Category Archives: News

Mass Shootings and Important Conversations

Elliot Rodger, a disturbed rich young man went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista, a wealthy district in Santa Barbara, California. Thanks to the joys of social media, both his written and videotaped “manifestos” were able to go viral. The reasons he listed for his killing tour included his parents’ divorce, lack of luck with the ladies, and being short.

I get the divorce and the sexual frustration, but being short? That one was new.

Predictably, this has set off all manner of commentary in the public sphere. First and foremost, of course, comes the discourse on gun control. Gun control advocates have pointed out that all of the guns that Rodger used were legally obtained. The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence has spoken out on the need to tighten controls on obtaining firearms, and one of the victim’s fathers blamed “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA” for his son’s death. To be fair, three of the six people who died were actually stabbed to death, but Rodger had plenty more ready in his car that he could have used.

The feminist response to the “manifesto” (can we even call it that? should we?) has been swift and furious, pointing out the misogynism woven through it and drawing attention to his links to the usually peculiar, occasionally violence-embracing “Men’s Rights Movement” (which, by the way, is what exactly?)

But it also denies reality to pretend that Rodger’s sense of masculine entitlement and views about women didn’t matter or somehow existed in a vacuum. The horror of Rodger’s alleged crimes is unique, but the distorted way he understood himself as a man and the violence with which he discussed women — the bleak and dehumanizing way he judged them — is not. Just as we examine our culture of guns once again in the wake of yet another mass shooting, we must also examine our culture of misogyny and toxic masculinity, which devalues both women’s and men’s lives and worth, and inflicts real and daily harm.

Outspoken feminist writers have pointed out that this is not the first time a shooter has claimed similar motives, and Laurie Penny, in her usual no-holds-barred style, has dubbed the attack as the latest example of misogynistic extremism.

Last, and perhaps least, is the quiet conversation about mental health that seems to only experience half-hearted revivals when these tragedies strike. Mental health advocates speak up to point out that mental illness and seeking treatment for it are stigmatized in our culture, so social awkwardness and becomes anger without productive outlets which then warps into repressed rage. The media usually turns its head for a bit, shrugs, and then moves on to montages of grieving members of the community and talking heads interviewing NRA spokespeople on CNN. Unfortunately, this shooting has pitted feminists and mental health advocates against one another – as if Elliot Rodger the misogynist and Elliot Rodger the mentally unbalanced were mutually exclusive.

As both a feminist and a public health advocate, that makes me sad.

However, I think these are all important conversations to have. I much prefer them being featured on prime-time television in shows like Law and Order: SVU and Scandal than to have them forcibly thrust into the spotlight in the wake of a tragedy, but they need our attention nonetheless – and not at the expense of one another. While I’m not quite with the NRA on (lack of) gun control, I do think it’s something of a straw man in this case – California is one of the strictest states when it comes to gun ownership, and preventing mass killings goes beyond cutting off access to handguns (which, for better or worse, cannot be kept from citizens per the Supreme Court) – but conversations about gun violence segue into discussions about poverty and equity, which badly need to be confronted. We need to scrutinize sexism and gender violence as much as society’s assumption that a man’s worth is based on his sexual prowess – all of which hurt men as much as they hurt women, but in completely different ways. And we need to stop sweeping mental health advocacy under the rug, so that people don’t avoid treatment for mental illness for fear of being unable to get jobs in places like the military or the federal government.

Rather than fighting each other for the spotlight, let’s share it together.

Upcoming meetings and conferences

Here are two upcoming meetings/conferences that may be of interest to global health professionals. The first is a meeting, the second a call for papers for a conference in October in Costa Rica.


Monitoring Progress towards Universal Health Coverage
Featuring Dr. David Evans and Dr. Ties Boerma (World Health Organization) and Dr. Tim Evans (World Bank)

The meeting will give civil society organizations an opportunity to comment on the recent draft report by the World Bank and the World Health Organization, “Monitoring Progress towards Universal Health Coverage at Country and Global Levels: A Framework,” and discuss health in the Post-2015 development agenda.

