Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Crapitalist Health Service in Texas

There’s a popular myth that the uninsured—in Texas, that’s 25 percent of us—can always get medical care through emergency rooms. Ted Cruz has argued that it is “much cheaper to provide emergency care than it is to expand Medicaid,” and Rick Perry has claimed that Texans prefer the ER system. The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word “stabilize” is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. Also, hospitals charge for ER care, and usually send patients to collections when they cannot pay.

 Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities, has shown, 9,000 Texans per year will die needlessly as a result of our failure to expand Medicaid. The sick and the dying cannot speak out. Dying patients are too sick and wracked with pain to protest.

More than a million Texans are the working poor, or they are adults without dependent children, who cannot qualify for Medicaid in Texas, no matter how poor they are.

 The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) is no longer the state-subsidized charity hospital it used to be.  UTMB administrators drastically cut charity care.   Whereas UTMB accepted 77 percent of charity referrals in 2005, it was only taking 9 percent in 2011. UTMB ascribes these changes to financial strain from Hurricane Ike, the county’s inability to negotiate a suitable indigent-care contract and loss of state funding. The state blames budget shortfalls. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, could have been a huge relief. However, Gov. Rick Perry rejected billions of dollars in federal funding to expand Medicaid, funding that should have brought access to more than a million Texans.

For patients, it means that seeking medical care will still require risking bankruptcy.  For doctors, the message was not only that our patients’ lives don’t matter, but also that medicine will continue to be part of the economic machine that entrenches poverty. When the poor seek our help, they often wind up with crippling debt.

UTMB doctors now refer many to St. Vincent’s. St. Vincent’s House, which hosts the free clinic, is a historically African-American community center in the lowest-income neighborhood. UTMB will treat someone for a heart attack (because that’s an emergency covered by EMTALA), then refer them to St Vincent's for follow-up, even though it doesn’t have a cardiologist. They’ll stabilize a patient after her third stroke, put her on blood thinners and send her to St Vincent's. They once sent St Vincent's, from the ER, a man with a broken arm. They put the arm in a splint and referred him to us. What did they expect—orthopedic surgery? Put on a cast? It doesn’t even have an x-ray machine. Former St. Vincent’s leader Dr. Merle Lenihan has described the clinic as a “moral safety valve.” It protects UTMB from confronting the consequences of the state’s refusal to provide care.

Full article

Population grows but a million lives lost

The UK population is projected to increase by 3.6 million (5.5%) over the next 10 years, from an estimated 65.6 million in mid-2016 to 69.2 million in mid-2026. The UK population is projected to pass 70 million by mid-2029 and be 72.9 million in mid-2041.

Over the next 10 years, 46% of UK population growth is projected to result from more births than deaths with 54% resulting from net international migration.

In the 10 years between mid-2016 and mid-2026, will witness:
  • 7.7 million people being born
  • 6.1 million people dying
  • 5.2 million people arriving in the UK
  • 3.2 million people emigrating
The UK’s projected growth of 16% between 2015 and 2040 is well above the EU average. It is also the highest growth rate among the four largest nations in the EU – over the same period France’s population is projected to grow by 10% and Germany’s by 4%, while Italy’s population is projected to see a slight population decline.

There will be an increasing number of older people; the proportion aged 85 and over is projected to double over the next 25 years. In mid-2016 there were 1.6 million people aged 85 and over; by mid-2041 this is projected to double to 3.2 million. The Old Age Dependency Ratio (number of people of pensionable age for every 1,000 of working age) is projected to rise from 305 in mid-2016 to 370 in mid-2041, even with the scheduled increases in State Pension age. If State Pension age were to remain at mid-2016 levels the ratio in mid-2041 would be 442.

In their projections, published in October 2017, statisticians at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that by 2041, life expectancy for women would be 86.2 years and 83.4 years for men. In both cases, that’s almost a whole year less than had been projected just two years earlier. And the statisticians said life expectancy would only continue to creep upwards in future. Looking further ahead, a further one million earlier deaths are now projected to happen across the UK in the next 40 years by 2058. It means the century of steadily improving life expectancy in the UK is now over.

Life expectancy is most commonly calculated from birth. It is the average number of years a new-born baby can expect to live if the mortality rates pertaining at the time of their birth apply throughout their life.
In 1891, life expectancy for women in England and Wales was 48 years. For men it was 44. By 1901, on average, women lived to 52 and men 48. 1921 saw women living to 60 and men to 56. 30 years later, in 1951 women lived to 72 and men to 66.  In 1971 women lived to 75 and men to 69. 1991 had women living to 79 years and men to 73. 
By 2011, women in England and Wales were living to 83 years and men to 79 years. Since then no improvement. Life expectancy flat-lined. The stagnation in life expectancy is no longer a “blip”. It is the new norm. 
The latest figures for the period 2014 to 2016 were published in September 2017. Women can now expect to live to 83.06 and men to 79.40. For the first time in over a century, the health of people in England and Wales has stopped improving. The situation in Scotland was even worse than that in England and Wales
Life expectancy for women in the UK is now lower than in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The league position for men in the UK is comparable. In almost all other of the most affluent countries, apart from the US, people live longer lives than in the UK, often many years longer.
 To calculate the figure of a million lives lost you have to subtract all the future deaths now predicted in the 2017 report, which was based on data from 2016, from those projected two years ago, based on a 2014 projection.
Every year up until at least the year 2084, people across the UK are now expected to die earlier. Already in the 12 months between July 2016 and June 2017, we calculated that an additional 39,307 more people have died than were expected to die under the previous projections. Over a third, or 13,440, of those additional deaths have been among women aged 80 or more who are now dying earlier than was expected. But 7% of these extra deaths in 2016-17 were of people aged between 20 and 60: almost 2,000 more younger men and 1,000 more younger women in this age group have died than would have if progress had not stalled. So whatever is happening is affecting young people too.
The projection that there will be a million extra deaths by 2058 is not due to the fact that there will simply be more people living in the UK in the future. By contrast, the ONS now projects less inward migration. The million extra early deaths are not due to more expected births: the ONS now projects lower birth rates. The extra million early deaths are simply the result of mortality rates either having risen or having stalled in recent years. The ONS now considers that this will have a serious impact on life expectancy in the UK and population numbers for decades to come.
If you are in your forties or fifties and live in the UK this is mostly about you. Almost all of the million people now projected to die earlier than before – well over four-fifths of them – will be people who are currently in this age group: 411,000 women and 404,000 men aged between 40 and 60. Child, infant mortality and still births have also not improved recently 
Whatever has happened it is not a sudden worsening of the healthy behaviour of people in the UK. It is not a sudden rise in obesity or some additional carelessness about looking after ourselves. Neither obesity nor any other human behaviour linked to poor health such as smoking or drinking alcohol has seen a sudden rise. The most likely culprit, by far, is austerity, including the effect of the cuts to social and health care services.
The 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat government led to the loss of care support to half a million elderly people by 2013. NHS budgets stalled or fell slightly in the years following 2010-11 and many old-age care homes went bankrupt. There was a rise in fuel-poverty among the old. Sanctions and cuts to disability benefits were introduced, alongside many more aspects of increased economic callousness. By 2016, cuts in welfare spending, especially to older pensioners had been linked to a rise in deaths – initially among elderly women and later older people in general living in poorer areas. Public health experts writing in the British Medical Journal called for an inquiry, but none came. 
 By summer 2017, Michael Marmot’s Institute of Health Equity was linking health services cuts to the rise in dementia deaths and the faltering national life expectancy. Researchers at Liverpool, Oxford, Glasgow and York universities connected some of the stalling in health improvements to delays in discharging patients from hospital due to insufficient older adult social care. Earlier in the year, the Financial Times reported that the deceleration of previous rises in life expectancy was so rapid that it had cut £310 billion from future British pension fund liabilities. And this was just for a few of the larger pension schemes.
On November 16, an article in the British Medical Journal Open concluded that severe public spending cuts in the UK were associated with 120,000 deaths between 2010 and 2017. Just over a third of these occurred between 2012 and 2014 and almost none in 2010 or 2011. The rate of death due to austerity was rising and there was what is called a “dose-response relationship” between cuts and rising mortality. This term, commonly used as part of the evidence needed to establish that a medicine is beneficial, means that as you increase the dose of an intervention the responses to it rise at the same rate. It can also be used to indicate likely causes of harm. In this case it indicated that the more cuts there have been to public health, social services and benefits – particularly for people in old age – the more earlier deaths there have been in the UK. Cuts that prevent visits by social workers to elderly people reduce their chances of being found after a fall at home. Cuts that make it harder to rehouse someone who is currently in a hospital bed back into the community, result in hospital beds not being available for others.
The economist Simon Wren-Lewis who looked into the link between austerity and mortality  explained:
It is one thing for economists like me to say that austerity has cost each household at least £4,000: this can be dismissed with ‘what do economists know’? But when doctors say the policy has led to premature deaths, that is something else.”


"An indigena without land is no indigena."

 About 3.4 percent of Colombia's citizens are "indigenas," people native to an area whose origins far predate the arrival of western Europeans. They, more than any, suffered greatly during the fifty years of armed conflict between the government, guerrillas, criminal gangs and paramilitary groups, and they were repeatedly driven from their land. Indigenous peoples often live in remote parts of Colombia, in areas rich in natural resources that were highly sought after by all of the parties involved in the conflict. Their lands often sat atop coal or gas reserves or were extremely fertile, providing perfect conditions for growing coca, sugarcane or oil palms.
Although Colombia's government anchored the rights and territories of its indigenous groups — all of whom are closely bound to the country's nature — in its constitution, it rarely honors those rights in practice. "Their rights are being trampled upon," says Monika Lauer Perez, Colombia expert for the Latin American aid organization Adveniat. "They do not have a voice and they have difficulty gaining access to justice."
The agreement reached by the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) guerrillas last year was largely supported by most indigenous groups. They had hoped that it would be a step towards peace and a more just redistribution of land, which was part of the agreement. Yet new problems have arisen since the treaty went into effect.
"State authorities responsible for returning land often turn it over to large landowners and not to indigenous groups," says Lauer Perez. "One could say that the injustice continues — just without weapons."
In the small village of Frontino, a four-hour drive from the Colombian city of Medellin, a dozen wooden huts stand alone, surrounded by sugarcane fields and green hillsides. Some 200 people live here. Years ago, ten times as many people lived here. Then paramilitary groups arrived and began executing residents. "They threatened to kill more if we didn't leave. So we were forced to flee," says Felipe Bailerin. He recalls: "We left everything..." Those who fled were forced to live for years as internally displaced persons within Colombia. They were unable to return to their village until just a few years ago. Not much remained of their possessions, least of all their land. In the meantime massive amounts of sugarcane had been planted in their fields. The operator, a large corporation, now allows the indigenous residents to work on the company's plantation — for very low wages that are paid out irregularly. "We lost everything we had," says Felipe Bailerin. Today Frontino's residents do not even have enough land to grow the corn or beans needed to feed themselves. Many children in the village are undernourished and suffer from diarrhea and other illnesses. Felipe Bailerin and his fellow villagers would very much like to sue to regain their land, but that is expensive, and indigenous people often cannot produce deeds to their properties.
Most indigenous communities did not want to have anything to do with the FARC, but the rebels were also not their biggest enemy. "You could usually come to some kind of agreement with FARC. You knew what they wanted, for instance, to plant coca. But they also respected indigenous peoples' relationship to the land, and they made sure that big agro-industrial and mining companies didn't move in," says Lauer Perez. "Indigenous groups are very worried about how to deal with the new situation."
Ulrich Morenz, a Colombia expert advising the  NGO Society for Threatened Peoples, agrees that the FARC, in spite of its guerilla activities, was nonetheless a stabilizing factor for indigenous peoples. When problems arise now, such groups often do not know who they can negotiate with, Morenz explains. "Disillusionment spread relatively quickly because people realized that other groups were taking FARC's place. And that has made the situation even more complicated at times." New and established guerrilla groups, criminal gangs and paramilitary organizations have all sought to fill the void left by FARC since it laid down its arms. And these groups are now pushing into regions that FARC formerly held.
"The level of violence has generally gone down, but it appears as if there are more targeted killings," says Morenz. "Social activists, as well as a number of indigenous people, have been the victims of such murders." 
For months criminal groups have been recruiting ex-guerrilla members to gain power over drug trafficking, and violence in the country's peripheral regions has skyrocketed. In 2017, 120 human rights advocates were killed. Lawmakers, former Supreme Court justices and even the former anti-corruption prosecutor are involved in corruption scandals, and with the recent tax reform, investment rates are declining. Hundreds of villagers have been fleeing their homes across Colombia's Pacific coast this year, as armed groups now fight over territory abandoned by the FARC rebels.  Colombia's Pacific coast remains particularly troublesome because it is sparsely populated, has little state presence and is ridden with drug trafficking routes, illegal mines and even animal trafficking rackets. That mean's there's a lot of treasure for armed groups to fight over.
"The FARC controlled many illegal industries in this region, and their departure left a power vacuum" Avila told DW. "Now the pacific coast is a disputed area."
UNHCR, the UN's Refugee Agency, says that 6,600 people fled from their homes along Colombia's Pacific coast in the first eight months of this year. 
"We weren't allowed to collect our crops for weeks and we couldn't even fish," says Nilson Chamarra, an indigenous leader from Choco province. His tribe's reservation sits along a river that is disputed by the  National Liberation Army (ELN) and the  United Self-Defenders of Colombia (AGC), a paramilitary criminal gang that runs a considerable portion of Colombia's cocaine trade.

