Monday, August 07, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - August 7 Edition

Drug resistance, health crisis

"Drug resistance—the ability of bacteria to defend themselves against the compounds we use to kill them—has impaired the effectiveness of almost every antibiotic produced since the first ones were developed, in the 1940s. At least 700,000 people are estimated to die worldwide every year from infections that no longer respond to antibiotics. That toll could balloon to more than 10 million a year by 2050 if we can’t slow the spread of resistance or find new drugs; routine surgeries and minor injuries will become life-threatening.

Yet making the necessary changes to stave off this catastrophe seems to be beyond us. We continue to take antibiotics with abandon (nearly a third of antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. aren’t actually needed) and feed huge quantities of them to farm animals. And pharmaceutical companies—daunted by how quickly resistance can undermine drugs that may take a decade and a billion dollars to develop—are not rushing to fill the gap.
Last year, Air Force veteran Nathan Hutsky re-enrolled in ITT Tech to finish his electrical engineering degree.

That’s where Roberts, a 43-year-old microbiologist from central England, comes in. Back at his lab, he pulls out a handful of tubes that he collected during his walk and labels them: shoe, bathroom-door handle, tree, bench, handrail. He reaches for a stack of petri dishes, each holding a layer of clear-yellow growth medium. One by one, he opens the dishes, swipes the tip of a swab over the agar, closes and marks them, and sets them aside to be incubated."

Black Voices, Women

"A Virginia West Point cadet has made history by being the first black woman appointed to serve in the military school’s highest leadership position.

Simone Askew, a 20-year-old International History major from Fairfax, is currently in charge of leading 1,502 cadets as the Regimental Commander of Cadet Basic Training II at the New York military prep school. But soon, as West Point’s first captain, she will be leading more than 4,000 cadets.

The new title ― which is the highest position possible for a cadet ― will see her helping with class agendas and acting as an intermediary between her fellow cadets and administration officials, among other duties.

“It’s a great step for not only women, but African-American women, because it shows that no matter what your sex, or your race, you can really do anything,” her sister, Nina Askew, told NBC Washington. “There’s nothing that can hold you back.”"

Veterans, GI Bill

"He had already completed a year, using his GI Bill benefits to pay for tuition. But when the for-profit college abruptly shut down last September, Hutsky realized he had wasted the funds on credits that wouldn't count toward a degree.

But Hutsky could get his benefits back.

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday (August 2) that would restore GI Bill benefits to those affected by a school closure, like veterans at ITT Tech and Corinthian."

Voting Rights

"The League of Women Voters supports an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would restore voting rights to individuals with a felony conviction upon completion of all terms of their sentences, including parole or probation. Florida is one of very few states that revokes an individual’s right to vote upon conviction of a felony and does not automatically restore it.

The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 1,686,000 Florida citizens are disenfranchised due to the current felony disenfranchisement provision in Florida’s Constitution. The result is that one in 10 Florida citizens, including more than one in five African-Americans, are deprived of their right to vote.

“In 2016, more people were disenfranchised in Florida than in any other state and Florida’s disenfranchisement rate remains highest among the 50 states,” according to a Sentencing Project report.

It’s time to correct this situation. An individual who has completed all of the terms of his sentence should be given a second chance to be a responsible member of his community, which should include the right to vote."

Personal Finance

"The latest Prosperity Now Scorecard highlights the fragile financial situation many American families face. One in five households experience significant income fluctuations, and 44% were not able to set aside any money to cover emergencies over the last 12 months. It’s not surprising, then, that many of these households are forced to tap long-term assets like retirement accounts to deal with income volatility and other short-term financial hardships. According to a 2013 report, one in four people with a defined contribution retirement plan will use all or some of their savings for nonretirement needs such as paying a bill, buying a home, dealing with a medical emergency, or sending a child to college.

So how can we help families cope with financial shocks and volatility while protecting their retirement accounts from being depleted prematurely? As we described in a recent brief, one exciting new idea to solve these interrelated problems is linking a short-term savings, or “sidecar,” account to a traditional retirement account."

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