Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - September 14 Edition

Foreign Aid

"Today, few would write off Africa—or developing nations on any continent—as hopeless. Instead, the health of the developing world has been very much a story of hope. Since 2000, new malaria infections have halved in sub-Saharan Africa. Child mortality and AIDS deaths have fallen precipitously. Between the 1870s and the 1970s, famines killed about a million people per year around the world. Since 1980, that number has gone down to an average of about 75,000 annually. (Indeed, in 2011 even The Economist took note, publishing a new cover story titled “Africa Rising.”)

In a new report from their foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates write that it’s this type of progress that could be reversed if funding for global health is cut—including by the U.S. government.

President Trump’s budget proposal, released in May, recommended slashing global health funding by 26 percent and humanitarian funding by 44 percent, or $4.2 billion. It eliminated global family planning. The proposal will likely be watered down by Congress this fall, but global-health advocates are nonetheless worried that even minor cuts could have massive, and tragic, effects.ould be reversed if funding for global health is cut—including by the U.S. government."

Productivity, Commuting

"In America, the average commute is 26.4 minutes, up 21% from 1980, while commuters in London and Manchester spend about 85 minutes a day getting to and from work.

The rising cost of living in major cities like New York, London and Beijing has forced many people out into the suburbs and surrounding areas, giving them little choice but to commute long distances to the office each day. In Beijing the average commute is about an hour.

Rather than staring at our phones, we could use that time to upgrade our skills, start new companies, learn new languages and more."

Economic Development, Appalachia

"The Appalachian region has long faced daunting challenges of poverty and geographic isolation. Today, despite state and federal anti-poverty efforts dating back to the Johnson and Kennedy administrations, many of the region’s residents continue to be vulnerable to the effects of persistent economic deprivation. In recent decades, declines in coal production and traditional manufacturing, once the region’s backbone industries, have contributed to stubbornly high levels of unemployment and poverty—with serious ripple effects on people’s health and well-being. Because a larger share of Appalachia’s population lives in rural communities—over 40 percent, compared to 20 percent for the nation as a whole—the region has been particularly hard hit by problems, from opioid abuse to low educational attainment and youth out-migration, that are affecting rural areas across the United States.

Appalachia confronts these challenges with unique strengths and resources. As coal production has declined and other traditional manufacturing jobs have left the region, natural gas development has grown, and major auto plants and other state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities have moved in. Community and family bonds are strong, as is the region’s tradition of hard work and self-reliance. And Appalachia abounds with examples of success as well as hardship: communities that are successfully re-inventing themselves and attracting new business investment; programs that are achieving promising results; and individual citizens and local leaders who, despite formidable obstacles and limited resources, are making a difference. Now as in the past, Appalachia commands attention as a region that is both disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of recent social and economic disruptions, and uniquely positioned to demonstrate how these consequences might be addressed more creatively and effectively going forward.

The task force gathered leading regional and national experts to explore critical issues in four areas: education and workforce, entrepreneurship and job creation, energy and infrastructure, and rural health."

Infrastructure, Climate Change, Environment

"The challenge in prompting change — broadening the classic definition of “infrastructure,” and investing in initiatives aimed at adapting to a turbulent planet — is heightened by partisan divisions over climate policy and development.

Of course, there’s also the question of money. The country’s infrastructure is ailing already. A national civil engineering group has surveyed the nation’s bridges, roads, dams, transit systems and more and awarded a string of D or D+ grades since 1998. The same group has estimated that the country will be several trillion dollars short of what’s needed to harden and rebuild and modernize our infrastructure over the next decade.

For fresh or underappreciated ideas, ProPublica reached out to a handful of engineers, economists and policy analysts focused on reducing risk on a fast-changing planet."

Women, Politics

(From December 2016)

Amy Klobuchar is my #1 pick too.

"Here is a New Year's resolution for Democratic women in politics: be at least as brazen as Republican men are in deciding whether to run for President. It's not just that Donald Trump had no record of public service and a long list of what might be considered disqualifying attributes and actions. Ben Carson had no experience in elected office, and other candidates had very little. Marco Rubio was greeted as the future of the Party when he decided to run just two-thirds of the way through his first term. That was only two years’ more experience in the Senate than Ted Cruz, one of the final contenders, had. In 2017, there will be a dozen Democratic female senators with more experience. And why limit it to the Senate, or to any particular level of elective office? Women, in all professions, tend to feel that they need to make their résumés perfect before putting themselves forward. Maybe they should stop thinking that way, at least in American politics, where insiderness does not seem to be particularly valued at the moment. Here's another test to think of before asking whether a woman is enough of a national figure to jump into the Presidential race: How well known was the state senator Barack Obama in 2004?"

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