When: Tuesday, 21 January 2014, 08:30 – 12:00 EST / 14:30 – 18:00 CET
Coffee will be available at 08:30 / 09:00, with event starting promptly at 14:30 / 15:00.

Where: United Nations Foundation, 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC
International Labour Organization, 4 route des MorillonsCH-1211 Genève 22 Switzerland

Toll-free dial-in access also available. For more information or to RSVP, email unfevents@unfoundation.org. Space is
limited.


III International Higher Education Congress
III Congreso Internacional de Educación Superior
October 6-10, 2014 San Jose, Costa Rica
Call for Papers
http://www.WCUPA.edu/KCB

Knowledge Crossing Borders: Building Partnerships Through Shared Knowledge

Introduction
The Knowledge Crossing Borders Planning Team is pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the 2014 KCB conference. You are encouraged to participate in the “Knowledge Crossing Borders: Building Partnerships through Shared Knowledge,” a multi-institutional conference to be held on the campus of the Universidad National (UNA), Heredia, Costa Rica. Program participants will share effective scholarly, pedagogical, and administrative practices with their international counterparts.

Program Objectives
The International Higher Education Congress seeks to build a sustainable future through global partnerships in higher education. The conference theme-Knowledge Crossing Borders, Building Partnerships Thorough Shared Knowledge – includes the research, pedagogical, outreach, and administrative functions of higher education. The conference will examine how knowledge transactions across regional and international borders create challenges and transformative opportunities for cooperation, change, creativity, and innovation.

Travel Support
Individuals will be required to support the expense related to their participation from their own funds toward the cost of participation. We encourage participants to anticipate their costs and apply to their institution, departments or professional associations for any financial support.

Submissions
The conference especially seeks papers that focus on border-crossing perspectives in broad contexts.
Topics should address at least one of these topics of inquiry:

  • Communication and Information Technologies in Higher Education
  • World Peace and Higher Education
  • Higher Education and the Reduction of Poverty
  • Ethics and the Role of Higher Education
  • International Cooperation and Institutions of Higher Education
  • Higher Education and Advances in the area of Health Worldwide

Applicants should submit proposals that comply with the following structures:

  1. Individual presentations not to exceed 20 minutes
  2. Panels or workshops that may be structured with three or more presentations for a total of 60 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of audience response
  3. Poster sessions that will include 60 minutes of scheduled presence and dialogue with conference attendees

Submissions should be in Microsoft Word, double-spaced, using 12-point Times New Roman font. Full papers (15-20 pages) will receive blind peer review evaluations. Notification will be sent in May. Please include a one paragraph abstract and a few sentences of biographical information about yourself. Applications will be reviewed by peer selection committee. Decisions will be based upon quality and alignment with conference goals.

Deadline for receipt of complete applications: April 1, 2014.

Two Fellowships with upcoming application deadlines: Donald M. Payne (USAID) and Global Health Corps

Below please find information about two fellowship programs that could be of interest to global health students, recent graduates, and new professionals.


Global Health Corps Fellowship: Positions available in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and the U.S.
To be selected as a Global Health Corps fellow you must:

  • Be 30 or under at the start of the fellowship
  • Have an undergraduate university degree by July 2014
  • Be proficient in English

Application Timeline for the 2014-2015 Fellowship:

  • November 6, 2013: Part 1 of the application opens
  • December 6, 2013: Position descriptions posted online. Part 2 of the application opens
  • January 26, 2014: Applications close at 11:59pm EST
  • February 17, 2014: 2 recommendation forms and Proof of Identity and Proof of Education documents due
  • February – March 2014: Each application is reviewed by at least two readers
  • March 2014: up to 10 semi-finalists are selected for each fellowship position. All candidates are notified of their application status by email
  • March 2014: All semi-finalists are interviewed by Global Health Corps and 3-5 finalists per position are selected
  • March 2014-April 2014: All finalists are interviewed by the placement organizations
  • April-May 2014: Fellowship offers extended

Fellows come from a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, as each individual fellowship position requires different specific skills. Make sure to check out our fellowship FAQs page.


