A moment that changed me: the loss of my brother to alcohol-related illness – The Guardian

A moment that changed me

For so long, I questioned why drink always won, without realising that for Kev it was never a question of winning or losing, it was just about surviving

‘Kev always seemed full of life – talking, laughing and coming up with ideas.’ Eve Ainsworth’s brother around 1982. Photograph: Eve Ainsworth A moment that changed me A moment that changed me: the loss of my brother to alcohol-related illness

For so long, I questioned why drink always won, without realising that for Kev it was never a question of winning or losing, it was just about surviving

This year it will be 17 years since my brother died, aged 40. I have so many regrets – regret not only for Kev, who was finally killed by the addiction that overtook him, but regret that I didn’t try to understand him more when he was alive. It is only now that I have begun to appreciate the pain and entrapment inflicted by alcohol addiction and how the man I thought I knew became swamped by this misunderstood and deadly condition. My brother deserved so much more. For so long, I questioned why drink always won, without realising that for him it was never a question of winning or losing. It was just about surviving each

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Officers seize guns, swords from tent near I-5 in Seattle – KOMO News

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Officers seized a cache of weapons from a tent near Interstate 5 Thursday. Photos via Seattle Police Dept.

SEATTLE – Officers seized a cache of weapons from a tent near Interstate 5 Thursday, a spokesman with the Seattle Police Department said.

The cache included handguns, rifles, ammunition, and several knives and swords.

The weapons were confiscated following a drug investigation earlier this month, police said.

Officers received information that several dealers were selling methamphetamine and heroin from the tent, located near Dearborn Avenue.

The tent was covered in a canopy of tarps, had a reception area for buyers to place their orders, and reportedly had its own security guards, police said.

Police learned that the dealers inside the tent were in possession of firearms and that there had recently been disputes in the area and several armed groups.

SWAT officers and detectives with the Narcotics Unit served a warrant at the tent late Thursday morning.

No one was inside the tent when officers searched it. Police say they found a revolver, two air pistols, three rifles, ammunition and four long knives and swords.

Police say the investigation is ongoing.

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One in five kids harmed by alcohol – Eternity News

One in five Australian children, or about a million each year, are harmed as a result of someone else’s drinking, a new Australian poll has found.

The annual alcohol poll of 2017, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), shows that most people believe alcohol is linked to domestic violence.

“It’s a damning indictment of this country’s toxic relationship with alcohol when we have more than a third of Australians affected by alcohol-related violence,’ FARE chief executive Michael Thorn told AAP.

As Australia and India recently battled an enthralling test series on the subcontinent, brewer Carlton & United announced it would be ending its 20-year sponsorship of Australian cricket.

The declaration almost snuck under the radar: the NRL and AFL seasons were well underway and the sports pages were full of footy. The Australian team were half a world away.

As a nation, we seem to accept alcohol and its use and abuse as a right. – Keith Garner

For 20 years adults and children have been exposed to the Victoria Bitter logo from 10am to the close of play. The logo has appeared on the shirts of Australian cricketers, advertising banners, boundary ropes, fences and electronic scoreboards.

Like sports betting, alcohol advertising has been an all-pervasive and all-consuming part of the Australian summer.  It’s hard not to think of national cricket without alcohol. It is also a key strategy in making alcohol consumption a normal part of life.

Cricket Australia has already lined up a new national sponsor – and yes, it’s believed to be another alcohol company. As a nation, we seem to accept alcohol and its use and abuse as a right. Much has been made of our “drinking culture.” It appears that such a culture dates back to the early days of the British colony.

The Australian educationist and author Dr George Mackaness noted: “The population of Sydney (circa 1806) was divided into two classes. Those who sold rum and those who drank it.”

…alcohol abuse has become a rite of passage for a growing number of young Australians. – Keith Garner

The Rev. Richard Johnson, the nation’s first Christian minister, penned his concern at how the colony’s constituents spent their hard-earned money on brew. He hoped governments would act to curtail the problem. Johnson, however, was a lone voice.

If Johnson was alive today he would probably conclude that the spigot of the vat remains open, and that perhaps the early colony of which he had oversight has never really grown up.

Today the voices who challenge the booze culture are touted as “wowsers” or “moral cops.” The change to the lock-out laws in Sydney drew a similar chorus despite the rapid decline in street assaults, violence, anti-social behaviour and hospital admissions.

