World and National News – July 5, 2017

HHS announces new mental health and substance abuse funding

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $195 million in a new funding opportunity for community health centers to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services focusing on the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. The awards are expected to be made in September of this year.

Health centers that receive an award will use the funds to increase the number of personnel dedicated to mental health and substance abuse services and to leverage health information technology and training to support the expansion of mental health and substance abuse services and their integration into primary care.  This funding will address two of HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D.’s highest priorities: to better address serious mental illness and to fight the opioid epidemic.

“Addressing serious mental illness across our nation and combating the opioid epidemic are two of the Department’s top priorities,” said Secretary Price. “Integration is key to solving these challenges. This funding will help our nation’s health centers provide that integration for mental health services and opioid addiction treatment.”

“Providing behavioral health care in a primary medical care setting reduces costs and leads to improved patient outcomes,” said Dr. George Sigounas, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “This is especially true when it comes to substance abuse, including opioid addiction.”

HRSA’s Health Center Program provides funding to community-based health care providers in underserved areas. Nearly 1,400 community health centers operate at more than 10,400 sites, providing care to over 24 million people across the nation, in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.


R2-D2 sells for $2.75 million

The reportedly only known complete R2-D2 unit in the public domain was purchased last week for $2.75 million at a California auction.

The unit, constructed of aluminum, steel, and fiberglass, was assembled from components from the original “Star Wars” trilogy and from “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” It included no internal workings or mechanics.


Australian authorities file sexual abuse charges against top Vatican official

Australian police have filed charges of sexual abuse against Cardinal George Pell, a senior adviser to Pope Franci and the third ranking official in the Vatican. The full list of charges is not yet public, but police have disclosed that there are “multiple charges,” and “multiple complainants.”

Pell has taken leave from the Vatican to fight the charges. In a June 29, 2017, news conference in Rome Pell said the charges were false.

“I’m innocent of these charges, they are false,” he said. “The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

Pell is required to appear in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court July 18, 2017, at which time the full list of charges will be read and released.


Japan aims to send a man to the moon

According to a newly-released proposal by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Japanese intend to land a man on the moon by 2030. This marks the first time the agency has expressed any intention of traveling into space beyond the International Space Station.


Coordinated raid shuts down European ISIS cell

Authorities in Spain said a series of coordinated raids on the island of Mallorca and in the U.K. and Germany, resulted in the capture of six suspected ISIS terrorists who were allegedly raising funds and recruiting fighters for the Islamic State terror network.


Trump to meet with Putin at G20 summit

President Donald Trump is traveling to Hamburg, Germany, this week to attend the G20 summit. Sources in the White House have confirmed the president will be meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time since he took office in January.

National Economic Director Gary Cohn said the details and the agenda for the meeting are still being negotiated between the two leaders. It is unclear if the meeting is to be a formal bilateral meeting between the two or more of an informal pull-aside meeting.


Senate passes corrections to Russia sanctions bill

The United States Senate last week passed a correction to the previously-passed Russia sanctions bill. The corrections were made to address concerns raised from the House of Representatives about the constitutionality of the original bill.

The original bill passed the Senate on a 98-2 vote, despite opposition from the Trump administration. The House held the bill up on the grounds that it violated constitutional requirements that any bill with revenue measures originate in the House.


Trump travel ban now in effect

The second, “watered down,” version of President Trump’s travel ban went into effect last week, after the United States Supreme Court agree to hear the case and allowed implementation of the ban pending the hearing.

The Supreme Court ruled that visitors from Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan must have a “credible claim of bona fide relationship” in order to enter the United States. Such relationship could be with an entity such as a university or a company, or with a person living inside the United States, such as a spouse. Vacation plans, hotel reservations, and other such activities do not constitute bona fide relationships. Those failing to establish such a relationship are banned from entering the United States for 90 days. Refugees from any country have been banned for a period of 120 days.


Minnesota man doesn’t ‘get out of jail free’

A Minnesota man was arrested last month on a fifth-degree controlled substance warrant, but was given an ‘A for effort’ by Deputy Mike Vai of the Dakota County Sheriff’s Department. The man reportedly produced a ‘get out of jail free’ card from the classic board game Monopoly in his defense.

A photo of the card was posted to the department’s official Facebook page with a note that read: “We appreciate the humor! Deputy Vai arrested a gentleman this weekend on an outstanding warrant. He carried this Monopoly card just in case. ’A’ for effort!”