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The Action Thread Part Two

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AGRICULTURE

Rising with the roosters and running with the cows

2 November 2016 4:32PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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In partnership with One Acre Fund, ONE will follow a small community called Luucho in Western Kenya through the agricultural season.

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John with goats he brought to sell at Myanja market in Chwele, Kenya.

John Sirengo almost never stops running.

The livestock seller from Luucho village, Kenya, starts each morning with the first crow of the rooster. With seven children to feed, he’s always on his feet. He jogs eight miles to the nearest market, herding the cows left over from yesterday’s sales with a small stick.

John spends most of the day running from market to market, but he’s not just chasing cattle. He’s also racing after better prices. Cows usually sell for higher sums of money in the morning, so he always tries to be among the first sellers to arrive at the market every day.

“As a businessman, I try to make as much money as I can, even if it means sacrificing my sleep or walking to the furthest markets,” says John, who’s known fondly in his village as Mchurusi. It’s a name that translates to cattle seller in the local Bukusu dialect, although John also buys and sells goats, sheep and chickens.

Arriving early not only guarantees better prices. John is also able to spot and buy the healthy-looking cows before his competitors. He regularly buys cows, anticipating that he will be able to sell them for more money at the next market. Cows with large udders, straight legs, large frames and complete sets of teeth are in high demand and attract top prices.

On a good day, John can make a profit of $20. However, his income is never guaranteed. Market prices fluctuate every week, and it is common for cattle sellers to end up with losses.

Scenes from around Myanja market, one of the markets in Kenya where John sells his livestock.

Scenes from around Myanja market, one of the markets in Kenya where John sells his livestock.

Sometimes sellers like John are unable to find customers who are willing to pay more for their cattle. That often means they are forced to keep their livestock at home, incurring high costs for feed. John cannot afford such losses. Before traveling to any market, he calls his friends who live nearby to inquire about the prices that day.

“I have many responsibilities to provide food, clothing and education for my family, and so I’m always in need of money,” John says. “Still, I cannot solely depend on selling cattle, and so for three days in a week I work in my farm.”

John, like many Luucho residents, is a smallholder farmer.  John owns half an acre of land that he uses to plant maize.  For many years, he experienced a series of poor harvests. In 2009, John learned new planting techniques from One Acre Fund, a nonprofit organisation that supplies smallholder farmers across East Africa with seed, fertiliser, and training. John started applying the skills he learned, such spacing his plants in rows, and in the next season, his harvest tripled. While John keeps the majority of his harvest for food, he now has a small portion left over to sell when he goes to the market to trade his livestock.

Goats John brought to sell at Myanja market in Chwele, Kenya.

Goats John brought to sell at Myanja market in Chwele, Kenya.

Apart from selling his own produce, John also helps other Luucho farmers find good markets for their crops. While conducting his cattle business, John scouts for the markets offering the highest prices for maize and other farm produce. Many of his neighbours knock on his door in the evenings to ask where they should sell their crops the next day.

Those evening courtesy visits also come from neighbours who are interested in buying cattle.

“The whole village trusts me to choose the best cows. If people want cows for milk, beef or to pay a dowry, they all come to me,” John says. “I’ve built good relationships with all my neighbours because of my work.”

John also plays the role of a banker. Despite the small income he makes for his business, John is among the highest-earning people in Luucho. Most of the people living in his village depend solely on agriculture for their livelihoods and have to raise money from limited income sources to feed their families. Because of this, John often lends small quantities of cash to his neighbours to buy food.

“This season, we have not received enough rainfall. Our crops wilted, and as a result we are going to harvest very little,” John says. “I’m worried because this means the whole village will be hungry.”

If indeed farmers in Luucho harvest little food this season, then John as their Mchurusi will become more important to his village than ever before. The demand for him to lend money to his neighbours will increase, and in turn, John will need to wake up even earlier to find a better price for his cows.

Want to keep up to date with the citizens of Luucho? Check back next month for part three of this year’s harvest series.


One Acre Fund supplies smallholder farmers with the financing and training they need to grow their way out of hunger and poverty. Instead of giving handouts, they invest in farmers to generate a permanent gain in farm income. One Acre Fund provides a complete service bundle of seeds and fertiliser, financing, training, and market facilitation—and delivers these services within walking distance of the 400,000 rural farmers they serve. They measure success in their ability to make farmers more prosperous and they always put Farmers First.

 

Via ONE

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Colon cancer deaths rise among younger adults, and no one knows why

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

 

Updated 1954 GMT (0354 HKT) August 8, 2017

 
 
 
 
Colorectal cancer: What you need to know

 

 

 
 

 

It's 'chemical warfare' on our children

 

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Sinead O'Connor's struggle with mental illness

 

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¿Está la salud en Honduras al borde del colapso?

 

Colorectal cancer: What you need to know

 

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The accidental activist

 

Why we're more bacteria than human

 

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¿Está la salud en Honduras al borde del colapso?

 

Colorectal cancer: What you need to know

 

County's morgue overflows with overdose deaths

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Source: CNN

Colorectal cancer: What you need to know 01:10

Story highlights

  • A new study shows colon and rectal cancer death rates are rising for adults under 55
  • Data show the death rate increase is confined to whites; among black patients, there's a slight decline

(CNN)Adults in the United States are dying from colon and rectal cancers at an increasing rate about age 50, when they should just be beginning screenings, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society.

 
Since routine screening is generally not recommended for most adults under 50, the cancers found in younger adults are often in advanced stages and more deadly, said Dr. James Church, a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Church, who was not involved in the new study, said he has seen this trend in death rates up close. Last year, on separate occasions, Church saw two 36-year-olds with stage IV colon cancer, he said.
In both of those patients, who had no relation to each other, the cancer spread to their livers, making it so he couldn't operate. Both died, he said.
"They both had young families, both little girls, and they lost their father in one case and their mother in the other, forever, because of this nasty disease when it's advanced," Church said.
"It makes a big impact on me, and it makes me keenly interested in trying to solve this issue," he said. "Everybody in colorectal surgical circles is seeing increased incidence of colon cancer in the young, defined as younger than 50."
The new study, published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, is a followup to one that found that incidence rates of colon and rectal cancers are rising in American adults under 50, the recommended screening age.
According to the previous study, adults born in 1990 could have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer at the same age had they been born in 1950.
The reason for the rise in both incidence and death rates remains unclear.
"We've known that there's this increasing trend in people under 50 for incidence, but a lot of people were saying, 'Hey, this is good news. This means people are getting more colonoscopies, and cancer's being detected earlier,' " said Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the new study.
Now, "what (the new study) indicates is that the increase in incidence is a true increase in disease occurrence and not an artifact of more colonoscopy use," she said. "If it was just colonoscopy use, you wouldn't expect to see an effect on death rates, or even you might see a decline in death rates."
Colorectal cancer, which includes both colon and rectal cancers, is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men, and this year, it's expected to result in about 50,260 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.
Globally, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International.

A 'surprising' racial divide

The new study included data on colon and rectal cancer diagnoses and death reports for adults ages 20 to 54 in the United States from 1970 to 2014.
The mortality data came from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, which tracks cause-specific mortality rates.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that colon and rectal cancer mortality rates among 20- to 54-year-olds declined overall from 1970 to 2004 but then increased by 1% annually from 2004 to 2014. In 2014, the total colorectal mortality rate in that age group was 4.3 people per 100,000.
Additionally, "when we looked at the trend by race, the increase in death rates is confined to whites, and in blacks, we see a slight decline over the entire 45-year study period in death rates," Siegel said.
"That's very surprising, because whites and blacks have similar patterns in the major risk factors for colorectal cancer, like obesity," she said. "A lot of people want to look to the natural culprit, obesity, but that probably isn't what's completely driving this increase in colorectal cancer."
It turns out that what's driving the increase in both colorectal cancer incidence and death rates remains a mystery, Siegel said.
"It's important to mention that still the risk for colorectal cancer is low in people under 55. We don't want to be alarmists. The risk is low," Siegel said.
"In whites, the increase over the past decade was a 14% increase in the rate. So it's not enormous, but it's concerning, because the trend has changed direction," she said. "It was declining, and now it's increasing."
Some key factors that can impact mortality rates include the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis, treatments received by patients and the molecular subtype of the cancer, said Dr. Nancy You, a colorectal cancer surgeon and associate professor of surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Still, while such large population-level studies are excellent for showing large-scale trends, they often don't allow for deciphering the causes for those trends, said You, who was not involved in the new study.
For instance, the data analysis in the study didn't reveal the proportion of advanced versus early-stage colorectal cancers over time or whether the proportion of patients who received stage-specific treatments changed over time, You said.
"The study also did not compare the cancer-specific mortality rates of young versus older adults with colorectal cancer in the same time," You said.
"Finally, young age-of-onset rectal cancer appears to differ from young age-of-onset colon cancer, because the rise in incidence rates of rectal cancer is much more dramatic," she said. "The mortality rate difference based on colon versus rectum would also be interesting for a future analysis."
You added that, between 2004 and 2014, there were many advances in surgical and chemotherapy treatments for colorectal cancer.
"So the findings reported here raise the concern that 'why are such treatment advances failing to deliver their promise of improving survival among young adults?' " she said.
All in all, the study "tells us that we need to get messages out for people when they turn 50, they need to call and schedule their colorectal cancer screening, because increasing death rates for people who should be screened is very concerning," said Siegel, the study's lead author.
The Affordable Care Act required coverage of colorectal cancer screening tests, but patients still should check with their health insurance providers to determine coverage for colorectal cancer screening, which can range in cost.
Screenings can be performed using a fecal blood test, a stool DNA test, a sigmoidoscopy, a virtual colonoscopy or the standard colonoscopy, according to the National Cancer Institute, which also notes that other tests to screen for colorectal cancer are not generally recommended.
Jim Risk, a 51-year-old patient at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in the new study, agreed that the study's findings are a reminder for more adults to get screened and to pay attention to potential colorectal cancer symptoms, which include diarrhea, blood in the stool, cramping or bloating.
Risk was 40 when the Cleveland Clinic's Church diagnosed him with stage I rectal cancer.

'Had I ignored it ... I probably wouldn't be alive today'

About 10 years ago, Risk experienced rectal bleeding, and at first, he figured it was a result of a lingering hemorrhoid, he said.
Yet after he casually mentioned the bleeding to his primary care physician in an annual physical exam, Risk's doctor recommended that he get a colonoscopy to make sure the bleeding was nothing more serious.
So Risk visited the Cleveland Clinic's main campus, where "they pulled basically a golf-ball-sized polyp out of me," he said.
 
Screening for colon cancer
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

Screening for colon cancer 01:08
Colon polyps are growths of tissue on the lining of the colon and rectum, and some polyps can become cancerous. Risk's polyp was tested for cancer, and a week later, Church called him with the test results.
"He was sort of stumbling around with his words, and that's when I knew I had a problem," said Risk, who is now healthy after surgical treatment for the cancer.
"I was unbelievably blessed. I caught it very early, and had I ignored it another year, I probably wouldn't be alive today," he said. "You have to be a good steward of your own body, and when you feel that there's something going on, you're probably better off getting it checked out as early as possible."
Even in the new study, the researchers wrote that escalating mortality rates in young and middle-aged adults "highlight the need for earlier (colorectal cancer) detection" through age-appropriate screening and timely followups for symptoms.
Risk said, "I think I've had 11 colonoscopies in my life, and the prep work is horrible, but just go in and just do it and get it over with."
To reduce your risk of colon and rectal cancers, Siegel recommended maintaining a healthy body weight, staying physically active, avoiding drinking alcohol excessively and avoiding smoking.
Meanwhile, regular screening tests may find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is likely to be more effective.
Yet whether there should be changes in screening recommendations remains to be debated, Church said. Some colorectal cancer screening tests can come with risks or false positive results.
For instance, the risk in colonoscopies includes a possible reaction to sedatives or anesthesia, bleeding, perforation of the colon, pain in the abdomen or even an extremely rare risk of fatal complications, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Join the conversation

See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

"The big question that we're struggling with is, as a society of doctors, should we screen people earlier? Is it worth it? And part of the big issue is, we don't know why there is this increased incidence of colon cancer in young people," Church said.
"We were taught in medical school that colon cancer is more common as you get older, and we didn't expect the rates going up," he said. "What we can do right now is pay attention to symptoms and pay attention to risk factors like family history, and by we, I mean largely primary health docs and patients."
 
Via The Angiogenesis Foundation

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AUG. 3, 2017

IKEA Now Sells Solar Panels Kits in the UK

The household goods store proves their commitment to the environment yet again.

Avery Friedman
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IKEA is back at it again. The Swedish-born home furnishing retailer is following in the footsteps of its mother country by stepping up to combat climate change.  

Adding to its catalogue of sleek and efficient home goods, the company is now selling solar panel kits and home batteries in the UK. The product comes with roof installation by Solarcentury, a solar power company, a 25-year guarantee, and a six-year warranty on installation. The battery storage can be used on the new panels or as additional power for existing solar panels as well.

Take Action: We Challenge You to join Our Week Long Action Challenge to Protect Our Environment

This may sound like a way to go green while saving some green; but the package is costly. The kit rings up at £6,925, or about $9,095.

IKEA predicts that the average British household with the solar panels will consume 40% of the energy that the solar panels create, with the remaining 60% getting sold back to the National Grid, an electric power transmission network that distributes energy throughout various European countries.

The batteries allow individual households to store solar electricity and use it at a later date, allowing homeowners to retain almost 80% solar usage. This retention would allow people to cut their electricity bill by 70% and pay off the IKEA kit’s lofty price in around 12 years.

Read More: This Room From Ikea Is Actually a Garden That Can Feed a Neighborhood

“We’re committed to helping homeowners reap the benefits of going solar and our business partnership with IKEA is a significant step forwards for the renewable energy industry," said Susannah Wood, head of residential solar at Solarcentury.  

"The cost of solar installations has dropped considerably in recent years and is in fact 100 times cheaper than it was 35 years ago. We believe IKEA and Solarcentury are bringing the most competitive package to the market yet, so more people than ever before can profit financially and environmentally by producing their own energy,” Wood said.

IKEA’s environmental innovation is in line with its Swedish origins. Only 1% of the country’s waste goes into landfills. Instead, Sweden converts 50% of their waste into energy and recycles the rest.

Read More: How Algae Could Help Sweden Entirely Eliminate Carbon Emissions

In 2016, The Swedes are also invested $546 million into to becoming the first fossil fuel-free nation by 2050.

This isn’t the first time IKEA has proved their commitment to climate control, either. The furniture retailer uses mushroom-based compostable packaging, and recently and cafeteria announced plans to halve its waste by 2020.

Avery is an Editorial Intern at Global Citizen. She attends the University of Michigan and writes for the music beat of the Michigan Daily. She lives to connect with people from all walks of life and believes in the power of narrative to change minds and expand perspective. Avery aims to live her life with empathy and intention.

 

Via Global Citizen

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AUG. 8, 2017

The World Is Watching With Bated Breath as Kenya Takes to the Polls

1,100 people were killed in violence following the 2007 general election.

Imogen Calderwood
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Leaders from Kenya and the international community have appealed for calm and unity as the country went to the polls for its general election today. 

Tension has been building in the days leading up to the election, with concerns over a repeat of the deadly violence of 10 years ago. 

More than 1,100 Kenyans died in rioting and 600,000 people were displaced after a 2007 election result that was disputed.

No one wants a repeat of the events that tipped the country into its worst crisis in decades. 

READ MORE: Another African Nation Just Promised Free Sanitary Pads to Help Girls Stay in School

Today’s election is primarily a race between current President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival Raila Odinga, who have been competing against each other for years and whose fathers were also political rivals in the 1960s. 

“To my competitors, as I have always said, in the event that they lose, let us accept the will of the people. I am willing, myself, to accept the will of the people,” said Kenyatta, as he voted in his hometown of Gatundu, north of Nairobi. 

“Let us pull this country together and let us move forward as one nation.” 

 

Take Action: Sign A Petition

 
 
 
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Kenyans have been anxiously awaiting this election. Some have stockpiled food and water, according to the BBC , while police have prepared emergency first aid kits. 

Bus stations have also been busier than usual in major cities, according to the Guardian , as people leave for more provincial areas which are thought to be safer. 

 

Meanwhile, an estimated 180,000 police officers and members of other security forces have been deployed around Kenya. 

Fears increased last week, following news that a senior election official who played a key role in developing Kenya’s new electronic ballot and voter registration systems had been tortured and murdered.

READ MORE: These African Girls Invented an App to End FGM, Now They’re Bringing It to Google

Former US President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, has also called for calm. 

“In Kenya’s election we have already seen too much incitement and appeals based on fear from all sides,” he said. 

 

“But I also know that the Kenyan people as a whole will be the losers if there is a descent into violence. You can make clear that you will reject those that want to deal in tribal and ethnic hatred.”

He added: “The choices you make in the coming days can either set Kenya back or bring it together. As a friend of the Kenyan people, I urge you to work for a future defined not by fear and division, but by unity and hope.” 

READ MORE: 37 Iconic Photos to Celebrate President Obama’s Birthday

Queues formed at polling stations before dawn today, with some minor stampedes being reported. 

First results aren’t expected before Wednesday, but it could take three days for a winner to emerge, according to the BBC .

To win outright, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote, and at least 25% in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties. If no one achieves that, a runoff vote will be triggered, between the top two candidates. 

Imogen is content writer & editor at Global Citizen UK. A former global news journalist, Imogen has been flitting from Australia to Spain to India since graduating from the University of Warwick. She's also trying to read all the Booker Prize winners, so wish her luck because there are loads.

 

Via Global Citizen

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GIRLS AND WOMEN

These 10 anti-woman laws will shock you

30 March 2017 3:02PM UTC | By: CLEA GUY-ALLEN

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Less than a month ago we celebrated International Women’s Day! This year’s theme was #BeBoldForChange and called on global citizens to advocate for a more equal, gender inclusive world.

Even though there are so many incredible people working towards a more equal, gender inclusive world, there are still plenty of places around the globe where women are not granted the same rights as men.

sexist-.jpgThe organisation Equality Now is dedicated to make discrimination against women history, and tracks laws – including the 10 listed below – that discriminate against women and works to help change laws and attitudes. These laws range from the absurd to the horrifying, from not allowing driving to legally permitting abuse in certain cases.

1. Women can be kidnapped

In Malta, if a man who abducts a woman intends to marry her, his sentence is automatically reduced. If the man marries his victim after the abduction, he is subsequently exempt from any and all prosecution and punishment. A similar law is in place in Lebanon, where a man who commits a rape or kidnapping cannot be prosecuted if he marries the victim after the crime.

2. Women are forbidden to drive

In countries such as Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for women to receive driver’s licenses. In 1990, a Fatwa on Women’s Driving Automobiles was declared, for fear that men and women would use cars for secret rendezvous and would tempt both parties into committing lewd behaviour.

21Umoja_Kenya_Modola_ONE.jpg

3. Women inherit less than their brothers

Different versions of this law exist in various countries. In Tunisia, women only inherit half of what their brothers do.

4. Men receive less punishment for “honour killings”

This law has come under intense fire in many different countries. In Egypt, a man who kills his wife upon discovering her in an act of adultery is automatically given a lesser sentence than for other forms of murder. In Syria, a man who murders his mother, sister, or wife due to catching them in an “illegitimate sexual act” can receive no more than seven years in prison. Until 2009, there were no legal ramifications for this crime in Syria.

Kangaroo_Mother_Care.41.jpg

5. A woman’s testimony counts for half of that of a man’s

In Iran, a woman’s testimony in court is less valuable than that of a man in cases such as adultery. In most of these cases, there must be testimony from at least double the amount of women as there are men. In cases where the punishment may be severe, a minimum of two men and four women must testify.

6. Husbands have more rights than their wives

In Israel, divorce depends solely on the will of the husband. Half a world away in Mali, a 2011 law upheld the man’s status as head of the household and mandates a wife’s obedience to him. It also declared that women must wait three months to get remarried after a divorce or death; men have no such restriction.

Kangaroo_Mother_Care.492.jpg7. Men can choose where women work

In countries such as Cameroon and Guinea, men have more of a say in where their wives will work than the women themselves. For example, in Cameroon, a husband may prohibit his wife from taking a job in a different trade or profession than him if it is in the best interest of his marriage and children. Cameroon is one of 18 countries where women cannot get a job if their husbands feel it is not in their family’s interest.

8. Women can be beaten

Unfortunately, laws such as this are not uncommon–in fact, 46 countries have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.

TTW_Cookstoves_101.jpg9. Women cannot perform physical labor

In China, women are forbidden from working in mines, and more broadly are prohibited from performing physical labor or work that female workers “should avoid.” In Russia, a similar law stops women from partaking in hard, dangerous, or unhealthy trades. This sweeping law includes many different types of jobs, from frontline firefighting to sailing – 456 types of work in total!

10. Women cannot pass on citizenship in the same way as men

Even in the United States, men and women are viewed differently under the law. A child born out of wedlock to a foreign mother and American father has a gruelling process to becoming an American citizen, and there are more requirements to meet if the mother is not a US citizen and the father is. At least 22 countries do not allow married women to pass citizenship to their children as fathers can and 44 countries do not allow married women to pass citizenship to their spouses as married men can.

For a complete list of anti-women laws by country, visit Equality Now’s website.

And to join the campaign for girl’s education, head to #GirlsCount.

 

Via ONE

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HIV/AIDS

Two sides to every story: What the latest data on HIV/AIDS tells us

August 3 2017 | By: JENNY OTTENHOFF

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Depending on how you look at it, the new data on the HIV/AIDS epidemic can tell two very different stories.  On the one hand, the world has made huge progress against HIV/AIDS – for example, last year alone, more people were put on AIDS treatment than ever before.  On the other hand, there are still way too many people becoming infected with the disease and donor funding continued to fall.

Here are 10 things you should know — five that tell the good news story and five that shed light on the challenges we face. After checking out these facts, see the new infographic below (or see the PDF here) for a full view of the story these numbers tell.

Treatment

  • For the first time ever, more than half of the people who need treatment for AIDS are getting it – that’s 19.5 million people accessing the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives.
  • 17 million people living with HIV are still not accessing the treatment they need.

New infections

  • Fewer people were infected with HIV last year than any other year since the UN started counting back in 1990.
  • Three people are infected with HIV every minute – that’s 1.8 million people globally last year alone. And young women account for two out of three new infections among young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Funding

  • The countries most affected by HIV are spending more fighting it than ever before,
  • Financing from donor governments is down for the second year in a row and total financing is far short – $7 billion short – of where it needs to be by 2020 to end AIDS for good.

What the future holds…

  • Promising new prevention tools are in the pipeline – like an injectable drug for long-lasting HIV prevention and an HIV vaccine. While it will take time for these tools to be fully developed, tested, and deployed, their potential to dramatically speed up the response to HIV/AIDS is huge.
  • Any slowdown in the AIDS response now risks a resurgence of the disease as Africa’s population grows. The number of young people in sub-Saharan Africa is growing faster than any other region in the world, and this population is particularly susceptible to HIV.

So how does this story end?

The outcome rests squarely on the shoulders of today’s leaders. To accelerate our impact and ensure that every person can get the care and treatment they need, they must take action to close the resource gap, support innovation and strengthen health systems. Anything less could surrender the hard-earned gains of the past decade.

infographic_final.jpg

 

Via ONE

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AUG. 8, 2017

Temperatures to Increase by 7.5°F by End of Century, US Scientists’ Report Warns

Expect more heat waves, powerful storms, and droughts.

Joe McCarthy

By Joe McCarthy

 

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ap_697397847490.jpgAP / Lynne Sladky
 

Climate change is no longer a distant problem in the day-to-day lives of ordinary Americans, according to a sweeping, yet-to-be-released report by 13 government agencies.

Since 1980, average temperatures have risen drastically in the United States  — between .29 and .46 degrees Fahrenheit per decade — causing extreme weather events such as heat waves, powerful storms, and droughts to happen with greater frequency.

In Texas, for example, climate change has made extreme weather events 20 times more likely.

For Americans in Alaska, Miami, and other coastal areas, climate change has been felt for years now.

Read More: How a Tiny Alaska Town Is Leading the Way on Climate Change

“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report, first reported by The New York Times.

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” the report continues.

The report is waiting final approval by the Trump administration, but advance copies have been reviewed by some news organizations. Authors of the report, who essentially comprise an all-star team of climate scientists, have also anonymously given interviews on the report’s findings. The National Academy of the Sciences has signed off on the report, and the Trump administration must make a decision by Aug. 18.

 

Take Action: Tweet Now

 
 
 
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One of the central findings of the assessment is that even if human emissions were to cease today, the world would still experience a .5 degree Fahrenheit (.3 degree Celsius) increase in temperatures from today’s levels before the end of the century.

Current projections, meanwhile, suggest that the world will experience at least an additional 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) increase from today.

Such an increase would cause the world to blow past the ceiling set by the Paris climate agreement, a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) from pre-industrial levels, beyond which catastrophic changes are expected.

Parts of the US will see temperature increases of up to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit from pre-industrial levels (4.8 degrees Celsius).

Among other events, this would cause sea levels to significantly rise, displacing millions of people, coral reefs to disintegrate, unprecedented heat waves and droughts, and tropical storms to become more common.   

Read More: There Could Be 2 Billion Climate Change Refugees by 2100

The authors of the report argue that the ability to link weather events to climate change has improved significantly since the last climate assessment was made by the government in 2014.

They also suggest that such clarity should prompt global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the report’s authors worry that the review could be suppressed by the Trump administration, which has shown consistent skepticism of climate science.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has to approve of the report, and it’s currently directed by an outspoken climate change skeptic, Scott Pruitt.

Either way, the report is now fully available for the public to read online and the scientists who participated in the report will continue to study the subject and advocate for action.

Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

 

Via Global Citizen

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CULTURE

The Maasai brand is valuable — and it should belong to the Maasai people

28 July 2017 5:18PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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By Meg Brindle, Light Years IP

I was at a conference in Kenya when I first met a member of the Maasai, a group of people who live in East Africa. He had a question for me – and the answers could have the potential to dramatically impact poverty for millions of low-income farmers, producers and others.

You’d recognise the Maasai from photos. Many are tall, elegant and very distinctively dressed. Often, when a generic image is used of Africans in photos or advertising, it’s of Maasai. Their designs and style get used by others – but the Maasai don’t earn a penny.

That’s not right. It’s cultural appropriation – but it’s also bad business. Increasingly, the things that make products valuable aren’t the ingredients that go into them – it’s the intangible things, including the brands. And companies are careful to look out for their brands, spending millions to protect and defend them.

Think about Coca-Cola or Apple. Their products are more than sugar, fruit juice, and water, or metal and plastic, chips and screen. Their brand value is much greater than the value of the physical resources. That’s because of the ideas, imagination, and presentation that come together in great products: what business calls “intellectual property (IP).”

So what does this mean for a semi-nomadic tribe of nearly 2 million across Tanzania and Kenya?

We’d been working with Ethiopian Fine Coffee to help them own their own brands and license them. We’d helped return $101 million to coffee exporters.

That’s when I met the Maasai elder. He tapped me on the shoulder and said: “ We understand that IP works for coffee. The Maasai have a brand that is used by many western companies without our permission. Can you help us?”

Maasai_FB-1024x512.jpg

A group of Maasai people. (Photo credit: joxeankoret/Wikimedia Commons)

We engaged Maasai University students in researching the dozens of companies using the Maasai name, image and brand without their permission. Our friends at Comic Relief were kind enough to help fund the feasibility study. Brand expert David Cardwell who did the Star Wars licensing deal helped. Our goal was to let the Maasai run the process with some good advice from others. To them, respect and removal of culturally inappropriate images are as important as income.

For six years, we have been about helping the Maasai to organize and form MIPI -The Maasai IP Initiative. With outreach across Kenya and Tanzania and radio broadcasts, materials translated to Maa and Swahili, Light Years IP and the Maasai have reached 500,000 Maasai — a critical mass to own, control, license and where relevant, to create solutions with large companies that had used their brand name. One big car company, for example, returned the Maasai trademark and negotiations are underway with Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.

In 2012, a Louis Vuitton fashion show featured Maasai scarves and shirts modelled and sold for upwards of 1,000 euros each. Of course, the LVMH brand is valued highly and IP and brand experts can help us to quantify what portion is due to cultural appropriation of the Maasai iconic values of bravery, strength, and warrior images.

The Maasai are a proud people — respectful and honourable. The Maasai leadership has been offended at the cultural misappropriation of their brand and name. They understand that it is valuable – and it’s theirs. Our analysis shows it is worth about $250 million.

Maasai elder, Isaac ole Tialalo, leader of MIPI has been to Capitol Hill and to Parliament in London with The African IP Trust, headed by Lord Paul Boating. It’s an honour for our support and advocacy group to help the Maasai achieve win-win situations with companies.

We think that the Maasai are an inspiration and model to other indigenous people who are about 6% of the world’s population and suffer both cultural appropriation and poverty. The Cherokee, Navajo, and Tourag, for example, add value to countless products and companies. It is not easy to regain control after cultural appropriation, but we think it is the right thing to do.

Find out more about the Maasai here.

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28 July 2017 5:18PM UTC

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AUG. 7, 2017

Syrian Girls Being Forced Into Child Marriage Are Turning to Suicide

Girls being forced into marriages at younger ages, sometimes resulting in harrowing stories.

 

Brought to you by: News Deeply and CHIME FOR CHANGE

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This article originally appeared on Syria Deeply, and you can find the original here . For important news about the war in Syria, you can sign up to the Syria Deeply email list.


By Hadya Yahya and Hasan Arfah, Rozana Radio/ Syrian Independent Media Group

RAW’A (NOT HER real name) was found dead after hanging herself in February last year in her bathroom in a village in northwestern rural Idlib, Syria.

Raw’a, who was 16 years old when her body was discovered, had been married eight months prior.

“She was kind, lovely and shy. Her parents married her to a radical Muslim young man from her village, Haas. They learned later that he had joined the so-called Islamic State. They did not try to interfere in her marriage. They thought that everything was fine,” Raw’a’s aunt told us.

According her aunt, one day Raw’a was fed up with her husband’s behavior: In addition to being very strict, he used to hit her and not allow her to leave the house. She finally ran back to her parents’ house and asked them to help her get divorced. They rejected the idea because of the severe stigma attached to divorced women in Syrian society, especially in rural areas.

The parents blamed Raw’a for her situation, refused to help her with the divorce and returned her to her husband’s house.

“She felt very lonely, and felt that no one cared for her or for her suffering, so she committed suicide,” her aunt said.

Take Action: Urge Cameroon to Level the Law and Protect Girls From Child Marriage

Child marriages are widespread in rural Idlib and in many other rural areas. Before 2011, the source of legislation for marriage was Syrian family law, which cites Sharia law. Syrian family law sets the minimum legal age of marriage at 18 years for men, and 17 years for women. However, a religious judge has the right to authorize marriages for men as young as 15, and for girl as young as 13, as long as the underage party deliberately seeks marriage, and she or he appears mature.

However, currently in opposition-controlled areas, especially those controlled by Islamic factions, Syrian law is not followed, and a court’s authorization is not required. Sharia committees are in charge of officiating marriages, and these committees do not set a minimum age of 17 for girls.

The motivations driving marriages have changed due to the war in Syria, and girls have been marrying at younger ages.

“Parents see child marriage as a way to protect their daughters – and their family’s honor – from possible sexual assault and other kinds of hardship,” according to a report by Save the Children. What’s more, the number of young men travelling to Idlib to join the fighting is a major factor behind the rise in the number of marriages.

Read More:  Jordan Has a Spike in Child Marriages as Syrian Refugees Settle In

Marwa, 13, from Kafr Nabl in northwestern rural Idlib, is not a middle-school student, but a married woman living with a husband who is 10 years older. Marwa looks like a little girl. She is shy. Her answers were very limited, and she was in a hurry to get back to playing with her husband’s sisters in the kitchen.

Marwa’s story began when a fighter in an Islamic faction asked for her hand for marriage. Due to poverty and lack of security, her father agreed. The marriage was officiated with a Sharia certificate, or what is known in Syria as an “out of sight contract,” meaning that it is not registered at any official registry. Marwa’s marriage was authorized and registered in the Sharia court of the Jaish al-Fatah Islamic faction that controls the area.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union before age 18, and is a reality for both boys and girls, although girls are disproportionately the most affected.”

Read More: Child Marriage: Everything You Need to Know

Additionally, “Evidence shows that girls who marry early often abandon formal education and become pregnant. Maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are an important component of mortality for girls aged 15-19 worldwide.” Due to marriage, pregnancy and the many responsibilities that girls at a young age find hard to cope with, they suffer from depression, and, in some cases, lose the will to live.

There are many reasons behind child marriages in Syria. The report’s authors were able to document 59 cases of female child marriages (under 17 years old) among the 70,000 people who inhabit the villages of Kafr Nabl, Jbala and Mu’arrat Hirma in rural Idlib. They also documented six cases of suicide by underage married girls.

It is often difficult to document cases of suicide among young women. Lack of forensic reports due to the complete absence of state institutions such as medical centers and police departments further complicate efforts to connect suicides to underage marriage. However, it is interesting to note that the girls’ families were the ones to disclose the suicides, as such cases are usually covered up in Syria. Even when a case is documented and registered, families often attempt to suppress the cause of death due to the stigma of taking one’s own life in Syrian society, and the lack of proper funeral facilities for those who have done so.

Read More:  A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Traded to a 55-Year-Old Man for a Goat

Sixteen-year-old Sabah (not her real name) from Kafr Nabl in rural Idlib was another victim of child marriage. Like so many in her position, she endured a very difficult marriage – her husband did not allow her to leave the house by herself, or contact her family.

“She loved school, but we forced her to quit. She was young and beautiful, and we worried about her because of the complete lack of security in the streets. We convinced her to get married, when a rich man proposed,” her mother said. “Her father borrowed some money from her husband, and when he could not pay it back, they got in a fight, and the relationship between the two families deteriorated.”

According to Sabah’s mother, she overdosed on painkillers because she could not cope with the issues that had driven a wedge between her husband and her family.

Child marriage negatively affects girls because they find themselves facing responsibilities that they cannot handle.

“Child marriage was present in Syria before the war, but it has remarkably increased over the last few years. Poverty, unemployment, lack of education, the harsh living circumstances, in addition to families’ fear for their girls’ safety outside of the house, all made marriage the easiest option,” said Faten Sweid, a psychological counselor.

In addition to the increase in the number of divorce cases due to young girls struggling to cope with their new lives, many underage married girls suffer from psychological issues. According to Sweid, “25 young girls have committed suicide in rural Idlib, five of whom were in Kafr Nabl.”

Regarding the reasons behind the rising number of suicides in Syria, Sweid cited “mental disorders, such as depression or nervous breakdowns in moments of crisis, the inability to deal with life’s pressures, conflicts, disasters, violence, isolation, discrimination, family history of suicides.”

Although it is not easy to attempt to halt the suicide of young married girls, or even prove that child marriage is a contributing factor, the number of young girls who have committed suicide shortly after being married signals that it is a path fraught with peril. According to Sweid, a precautionary solution would be to eliminate child marriage by educating families on its dangers.

For young girls, one of the most dangerous and traumatizing aspects of these marriages is being forced into an intimate relationship against their will. Rima, 17, married a young man who had significant facial and bodily disfigurements due to an accident he suffered as a small child; a situation Rima could not live with. She was forced into marriage due to her family’s desperate financial situation – her father had passed away, and her mother, who worked in a local dried-fig factory in her village in rural Idlib, was the family’s only provider. According to her family, Rima, who had left her husband and returned home, was found dead after overdosing on painkillers.

** For security reasons, all names used in this report have been changed.

The Syrian Independent Media Group is comprised of six independent Arab media organizations working together to highlight untold stories from the war-torn country:AlJumhuriaEnab BaladiRozana RadioSyria DeeplySyrian Female Journalists Network; and Syria UntoldThe project is supported by International Media Support

 
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AUG. 8, 2017

Cambodian Women Are Being Lured to China and Sold as 'Brides'

Lured to China with the promise of well-paid jobs, Cambodia women are instead trafficked.

 

Brought to you by: News Deeply and CHIME FOR CHANGE

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This article originally appeared on Women & Girls, and you can find the original here. For important news about the global migration crisis, you can sign up to the Women & Girls email list.


By Cristina Maza

KAMPONG SPEU, CAMBODIA – Neath*, 27, sits in the shade of her family’s small wooden hut in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu district, west of Phnom Penh. With her slight build and spindly arms, most observers would never guess that she had been kept as a slave for three years and forced to carry heavy bags of cement and sand.