Sadly, public drunkenness and anti-social behaviour is indicative of a larger problem: alcohol abuse has become a rite of passage for a growing number of young Australians.

The estimated cost of alcohol abuse by drinkers in Australia is $15.3 billion. – Keith Garner

Grog has become a measure of identity, consumed on the false premise that it can reveal our “true” and underlying personality. The one-punch drunks who have killed and injured innocents on our streets belie the idea that there is anything affable or friendly in this spurious reasoning.

Public drunkenness and subsequent violence is only one part of the problem; the issue goes to the heart of every Australian. It is simply false and destructive to believe our personality teeters on the balance of a beer and that our national character is defined by our collective love affair with the bottle.

It also erodes our character, resilience and collective capacity in other ways. The social and economic cost of drinking is well documented: alcohol costs Australians a staggering $36 billion every year, according to research by the AER Centre for Alcohol Policy Research.

The estimated cost of alcohol abuse by drinkers in Australia is $15.3 billion.

The centre also found that the overall cost of alcohol-related  harms to someone other than the drinker such as motor vehicle accidents, lost productivity, family breakdown, child protection costs, domestic violence, and crime and policing was $20 billion. The impact of alcohol on our Indigenous communities is a major justice issue in which we all share some responsibility.

Alcohol dependence does not discriminate: we have people from all social and economic backgrounds engaged in our recovery programs. – Keith Garner

The personal health costs are all too apparent. The impact of long-term alcohol dependence leads to increased rates of heart disease, stroke, mouth and throat cancer, diabetes and brain damage.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has called for an end to alcohol sponsorship of sporting teams and tournaments and a ban on alcohol promotion during live sport coverage during the day.

This call followed the Australian Medical Association’s plea for a prohibition on alcohol sponsorship of sport. The Association’s report found that there was “convincing evidence supporting the link between alcohol marketing and alcohol consumption by young people… There is an urgent need to tackle the problem of alcohol marketing in Australia with robust policy and stronger regulatory oversight.”

Since 1991, France has had a complete ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship. Sport has not been impacted and alcohol consumption has dropped. Other nations like Norway and Turkey have strong restrictions. It is time Australia took this lead and showed the same commitment to restricting alcohol advertising and sponsorship as it has done with tobacco.

Each day at Wesley Mission we deal with the broken lives caused by addiction and substance abuse. Our work in this area has spanned many decades – from two major hospitals specialising in recovery to a myriad of counselling, family and youth services.

We cannot afford to be careless when discussing the consumption of alcohol. – Keith Garner

Alcohol dependence does not discriminate: we have people from all social and economic backgrounds engaged in our recovery programs – from senior executives and professionals to trades people.

Colleagues also see alcohol abuse in the homes of families facing overwhelming challenges, on the streets as young people struggle to find their place in life and in the lives of former soldiers besieged by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As a Christian minister, I have also had to deal with the shattered lives that ensued through the abuse of alcohol. I have offered support and consolation to families as they have watched loved ones waste away and I have taken the funerals of people who have been killed as a result of drunk driving.

I am not a prohibitionist but the decision many of us take is by choice not law. We have a freedom in Christ and those of us who make decisions with regard to alcohol most often do so out of regard and concern for others. This is the position we continue to take at Wesley Mission even though it may be considered outdated and unpopular. In point of fact alcohol remains a major social issue.

We cannot afford to be careless when discussing the consumption of alcohol. We must be considered and never destroy the work of Christ in a person’s life by abusing our freedom. Our identity as a nation requires us to take stock, to look to a greater common good and a sense of self and meaning that rises above the brand of a bottle to a reality that has its origin in the one true God “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

The Reverend Keith Garner is CEO/Superintendent of Wesley Mission, Sydney.

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Trump Warns That 'Major, Major Conflict' With North Korea Is Possible – New York Times

HONG KONG — President Trump warned Thursday of the possibility of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea, in an interview in which he said he was seeking a diplomatic solution to concerns that Pyongyang was preparing to conduct another nuclear test.

In the interview with Reuters, Mr. Trump praised President Xi Jinping of China for his efforts to resolve the dispute over North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs, but he cautioned that diplomatic efforts might fail.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” he said. “Absolutely.”

