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Newsletter: Anti-vax stupidity is spreading like measles

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People rally against a proposed state bill that would remove parents’ ability to claim a philosophical exemption to opt their school-age children out of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, on Feb. 8 in Olympia, Wash.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Feb. 9, 2018. There may be snow everywhere in our local mountains, but all of Los Angeles County is still officially in a low-level drought. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

On some level, I empathize with the parents who withhold or delay vaccination for their children. While polio, rubella and other child maladies have largely faded from the modern parenting experience (because of vaccination, you should want to scream), autism has done precisely the opposite. Parents of young children today go on autism walks, are educated about early warning signs and subjected to ill-considered “debates” on the unfounded link between vaccines and autism. In contrast, no one today raises money for polio awareness, and how many cases of chickenpox have you heard about lately?

That might be about to change, and not because public health officials have won us all over. Pockets of the country known as havens for vaccine-skeptical parents are experiencing serious and completely unnecessary measles outbreaks, as are other parts of the world. All of this is totally unnecessary and aided by social media and exceedingly permissive laws, says the L.A. Times editorial board:

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If God is on Team Trump, then God has changed. Religion professor Randall Balmer checks Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ claim that God wanted Donald Trump to become president against Scripture and notes a few passages — the command to “welcome the stranger,” injunctions against lying and discouragement of adultery, among others — that might suggest otherwise. In response, a reader says abortion alone accounts for Trump’s strong support among evangelicals.

How one former drug addict got hooked on OxyContin: Author Dani Fleischer says she was having a nervous breakdown while home from college visiting her parents, and her mother innocently handed her part of an OxyContin tablet. Her reaction: “This feels like home.” Readers who suffer from chronic pain and rely on opioids to manage their condition describe their “highs” as being far from the “shimmering” effect mentioned by Fleischer, and more like temporary relief from their persistent discomfort.

California needs to try YIMBYism. Decades ago, writer Bill Boyarksy bought his modest bungalow in West L.A. for the then-high price of $92,000. He has benefited from skyrocketing housing prices and improved safety, but it’s wrong that what has enabled the rapid wealth inflation of property owners — the severe constriction in housing supply — is now threatening those who want their part of the California dream. Boyarksy’s remedy: a bill in the state Legislature that would allow for high-density housing to go up in neighborhoods close to transit corridors. L.A. Times

Strippers are independent contractors, not employees, says Stormy Daniels. There are several reasons why this is so — for privacy, the ability to dance for whom and where you want and more — but a recent state Supreme Court decision threatens the employment status of strippers because their work is not “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.” California needs a way to give all workers, whether employees or contractors, access to affordable healthcare and safety protections without forcing them to be classified one way or the other, Daniels says. L.A. Times

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Birthright Israel has a problem. The program, which provides free educational trips to Israel for young Jewish people throughout the world, claims to be nonpolitical but conspicuously avoids any mention at all of the West Bank, checkpoints or the pre- and post-1967 boundaries, writes Judd Olanoff, who traveled with Birthright in 2008. “Birthright is a generous and valuable gift,” he writes. “But the program must reconsider its approach, or it risks failing the next generation of American Jews.” L.A. Times

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com


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