Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Windmills, Rainbows and Transformations

The fireworks have burst over the skies and the celebration of independence have come and gone. Now it's on to enduring the soaring 90 degree heat and more of what summer brings each year. Meanwhile, the world continues to whirl on it's axis and the challenges keep on coming and this forum will keep our eyes open wide  on what's really going on and then some.

Lady Justice Doesn't Blink

The case of Casey Anthony again caused the nation to stop and listen. I waited with baited breathe, exhausted as the defendant and ready as those in that court room to hear the verdict. Throughout the trial I was puzzled, conflicted and as observant as the judge to the"facts, just the facts." It all seemed hazy, circumstantial, convoluted, media hyped by Nancy Grace and now the moment arrived. After 11 hours of deliberation, Anthony was found not guilty by a court of her peers and we got to hear it and watch it in living color. Instead she was convicted of misdemeanors of offering false information and most likely will not serve a day for this entire event. It's over for Ms. Anthony from this point even if she did this deed,  Not moments later observers and locals decried a blood curdling backlash that justice had not been done. Even tagging the decision as "OJ 2," despite that her defense team claimed that there was "reasonable doubt" to be considered. It's that doubt that many cases hinge and can often turn. Including the Strauss K. debacle which now is approaching the same cross hairs. Ladies and Gentlemen, the American judicial system takes us all on a wild ride of justice when such high profile cases appear. You never know what those folks sitting in the box are really thinking and if the evidence, prosecutors, defense attorney's or any witness will bring to the process. Often the process can be flawed, especially as we've learned that DNA test have bee utilized to acquit individuals or release long suffering prisoners who should have never been sentenced. Our rugged Constitution guides us on this situation and much of how our nation works. Yet, even with that document in place, we find that there is still room for error. Especially with cases of the death penalty which Ms. Anthony could have received and not to mention the staggering numbers of African American men serving time in the countries prisons. About 10.4% of the entire African-American male population in the United States aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated, by far the largest racial or ethnic group—by comparison, 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white men in that same age group were incarcerated. According to a report by the Justice Policy Institute in 2002, the number of black men in prison has grown to five times the rate it was twenty years ago. Today, more African-American men are in jail than in college. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college. In 1980, there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college. So there we have it, another case closed, tempers flaring, a young girl still dead while her mother impacted for life, a media circus moves to the next attraction and Lady Justice stands silent, waiting for the next case.

Findings from HIV/AIDS at 30: A Public Opinion Perspective

Rakesh Singh
(650) 854-9400
Craig Palosky
(202) 347-5270

As the HIV/AIDS epidemic marks its thirtieth year, the Kaiser Family Foundation is releasing its eighth large-scale national survey of Americans on HIV/AIDS. The report, HIV/AIDS at 30: A Public Opinion Perspective, is available online.
Key findings include:
  • Black Americans, and particularly young blacks, express much higher levels of concern about HIV infection than whites. Blacks are four times as likely as whites to say they are "very concerned" about becoming infected with HIV (40 % vs. 11%). Black adults under 30 are even more likely to be worried, with half saying they are very concerned. Blacks are also more than twice as likely as whites to say a close friend or family member is living with HIV or has died from AIDS (41% vs. 17%), and almost three times as likely to see HIV/AIDS as an increasingly urgent problem for their community (35% vs. 12%). Still, at a time when the HIV epidemic continues to place a disproportionate burden on the black community, many key measures of concern and visibility are not increasing for blacks, and are in fact flat or trending downward over time. For example, the share of blacks saying HIV/AIDS is a more urgent problem for their community than it was a few years ago fell from 49 percent in 2006 to 35 percent today.
  • Reported HIV testing rates are flat since 1997, including among some key groups at higher risk.
  • Thirty years into the epidemic, there is a declining sense of national urgency and visibility of HIV/AIDS. In 1987, two-thirds of Americans named HIV/AIDS as the most urgent health problem facing the country, a share that has declined steadily over the years, and sits at just 7 percent today. More recently, there has been a decline in the share who report having seen, heard, or read about the epidemic in the past year, from seven in ten in 2004 to four in ten today.
  • At the same time, after nearly a decade of decline, the share of Americans who say they are personally "very concerned" about becoming infected ticked up for the first time in this year’s survey. The change was driven by young adults, among whom personal concern increased from 17 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2011.
  • Many Americans still hold attitudes that may stigmatize people with HIV/AIDS, but such reported attitudes have declined in recent years. Substantial shares say they they’d be uncomfortable having food prepared by someone who is HIV-positive (45%); having an HIV-positive roommate (36%); having their child in a class with an HIV-positive teacher (29%); and working with someone with HIV (18%). Still, the trend on these questions generally has been in the other direction; for instance, the share of Americans saying they would be "very comfortable" working with someone who has HIV increased from about a third in 1997 to roughly half in 2011. There have also been real declines since the early years of the epidemic in the share expressing the view that AIDS is a punishment (from 43% in 1987 to 16% today) or that it’s people’s own fault if they contract the disease (from 51% to 29%).
  • Despite continuing economic problems, more than half of Americans support increased funding for HIV/AIDS, and fewer than one in ten say the federal government spends too much in this area. Younger adults express even higher levels of support and a majority of them are optimistic that more spending on prevention and treatment will lead to meaningful progress. The public overall, however, is split on whether more funding in those areas will lead to progress.
  • Media, which includes radio, television, newspapers and online sources, is the top information source on HIV across racial/ethnic groups and for younger and older adults alike. Six in ten Americans say most of what they know about HIV/AIDS comes from the media, putting it ahead of other sources like school, their doctors, friends and family, and the church. Substantial shares of the public -- and majorities of blacks and Latinos -- say they’d like to have more information on HIV-related topics, including prevention and testing.
  • Three-quarters of Americans could not name an individual who stands out as a national leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and no person who was mentioned makes it into double digits. And most Americans say there has not been enough action on HIV from a variety of groups and institutions including Congress; their state and local governments; the media; corporate, religious, and community leaders; pharmaceutical companies; and the Obama administration.

No comments: