Obesity: the global scientific, medical, economic and political challenge
Obesity, recognized as a disease for more than 60 years, is now of such epidemic
proportions that its impact threatens the capacity of health services even in the richest
countries. Tragically, adult obesity is more common globally than under-nutrition. There are
around 525 million obese adults with almost twice that number overweight – that means
around 1.5 billion adults are too fat.
Excess weight gain is ranked the third greatest risk factor after smoking and high blood
pressure for all premature deaths and disabilities in the affluent world. Yet the situation is
even worse in poorer countries: widespread foetal and childhood malnutrition increases
the impact of even modest weight gain on the development of diabetes and other chronic
diseases. Poorer nations have 4-5 times more adults with overweight-induced illness than
the Western world. The result is catastrophic medical costs for hundreds of millions.
The epidemic of obesity in children is affecting every continent. The resulting social handicaps,
inferior academic and employment prospects, and early medical complications are increasingly
evident. Over 155 million school-age children are overweight and this generation is the first
predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
IASO is the leading international organisation devoted to tackling the growing challenge of
obesity. Clearly, the time to act is now!
Super pollutants are one of the most underappreciated but dangerous contributors to
climate change. Also known as short-lived climate pollutants, or forcers, super pollutants are potent noncarbon-dioxide global warming contaminants. They are also dangerous for human health and diminish agricultural productivity.
Reducing carbon dioxide—the primary greenhouse gas emitted from the burning of fossil
fuels for energy and transportation—is necessary for achieving the long-term greenhouse
reductions we need. However, it is impossible to achieve the total greenhouse gas reductions scientists agree are necessary for avoiding dangerous temperature increases without
also limiting super pollutants. Not only are super pollutants shorter-lived, but they also
remain in the atmosphere for a shorter time than carbon dioxide; therefore, reducing these
pollutants now can help reduce temperatures in the near term. In addition, the reduction
of super climate pollutants can be easier than the reduction of carbon dioxide since their
major sources, unlike CO2, are not a byproduct of our primary sources of energy.
This background brief focuses on three super pollutants that are some of the largest contributors to global warming: methane, black carbon, and HFCs. It explains the sources
of these pollutants, their prevalence, and why fast action to reduce them is imperative
for protecting public health and avoiding the disastrous impacts of global warming.
Feeding America believes that addressing the problem of hunger
requires a thorough understanding of the problem itself. For the
third consecutive year, Feeding America has undertaken the Map
the Meal Gap project to continue learning about the face of food
insecurity at the local level. By understanding the population in
need, communities can better identify strategies for reaching the
people who most need food assistance.
Although Feeding america continually seeks to meet
the needs of food insecure people, quantifying the
need for food within a community can be challenging.
In September of 2012, the economic Research Service
at the United States Department of agriculture (USDa)
released its most recent report on food insecurity,
indicating that just over 50 million people in the United
States are living in food insecure households, nearly 17 million of whom are children (Coleman-Jensen et
al., 2012). While the magnitude of the problem is clear,
national and even state estimates of food insecurity can
mask the variation that exists at the local level. prior to
the inaugural Map the Meal Gap release in March 2011,
Feeding america used state and national level USDa
food insecurity data to estimate the need.
Calls on both Public Sector and Private Industry to reduce food waste
WASHINGTON, June 4, 2013 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on others across the food chain—including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies − to join the effort to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste. Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe were joined at the event by representatives from private-sector partners and supporters including Rio Farms, Unilever, General Mills, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, Feeding America, and Rock and Wrap It Up!.
Food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people's stomachs. The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month's worth of food expenditures.
"The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste," said Secretary Vilsack. "Not only could this food be going to folks who need it – we also have an opportunity to reduce the amount of food that ends up in America's landfills. By joining together with EPA and businesses from around the country, we have an opportunity to better educate folks about the problem of food waste and begin to address this problem across the nation."
"Food waste the single largest type of waste entering our landfills -- Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food. Addressing this issue not only helps with combating hunger and saving money, but also with combating climate change: food in landfills decomposes to create potent greenhouse gases," said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. "I'm proud that EPA is joining with USDA today to announce the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. With the help of partners across the country, we can ensure that our nation's food goes to our families and those in need – not the landfill."
The goal of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge is to lead a fundamental shift in how we think about and manage food and food waste in this country. The Challenge includes a goal to have 400 partner organizations by 2015 and 1,000 by 2020.
As part of its contribution to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, USDA is initiating a wide range of activities including activities to reduce waste in the school meals program, educate consumers about food waste and food storage, and develop new technologies to reduce food waste. USDA will also work with industry to increase donations from imported produce that does not meet quality standards, streamline procedures for donating wholesome misbranded meat and poultry products, update U.S. food loss estimates at the retail level, and pilot-test a meat-composting program to reduce the amount of meat being sent to landfills from food safety inspection labs.