USAID Donald M. Payne Fellowship (through Howard University)

The Payne Program is designed to attract outstanding young people to careers in international development as USAID Foreign Service Officers. The Payne Fellowship Program provides benefits valued at up to $90,000 over two years toward a two-year master’s degree, arranges internships on Capitol Hill and at USAID missions overseas, and provides professional development and support activities. Fellows who successfully complete the program become USAID Foreign Service Officers. Fellows may use the fellowship to attend a two-year master’s program in a U.S. institution to study an area of relevance to the USAID Foreign Service, including international development, international relations, public policy, business administration, foreign languages, economics, agriculture, environmental sciences, health, or urban planning at a graduate or professional school approved by the Payne Program. At the end of the two-year fellowship, Fellows enter the USAID Foreign Service. Applicants must be college seniors or graduates looking to start graduate school in the fall of the year they apply, have GPAs of at least 3.2 and be U.S. citizens. The program welcomes applications from those with any undergraduate major and encourages applications from members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the USAID Foreign Service and those with financial need. Information and application materials for the program are available at http://www.paynefellows.org.

Application deadline: January 27, 2014

Bill Gates: Global health dictator or just raging hypocrite?

This was cross-posted on my new professional, self-titled blog.

A few years ago, I wrote a piece about Bill Gates in response to an article in Alliance magazine, by global health pundits Laura Freschi and Alanna Shaikh, which argued that Bill Gates had become a “global health dictator” because of the amount of power and influence that his vast wealth gave him in setting global health and development priorities. I took the opposite opinion – that a man is free to do with his wealth as he pleases, and we shouldn’t shoulder him with the responsibility of setting the entire global health agenda just because he has the wealth to fund most of it.

I stand by what I said, but it now appears that potentially more sinister side of Bill Gates and Microsoft is in the spotlight for commentary: dodging taxes. In an editorial in the Guardian, Ian Birrell juxtaposes Gates’s “aid gospel” with the fact that Microsoft, on whose board he still sits, goes to great lengths to avoid paying billions of dollars of taxes.

He made his name as a sharp-elbowed businessman who rode the technology revolution with such style. But these days he is far more famous for his philanthropy, as a saviour of the poor who has made it his life’s mission to change the world for the better. So it was something of a shock to see he is still the richest person on the planet, boosting his fortune by another £9.6bn last year to an astonishing £48bn after a big rise in the Microsoft share price.

Clearly, he relishes his latest role, becoming increasingly influential and outspoken. He loves to lecture nations on how they should give away more of their taxpayers’ money, urging them to hit the arbitrary and anachronistic target of handing over 0.7% of gross national income in foreign aid. He has applauded David Cameron for Britain’s embrace of the target, even condemning a Lords’ committee that criticised this cash cascade, while constantly telling other countries to do the same.

But like those other aid apostles Bono and Bob Geldof, he risks being perceived as a rank hypocrite. For he sees nothing wrong in complex tax avoidance schemes while telling nations how to spend their revenues, notwithstanding the growing body of opinion that aid undermines development and democracy by propping up poorly run regimes. The latest expert to highlight this “aid illusion” is Professor Angus Deaton, the leading expert on measuring global poverty and a former true believer, in his fine book The Great Escape.

It seems a given that Gates will be a controversial figure – obscenely wealthy people almost always are – but he has made a name for himself in the last decade

Public health dictator and tax dodger. Photo credit: World Economic Forum.

Public health dictator and tax dodger.
Photo credit: World Economic Forum.

as a tireless advocate for combating disease, developing sustainable agriculture, and advancing technological solutions to problems of poverty. He spent most of 2011 pushing his Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett, an attempt to persuade the wealthy of the world to donate half of their fortune to charitable causes. He is an almost guaranteed presence at big-name aid conferences and confabs, and now he and his wife are almost considered experts in their pet project areas – vaccination campaigns and green agriculture for Bill, and family planning for Melinda.

With such high visibility, it is highly discouraging to learn just how extensive Microsoft’s tax-dodging practices are:

Moving earnings through low corporation tax countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg and Singapore means the company saved itself, according to one estimate, almost £3bn annually in tax. A Harvard law professor pointed out that Microsoft’s divisions in three low-tax nations employed fewer than 2,000 people, but supposedly recorded about £9.4bn of pre-tax profit in 2011 – more than the 88,000 employees working in all its other global divisions.