The obscenity of wealth

The nation’s three richest billionaires are wealthier than the bottom half of the population. Jeff Bezos tops the list
 Last April, as Amazon shares rose sharply, Jeff Bezos net worth increased by $6 billion in 20 minutes.
A few weeks ago, his wealth increased by $1.5 billion in one day. Last year, he made $19.3 billion – on average around $52 million daily, over $2 million per hour, $36,000 a minute, $600 a second.
He has over fourfold the wealth of his alma mater, Princeton University. According to the Land Report, he’s the 25th largest US landowner.
In contrast, most Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, one missed one away from hunger, homelessness, and despair. Tens of millions of people are food insecure, dependent on food stamps and food pantries to feed themselves and their families.

America's Take-All Rich

Between 2007 and 2016, the average wealth of those in the top one percent grew by a whopping $4.9 million.

What about everyone else? In that same period, the average wealth of the bottom 99 percent declined by $4,500.

This is according to an analysis put out Wednesday by Matt Bruenig of the People's Policy Project, based on data from the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances.

Tax analyst Hunter Blair of the Economic Policy Institute noted on Wednesday, the top one percent of households would on average see a $32,500 tax cut per year under the GOP plan. The bottom 20 percent of earners, by contrast, would pay $10 more annually.

At Bloomberg on Wednesday, Toluse Olorunnipa reported that executives at Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Amgen, and Cisco have all said in recent weeks that their companies will prioritize increasing dividends or buying back shares from shareholders, before investing their savings in the company by hiring more workers or giving employees raises.

