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No time to sow seeds
of doubt in vaccine
I was distressed to read the FDA debated the use of the “emergency use authorization” for a COVID-19 vaccine (“FDA debates use of “emergency” vaccine,” Oct. 24).
Vaccines, one of the greatest public health achievements, have come to be questioned and feared. Now is not the time to be planting seeds of doubt into the public. Instead, efforts should focus on establishing credibility and trust, when people are still forming their perception and opinions of a coronavirus vaccine.
If we allow doubt to be sowed, no matter how effective the vaccine may be, it will be useless if there are not enough people willing to take it.
Assange case pivotal
for press freedom
Even though election coverage seems nonstop, not enough attention has been paid to something at the heart of our democracy: the freedom of the press.
The most crucial press freedom case in decades is going on right now. The Trump administration indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He faces up to 175 years in prison for award-winning journalism that exposed war crimes and helped change public debate around the world. The case against Assange is flimsy and relies on dangerous legal theories that would cripple investigative journalism.
Neither Trump nor Biden have given any indication that they will defend press freedom. We should always know where candidates stand on the First Amendment. Trump should stop trying to extradite Assange, or better yet, pardon him. Biden should go on record calling for an end to the case. The press and the public need to step up the pressure and hold politicians accountable.
Theater story recalls
Pittsburg of old
Re. “Historic theater receives $1 million grant,” Oct. 28 :
Thank you for airing this article. I remember going to the California Theatre as a boy many years ago.
Pittsburg has changed a great deal due to urban renewal but that part of my past, I am happy to say, remains.
In child sex trafficking
fight, awareness is key
Re: “A teen girl, stranded at a bus stop, was offered help by a stranger. For the next month, a man and woman trafficked her across California and Arizona,” Oct. 24:
Thank you so much for covering this story. It is devastating how often this happens to children and youth every day in our country. In 2019, one in six reported runaways were likely victims of child sex trafficking, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Holding buyers and traffickers accountable is incredibly important for addressing this problem.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that preventing this from happening to any other child or youth will require more than law enforcement. We must also address the social and community conditions that make young people vulnerable to sexual exploitation and then to be bought and sold.
One thing that could make a difference is for everyone, especially educators and health professionals who interact with children and youth every day, to be educated about human trafficking, risk factors, red flags and prevention efforts.
Comic strip’s lynching
I strongly object to the view of the Mallard Fillmore cartoon of Oct. 26 that the Clarence Thomas hearings were a “lynching.”
Judge Thomas was not found hanging from a tree. He had sexually harassed an employee and was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice anyway. If anyone was hurt, it was the employee who had the courage to speak up.
Joe Biden is an honorable man who has been a leader in civil rights legislation. He does not deserve to be smeared in this way.
Legislation to fight
suicide merits support
Suicide is a leading, yet preventable public health problem in California. With our communities in a prolonged shelter-in-place, it is imperative to prioritize mental health as we navigate a virtual reality.
The president signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act into law and it will go live in 2022. However, as Californians, there is more we can do to support the youth in our local communities now.
SB 849 and AB 1849 address mental health absences for students. This expands the definition of excused absences in California law to include absences for the benefit of a student’s mental health. Mental health support increases student success and well-being, and we owe it to our students to ensure they are supported in mental and physical health.
Support of these bills reduces stigma and contributes to a school culture where it is a sign of strength to seek help.
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention