri Sirakoff is less harried these days. The general medicine doctor and founder of the aptly named Serve the People Community Health Center still dons his white lab coat 90 hours a week. But the industrious physician has been able to hire a small staff to help him as he whips around his clinic providing services for a flood of poor, uninsured Santa Ana residents making their way to his waiting room.

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