In Britain, Microsoft reported revenues of £1.7bn in a single year for online sales on which it paid no corporation tax. This is why if you look at the small print when buying software through its British website, you find you are dealing with a Luxembourg offshoot. A newspaper investigation found a small office there with just six staff handling online sales from around Europe.

It is well-documented that the shuffle of corporate profits through tax havens hurts those in poverty by sheltering tax revenue that would go toward food aid, education, and medicine. What kind of aid champion does that make Bill Gates, if his own company circumvents tax responsibility totaling 3% of the global aid budget?

I still maintain that “global health dictator” is not the right label for Mr. Gates, but perhaps Ian Birrell is right – maybe “hypocrite” fits better.

Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will begin exercising its authority given under a 2009 law, power to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products that they believe pose public health risks.
  • In an effort intensify campaign to publicize new health insurance options and to persuade consumers, the White House is recruiting mayors, county commissioners and other local officials.

Programs:

  • A health check program has been launched in Accra, in order to reach out to the people of Ghana who are challenged with non-communicable diseases (NCDS), in an affordable and effective way.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is starting a rotavirus vaccination program to protect the babies from infection which causes diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration.
  • Ben & Catherine Ivy foundation grants more that $9 million for brain cancer research.

Research:

  • To help avert 3 million AIDS deaths by 2025, the World Health Organization (WHO) through its guidelines is recommending the patients the start medicine at earlier stage of the deadly disease.
  • According to global Diabetes attitudes, wishes and needs 2 study one in five people with diabetes feel discriminated against them because of their condition. About 16% people suffering from this condition are at risk of depression.
  • According to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ghana cuts new HIV infections among children by 76% since 2009. It states that one three in ten children in need of treatment have access to it.
  • A report released by the United Nations state that Nigeria has highest number of children with HIV/AIDS virus in the world. It states that the incidence rate has not increased much but the increase in the prevalence rate has remained stagnant.
  • According to the scientists, new World Health Organization (WHO) test- based approach against malaria does not work everywhere. There must be a hard diagnosis before the disease is treated.
  • According to the research results published in the Journal of Infectious diseases, infant rotavirus vaccine is effective against this disease in Ghana. Results showed a significant response in parameters of efficacy, safety and immune impact of vaccine.
  • A study published in the journal’ Diabetologia’, ethnicity should be considered while making guidelines for physical activity. They state that south Asians need more exercise than white Europeans to reduce diabetes risk.
  • According to a research review published in BMJ, high consumption of fish reduces risk of breast cancer by 14%. It replenishes the body with all omega 3 essential fatty acids which can only be acquired from external sources as body cannot manufacture it.
  •  In a study published in Cell Transplantation journal, type 2 diabetes patients who receive self-donated bone marrow stem cells require less insulin. According to the scientist’s good glycemic control appeared as a critical factor in the transplanted and non-transplanted control group.
  • A study indicates that consuming more than 2-3 standard alcohol drinks per day is linked to deadly digestive tract cancers including mouth, throat, larynx and esophageal. They also warn of risk of bowel, breast and prostate cancers.
  • The scientists have found out that the patients of Crohn’s disease also have a virus – enterovirus in their intestines as compared to those who did not have this disease. It also said that the genes associated with the onset of this disease are vital for the immune response against this virus.
  • According to the researcher’s malaria parasite are full of iron which they cannot digest nor can excrete them. Their invention- hand-held battery operated malaria detector will use the power of magnets to detect them.

