Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - March 20 Edition

NCAA Basketball, UMBC, Higher Education

"People now know the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as the ultimate Cinderella, an overnight social media sensation, the team that magically emerged as the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. But our story is far less fairy tale than it is classic American dream. Our magic comes from questioning expectations, putting in the hard work, and staying focused.

The nation saw the results on the court Friday night. My colleagues, students, alumni, and their families came to the game knowing the team would give the game their all. Our men’s basketball team embodies our definition of grit. We knew the players were bringing both passion and preparation to the game. We knew that they would listen to the guidance of head coach Ryan Odom, support one another, give their individual best, and get tougher and tougher as the game went on.

Nevertheless, like the rest of the world, we were stunned—not only by the outcome but by their execution to the end. Everybody thought it couldn’t be done because it hadn’t been done. And then we did it."

Science, Space

"Stephen Hawking submitted his final scientific paper just a week and a half before he died, and it lays the theoretical groundwork for discovering a parallel universe.

Hawking, who died Wednesday at 76, was coauthor to a mathematical paper that seeks proof of the "multiverse" theory, which posits the existence of many universes other than our own.

The paper, called "A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation," had its latest revisions approved March 4, 10 days before Hawking's death.

According to the Sunday Times newspaper, the paper is due to be published by an unnamed "leading journal" after a review is complete."

War, Syria, Social Media

"Najem, who resides in rebel-held eastern Ghouta, a suburban area in southwestern Syria that surrounds the city of Damascus, has been documenting the Syrian Civil War through his Twitter account since December 7, 2017. The teen posts photos, videos, and messages that capture what it’s like to be one of the many children and teenagers forced to fight to survive in the middle of the war.

The Vietnam War took a turn when the news began broadcasting images of coffins covered with American flags returning home; a change in public opinion put pressure on the American government to end the war. Muhammad Najem’s documentation of war on social media isn’t just a cry for help, but also a vivid portrait of how war can damage lives and societies. By watching Najem’s digital diary, followers must more vividly confront the hardships the Syrian people are facing. Najem’s personal perspective gives the madness of war a human face. Hopefully, this brave teen’s use of social media will compel other leaders to act in the face of this atrocity."

Community Development

"In 2015, roughly 5 million American youth (about 1 in every 8 individuals between the ages of 16 and 24) were disconnected, neither working nor enrolled in school. Rural counties suffer from a relatively high disconnection rate — a staggering 20.3 percent — but there is hope. In communities rife with high rates of child poverty and stagnant local economies, local organizations like Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE) work to guide opportunity youth along pathways to economic security while teaching them responsibility, discipline, and other skills necessary to succeed.

Karen Jacobson, executive director of the Randolph County Housing Authority, matches disconnected youth in Appalachia with opportunities for vocational advancement. This is often done by matching youths with jobs serving other vulnerable populations, especially senior citizens in need of personal home care. “We’re now placing 15 to 20 percent of our cohorts each year in the health care field,” Jacobson said.

Mable Starks, president and CEO of MACE in Greenville, Mississippi, agreed that integrating opportunity youth into the social fabric of their hometowns is key. She works to improve education fulfillment and employment opportunities for disconnected youth through the MACE program, established by community leaders in 1967 to uplift rural development in the Mississippi Delta. This includes YouthBuild, which trains students in construction through building housing for low-income families. “A hundred percent of our students who come into YouthBuild are active voters,” Starks said. “It takes a community to build a community.”"

Neonatal Care, Maternal Health

"In Great Britain, midwives deliver half of all babies, including Kate Middleton’s first two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. In Sweden, Norway and France, midwives oversee most expectant and new mothers, enabling obstetricians to concentrate on high-risk births. In Canada and New Zealand, midwives are so highly valued that they’re brought in to manage complex cases that need special attention.

All of those countries have much lower rates of maternal and infant mortality than the U.S. Here, severe maternal complications have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Shortages of maternity care have reached critical levels: Nearly half of U.S. counties don’t have a single practicing obstetrician-gynecologist, and in rural areas, the number of hospitals offering obstetric services has fallen more than 16 percent since 2004. Nevertheless, thanks in part to opposition from doctors and hospitals, midwives are far less prevalent in the U.S. than in other affluent countries, attending around 10 percent of births, and the extent to which they can legally participate in patient care varies widely from one state to the next.

Now a groundbreaking study, the first systematic look at what midwives can and can’t do in the states where they practice, offers new evidence that empowering them could significantly boost maternal and infant health. The five-year effort by researchers in Canada and the U.S., published Wednesday, found that states that have done the most to integrate midwives into their health care systems, including Washington, New Mexico and Oregon, have some of the best outcomes for mothers and babies. Conversely, states with some of the most restrictive midwife laws and practices — including Alabama, Ohio and Mississippi — tend to do significantly worse on key indicators of maternal and neonatal well-being."