Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Perks of the Politicians

There are fewer places more pleasing to live in Delhi than the Lutyens zone, designed and built many of the official buildings during the Raj in the 1930s and 1940s. The zone includes almost 2,000 highly coveted bungalows, overwhelmingly held in state hands. The broad, leafy avenues here are lined with white colonial bungalows featuring porticoes and arches, high ceilings, spacious rooms and forbidding perimeter walls. The quarters for the servants alone are vast and the gardens are the size of public parks.

200 of the bungalows are still occupied by ex-MPs who should have left the residences within a month of the last parliament being dissolved on 25 May. New incoming MPs are keen to grab one of the nicest perks of the job.

World Socialist Party (India) 
257 Baghajatin 'E' Block (East),
Kolkata - 700086
Tel: 033-2425-0208,
Email:
wspindia@hotmail.com

Measles

The measles vaccine, which is included in the MMR jab, is a safe and effective way to stop the disease.
Ideally everyone should be immunised, but the target set by health experts is at least 95% of the population vaccinated.
The UK achieved this in 2016, when the World Health Organization declared the nation measles-free.
That did not mean that measles had been wiped out entirely, just that none of the cases originated in the UK.
But that has now changed. The UK has lost its eliminated status and measles cases are on the rise.
 Experts say that until measles elimination is achieved globally we will continue to see cases of measles coming to the UK.

Two doses of the vaccine leaves 99% of people protected - the majority of new measles cases have been in people who are not vaccinated. These cases are most common among older teenagers and people in their early 20s, who missed out on MMR vaccination when they were younger. 

Measles circulates in many countries around the world, and there are currently several large outbreaks across Europe in countries where rates of MMR vaccination have been low. 

As measles is highly infectious, even small declines in vaccination rates can have an impact, and anyone who has not received both doses of MMR is at risk.
Just 87% of children in England are receiving their second dose of MMR. In Wales and Scotland it is around 92%, in Northern Ireland it is 91%. The target is 95%.
In London, estimates suggest about one in four children starting primary school do not have the full protection that the MMR vaccine offers.
For several years global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85%. Second dose coverage, while increasing, is 67%.
An estimated 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been prevented in the UK since a measles vaccine was introduced in 1968.

Climate Change is Now

The climate is changing. Cities in America where more than 80% of the nation’s population lives, are disproportionately affected by these changes, not only because of their huge populations but because of their existing – often inadequate – infrastructure. In urban areas, heatwaves are exacerbated by vehicles, industrial processes and the presence of heat-retaining concrete and asphalt. And it is in cities – especially in low-lying poorer areas – where record rainfall often accumulates.

From a disaster perspective, heat is invisible,” says Kurt Shickman, executive director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance. Mitra likens the problem to having a finger in a pan of water while someone gradually turns up the heat. “Maybe in 50 or 60 years, living in some cities will be unbearable. There could be a tipping point of no return.”

A study by the University of Maryland published this year predicts that by 2080, Denver will be as hot and wet as Borger, Texas, about 50 miles (80km) north of Amarillo; Philadelphia will feel warmer and drier – more like Memphis, Tennessee, and New York City will be up to 9F (5C) warmer, with a climate similar to Jonesboro, Arkansas. 

How the climate crisis will impact US cities?

Deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 658 people die every year from heat-related causes. From 1999 to 2010, 8,081 heat-related deaths were reported in the United States and occurred more commonly among older, younger and poorer populations. Urban heat islands retain heat overnight, preventing people from sleeping well and leading to even more health problems, says Lucy Hutyra, an associate professor of earth and environment at Boston University. Air pollution is often worst on hot days, and when people leaven windows open for air flow, the quality of the air can cause respiratory problems. Warmer, moister conditions also mean that heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding is on the rise; so far this year 78 people have died as a result, according to the National Weather Service.

Power outages. As experienced by New Yorkers this year, excessive heat in conjunction with excess demand for electricity for air conditioning can cause the grid – or portions of it – to fail. “Energy demand is going to go up,” says Shickman. “It’s a substantial and nonlinear reaction. Our grid is going to be taxed in ways I don’t think we are prepared for.” Shickman says that going from an 80F day to a 90F day would require an additional 20-25% power. Going to 95F requires almost 40% more power. Excess heat can also evaporate water needed to cool power plants, forcing some out of commission.

Infrastructure failures. In addition to electricity grid problems, asphalt can melt in excess temperatures; rail tracks expand; and can even affect airports – currently some airplanes can’t take off from Phoenix airport, for example, when the temperature exceeds 118F because the air is too dense. Heat is a problem for all areas of city governance, said Shickman. “If you ask any sort of department head what is your biggest challenge, heat is probably not number one, but I guarantee you it’s somewhere between number two and number five.” But, he says, unfortunately there are no “heat czars” to manage the issue. Flooding, too, can wreak havoc on a city’s infrastructure, from blowing out bridges and roads to inundating water treatment plants.

Economic Impact. According to a 2018 study by Texas A&M University: “The growing number of extreme rainfall events that produce intense precipitation are resulting in –and will continue to result in – increased urban flooding unless steps are taken to mitigate their impacts.” The 2017 National Climate Assessment concluded: “Heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades …[and that] … increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions.” Between 2007 and 2011 alone, urban flooding in Cook County, Illinois, resulted in over 176,000 claims or flood losses at a cost of $660m (£545m).


Almost daily we see news of climate change events: heat waves, wild fires, melting glaciers, floods, violent storms, rising seas. And we also see news of increasing preparations for war: increased armament spending on new sophisticated weaponry, threats and counter-threats, military manoeuvres. But the real war is the class war, where only the victory of working people can end the existential threats of global warming and global warfare. Something is wrong, don’t you think, with our priorities?

The climate crisis has arrived it is accelerating, threatening humanity. It should be obvious that maximum international cooperation is needed to reduce and reverse climate heating if we are to prevent the collapse of civilisation. But we are fixated on retaining and maintaining capitalism.

Our species is unique in the ability to modify ecosystems as a means to support our planet's many peoples. The Socialist Party calls for a society in which all activities will be coordinated and at the same time, be sufficiently flexible to permit a great autonomy for social life and enough collaboration to prevent disorganisation and disorder.

Global warming and the environmental crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. The uncontrolled exploitation and gross waste of resources typical of capitalism, is the source of this disaster. Capitalism today leads to people and nature being alienated. Shortsighted hunt for profit, neglects and abuse of science under capitalism destroy the world’s environment at an accelerating speed. Science, technology and industry can be positive and beneficial to society, but private property and the priorities of the ruling class create great problems. Our answer is that working people must organise to overthrow those who threaten the existence of the people of the world. Only a planned socialist economy has the capability to remedy a future climate catastrophe. Socialism is a society developed and built in correspondence with the laws of development for human society as well as for nature.

Gloomy Prospects for the Future

Consumer confidence has been held back by continued uncertainty. UK households have cut back on big purchases such as holidays as fears of a possible recession continue to loom, a survey suggests.

Confidence among UK households has fallen to its lowest in three months.
The latest figures reveal that British households have grown more cautious in their appetite to make major purchases such as cars and holidays falling at the second-fastest rate since September 2017.
Concerns over Brexit and a possible recession also saw households become increasingly pessimistic about job security.
Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, said: “Latest survey data continued to highlight a fragile state among UK households towards their financial well-being.
“The Brexit haze, uncertainty over the political environment and the increased possibility of the UK entering recession appear to have dented expectations, which dipped into negative territory following positive readings in both June and July.”
The latest GDP figures revealed that the economy shrank by 0.2% in the second quarter of the year, increasing fears of the potential for a recession.


Migrants are not criminals

More than a century ago, when Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, the workers in American meatpacking plants were recent immigrants, largely from eastern Europe. Sinclair eloquently depicted the routine mistreatment of these poor workers. They were employed for long hours at low wages, exposed to dangerous working conditions, sexually abused, injured on the job, and fired after getting hurt. In the novel, the slaughterhouses of Chicago serve as a metaphor for the ruthless greed of America in the age of the robber barons, of a society ruled by the law of the jungle.

According to a recent study by the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, “The industrial produce and animal production and processing systems in the U.S. would collapse without the immigrant and migratory workforce.” The handful of multinational companies that dominate our food system have for many years embraced the opportunity to exploit them for profit. The immigrant workers arrested in Mississippi the other day were earning about $12.50 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, during the late 1970s, the wages of meatpacking workers in Iowa and Colorado were about $50 an hour.

The immigration raid symbolised how an industry with a long history of defying the law has managed to shift the blame and punishment onto workers. 680 immigrant workers—almost all Latino, many of them women—to waiting buses with their hands zip-tied behind their backs. One worker, an American citizen, was shot with a Taser for resisting arrest. Children gathered outside the poultry plants crying as their parents were taken away and sent to private prisons. No senior executive of a major food processing company was arrested for violating immigration, worker-safety, food-safety, antitrust, or environmental laws.

FastFood Nation, by Eric Schlosser The Chain, by Ted Genoways and Scratching Out a Living, by Angela Stuesse have concluded: What is described as an immigrant “invasion” is actually a corporate recruitment drive for poor, vulnerable, undocumented, often desperate workers who have used them to break unions and to cut wages by as much as 50 percent. With out unions to defend them workers faced line speeds being increased, government oversight gettingreduced, and health and safety standards compromised where injured workers were once again forced to remain on the job or get fired.

One of the poultry plants raided last week. B. C. Rogers, launched a hiring drive in 1994 called “The Hispanic Project.” Its goal was to replace African American workers, who were seeking a union, with immigrant workers who’d be more pliant. It placed ads in Miami newspapers, arranged transportation for immigrants, and charged them for housing in dilapidated trailers. Within four years, it had brought roughly 5,000 mainly Latino workers to Mississippi. The poultry industry expanded throughout the rural South during the 1990s, drawn by theabsence of labor unions.

Today countless farmworkers and meat-packing workers who entered the United States without proper documentation are the bedrock of the American food system. 

Inflation in Argentine

Argentina is in the grip of another economic crisis. Its currency plunged, hitting an all-time low against the United States dollar. This followed the defeat of the pro-market president, Mauricio Macri, in presidential primaries on Sunday. 

In 2018, inflation hit its highest level since 1991, spiking to 47.6 percent. It is running at over 50 percent this year, alongside growing poverty, unemployment and resentment on the streets that resulted in a decisive primary win for the opposition candidates, Alberto Fernandez and his populist running mate, former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

In June, INDEC reported that the cost of the "basic food basket" - a figure used by the government to measure poverty - had increased 58 percent over the last year for a family of four. In the aftermath of Monday's sharp devaluation, the cost in pesos of imported produce such as bananas and avocados spiked because importers pay for them in dollars. And butchers said prices for beef (which increased 67 percent from May 2018 to May 2019) went up seven to 10 percent, with another hike anticipated in the near future. Media have reported that the prices of flour, oil, pasta and rice - among other goods - have risen or are likely to do so in the future. The increased price of material used to package food is also driving costs up.

The government suspended its goods and services tax (known as the impuesto al valor agregado or IVA) on a list of products it considers essential - including bread, milk, oil, pasta, sugar and rice. The IVA is typically 21 percent. It also announced a 90-day freeze on petrol prices to mitigate transportation costs.

Leo Bilanski, president of the National Association of Business Owners for the Development of Argentina, doubted the government's measures would make much of a long-term difference. "It might cut the price these days, but the prices are going to keep going up." Bilanski underscored the gravity of the situation. "On Friday, the bag of flour cost 900 pesos [$16.41]. And on Monday, it was between 1,250 and 1,350 pesos [$22.79 and $24.62]," he said. "It went up 40 percent." He noted that the cost of a kilogramme of bread is expected to go from 80 pesos ($1.46) to 105 to 120 pesos ($1.91 to $2.19) this week. 

"On Monday and Wednesday, peppers cost 1,500 pesos [$27.35] a crate. [On Friday] they cost 800 to 1,000 [$14.59 to $18.24]," said Rodriguez, veg seller . "Sales are down, and our products - you either sell them, or you throw them out because they go rotten. People don't have money."

"Every time that I see that the dollar has gone up and I see that I have to tighten things even more, it causes me a lot of anguish," said Silvia Echeverria, a retired doctor.

https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/food-prices-soar-argentina-peso-devalues-190819161950428.html

Unite - Unity is Strength

The global transfer of capital and migration of people from one part of the world to the other the opposite sides of the same coin. As capitalist institutions invested across the world in pursuit of power and profits, people have left their homes to improve their economic conditions. 

It appears natural for humanity to roam the planet. in pursuit of a better life. However, as the world is becoming more difficult to live in, as a result of changing climatic conditions, as a result of wars being waged and as political oppression and social control have imposed greater limits on human freedom, the movement of peoples has only increased and accelerated, inevitably entering the lands of other workers, who come to view these newcomers as “invaders” who will steal their jobs and destroy their religious, undermine their social and political values; and pollute the “white race”.  Through this distorted lens of nationalism, it is the foreign “others”, and not capitalism nor the capitalists, who are the “enemies of the people.” 