Mr. Trump’s remarks came amid signs that North Korea might soon conduct another underground detonation at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site despite Mr. Trump’s warning not to do so. China has played a mediating role in the crisis, as Mr. Trump has urged Mr. Xi to use Beijing’s leverage with North Korea, a longtime ally, to persuade it not to conduct a test.

“I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death. He doesn’t want to see it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Xi. “He is a good man. He is a very good man, and I got to know him very well.”

In the interview, Mr. Trump actually offered some grudging praise for North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

“He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime,” he said. “So say what you want, but that is not easy, especially at that age.”

“I hope he’s rational,” Mr. Trump added of Mr. Kim.

The United States has been pressing the United Nations to impose more sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs. The diplomatic efforts have coincided with military maneuvers by the United States and South Korea in Pocheon, northeast of Seoul, South Korea, where the allies have demonstrated some of their latest weapons. In addition, the Michigan, a submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, has arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan. And a Navy strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson has been sent to the Sea of Japan, which borders the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier this month, as tensions with North Korea were flaring, the Carl Vinson was said to be sailing north, toward the peninsula, when it was actually heading south, toward the Indian Ocean.

To protect against a North Korean attack, the United States is on the verge of making a new antimissile system operational in South Korea. Mr. Trump said he would seek to have South Korea pay for the system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, putting its cost around $1 billion.

Under its arrangement with Washington, South Korea was to provide land and build a base for the Thaad system, while the United States would pay for it and cover its operational costs.

In South Korea, Mr. Trump’s comment shook the election campaign to choose a successor next month to Park Geun-hye, the ousted president. Ms. Park’s decision to accept the Thaad deployment has been one of the most contentious issues on the trail, and Moon Jae-in, the leading candidate, has vowed to review it if elected.

On Friday, Son Kum-ju, a spokesman of the opposition People’s Party, demanded that the government clarify whether Mr. Trump’s comment reflected his “unilateral wishful thinking” or whether there had been a new deal on cost-sharing that had not been made public.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said on Friday that its stance had not changed.

Mr. Trump also said that because of the United States’ sizable trade deficit with South Korea, he intended to renegotiate or end a trade pact with the country. That free trade agreement, called Korus, went into effect in 2012. It contains a framework for trade in both goods and services, and it covers environmental issues as well.

Like all free trade deals, it is designed to remove barriers to commerce. South Korea is America’s sixth-largest trading partner in goods, with $112.2 billion worth of commerce between the two in 2016, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. South Korea has a $10.7 billion trade deficit in services with the United States, but a $27.7 billion trade surplus in goods.

In the Reuters interview, Mr. Trump also rejected an overture from Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, for further discussions. His telephone call with her in December alarmed China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.

“My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi,” Mr. Trump said. “I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation. So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him.”

On Thursday, Ms. Tsai had raised the possibility of talking with Mr. Trump again. “We have the opportunity to communicate more directly with the U.S. government,” she said in an interview. “We don’t exclude the opportunity to call President Trump himself, but it depends on the needs of the situation and the U.S. government’s consideration of regional affairs.”

Follow Gerry Mullany on Twitter at @gerrymullany

Gerry Doyle contributed reporting from Hong Kong, and Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea.

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House will not vote on Affordable Care Act rewrite, smoothing way for government to stay open – Washington Post

By Kelsey Snell and Paul Kane,

Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday.

A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, members are likely to approve the short-term spending bill when it comes to the floor and keep the government open past midnight on Friday.

The failure of Republicans to unite behind the new health-care measure was a blow to White House officials, who were eager to see a vote ahead of President Trump’s 100-day mark. Congressional leaders were more focused this week on securing a spending agreement, according to multiple people involved in the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly.

It was also evidence of just how divided Republicans are about how to overhaul Obamacare, despite seven years of GOP promises to repeal and replace the 2010 law. Conservatives and moderates have repeatedly clashed over the contours of such a revamp, most sharply over bringing down insurance premiums in exchange for limiting the kind of coverage that is required to be offered.

As many as 15 or so House Republicans have publicly said they will not support the latest GOP proposal, which was crafted among the White House, the hard-line House Freedom Caucus and a leading moderate lawmaker. That leaves House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and the White House an incredibly narrow path for passage. The speaker can lose only 22 Republicans on a health-care vote because Democrats have fiercely opposed any attempt to repeal the ACA.