Diseases & Disasters:

  • Reports state that Lusaka (Zambia) records approximately 185 new HIV/ AIDS infections every day. It has high prevalence rate of 20.8 percent as compared to the other districts of Zambia.
  • The cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo claims lives of 257 people. Lack of proper sanitation and clear water are stated to be the main cause of the outbreak.
  • Polio outbreak in Somalia jeopardizes global eradication. Before this there was no case of this disease for more than five years. This outbreak is reported in its early stages and WHO experts see more cases coming in next few weeks.
  • A report released by Greenpeace suggests that a Chinese herbal medicine contains a variety of pesticides. It is increasingly accepted in the western countries for medicinal use.
  • Reports have shown a new trend of HIV infection among the youths of Manipur (India). Unsafe sex practice has been indicated to be the major mode of HIV transmission among them.
  • According to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Diclofenac, a common painkiller raises the risk of heart attack and stroke among the patients with serious underlying heart conditions.
  • Health officials are warning that tularemia cases are on rise in New Mexico. Four cases have been so far been reported.
  • Japan and Poland are facing epidemic of rubella. Travel warnings have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the pregnant females visiting these countries.

DAWNS Morning Headlines: Refugee Crisis, Climate Change, Attack on UN in Mogadishu

UN: Worst Refugee Crisis in Nearly 20 Years

New report from UNHCR for World Refugee Day today. “The world is in the throes of its most serious refugee crisis for almost 20 years, as conflicts in Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali have forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, the UN’s refugee agency has said. In its global trends report (pdf), UNHCR said more than 45.2 million people were displaced last year, the largest number since 1994. This includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 28.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) – those forced to find refuge within the borders of their own countries.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/1bWTL3f)

Climate Change to Hurt Poor Most

New Analysis from the World Bank: “Millions of people around the world are likely to be pushed back into poverty because climate change is undermining economic development in poor countries, the World Bank has warned. Droughts, floods, heatwaves, sea-level rises and fiercer storms are likely to accompany increasing global warming and will cause severe hardship in areas that are already poor or were emerging from poverty, the bank said in a report. Food shortages will be among the first consequences within just two decades, along with damage to cities from fiercer storms and migration as people try to escape the effects.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/1bWTAES)

Details Emerge from Deadly Attack on UN Compound in Mogadishu

Fifteen people are confirmed dead, including four international staff, on an attack on the UN’s new office in Somalia yesterday. “The assault began when Shabab militants blew up a pickup truck rigged with explosives outside the compound, witnesses said. Militants armed with rifles and wearing explosive vests then stormed it on foot. Somali and African Union troops responded, and the ensuing firefight lasted more than an hour, punctuated by a series of blasts.” (NYTimes http://nyti.ms/14KSbky)


These are the top stories from DAWNS Digest, a subscription-based news clipping service and mobile app that delivers a daily snapshot of global humanitarian news. The following are the top stories from the digest. To learn more about the subscription service and what else DAWNS does, visit our website.

DAWNS Morning Headlines: Peace with Tuareg Separatists in Mali, G8 and Transparency

Mali Government Reaches Peace Accord With Tuareg Separatists

The timing is key, as elections are approaching and peacekeepers are set to deploy in July. “Mali has reached a deal with Tuareg separatist rebels paving the way for Malian government troops to return to the rebel-held northern town of Kidal ahead of planned elections in July, Mali’s chief negotiator said on Tuesday. ‘The accord is ready to be signed,’ Tiebile Drame told Reuters in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou where talks have been taking place for over a week. ‘I can tell you that the interim accord will be signed this afternoon.’ Mediators said a week ago that both parties had reached an agreement ‘in principle’. However, Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore, sworn in after a military coup last year, had baulked at a deal imposing conditions on the army’s return to Kidal.” (Reuters http://yhoo.it/13Z9StO)

G8 Agree on Tax Transparency

In non-Syria news: “The measures are designed to combat illegal evasion of taxes, as well as legal tax avoidance by large corporations that make use of loopholes and tax havens. The summit in Northern Ireland also saw the launch of free trade negotiations between the EU and US, which UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was hosting the summit, dubbed ‘the biggest bilateral trade agreement in history’. Tax, trade and transparency – dubbed ‘The Three Ts’ – were placed at the top of the UK’s agenda for its presidency of the G8, which consists of the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Canada and Japan.” (BBC http://bbc.in/17Wvugc)


These are the top stories from DAWNS Digest, a subscription-based news clipping service and mobile app that delivers a daily snapshot of global humanitarian news. The following are the top stories from the digest. To learn more about the subscription service and what else DAWNS does, visit our website.