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Barry Landau’s coat pockets

By Travis McDade
On a “60 Minutes” episode on Sunday 28 October, Bob Simon looked at the Barry Landau archives theft case. Aside from some official-sounding but unsupportable claims (“Barry Landau carried out the largest theft of these treasures in American history”) it was a pretty good show. Still, one part rankled. In the middle of the segment, Simon was shown several coats Landau had outfitted with special pockets in which he could secret documents before leaving victim institutions.

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Dr. Victor Sidel: a leader for health, peace, and social justice

Victor (Vic) Sidel, M.D., who died in late January, was a national and international champion for health, peace, and social justice. Among his numerous activities, he co-edited with me six books on war, terrorism, and social injustice that were published by Oxford University Press. Vic left an extensive legacy in the residents and students whom he trained, in the organizations that he strengthened, in the scholarly books and papers that he edited and wrote, and in the policies and programs that he promoted for a healthier, more peaceful, and more equitable world.

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Lift the congressional ban on CDC firearm-related deaths and injuries research

Imagine that there is a disease that claims more than 30,000 lives in the United States each year. Imagine that countless more people survive this disease, and that many of them have long-lasting effects. Imagine that there are various methods for preventing the disease, but there are social, political, and other barriers to implementing these preventive measures.

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How filling the Supreme Court vacancy will affect public health

Who is selected to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court will profoundly affect key public health issues, including gun control, access to reproductive health services, and climate change. In recent years, the Court has ruled, usually by 5-to-4 decisions, on these issues and will likely continue to do so by narrow margins.

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Climate change poses risks to your health

When heads of state and other leaders of 195 nations reached a landmark accord at the recent United Nations COP21 conference on climate change in Paris, they focused primarily on sea level rise, droughts, loss of biodiversity, and ways to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce these consequences. But arguably the most serious and widespread impacts of climate change are those that are hazardous to the health of people.

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“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

In 1933 in the midst of Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, wisely stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That wisdom has as much relevance today as it did during the Depression.

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Water and conflict

The four-year drought in California, which is causing severe water shortages and related problems, is receiving increasingly more attention. It is affecting everyone, causing people to adjust their lifestyles and causing small business owners and entire industries to rethink their use–and misuse–of water.

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Have we become what we hate?

In 1971, William Irvin Thompson, a professor at York University in Toronto, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “We Become What We Hate,” describing the way in which “thoughts can become inverted when they are reflected in actions.” He cited several scientific, sociocultural, economic, and political situations where the maxim appeared to be true. The physician who believed he was inventing a pill to help women become pregnant had actually invented the oral contraceptive.

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Addressing the true enemies of humankind

One hundred years ago, World War I began — the “Great War,” the war “to end all wars.” A war that arose from a series of miscalculations after the assassination of two people. A war that eventually killed 8 million people, wounded 21 million, and disabled millions more — both physically and mentally.

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Putting an end to war

By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
War is hell. War kills people, mainly non-combatant civilians, and injures and maims many more — both physically and psychologically. War destroys the health-supporting infrastructure of society, including systems of medical care and public health services, food and water supply, sanitation and sewage treatment, transportation, communication, and power generation.

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The continuing threat of nuclear weapons

By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
Out of sight. Out of mind. Nine countries, mainly the United States and Russia, possess 17,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki almost 70 years ago.

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Pete Seeger: the power of singing to promote social justice

By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
“That song really sticks with you!” The speaker was the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1957, on his way to a speaking engagement in Kentucky. The song was “We Shall Overcome.” He had heard it the day before from Pete Seeger at the Highlander Center in Tennessee. There Seeger had, a decade before, learned the song – most likely derived from an old gospel song that became a labor-union song by the early 1900s.

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Poverty and health in the United States

By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
We live in the richest nation on earth. Yet 15% of the US population (about 46 million people) live below the poverty line — about $23,000 for a family of four. Almost 25% of children live in poverty. The number of American households living on $2 or less grew by 130% between 1996 and 2011.

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The case against striking Syria

By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
Chemical weapons are horrendous agents. Small amounts can kill and severely injure hundreds of noncombatant women, men, and children in a matter of minutes, as apparently occurred recently in Syria. Some analysts consider them “poor countries’ nuclear bombs.”

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Social injustice and public health in America

By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
Although there has been much progress in the United States toward social justice and improved health for racial and ethnic minorities in the 50 years since the 1963 March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, much social injustice persists in this country — with profound adverse consequences for the public’s health.

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