Through its Food Recovery Challenge, EPA will provide U.S. Food Waste Challenge participants with the opportunity to access data management software and technical assistance (www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/) to help them quantify and improve their sustainable food management practices.
Americans owe $1 trillion in student loan debt. How did that happen, and what's the impact on the nation's economy? Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports as part of his Making Sen$e of financial news series.
In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn't become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we've ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.
We made this video, built around an abridged version of the original audio recording, with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested. However, we encourage everyone to seek out the full speech (because, in this case, the book is definitely better than the movie).
Senator Warren Introduces the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, her first piece of stand-alone legislation, on May 8, 2013. The bill would would students who are eligible for federally subsidized Stafford loans to borrow at the same rate the big banks get through the Federal Reserve discount window.
The full text of Sen. Warren’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
Mr. President, on July 1st, the interest rate on new, federally subsidized student loans is
set to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. That means unless Congress acts, for millions of
young people the cost of borrowing money to go to college will double.
The student debt problem in this country is a quiet but growing crisis. Today’s
graduates collectively carry more than $1 trillion in debt—more than all the outstanding
credit card debt in the whole country. Doubling the interest rate on new student loans
will just increase the pressure on our young people.
Keep in mind: these students didn’t go to the mall and run up charges on a credit card.
They worked hard, they stayed in class, they learned new skills, and they borrowed what
they needed to pay for their education.
Their education will improve their opportunities in life, but their education won’t help
just these students. When they acquire more skills, these students help us build a strong
and competitive economy and they strengthen our middle class.
Student interest rates are set to double in less than two months, but so far, this
Congress has done nothing—nothing—to address this problem.
Some people say that we can’t afford to help our kids through school by keeping
student loan interest rates low.
But right now, as I speak, the federal government offers far lower interest rates on
loans, every single day – they just don’t do it for everyone.
Right now, a big bank can get a loan through the Federal Reserve discount window at a
rate of about 0.75%. But this summer a student who is trying to get a loan to go to
college will pay almost 7%.
In other words, the federal government is going to charge students interest rates that
are nine times higher than the rates for the biggest banks – the same banks that
destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke this economy.
That isn’t right. And that is why I’m introducing legislation today to give students the
same deal that we give to the big banks.
The Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act would allow students who are eligible for
federally subsidized Stafford loans to borrow at the same rate that big banks get through the Federal Reserve discount window. For one year, the Federal Reserve would make funds available to the Department of Education to make loans to students at the same low rate offered to the big banks. This will give students relief from high interest rates while giving Congress time to find a long-term solution.
Some may say that we can’t afford this proposal. I would remind them that the federal
government currently makes 36 cents in profit on every dollar it lends to students. Add
up all of those profits and you’ll find that student loans will bring in $34 billion next year.
Meanwhile, big banks pay interest that is one-ninth the rate that students will pay.
That is wrong. It doesn’t reflect our values. We shouldn’t be profiting from our students
who are drowning in debt while we’re giving great deals to big banks. We should be
investing in our young people so they can get good jobs and grow this economy, so let’s
give them the same great deal the banks get.
Some explain that we give banks exceptionally low interest rates because the economy
is still shaky and banks need access to cheap credit to continue the recovery.
But our students are just as important as banks to a strong recovery. And the debt they
carry also poses a serious risk to that recovery. In fact, in March of this year, the Federal
Reserve said that, because of the economic impact on family budgets, high levels of
student debt pose a risk to our shaky economic recovery.
If the Federal Reserve can float trillions of dollars to large financial institutions at low
interest rates to grow the economy, surely they can float the Department of Education
the money to fund our students, keep us competitive, and grow our middle class.
Let’s face it: Big banks get a great deal when they borrow money from the Fed. In
effect, the American taxpayer is investing in those banks. We should make the same
kind of investment in our young people who are trying to get an education. Lend them
the money and make them to pay it back, but give our kids a break on the interest they
pay. Let’s Bank on Students.
The Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act is my first standalone bill in the United States
Senate. I’m introducing this bill because our students are facing a crisis. We cannot
stand by and simply watch. This is about our students, our economy, and our
values. The Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act is a first step toward helping young
people who are drowning in debt.
Unlike the big banks, students don’t have armies of lobbyists and lawyers. They have
only their voices. And they call on us to do what is right.
Turkey is strategizing how to limit the impact of the Syria war on Turkey. Ankara is particularly concerned by the emergence of a relatively autonomous Kurdish area in northern Syria, fearing that PKK guerrillas might find refuge there. Turkey is also deeply worried about chemical weapons falling into hands of various sorts of guerrillas. Turkey would like the conflict to end sooner rather than later.
Hizbullah’s military role in Syria has been denounced by the Lebanese Sunnis. Christian leaders have for the most part called for the Lebanese army to patrol the border and try to keep the conflict in Syria from spilling over onto Lebanon. I.e., they are also critical of Hizbullah’s activities.