At a speech to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council by Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, the moderator asked business leaders in the audience for a show of hands if they planned to reinvest tax cut proceeds. Few people responded. "Why aren't the other hands up?" Cohn asked. Vice President Mike Pence, reportedly told the business leaders, "We need all of you to tell this story" of corporate tax cuts leading to higher wages and more jobs for working Americans. Groups including Americans for Tax Fairness, the Tax Policy Center, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, have all found that the notion of long-term, meaningful benefits for the middle- and lower-classes is indeed just a story.

While corporations' taxes are immediately and permanently cut from 35 percent to 20 percent under the GOP plan, middle-class Americans will owe more in taxes by 2027, even if they see some relief in 2018.  Taxpayers making up to $30,000 will see their tax burden increase by 2019. By 2021, that extends to those making $40,000 and under.

 America’s only levy on grand concentrations of private wealth is the federal estate tax. You need to be ultra-wealthy in America today — have a net worth over $11 million — to be subject to the federal estate tax. Only two out of every thousand Americans reach that level of wealth. Only the largest 0.2 percent estates face the tax; the other 99.8 percent face no estate tax at all.

The new tax bill would double the value of estates that’s exempt from the estate tax, from $11 million per couple ($5.5 million per person) to $22 million per couple ($11 million per person). That would:
Cut the share of estates facing the tax from 2 in 1,000 to fewer than 1 in 1,000. Even today, only the largest 0.2 percent estates face the tax; the other 99.8 percent face no estate tax at all. Policymakers have dramatically raised the exemption level in recent decades (from $675,000 per person in 2001), so far fewer estates are large enough to be taxable. Doubling the exemption level would reduce the share of estates facing the tax from 0.2 percent to 0.07 percent, leaving only 1,800 estates nationwide facing the tax.

Doubling the exemption would eliminate the estate tax for estates worth between $11 million and $22 million per couple, and would give estates worth over $22 million per couple (all those left facing the tax) a tax cut of $4.4 million apiece — 40 percent of the additional $11 million in assets that would be exempt. That’s because the 40 percent statutory estate tax rate applies only to amounts above the exemption level.

 Forrest Mars Jr. had a $25-billion fortune when he died in July 2016. But the Mars family has apparently been able to avoid estate tax on that entire $25 billion. If Forrest’s fortune had been subject to a significant estate tax after he passed on, the collective wealth of his four daughters in 2017 would be substantially less than that $25 billion. Forbes puts the wealth of each of Forest’s four daughters at $6.3 billion, for a total of $25.2 billion. That’s almost identical. As Mars family history makes painfully clear, tax avoidance vehicles available under current law allow even billionaires to zero out their estate tax. 

“Our Planet. Our Struggles. Our Future.”

The threat of sea-level rise — and the possibility of tiny islands, mostly in the Pacific, including Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Palau, Micronesia and Vanuatu, vanishing from the face of the earth or facing economic calamities because of a projected sea-level rise triggered by climate change — — has raised new fears. According to the United Nations, about a third of the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs), including SIDS, described as the poorest of the world’s poor, are threatened by global warming and sea-level rise. Simon Bradshaw, Climate Change Specialist at Oxfam Australia (who co-authored Oxfam’s recent policy paper on climate refugees) told IPS that climate change is already forcing people from their land and homes, and putting many more at risk of displacement in future. He said supercharged storms, more intense and prolonged droughts, rising seas and other impacts of climate change all exacerbate people’s existing vulnerabilities and the likelihood of displacement.
“While climate change affects us all, the risks of displacement are significantly higher in lower-income countries and among people living in poverty. Women, children, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups are also disproportionately affected.”
Bradshaw also said the world’s atoll countries face a particularly severe challenge from climate change. Rising seas, increased wave heights and higher storm surges are inundating land on which communities grow food, contaminating the thin groundwater lens of which they depend for freshwater, and swallowing homes.
While relocation will always be an option of last resort, even conservative projections for sea level rise over the course of this century pose a grave threat to atoll communities and other low-lying populations around the world.
He pointed out that the loss of homes, livelihoods and ancestral lands through displacement epitomizes the human cost and grave injustice of climate change.
“Those least responsible for climate change are bearing the brunt of its impacts, and have fewer resources to cope with these new realities. However, much can and must be done to minimize the risk of displacement linked to climate change, and to guarantee rights, protection and dignity for those who are forced to move”.
The 1951 UN convention on political refugees– which never foresaw the phenomenon of climate change– permits refugee status only if one “has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” But a proposal for an amendment to that Convention—or an optional protocol — to include a new category of “environmental refugees” has failed to get off the ground.
Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, a former UN High Representative and Under-Secretary-General for Least Developed Countries, Land-locked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), told IPS the rationale for the recognition of the category of “environmental refugees” has been established for quite some time. " I had highlighted the case of the most vulnerable countries affected by the degradation of the environment and had advocated for recognition of the resulting refugee situations,” he said. “These environmental refugees need to be recognized formally as refugees and entitled to be covered by the 1951 U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees. It is high time for us to do that,” Chowdhury declared.
As has been the case with a number of other international treaties and conventions, an optional protocol to the 1951 refugees convention could be adopted to recognize the environmental refugees, he pointed out. The international community owes it to these ill-fated hapless victims of environmental catastrophes whether manifesting as loud emergencies or the silent ones,” Chowdhury said.
The proposal to recognize “environmental refugees” has surfaced once again, this time against the backdrop of a major conference of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)—the International Civil Society Week (ICSW)– scheduled to take place in Fiji, December 4-8.
Selena Victor, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Mercy Corps Europe, told IPS global institutions and conventions must evolve to meet new and developing challenges, and climate change is one of the most pressing facing our world today.
 ”It is absolutely critical that we maintain – and strengthen – the fragile protection available to those fleeing persecution – that does not lessen our obligation to help all those forced to flee for their own and their children’s survival,” Victor said. “When faced with a growing number of displaced people around the world, the question we must ask ourselves is if people are running for their survival, should we make the distinction as to their reasons, or focus our efforts on support and providing refuge?”, she asked.
Bradshaw said the negotiation by September 2018 of a new Global Compact on Migration must reaffirm the need to minimize displacement by addressing the root causes of climate change and factors in vulnerability; encourage expanded channels for regular migration for those who are nonetheless forced to move; begin a process to ensure status and legal recognition for those displaced in the context of climate change; and ensure all solutions uphold human rights and sovereignty, and are grounded in the perspectives and priorities of affected communities.

Quote of the Day

"...I want to point something out: we have never lived in a world without migration. There are different theories about how humans came to be on this planet. One thing we can all agree on, however, is that we have always moved. We have always migrated. This has happened in response to the circumstances around us.
Migration is part of our humanity. It would not be possible to make it disappear.
Nor should we want to. It has enriched our society. It has allowed composers, artists and writers to advance their crafts. It has seen researchers and scientists explore new terrains, and exchange ideas towards ground-breaking discoveries. It has influenced and enriched cuisines, cultures and languages. Without it, our world would be a lot less colourful..." - Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly in his address to the 108th Session of the Council of the International Organization for Migration

Poor Canadians

Despite living in a province rich with natural resources, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians struggle to make ends meet. One in five children in B.C. live in poverty.
About 678,000 people live in poverty in B.C., one of the highest levels in the country. Of that group, nearly 40 per cent are adults working for low wages.
Feezah Jaffer, executive director of the Surrey Food Bank, said she sees that statistic reflected every day. "A lot of our clients are the working poor," Jaffer said. "You have people coming that are hardworking, they are resilient, they are just trying to keep their heads above water. More and more, what we are seeing is single-parent families, or two-parents families with a single income or multiple part-time jobs, with young children just trying to make it work," she said.
Isobel is a single mother who works full-time in customer service. She said she needs the money she saves by coming to the food bank to pay for other family expenses.  
"My job doesn't pay me enough, that is why I am here," she said. "When I have to come and pick up some food, some fresh vegetables, diapers and canned food, I have to say that it's really helpful."

Progress Against Malaria Stops

Progress in the global fight against malaria has stalled amid signs of flatlining funding and complacency. Malaria infected around 216 million people in 91 countries in 2016, an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year. It killed 445,000 people, about the same number as in 2015. The vast majority of deaths were in children under the age of five in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that "in some countries and regions, we are beginning to see reversals in the gains achieved".

"Globally ... after an unprecedented period of success, we are no longer making progress," said Abdisalan Noor, a WHO expert on malaria and lead author of the report. "I am concerned that we have become complacent."

Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO's global malaria programme, said that partly due to funding, and partly due to governments shifting focus away from malaria, the progress seen in the past decade is no longer being sustained. "We want this to be a wake-up call to the malaria community," he told reporters. "We are not on track, and we need to get back on track."

Overall funding for malaria has levelled off since 2010. In 2016, an estimated $2.7 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally. In 2015, funding totalled $2.9 billion - almost the same as in 2010. The WHO says a minimum annual investment of $6.5 billion is needed by 2020 to meet targets on controlling malaria by 2030. The WHO report found that when analysed on a country-by-country per capita basis, funding in countries where there is a high threat of malaria has fallen to an average of less than $2 per year per person at risk. 

Noor said that alongside stagnating funding, the report found "equally concerning" gaps in access to and use of vital malaria prevention, diagnostic and treatment tools such as bed nets, indoor spraying and primary healthcare.  Fewer than half of households in countries in sub-Saharan Africa have enough bed nets to protect against mosquito bites, and only about a third of children in Africa with a fever have access to free public health sector medical care.

Hungry London

One in 10 London families are relying on charity handouts to eat and food banks.

One in four London parents worry about being able to afford to feed their children

One in 10 London families said they wished they could give their children “more food”

 One-third of the parents questioned said they were unable to provide their children with food they believed would be healthier for them.

Robotics and Unemployment

800 million global workers will lose their jobs by 2030 and be replaced by robotic automation, a study of 46 countries and 800 occupations by the McKinsey Global Institute found. Machine operators and food workers will be hit hardest. Specialised lower-wage jobs, such as gardening, plumbing and care work, will also be less affected by automation
One-fifth of the global workforce will be affected.
One-third of the workforce in richer nations like Germany and the US may need to retrain for other jobs.
In the US alone, 39 to 73 million jobs may be eliminated by 2030, but about 20 million of those displaced workers may be able to easily transfer to other industries.
In the UK, 20% of current jobs will be automated over the same period
Poorer countries that have less money to invest in automation will not be affected as much. India will only have about 9% of jobs replaced by emerging technologies.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Elite's Education

American families pay more to send their kids to college than anywhere else in the world. But for wealthy families, the costs start long before that very first college-tuition payment. Town & Country estimated that wealthy families spend $1.7 million per child to get them into the Ivy League.
  • Preschool: $4,500 for a preschool admission coach and $80,400 for nursery school and pre-kindergarten at the New York City-based Horace Mann School. 
  • Elementary and middle school: $156,400 for K - 4th grade at Francis Parker School in Chicago and $164,990 for grade 5 - 8 at Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts.
  • High school: $157,600 for four years at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California and $104,000 for a private language tutor 40 weeks a year.
  • Enrichment: $29,870 for music and art classes for 4-year-olds, $104,000 for a foreign language tutor, and $56,600 for a travel sports league.
  • College prep: $100,000 for college counseling with IvyWise and $55,000 for a gap year with Winterline’s travel and cultural immersion program.
  • College: $282,280 for four years at Yale University and $24,304for a study abroad at Yale.