Today a multitude of immigrants from a multitude of nations are viewed as the outsider alien “Jews” who are to be blamed for the decline of the native inhabitants conditions. Thus, it is all those who are not white, not native born, who do not share the same language, values, religion, who are the perceived enemies who must be either refused compassion and cast out.

 There is a rise of nationalism in the “white” nations of the world from America to Australia, a rise of radical white supremacists who are taking up weapons to kill migrants.

Many working people have bought into the lies and myths and have joined in the feeding frenzy of hatred against fellow-workers of other nations, unable to recognise the real enemy. They turn against one another, blinded by a lack of class consciousness which the ruling class so successfully obscures.

India's Drug Pushers and Dope Peddlars

Two of India’s biggest drug companies are alleged to be giving inducements to “quack” doctors of gifts and cash to encourage them to prescribe vast amounts of antibiotics, fuelling the rise of drug-resistant superbugs around the world. India’s unqualified doctors – who are often from poor rural areas and slums – earn so little that these incentives can raise their monthly income by as much as a quarter.

Sun Pharma is the largest drug manufacturer in India, with more than £3bn revenue in 2018, and its products are used by the NHS. NHS rules do not prevent it buying from companies that give inducements to doctors, as long as none are given in the British supply chain. The NHS also buys devices from Abbott Laboratories, a US company that pulled in more than £24bn in revenue last year. Its Indian subsidiary, Abbott India, is the second-biggest pharmaceutical business in the country.

It is illegal to sell antibiotics to quack doctors in most parts of India, but the law is rarely enforced. The so-called quacks, who are sometimes the only healthcare provider in their impoverished communities, often go on to prescribe antibiotics incorrectly. By offering incomplete or simply unnecessary treatments, they unwittingly speed up the creation of superbugs that kill tens of thousands of babies in India alone each year. India is a centre of the antibiotics resistance crisis. Superbugs kill at least 58,000 babies every year and Indian doctors warn they regularly see patients with “pan-resistant” infections; those resistant to all available drugs. 

In theory, India offers free healthcare to its poorest citizens, but a recent report from the CDDEP found a shortfall of 600,000 government doctors and two million nurses. Many people therefore depend on India’s more than 2.5 million quack doctors, which includes those who practise traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda, homeopathy and naturopathy, and those with no medical training at all. They vastly outnumber the one million private or government doctors trained in scientific medicine. Many patients do not realise the doctor they visit has no recognised qualifications.

A sales representative admitted that sales representatives promoted antibiotics based on how much profit they would make, rather than medical evidence. He said: “Now, the point is not about whether they work or not. The point is: where is the market? Where is the big market?...So it is not about the efficacy part, it is about how good I can grab the particular market and then penetrate into that market.” The salesman described quacks as an “easy” market for antibiotics and their main target for sales. Professional doctors needed to be convinced of how safe and effective a drug is, whereas quacks often required no explanations, only incentives, he said.
The aggressive marketing is in part down to their sales targets: Sun Pharma sales representatives earn bonuses if they sell more than 300,000 rupees (about £3,440) worth of antibiotics and painkillers every month.

Dr Meenakshi Gautham, a researcher from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, based in India, has interviewed quacks, also called informal providers, for more than a decade and concludes they are being increasingly targeted by pharmaceutical companies who aggressively market antibiotics. 
“I have had pharmaceutical representatives tell me in some areas that if they have targets to sell 100,000 rupees [£1,150] worth of antibiotics, 80,000 comes from selling to informal providers, and 20,000 from formal doctors,” she said. Her research shows that most quacks, as well as private doctors, get all their information about antibiotics from sales representatives and drug companies, rather than independent sources. Companies will host fully catered conferences for quacks with paid lectures from private doctors on which antibiotics to prescribe, she said. “There is a strong push coming from the pharmaceutical industry,” Gautham said. “That push takes the form of very aggressive promotion of antibiotics, especially in rural markets, because these represent huge turnovers for those companies that manufacture and market antibiotics..."
World Socialist Party (India) 
257 Baghajatin 'E' Block (East),
Kolkata - 700086
Tel: 033-2425-0208,
Email:
wspindia@hotmail.com