Trump White House wings it on virus response

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BOSTON GLOBE)

 

The White House wings it on virus response

Epidemics can be challenging even for level-headed, well-prepared governments. The coronavirus lays bare just how clumsy the Trump administration is when it comes to public health.

President Trump (center), with members of the president's coronavirus task force, spoke during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday.

Now that health officials are warning Americans to prepare for the spread of a coronavirus, we’re getting a powerful reminder of why the chaotic Trump White House is dangerous. The president’s dismissal of scientific facts and his gutting of critical agencies have put lives at risk.

Invisible pathogens like the coronavirus, which is easily transmitted and appears to kill 2 percent of those infected (compared with the 0.1 percent US death rate for influenza), are challenging even for well-prepared administrations. Because people and goods move around the globe rapidly, it’s tricky to devise quarantines and other containment strategies. That’s why competent governments treat pandemic preparedness as a matter of national security, invest sufficiently in prevention, and speak forthrightly to the public.

Trump has fallen down on those fronts and long ago corroded the trust that is vital in a crisis.

His administration weakened the foundation for pandemic response in 2018, when it disbanded the National Security Council team that coordinated global health security. Then it allowed budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which forced a retreat from pandemic-prevention efforts in China and elsewhere. That same year, the administration shifted control of the Strategic National Stockpile, a storehouse of medicines and medical supplies, away from the CDC. Public-health experts worry that was another unforced error, because the CDC works directly with local health departments that put the stockpile into use.

Even this winter, with coronavirus already ravaging China, Trump proposed a 2021 budget that would slash spending at the CDC and other agencies that underpin the nation’s scientific prowess.

But of course, Trump is allergic to scientific advice. That explains why he would appoint Vice President Mike Pence as the new head of the coronavirus response, replacing the health and human services secretary whom Trump had put in that role just a few weeks ago. Pence’s ability to use evidence to guide public health decisions is worrisome at best. He insisted in 2000 that smoking isn’t deadly because — voila! — most smokers don’t get lung cancer. As Indiana governor, he engineered health-funding cuts that caused an HIV outbreak.

On Tuesday, a CDC official, Nancy Messonnier, said Americans should expect the virus to spread here. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” she added. Scott Gottlieb, who was Trump’s first director of the Food and Drug Administration, tweeted more straight talk: “This could be a long fight that will require shared sacrifice.”

Contrast such comments with Trump’s bluster when he complained about cable news coverage and said that the risk to Americans “remains very low.” As Ronald Klain, who oversaw the Ebola response in the Obama administration, pointed out, Trump’s confidence was unwarranted because very few Americans have been tested for the coronavirus. We might have many more cases than we think.

Meanwhile, a whistle-blower now alleges that administration officials retaliated against her after she alerted them that federal health workers lacked proper safety equipment and training when they interacted with virus patients quarantined at military bases in California.

These are more sad reminders of the reasons we can’t believe what we hear from this White House. Americans should heed the CDC and be prepared.


Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.

Mike Pence, Trump’s coronavirus czar, has a terrible public health record

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Mike Pence, Trump’s coronavirus czar, has a terrible public health record

Mike Pence and Donald Trump

President Trump speaks about his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak as Vice President Mike Pence looks on at the White House on Wednesday.
(AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Seriously? How can Vice President Mike Pence oversee the Trump administration’s response to a human health crisis when he has a record on health and safety that is so abysmal?

This is a man who, as governor of Indiana, signed into law an abortion bill that is among the most restrictive in the country. He also permitted discrimination against the LGBTQ community in his state.

But wait, there’s more. He tried to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana and cut off federal aid to existing refugees — and he believes in stripping judges of their discretion in drug-crime sentencing. His record as being anti-science is even more chilling.

Perhaps the only good that will come from this appointment and other missteps by the present administration is that President Trump is voted out of office in November.

Randy Farhi, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: On Wednesday, Trump put Pence in charge of the administration’s public health response to the coronavirus.

While governor of Indiana, Pence arranged to make Indiana rank 48th in per-capita public health spending in the United States. What qualifications justify his appointment?

Dr. Robert R. Young, Corona del Mar

..

To the editor: Maybe Trump will build a wall to keep the coronavirus out.

William Eaton, Banning

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

When deciding where to live, most people consider the weather, job opportunities, and proximity to friends and family. One thing that might not be at the front of your mind is how healthy a particular location is. Health is a complicated analysis, taking into account physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index has done the heavy lifting. They’ve analyzed countries based on reliable indicators of good health such as life expectancy, and penalizing based on indicators of poor health, such as tobacco usage.

Read on to learn more about the seven healthiest countries in the world and what really sets them apart.

ADVERTISEMENT

Australia

Australia

Credit: PhotoAllel/ iStock

Australia is often thought of as an ideal place to live, from its beautiful beaches to the rustic outback. What isn’t immediately obvious is that Australia is also one of the healthiest places to live. In fact, it is one of the only English-speaking countries to rate in the top seven.

Australia has high marks for physical health. The Global Burden of Disease study ranked it 10th out of 188 countries, based on 33 health-related indicators. It received perfect scores for several indicators including war, malnutrition, water access, sanitation, and malaria.

In addition to several perfect scores, Australia also focuses on providing services for those who need them. Australia has one of the best health systems in the world. Australia also has effective tobacco control measures and a low infant mortality rate. All these factors combined lead to an impressive life expectancy – 80 years for men and 84.6 years for women. That leaves a lot of time for enjoying those beautiful beaches.

Sweden

Sweden

Credit: Raphael Andres/ Unsplash

It is easier for a country to come out on top of health rankings when the government makes healthcare a priority. This is definitely the case for Sweden, which was rated as the most health-conscious country in the world.  Healthcare is virtually free for all citizens until the age of 20.

In addition to great healthcare, Sweden prioritizes family. This begins before the baby is born, with free or subsidized courses for mothers to help them prepare for delivery. Sweden ensures that families can prioritize work and childcare by providing 16 months of parental leave for moms and dads. Even when parents go back to work, Sweden caps child care costs at approximately $150 a month for the first child.

Switzerland

Switzerland

Credit: Eva Bocek/ Shutterstock

Similar to other healthy countries, Switzerland has a healthcare system that is highly accessible. Basic healthcare coverage is mandatory in Switzerland and is structured so that everybody living in Switzerland has access to medical care.

A few things that set the Swiss healthcare system apart include:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not a basis for denying coverage
  • Coverage is subsidized by the government for individuals with low income
  • Patients get to choose their providers and do not need referrals to access specialists
  • The health of expectant mothers is prioritized, including prenatal care, delivery, and coverage for postpartum hospital stays and house calls

Switzerland’s prioritization on healthcare also allows it to boast the second highest life expectancy in the world — that’s something worth bragging about.

Japan

Japan

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto/ iStock

Only one country can tout a life expectancy higher than Switzerland, and that country is Japan. One factor that may contribute to this longevity is the Japanese diet.

One staple of the Japanese diet is seafood. The consumption of fish has been shown to lower risks associated with heart disease and to increase life span by 2.2 years. To accompany the physical benefits, diets filled with fish also promote mental well-being. Consumption of fatty fish has been shown to elevate mood.

Japan is also one of the top 10 tea drinking countries in the world. Tea, and green tea in particular, provides a multitude of health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also producing higher levels of cognitive function.

Iceland

Iceland

Credit: Mihai_Andritoiu/ Shutterstock

Iceland is another country that has a diet heavy in fish, meaning the population reaps benefits similar to the Japanese. Where Iceland really shines is in its environment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rates Iceland as the top performance in environmental quality, with the best air quality and high levels of satisfaction with water quality.

The beauty of the physical environment also contributes to the health of Icelanders. They are motivated to get outdoors and exercise in such a gorgeous setting. While the citizens of Iceland regularly hit the gym, they also list ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, and kayaking as popular activities.

Italy

Italy

Credit: minemero/ iStock

When people think of Italy, one of the first things that come to mind might be delicious pizza and pasta. It may come as a surprise, then, that diet is one big contributor to Italy’s status as second healthiest country in the world. The Mediterranean diet is primarily composed of fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, and olive oil. The emphasis on olive oil leads to lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Another element of the Italian diet with similar benefits is garlic. Garlic has also been tied to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the Italian diet doesn’t include much meat, lean meats are the most popular. Even when Italians are consuming dishes that aren’t considered healthy, such as pizza, they prepare it in a more health conscious way. Their pizzas have less toppings and incorporate more fresh, healthy ingredients.

The Italian style of eating also contributes to mental health. Italian meals are focused on bringing families and friends together. Italians are known for maintaining large and healthy social networks. This emphasis on community helps reduce stress and promotes mental well-being.

Spain

Spain

Credit: May_Lana/ Shutterstock

Spain has the honor of being named the healthiest country in the world. Like Italy, Spaniards follow the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on vegetables, lean meats, and olive oil.

Like Iceland, Spaniards live in a beautiful location, which likely promotes a natural inclination towards healthy, outdoor activity. One thing is for sure, it contributes to mental health, with 84% of Spaniards reporting that they are happy.

All these factors together also lead to the longest life expectancy of any country in the European Union. Even if you can’t move to Spain any time soon, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation to celebrate this happy and healthy country.

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

Friday, 20 September, 2019 – 10:30
A tobacco flower waves in a dew-covered field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Allen G.Breed)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
German researchers have engineered new low-nicotine tobacco. For this purpose, scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund applied the gene-editing technique on the Virginia tobacco plant and managed to reduce nicotine in it from 400 percent to one percent.

“While each gram of regular tobacco contains 16 milligrams of nicotine, the newly edited version contains only 0.04 percent,” said the study’s lead author Felix Stehle.

“No one in the world has ever managed to reduce nicotine to this level,” he added.

The researchers published their study in the Plant Biotechnology journal.

The tobacco plant is not used to make cigarettes only, but also as a living sample in main research fields.

The researchers explained they used gene cutting to alter the genetic characteristics of this plant. They omitted six genes that play a major role in nicotine production. Although the plant regrouped these genes, it did so in a wrong way, which stopped the production of nicotine. The researchers assured that this process can be used with almost all types of tobacco.

Nicotine is the substance that leads to smoking addiction, in addition to the 4800 substances found in cigarettes, of which 70 substances cause cancer, or suspected to develop cancer.

31 Bible Scriptures On Healing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TUKO.CO.KE NEWS SITE)

 

Bible scriptures on healing Author: Julie Kwach UPDATED: A MONTH AGO VIEWS: 1796 Category: Facts and Life Hacks In times of despair, need, happiness, or confusion, Christian look to God’s word for encouragement, reassurance, and guidance. It is no different when people desire emotional or physical healing. One of the most popular Bible phrases that people reference to when sick or going through other struggles is “By His stripes we are healed” found in Isaiah 53:5. In keeping with the theme of healing, we have compiled a list of Bible scriptures on healing. We desire that you will find comfort in the word of God as you seek for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. READ ALSO: Comforting Bible verses The Bible has various accounts where Jesus healed the sick, broken, and wounded. The teaching that is constant in all of the healing stories in the Bible is faith. So, as a Christian, you should live with the assurance that God can see you through any challenge including sicknesses. Below are some Bible scriptures on healing that may be beneficial even as you seek to draw nearer to God. 31 scriptures on healing Bible scriptures on healing can serve as a source of encouragement when you are going through physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Scriptures on healing sicknesses 1. Exodus 15:26 English Standard Version Saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” The Lord asked the Israelites to diligently listen to what He had commanded them and do what is right by Him. In return, the Lord would look after them and not expose them to diseases like those that Egyptians had suffered. Likewise, as a Christian, it is essential that you keep the Lord’s commandments and teachings at heart as God preserves both your body and soul. When you are sick or wounded the Lord heals you. This verse is found in the Old Testament. 2. James 5: 14-15 King James Version Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if they have committed sins, they shall be forgiven. In the New Testament, James encourages Christians to pray in faith at all times even when sick. In this verse, James affirms the power of believers praying together by asking the sick to go to the elders for prayers. Further, this verse shows that repentance through prayer is effective. 3. Jeremiah 33: 6 King James version Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. God’s promise to His people in the Old Testament is that He would give them health, cure them, and give them peace and truth. This promise came to pass when God sent Jesus Christ who not only healed the sick, but also enabled believers to enjoy peace and grace through the sacrifice on the cross. 4. Jeremiah 30:17 KJV For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after. This Old Testament verse talks about God’s promise to Israel to restore health and heal wounds. Similarly, as God’s chosen people, He provides the grace and deliverance from physical and spiritual pain. So, no matter what others call you, the Lord can still restore your health and heal you. 5. Exodus 23:25 King James version And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and He shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. As the Israelites were going through the wilderness, God promised to provide food and water and take away sicknesses. Today, God still walks with believers through the ups and downs of life and heals diseases. Remember that you will only reap kingdom benefits if you serve the Lord and follow His commandments. 6. Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. God is the all-knowing for He gives and takes life and heals our wounds and diseases. Through Christ, the great physician, Christians can see the power of God. Apart from curing our disease, He makes our spirit alive through His grace. Without Him, we are dead in spirit, and our life is empty. 7. Matthew 10:1 And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Matthew, the inaugural book in the New Testament teaches about our Messiah who has the power to heal all diseases and cast out spirits. Jesus conferred the same power to His disciples. 8. Luke 10:9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. Like Matthew, the third book of the New Testament gives an account of the teachings and works of Christ. In Luke chapter 10 Jesus tells the seventy-two disciples to go out and preach the gospel and cure the sick for the kingdom of God is near. Today, Christians can also go out find the broken and sick and heal them through prayers. 9. Psalms 103: 2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; The book of Psalms is between the Books of Proverbs and Job. Chapter 103 of Psalms encourages believers to praise the Lord and not to forget all that He has done including forgiving sins and healing all diseases. 10. Mark 5: 34 And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace and be whole of thy plague. The 5th chapter of the second book of the New Testament teaches you how faith in the Lord can heal your sickness or wounds. 11. Proverbs 3: 5-8 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. These verses teach believers to depend on God and not human understanding or wisdom. While at it, Christians should fear the Lord and acknowledge Him as He is the provider of perfect health 12. Psalms 41:3 The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. This verse shows that even when we are sick, weak, or wounded, God, through His grace and mercy, comforts us. As such, in the midst of challenges (illness), we shall survive for God strengthens us. 13. Matthew 4:23-24 And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and He healed them. Matthew 4 verse 23 provides another account of when Jesus showed He is the great physician by healing those who were physically and spiritually sick. Bible scriptures on healing the heart, brokenness, and spiritual emptiness 14. Matthew 11: 28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 reassures Jesus call to all those who are burdened to find rest in His arms. This scripture applies to all who have been weighed down emotionally by the things of this earth. 15. Psalms 34: 17-20 ESV When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. The primary teaching from Psalms 34:17-20 is that God protects believers who diligently serve Him and follow His commands. God also saves those who have a contrite spirit and are brokenhearted. When you are righteous, no matter what comes your way, God will deliver you. 16. Isaiah 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 reinforces the teaching that when you are weak, God shows His strength and gives us the power to keep going. 17. Isaiah 57:18-19 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. Even when the people of God wander away, He is merciful enough to forgive and heal their souls if they turn away from sinful ways. Also, He will comfort and heal all those who mourn for God’s peoples’ suffering and sins. 18. Psalms 107: 19-21 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saveth them out of their distresses. He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! This verse teaches that when believers humble themselves, repent, and cry out to the Lord, He saves and delivers all from destruction and sicknesses. 19. Psalms 6:2 King James version Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. We serve a merciful and just God. Like David, if we can humble ourselves, acknowledge our weaknesses and sin, and cry out to God, He will surely heal our wounds and brokenness. 20. Psalms 147: 1-3 ESV Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant,[a] and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. This Psalm reminds Christians of our duty to praise the Lord for all He has done. God takes care of His people as He did with Jerusalem. When we wander away from God, He finds a way to bring us closer to Him. Moreover, the Lord offers comfort for all the wounded and brokenhearted believers. 21. Psalms 30:10-11 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. Like David, believers can fall or be overwhelmed by the things of this world. For this reason, we cry out to God to hold our hands and be merciful. The Psalm shows that God can restore joy and peace for His people even after mourning or a bad experience. 22. Jeremiah 17: 14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah calls out to the Lord to heal him of his iniquities, wounds, or sickness. He was aware of the sins of the people against God at the time. Knowing that he could confidently call unto God to heal and save him, Jeremiah seeks God and also acknowledges God for His goodness. 23. Psalms 73: 25-26 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength[a] of my heart and my portion forever. The Psalmist acknowledges that besides God, there is no other thing on earth (including earthly wealth) that can fulfill him or give the satisfaction he needs. Therefore, even though we may stumble or fall to our desires we should always turn to God for He alone can strengthen and comfort our hearts. 24. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Before Jesus ascended into heaven after resurrection, He gave believers peace as an inheritance. It is this peace that enables us to weather storms and the ups and downs of life. For we know that we can trust in Him to take care of whatever is troubling us. Further, what Lord gives is different from what this world provides as comfort for the heart and soul. 25. Proverbs 17: 22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones A cheerful heart has a similar effect to your health and body as good medicine. However, a crushed spirit makes your life sad. Therefore, the verse encourages us always to have a joyful heart as it is the secret to enjoying life and living in the fullness of His glory. 26. Revelations 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Christians live with the assurance that the Lord can take away all the pain, mourning, fear of death and tears. As such, no matter what happens in the past, believers know that they are a new creation. 27. Isaiah 53:5 King James Version But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. Even though most people use this verse to refer to physical healing, it mostly speaks about the sacrifice of Christ. Through Christ, we are free from our transgressions and guilt. In return, believers receive the gift of peace and reconciliation with our Lord. 28. 1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. Like Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24 talks about Jesus’ sacrifice so that we may live in righteousness. 29. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. God had made a covenant with the Israelites that if they would repent, pray, follow His commands and seek Him, He would bless them and heal their land. Today, most people interpret this verse to mean that if believers would repent, pray, and humble themselves, God would bless and heal their land. 30. Isaiah 33:2 O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. This verse shows that with faith you can call unto the Lord and wait for Him to comfort and heal you in times of trouble. 31. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 speaks about the different seasons in life including periods of mourning and healing. So, whatever season you may be in trust the Lord for He can turn your mourning into dancing. READ ALSO: How to fast and pray The Bible scriptures on healing above can help believers battling with sicknesses, broken hearts, and wounds. So, be encouraged that the Lord is using whatever circumstance for good. Read more: https://www.tuko.co.ke/287546-bible-scriptures-healing.html#287546

The case against a US retreat from international development

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

The case against a US retreat from international development

John R. Allen

As an instrument for peace, prosperity, and human advancement, U.S. foreign assistance constitutes one of the most important examples of American compassion. Since the Marshall Plan allowed hard hit citizens and enterprises to return to normalcy after World War II, advancing a new world order in the process, America has embraced its role as a global development leader.

Author

Yet today, aid—and with it, U.S. global leadership—are under threat.

Invigorating U.S. Leadership in Global Development” was the theme of the August 1-3 Brookings Blum Roundtable, which I was fortunate to attend. Now in its fifteenth year, the event annually explores various facets of international development, poverty reduction, and foreign assistance. While there, I heard from business leaders, heads of prominent nongovernmental organizations, lead budget and aid specialists from the U.S. government, and researchers about practical ways of solving big challenges—from supporting refugees, to strengthening fragile states, to making progress on the widely endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Questions about filling development financing gaps and advancing U.S. leadership through multilateral participation were discussed as well.

One of the threads that ran throughout the three-day roundtable discussion was the distinction between U.S. leadership and American leadership. At a time when there is a retrenchment of global engagement and leadership by segments of the U.S. government, hundreds and thousands of organizations across the country—state and local governments, universities, civil organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis, NGOs, corporations—are actively engaged outside our borders. These groups provide an enduring form of U.S. global leadership on issues from human rights, to relief from natural disasters, to climate change.

I’ve always believed the leading edge of America’s influence is defined through our diplomacy and our foreign assistance. Underlying this is America’s leadership as a generous nation imbued with a humanitarian sense of responsibility. Yet today’s political context means we are rowing against a tide of nativism and populism. Even though grassroots and grass-tops support for international development abounds at the subnational level and among some federal government agencies, our current transactional approach to international relations is eroding America’s global reach. And if we retreat too far, our country’s moral authority will also slip away and be filled eagerly by other forces in the world, not least of all China. In the end, nature and foreign affairs both abhor vacuums.

THE ROLE OF THE SDGS IN COUNTERING NEGATIVE MEGATRENDS

In a world beset by worrying demographic trends, rapid urbanization, climate change, and a transactional approach to international relations, the universally agreed-upon SDGs remain the critical roadmap for humanitarian and development activities.

Few goals are more important than eliminating poverty, exclusion, and hunger from the world, educating our children, protecting women from violence, or addressing today’s climate emergency. Any movement on these goals will make the world a safer place and progress will be overwhelmingly in the interest of our national security. If the U.S. Government spurns the SDGs, as it now appears to be doing, we will be doing so at our own peril. Indeed, the Trump administration’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty alone was a bad move in that direction.

My military experience taught me that the roots of radicalization are planted far upstream from the moment that someone picks up a weapon. Indeed, the roots of unrest, terrorism, and insurgency are often linked to hunger, poverty, and lack of opportunity—the very phenomena the SDGs are focused on. It is development solutions that address and can ultimately fix these problems, not military interventions.

An unstable security environment is often a direct result of the failure to satisfy human aspirations and yearnings.  Today’s unrest in the Middle East and across North Africa began in part with the rising up of young people who could no longer accept the realities of their human condition.

From a U.S. global leadership perspective, the more we align ourselves with these important and unifying international norms, the better will be the outcome, not just for the United States, but for the world. Homi Kharas’ brief, “U.S. global leadership through an SDG lens,” provides useful background on the topic. In addition, a new co-edited, co-authored Brookings book by Homi and a diverse set of external contributors, “From Summits to Solutions: Innovations in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,” explores distinct solutions related to everything from expanding women’s opportunities to preserving the oceans and setting goals in wealthy countries.

THE SECURITY-DEVELOPMENT NEXUS

In all my missions—whether in Bosnia, Iraq, or Afghanistan—I was mindful that certain fragile states cannot be permitted to fail because the strategic cost of inaction would be too great. In such instances, a coordinated approach between our security assistance and foreign assistance is essential.

In 2016 Jim Stavridis, my classmate from Annapolis, and I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Expanding the U.S. Military’s Smart-Power Toolbox.”  The piece was focused on the need for combatant commanders to have the requisite authority to allocate their resources so as to leverage the full capabilities of military, diplomatic and development tools integrated with their mission. The authority we sought would have included funding for USAID programs to support youth-development and conflict-mitigation in places like Agadez, Niger, where better opportunities could dissuade young people from joining terrorist groups.

On the multilateral front, I recently joined World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim at a public event, where we highlighted the broad need to treat development, security, and humanitarian assistance in a more integrated way. Brookings and the World Bank are committed to working together in this area through research and targeted engagement aimed at bringing together diverse actors working on fragile states.

In terms of explaining the linkages between foreign aid and global security, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an NGO/business/retired military network, is doing terrific work. Fanning out to cities around the U.S., they advocate for adequately resourcing our development and diplomacy activities and I have the privilege of sitting on their National Security Advisory Council. I commend the work of Liz Schrayer, USGLC president and CEO, whose round table brief “Foreign Assistance in the America First Era” outlines the bipartisan support for the development work in the Trump administration.

WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY

A key takeaway from the 2018 round table was how extraordinarily important women are in conflict resolution, and in achieving development objectives. Indeed, peace outcomes from conflict that involve women typically have a much longer or a much greater probability of success than those that only engage men.

Women in some of the toughest places exhibit entrepreneurial instincts that in many cases far outstrip those of men, making them an excellent investment option. I saw this firsthand in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we made microloans available to women all over the country. Invariably those loans were paid back on time or early and the outcomes stimulated economic progress on the ground, which then reduced conflict and violence.

So the whole idea of future military commanders working closely with USAID and State Department and similar organizations, NGOs, and others, to try to find a way to empower women at the civil society level and women in the governments in these countries is well on track, and should be a “doctrinal” approach as we go forward. It is imperative we expand support for programs and projects that empower women in these societies.

FORGING AHEAD

The global development agenda is daunting, but practical reforms and interventions can ensure progress. Making inroads in tackling poverty and other big problems requires working with the private sector, with civil society organizations, and with other diverse players across the security and development communities. If we navigate wisely and hold to a rational, hopeful outlook, we can achieve great things for America and for the world.

For its part, Brookings will continue researching fragility and what it will take to leave no one behind in the toughest places. Scholars are planning additional mini-roundtables on fragility and are completing a research project on multilateral and international organizations. Work on measuring current trends and gaps on the SDGs is ongoing, along with plans for a future book on dealing with the furthest left behind in the race to meet the SDGs.

This blog was first launched in September 2013 by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January 2015 at brookings.edu.

For archived content, visit worldbank.org »

Air Pollution Contributes Significantly to Diabetes Worldwide

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Study: Air Pollution Contributes Significantly to Diabetes Worldwide

Saturday, 30 June, 2018 – 07:15
via GETTY IMAGES
Asharq Al-Awsat
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis suggested that there are strong links between outdoor air pollution and an increased risk of diabetes worldwide.

According to the study, air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, adding that even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease.

The study estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 — or around 14 percent of all new diabetes cases globally that year, AFP reported.

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the study’s senior author.

Pollution is believed to affect the production of insulin in the body, “preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health,” the research elaborated.

Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, proved a higher risk even with levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” he added.

According to AFP, diabetes affects more than 420 million people globally and is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

Low-income nations including Bhutan, Nepal spend more than India on health

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Low-income nations including Bhutan, Nepal spend more than India on health

India spends 1% of its gross domestic product on public health. According to the National Health Profile 2018 report there is one allopathic doctor for 11,082 people in the country’s villages.

INDIA Updated: Jun 20, 2018 07:03 IST

Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A lone medical officer handling the emergency ward as well as the OPD at Bhagta Bhai Ka 30-bed community health centre in Bathinda district.
A lone medical officer handling the emergency ward as well as the OPD at Bhagta Bhai Ka 30-bed community health centre in Bathinda district.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT File Photo)

India’s public health expenditure — 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) — may have witnessed a marginal improvement from 0.98% in 2014, but it is still way behind even the low-income countries that spend 1.4% on an average, shows National Health Profile 2018.