Exiting a roughly 90-minute meeting in Ryan’s office late Thursday night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there would be no health-care vote Friday and that the main focus of the impromptu huddle was to ensure that the leadership had the votes to pass the one-week funding bill.

“We are not voting on health-care tomorrow,” McCarthy said Thursday, denying that leaders had ever wanted to vote by Friday.

“We’re still educating members,” McCarthy said, adding: “We’ve been making great progress. As soon as we have the votes, we’ll vote on it.”

Trump weighed in on the spending negotiations on Thursday, tweeting that Democrats wanted to shut down the government to “bail out insurance companies.”

“As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks — Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!” Trump tweeted.

But the failure to make progress on health care is a good sign for smooth passage of the government funding bill — at least the version that will keep the government’s lights on through May 5. Lawmakers are still finishing negotiations on a longer-term spending deal to fund the government through September. Republicans have stated that they need Democratic support to pass that measure, which they expect to consider next week.

The Senate stands ready to approve the one-week spending bill, but only once the broader spending agreement is complete. Senators in both parties told reporters they were instructed not to leave Washington on Thursday night.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday blocked a measure to allow the Senate to approve the stopgap budget without a formal vote. He has indicated that he will drop his objections once he is assured that a long-term budget agreement is in place, according to Senate Democratic aides.

“Instead of rushing through health care,” Schumer told reporters, “they first ought to get the government funded for a full year — plain and simple.”

The White House tried to jump-start talks on health care after House Republicans failed to pass a previous attempt at an ACA rewrite at the end of March.

But Democrats fiercely oppose any effort to repeal the ACA and threatened to pull their support from the short-term bill if Republicans moved forward with that effort.

“If Republicans pursue this partisan path of forcing Americans to pay more for less and destabilizing our county’s health-care system,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), then “Republicans should be prepared to [keep the government open] on their own.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a meeting of Democratic whips on Thursday that she had called Ryan and told him there were two conditions for Democratic support of the short-term funding bill, according to aides in the room. Democrats would only sign off on the emergency spending measure to allow lawmakers time to pass the longer-term spending deal, and they would not back the measure if doing so would allow Ryan time to set up a vote on a GOP rewrite of the Affordable Care Act.

The sudden turmoil was yet another sign of Congress’s inability to meet deadlines for its most basic function: keeping the government’s lights on. And it presages fights among Congress, the White House and both parties over spending priorities, despite the one-party rule that gave some observers hope that the gridlock would cease.

But it was Republicans who this week jettisoned money for Trump’s border wall because of widespread agreement that it should not be tied to the spending deal. Trump has also agreed to pay the cost-sharing subsidies for low-income people who get their insurance under the ACA — something he threatened to withhold if he did not get money for the wall.

Ryan on Thursday also blamed Democrats for “dragging their feet” on negotiations in an apparent preparation toblame Democrats if their deal falls through.

“I would be shocked if they would want to see a government shutdown, that the Democrats would want to do that,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly press briefing. “The reason this government funding bill is not ready is because Democrats have been dragging their feet.”

The standoff is the first in what could be several budget battles between Congress and the White House this year. Trump has called for massive hikes to defense spending and harsh cuts to domestic agencies in his 2018 budget, a proposal that many Republicans have rejected out of hand. He is also likely to revive calls for money to begin constructing the border wall — which by some estimates would cost as much as $21 billion — in future budget negotiations.

Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were forced to negotiate with Democratson the budgetafter it became clear that Republicans lacked enough votes to pass a long-term spending bill on their own. As a result, the GOP leaders have had the uncomfortable task of writing a measure that ignores nearly all of Trump’s priorities, including money for the border wall.

Schumer also sought to refocus blame on the GOP, arguing that the only thing standing in the way of a long-term agreement was Trump himself. Congressional leaders were nearing a final deal several weeks ago, but the talks were derailed when Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney announced that Trump would demand that money for the border wall be included in the funding bill.

“Unfortunately the president stood in the way for quite a long time,” Schumer said. “That’s why we’re a little delayed.”

Congressional leaders had hoped to finalize a spending deal by midweek, but the talks were stuck on a small number of unrelated policy provisions, known as riders. Democrats complained that GOP leaders were trying to use the spending bill to cut abortion access and scale back Wall Street reforms passed under President Barack Obama.

Robert Costa and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.

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