Tag Archives: presidential campaign

Hillary Clinton, Heroin, and the Time to be Heard

Three weeks ago, Hillary Clinton’s health-policy advisor called me to discuss the opiate epidemic, its causes and what could be done about it.feed-image-1

The advisor said she was reading my book, Dreamland, and that Mrs. Clinton had read my NY Times op-ed column of April 19 about the issue.

The advisor told me Mrs. Clinton had been hearing a lot of very passionate comments from parents with addicted children as she campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire.

We spent an hour on the phone, talking about policy, about pain pills, pill mills, Mexican heroin trafficking, and about the quiet surrounding this epidemic that had allowed it to spread.

So I’m glad to see that Mrs. Clinton is now coming up with policy proposals to address it, one of which is to begin talking about it and end the stigma and silence surrounding addiction.

This epidemic is neither a red nor a blue issue. Thus I hope candidates from both parties will respond as well. I’ll be happy to chat with them, if they want to call.

I’d hope, moreover, they would focus not only on heroin, but on the broader problem of overprescribing of opiate painkillers, which so often provide the gateway to heroin. (Pain pills have their legitimate role in medicine, but too often are massively and unnecessarily prescribed.)

But there’s another important point in this. I believe parents of addicted children need to use this approaching presidential campaign as a way of magnifying their voices.

As a longtime journalist, I know that the most poignant stories are the ones that can have the most impact. Sadly, many parents up to now have kept silent, ashamed or simply worn out by their children’s addiction.

That is changing. More are stepping forward, as Mrs. Clinton was hearing on the campaign. Some are mentioning heroin overdose as a cause of death in their children’s obituaries – an act of enormous, and necessary, courage.

But these stories are still not being heard the way they need to be.

During past drug scourges, public violence aroused public ire. The crack years, for example, saw drive-by shootings and carjackings. I was a crime reporter during those years and saw this first hand.

None of that public violence has happened during this epidemic. So the job of arousing public attention falls almost entirely to parents.

I believe this presidential campaign offers an opportunity to be heard, to magnify voices. Make opiate abuse (pain pills and heroin) and overprescribing a point of presidential debate.

To do that, parents in particular need to step forward and tell their stories the way no one else can.

Photo: Hillary For President website


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MEXICO: Televisa paid to promote EPN, smear AMLO

Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui interviews Laura Barranco about the money reportedly paid by presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto (of the PRI) to Televisa, the country’s television and entertainment conglomerate, to promote his image and campaign.

Barranco is a former Televisa employee. The interview is in Spanish.

Added to that is a story by Jo Tuckman of the Guardian, who has reviewed documents, contracts apparently, that seem to show that Televisa sold time on entertainment and news shows to promote the candidacy of Pena Nieto, and smear the campaign and image of leftist candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. AMLO has called on EPN and Televisa to release the contracts.

“We’re watching a presidential candidate constructed openly, or sometimes not so openly, by the most important television network of the country,” Aristegui says during the interview.

Televisa has denied the claim.


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MEXICO: Presidential campaign photos by Keith Dannemiller

In Mexico, ace freelance photographer Keith Dannemiller has been traveling the presidential campaign trail.

He’s got many of the shots posted online. He paused long enough to add some comments on the job …

On the campaign: I have been covering these happenings for the last 24 years — this is my fifth time – as a photojournalist for various newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. I swore to myself that 2006 with Felipe Calderon (PAN), Andres Manuel López Obrador (PRD) and Roberto Madrazo (PRI) competing would be my swan song.

On weirdness: Just yesterday, ex-President Vicente Fox, he of the PAN, who so convincingly dethroned the PRI in 2000, says that he is backing the PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto for president.

Manuel Bartlett Diaz (then Secretary of the Interior and necessarily of the PRI), who infamously declared in 1988, that the vote tabulating computer system had crashed on election night, denying victory to the coalition that supported Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas for president, is now candidate for Senador in the state of Puebla from the left-center PRD party – the party of Mr. Cárdenas.

On Enrique Pena Nieto, candidate of once-ruling PRI: Everything during the trip to Queretero, three hours north of Mexico City was meticulously handled, just like it was in the good ole’ days of the PRI hegemony. Myself and the US reporter were picked up at the reporter’s Mexico City hotel and driven to the forum that Mr. Peña Nieto was leading on the aerospace industry in Mexico.

When the event was over we were led to a room by ourselves for an interview with the candidate. I was allowed to set up some small strobes with umbrellas and wander freely around the interview area. With a long lens, I could fill the frame with the candidate’s face and the images convey some of his emotional response to the questions. With the interview finished, to my surprise, Mr. Peña Nieto began to walk, surrounded by a couple of bodyguards, to his waiting SUV. I shot from the balcony of the building where we had just been and then moved down into the scrum. It took him an hour and a half to go about three hundred meters, and he was mobbed mostly by adoring female supporters, who were grabbing, kissing and posing for photos with the candidate.

On Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, candidate of the leftist PRD: If I were a Mexican, I would vote for Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This has to do with my political and philosophical beliefs, but more importantly with his style. The man can be sardonic, ironic, funny and heartfelt all in the same speech. In a word he is more human, than any of the other candidates on the stump, and this, by a long shot. In my opinion, he leaves himself open to more revealing photos. He seems to have the ability to step outside himself, distance himself from his persona as a political candidate and look back in at the situation in which he finds himself.

Check out all Keith Dannemiller’s photographs.





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