India is spending even less than some of its neighbours countries such as Bhutan (2.5%), Sri Lanka (1.6%) and Nepal (1.1%), according to the annual report released on Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, the health intelligence wing of the directorate general of health services in the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

In World Health Organisation’s South-East Asian Region, which includes 10 countries, India finishes second last, above only Bangladesh (0.4%), when their health expenditure is compared. Maldives spends 9.4% of its GDP to claim the top spot in the list, followed by Thailand (2.9%).

India’s National Health Policy 2017 proposes raising the public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP by 2025.

“We are working on it and are hopeful of meeting the target. It won’t happen overnight but we are on the right track. If you look at the healthcare indicators such as maternal and infant mortality rate, we are improving at a greater rate than the global target,” Union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said.

Shortage of doctors is still a problem, with one allopathic doctor for 11,082 people in the country’s villages, as per the report.

The report also shows reduction in the number of deaths due to malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, with 104 people dying in 2017 compared to 331 death reported the previous year.

Heroin: What The Hell Are We Doing To Yourselves Folks?

Heroin: What The Hell Are We Doing To Yourselves Folks?

 

For those of you who do not know me from this blog I will tell you up front that what I am going to say if from my life’s experiences now being over 60 years old. I have never stuck a needle in myself for the purpose of getting some kind of a high, or even to decrease my own pain. I have had medical people do their thing quite a few times where I felt like a wore out pin-cushion before I got out of their care, but I have never stuck myself. I really hope that I do not end up needing Insulin shots someday. But, I have had quite a few folks whom I quickly found out where poking needles in themselves when they would get home from work or on the weekends for the purpose of getting a high was part of their normal day. As I set and watched quite a few people poking themselves or having their friends do it for them and putting them in very painful places, I had to wonder how, how and why they are where they are at this point in their lives? We hear on the news quite often now how Heroin is a major epidemic in many places in America today. I did not know until about a year ago that heroin is actually a very cheep costing drug, I had always though it would be a very expensive drug until I found out it is made from Morphine.

 

For those of you who have decided to first put a needle in yourself, I’m not talking about the first time you let someone else do it to/for you, I’m asking about the first time you yourself stuck a needle in yourself for the purpose of getting high, was it that? Was it in an attempt to get out of some type of pain, mental or physical? If there are ten million people in America alone that put that first drug, that first needle, in our-self, by our-self, are there ten million different stories? Stories of loss, of pain, of stupidity? In the ‘wired world’ about everyone has to have heard a lot of really bad things about this drug getting a power over you that you can no longer control so why? Why did you do that to yourself? All of the people who I knew way back then are gone now, old memories, I don’t know of any that made it anywhere near fifty. I have seen a few cases where people gradually got off of the drugs they were shooting up by turning more and more to the use of marijuana to calm themselves and start to see the world clearer and got themselves off of their own personal demon. I have learned and seen that marijuana is really a ‘step down drug’ that does help some folks, this ‘medication’ being illegal is insane and inhumane. There is another absolute fact and that is where Marijuana is a legal drug, pain pill use goes way down. Heroin or Morphine pills or how about the God-given medicine instead of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on these pills, and then there is this Demon called Heroin that is killing so many people. The ‘War On Drugs’ got this part backwards folks. Drugs like Heroin are a disease on the human race as are these millions of ‘Pill Heads’ that the system is helping fan the flames of.

Biggest Opium Pushers In U.S. Are: U.S. Politicians & AG Jeff Sessions

In the United States, we have been hearing a lot about the drugs that are made from this plant over the past few years. I admit to those of you who don’t know me that I am neither a scientist, psychotherapists nor a medical doctor. I am just an average 61-year-old person who reads a lot and who pays attention to reality the best that I can. Even though I am not the smartest person in the U.S. I am a person that strives to be bluntly honest about everything even if I don’t personally like the results of the answer. Truth has ‘no spin’ to it! I have said a few times before on this website that there really is only one real Truth, and that is ‘God’s’ Truth. When you/we/I have an argument concerning any issue, if we can honestly say that we would stand before our Creator, look Him in His eyes and tell Him that we are speaking the Truth, then that argument would be the Truth, to the very best of our personal knowledge anyways. Either that, or we would be acting like a total idiot and or a fool because we would be condemning our own self on purpose.