Lured to China with the promise of well-paid employment, Neath and her cousin Noun* caught a flight from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to Guangzhou. They had tourist visas but little money, so the brokers facilitating their journey provided them with cash to bribe any border guards who might grow suspicious.

Take Action: Take action to end violence against women and girls

prayingImage: Angela Cinicolo/Flickr.

A Khmer woman and her Chinese husband greeted the girls at the airport. The cousins didn’t realize something was amiss until the woman locked them in a rented apartment for several days and allowed a stream of visitors to come to assess them.

Eventually, a couple purchased Neath for almost $12,000. (She found this out later, when the couple told her they could not pay her for work she did, because they had already paid this sum.) As soon as she arrived at their home, they insisted she sleep with their son.

I tried to run away three or four times. But every time they would lock me up and keep me without food for two or three days.

“I called the Khmer woman who picked us up at the airport and I asked why they want me to sleep with their son. I thought they were my bosses,” she explains. “But the woman just told me that probably their son liked me.”

At first, Neath refused. She had never had sex before and had a boyfriend back home. But alone and scared, she eventually gave in. That was the beginning of her four years in captivity, during which she was forced to work for the family’s construction business for no pay, and to cook and clean for her new “husband” – they were never officially married – and his parents.

“I tried to run away three or four times,” Neath says. “But every time they would lock me up and keep me without food for two or three days … They all beat me, my ‘husband’ and his parents.”

news deeply woman slave in homeImage: Cristina Maza/News Deeply.

Neath is just one of an untold number of Cambodian women who are trafficked to China every year and sold as brides. In China, a country where sons are often valued more highly than daughters, the government’s one-child policy has created a surplus of single men. China’s National State Population and Family Planning Commission estimates there will be 30 million more men of marrying age than women by the year 2020. That means Chinese women can be picky about who they partner up with, and Chinese men who lack the funds to own a home and live independently of their parents have trouble finding a wife.

Read More: Syrian Girls Being Forced Into Child Marriage Are Turning to Suicide

In response to this demographic dilemma, human traffickers have started importing desperately poor women from Cambodia to be sold as brides. These women are often told, like Neath, that they will be given a job in a Chinese factory. Instead, they are married to men with whom they do not share a language. Many of the women are raped, abused and forced into domestic servitude.

I could tell that he didn’t care about me. We couldn’t communicate and he was easily angered.

Sophal*, 20, spent most of her time in China helping her new husband’s mother do housework. She says she was happy her husband didn’t abuse her, but she felt lonely and neglected.

“I could tell that he didn’t care about me. We couldn’t communicate, and he was easily angered,” she says.

cambodia woman in marketImage: Bart Geesink/Flickr.

After a month, Sophal decided she couldn’t stay with the family any longer. One day, she woke up early and snuck out of the house. After making her way to the police, she was kept in a detention center for a year before she was eventually repatriated.

While the exact number of Cambodian brides in China is unknown, stories about their life are trickling out as more of these women escape.

report published last year by the United Nations found 85 Cambodian women were repatriated in 2015 after being sold into forced marriage. The U.S. State Department’s annual report on human trafficking notes that 64 trafficking victims were repatriated from China last year.

Some women are reported to have wed their husbands in official ceremonies, but researchers say that the language barrier, as well as pressure from brokers and husbands, make it difficult to object to the marriage. None of the women interviewed for this article was officially married.

We walked to the edge of the hill, and when they told us to jump, we jumped.

While most women are repatriated by the Cambodian embassy, some, like Neath, take matters into their own hands.

Neath met a Cambodian woman at a local market in China who promised that she could help Neath escape, but the assistance would come at a price. Neath hadn’t been in contact with her family since she arrived in China, but the woman provided her with a phone to call them and arrange the payment.

women workers in fieldImage: DaiLuo/Flickr.

Read More: This 21-Year-Old Tackled Gender Violence in Pakistan Region That Saw the ‘Revenge Rape’ This Week

Neath’s aunt sold her farmland in Cambodia and brought the $3,000 profit to the parents of the woman Neath met in the market. Once that deal was done, the woman helped Neath escape, along with two other Cambodian women who were also running away from forced marriages. Neath says the woman and her Chinese husband regularly earned money helping Cambodian women flee China.

“We traveled by car with a broker for eight days until we reached a small cliff overlooking the border with Vietnam,” Neath remembers. “We walked to the edge of the hill, and when they told us to jump, we jumped. Luckily no one was hurt.”

The women managed to travel through Vietnam back to Cambodia, bribing border guards along the way. When Neath arrived home she discovered that her cousin had also returned, with the help of the Cambodian embassy.

Unless you solve the problem at the root, the problem will always be there […] You can’t just bring these girls back because they will just go somewhere else.

Mu Sochua, a member of parliament and a vocal advocate for women’s rights, says the only way to stop Cambodian women from being trafficked is to provide them with economic opportunities at home.

“What we need is heavy investment in education and health. Unless you solve the problem at the root, the problem will always be there,” Sochua says. “You can’t just bring these girls back because they will go somewhere else.”

Today, Neath is employed in a garment factory sewing clothes for around $200 a month, but she hopes she will eventually find better paid employment.

“I want to learn a skill,” she says. “I would like to open my own hair salon.”

* Names have been changed to protect identities.

 
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