Food Waste

The current loss and waste of one-third of all food produced for human consumption would be just enough to feed the nearly one billion people who go to bed hungry every single night. 
  • Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
  • The land, water, labor, energy and other inputs used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food are pulled away from uses that may have been more beneficial to society – and generate impacts on the environment that may endanger the long-run health of the planet.
  • Food waste, which is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.
As much as 1.3 billion tons per year of food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption, according to the UN.
Moreover, it is not just about losing or wasting food—it also implies a waste of resources used in production such as land, water, energy and inputs, increasing the greenhouse gas emissions.
“Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. It is an excess in an age where almost a billion people go hungry,” adds the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In the case of the European Union member countries 70 per cent of  food waste arises in the household, food service and retail sectors, with production and processing sectors contributing the remaining 30 per cent.
Meanwhile, in the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 per cent of the food supply.

The Homeless in the UK

More than 300,000 people – equivalent to a city the size of Newcastle – are now sleeping rough in Britain after the number of people losing their home soared in the last year, a report has revealed.
The study, by housing charity Shelter, found that 307,000, or one in every 200, people are now homeless. 
Although the figure has risen by 13,000 in the last year alone, Shelter said the partial nature of government data means the real number of homeless people is likely to be even higher. Homelessness has increased by 34 per cent since the Conservatives entered office in 2010.
Government welfare changes, including the introduction of Universal Credit and cuts to housing benefit, are partly to blame for the crisis, the charity said. It added that a “drought” of affordable homes had also made it particularly hard for people to escape homelessness.
In the borough of Newham, where one in every 25 people is homeless. The boroughs of Haringey (one in 29), Westminster (one in 31) and Enfield (one in 33) follow not far behind.
Shelter said more than a third of people currently living in temporary accommodation will still be homeless in a year’s time.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “It’s shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless. Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children. And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for. On a daily basis, we speak to hundreds of people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness. A trap that is tightening thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts." 

Child Poverty

 The UK is the world’s fourth-richest economy.

The latest Social Mobility Commission report, State of the Nation, exposes the government’s abject failure in tackling the root causes of poverty and inequality and in offering hope to communities across the country. The gap between the better-off and the least well-off is growing – Britain is becoming a more unequal society.

There are 4 million children living in poverty. This means nine pupils in every classroom of 30 are officially poor. The rise in child poverty in the UK has continued for the third year running, with the proportion of poor children at its highest level since the start of the decade. Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty: according to the Children’s Society, 67 per cent of children in poverty have at least one parent in work.

School funding and local authority budgets for school support services have been slashed. These cuts are undermining schools’ ability to provide a well-rounded education with a broad and balanced curriculum and sufficient support for all pupils. The harsh reality of cuts means that schools are being forced to increase class sizes, reduce subject choices, remove some subjects from the curriculum, cut back on extracurricular activities and reduce the numbers of qualified teachers and support staff. This impacts on all pupils, but particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Buying and selling refugees

“Refugees are nothing but commodities,” says Anaspasia Papadopoulou, senior policy advisor at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) in Brussels. “Militias use them to make a profit. When they are no longer useful, they need to get rid of them.”

Extortion and forced labour are the realities in Libya's refugee detention centers. For over two years, the cruelty of detention in Libyan detention camps has been widely reported and denounced but with no immediate end in sight. Two months ago, the head of MSF Joanne Liu wrote an open letter calling the Libyan detention system “rotten to the bone”, “a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion.” She accused Europe of being complicit in the situation as the Union, “blinded by the single-minded goal of keeping people outside of Europe”, funds Libya to help stop the boats from departing.

Under laws passed with Europe’s encouragement during the reign of Muammar Ghadaffi, immigration is illegal in Libya and the country does not offer asylum. Every undocumented migrant is therefore liable for detention. Various rival governments and militias run networks of detention centers. UNHCR can only enter 29 of them, run by the department to counter illegal migration (DCIM), headed by the Serraj government, the government Europe chose to recognize. The total number of camps is unknown and international funding for “official” camps has ignited a battle for control over these camps by armed groups looking for money or international legitimacy.  both DCIM officials and militias rent out detainees to local employers for personal profit.