I have a question for each of us, do we/you/I believe that the politicians in D.C. are looking out for our best interest or their own best interest? Do you believe that your Congressman/woman, Senator or President cares more about you, or about the lobbyist who is funding their next campaign and or their personal lifestyle? Now, before I get into the meat of this article on the Opium issue I will tell you up front that Marijuana legalization is something that I totally agree with. I believe, excuse me, I know, that Marijuana helps with nerve pain, I am 100% sure of that. Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was directly struck by a lightning bolt. Even Social Security says I am disabled even though the VA doesn’t agree that the lightning has anything to do with me being disabled no matter what the non-VA Doctors and other experts have to say about it. As most of you know the Federal Government and the crooked ignorant putz AG Jeff Sessions say that Marijuana is just as or even more dangerous than Heroin and they class Marijuana as a class one narcotic, just like Heroin. To believe the Federal Government’s argument a person would have to be either clueless just plain ignorant or ‘on the take.’ The Feds say that Marijuana has no medical value even though that is totally contrary to all of the scientific evidence that says the Feds are lying.

So, the argument comes down to, why does the Fed’s keep lying? Or, do you really believe they are simply that ignorant? As long as the Federal government continues this policy the VA is not allowed to prescribe Marijuana to the service-connected disabled Veterans. The VA has no problem pumping many billions of taxpayer dollars worth of pills into the disabled Vets every year whether we need them or not but they refuse to allow the Veterans to use God’s given Herbs for pain relief. What is even worse is that if the VA in one of their blood or urine test finds THC from Marijuana in your system, they will cold turkey you off of the drugs they are giving/selling to you. This is even though doing this to people on some of these medications can easily kill a person. Why would any remotely honest or caring person do that to people? The answer to this is simple folks, its money.

For those of you who don’t believe me, I am going to offer you some cold hard facts as to why I used the title of this article. Even if you are a person who says they would never ever smoke Marijuana, does that mean that you have any right to insist that others cannot, no matter what? I am going to use last November’s Elections in Arizona as a perfect example. This example shows just how dirty big Pharma is, I am going to show you just how much they want people to die from Opium use and the reason is simple, money!

Within everyone’s brain, there is what is called an MU Opioid Receptor. This is something that Opium sticks to in a person’s brain. Morphine is an Opioid drug, just like Heroin is so I am going to use them in this example. Even though Pharma made drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin are very expensive even on the street drugs like Heroin are amazingly cheap. Yet there is another man-made drug called Fentanyl, a synthetic form of Heroin that is even cheaper and easier to make than regular Heroin. Trouble is this that this street drug Fentanyl is about 100 times more powerful than Heroin and it is very deadly even to come into contact with very much of it at all. Fentanyl has become a major problem for first responders, EMS and Police as they do come into contact with it many times every day. These days Ambulances and Police Vehicles are being required to carry the ‘antidote’ for their own safety’s sake.

This ‘antidote’ is called Narcan and Narcan is a drug that is big Pharma made and distributed. Concerning Opium products like Heroin and Morphine the antidote, Narcan works quite well at knocking the Opium off of the MU Receptor yet it does very little to help get the Fentanyl off of the MU Receptor. Don’t get me wrong, people are still dying every day from Opioid overdoses also. The Fed said that Opioid overdoses are up more than 400% here in the U.S. since the year 2000. The big Pharma company’s who make Narcan know this fact very well, so do the politicians yet they prove to all of us that they do not care about all of these thousands of people who are dying nor their families, nor even the First Responders.

Now back to the 2016 Elections in the State of Arizona. The facts show that in the States that have made recreational Marijuana legal that Opioid overdoses and deaths are down about 50%. On a side note, in these states alcohol sales are down about 25%, think of how many people aren’t getting into car accidents because of drinking and driving. Also, think of how many domestic violence deaths aren’t happening in those States and how many fatal ‘bar fights’ aren’t happening. Yet the reality is that big Pharma companies make billions from their pharmacy-made drugs so just like last November in Arizona they pumped in many millions of dollars in false advertisements to try to get the people of Arizona to vote down making Marijuana legal in their State. The sad part is, they were successful in Arizona. The big Pharmaceutical companies have been pushing hard to get Narcan into every ambulance, police car, school, and home in America. There is only one reason for this and that is money, to heck with people’s lives, the only thing that really matters is a company’s profits. These Pharmaceutical companies know that Marijuana is a natural painkiller but they aren’t making any money off of a plant that anyone can grow in their own garden. Now, you do understand why I said that the politicians and people like AG Jeff Sessions want to keep Marijuana illegal don’t you? The answer is very simple, campaign contributions from these big Pharma Companies and because of many who own stocks in these same big Pharma Companies.

 

Here are some of the companies who put huge amounts of money into last November’s ‘anti-pot’ vote in Arizona. I got this information from (The Guardian, US News And World Report, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and from Equities.com News.)

These companies are:

Chandler Pharma

Insys Therapeutics

Pfizer Inc

Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc

Mylan N.V.

Opnet Technologies Inc