SocietyWatch

From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Police under attack

The number of police officers killed in ambushes in the United States reached a two-decade high in 2016, according to a year-end report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Of the 64 police officers shot to death in the line of duty in 2016, 21 were killed in ambushes, including five in Dallas, Texas, and three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is the highest total since 1995, and represents a 163 percent increase over 2015, when eight officers were ambushed and killed.

After the July 7, Baton Rouge attack, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund president Craig Floyd stated that anti-police rhetoric was fueling violence against officers. Floyd told Newsweek, “If we’re going to spew anti-cop rhetoric, anti-government rhetoric, then we have to realize there could be consequences of the type we saw in Dallas” (July 12, 2016).

Many politicians and media commentators have demonstrably distorted facts and made false accusations against American police in general. They claim that America’s local law enforcement needs to be chastised for racism and brought under federal control. This sharp increase in ambush attacks against police officers is a tragic effect of this agenda.

In the August 2015 Trumpet, almost a year before the Dallas ambush, editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned about this dangerous trend: “America’s law enforcement is under attack. On one side people in communities are developing a mistrustful, hostile, antagonistic attitude, yelling at police, assaulting and even killing officers in some cases. Police are pulling back from doing their jobs for fear of attack, or losing their jobs or going to prison for doing anything that could be perceived as racist. On the other, the federal government is undermining local law enforcement and stripping it of power in an effort to centralize policing power on the federal level. You need to recognize just how dangerous these trends really are.”

Facebook fights ‘fake news’

Facebook announced on Dec. 15, 2016, that it is taking new measures to curb the spread of what it calls “fake news” on its influential social network. The organization will partner with fact-checkers to sort honest news reports from made-up stories that play to people’s preconceived notions. Facebook said it is working with five fact-checking and news organizations: abc News, the Associated Press, FactCheck
.org, Politifact and Snopes. Stories that flunk the fact check will be flagged as “disputed,” making them less visible on the platform’s news feed. Critics worry that the company, besides censoring stories that are objectively false, will censor stories that conflict with the political views of its leaders and its partners. Facebook is the largest social media company in the world, with more than a billion active monthly users.

One in six Americans on psychiatric drugs

About 1 in 6 American adults were taking at least one psychiatric drug in 2013, a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine on Dec. 12, 2016, showed.

Researchers found that 12 percent of adults were using antidepressants; 8 percent were using anti-anxiety medication, sedatives and hypnotics; and almost 2 percent were using antipsychotic drugs. According to the study, those likeliest to report taking a psychiatric drug were women, seniors above age 59, and Caucasians.

“Antipsychotics have become huge moneymakers for the drug industry,” Consumer Reports wrote in December 2013. “In 2003, annual U.S. sales of the drugs were estimated at $2.8 billion; by 2011, that number had risen to $18.2 billion. That huge growth was driven in part by one company—Janssen Pharmaceuticals—and its aggressive promotion of off-label uses in children and elderly patients, relying on marketing tactics that according to the federal government, crossed legal and ethical lines.”

The U.S. has become the world’s most medicated nation by far. Though Americans account for only 5 percent of global population, they consume 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. This is not because they are unhealthier than other people, but because they hold a cultural belief that drugs will help them escape the effects of their problems without having to address root causes. Instead of addressing the underpinning causes of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, doctors simply write a prescription for the latest, most heavily promoted psychiatric drug.