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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 9, 2020.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues calling the Trump administration’s latest stimulus offer “wholly insufficient.”
Over the weekend, the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion measure, a figure that’s too high for many Senate Republicans and too low for House Democrats.
On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged Democrats to pass a measure repurposing leftover funds from the Paycheck Protection Program.
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The Trump administration’s latest stimulus proposal is “grossly inadequate,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Sunday, suggesting Congress and the White House are no closer to a deal on a coronavirus relief package.

Over the weekend, the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus measure, angering both Senate Republicans, who consider that number far too high, and House Democrats, who passed a $2.2 trillion proposal last month.

The White House proposal includes a $400 boost in weekly unemployment insurance, $1,200 stimulus checks for US adults, and $1,000 checks for each child, The Washington Post reported.

Democrats have pushed for a $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits and $1,200 checks for child dependents, as well as substantially more funding for state and local governments.

In her Oct. 11 letter, Pelosi decried the administration’s proposal, saying the disagreements have to do with more than the top-line numbers.

“[I]n terms of addressing testing, tracing, and treatment, what the Trump administration has offered is wholly insufficient,” she wrote.

Senate Republicans are equally unimpressed, CNN reported. “I don’t get it,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott told White House officials on a phone call this weekend, two sources told the news outlet. Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the larger White House proposal would “deflate” the GOP base, the sources said.

With a deal between the White House and Congress seemingly out of reach, the Trump administration is also lobbying for a stimulus measure that would repurpose $135 billion in leftover funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, Politico reported.

Democrats have previously shown little interest in the idea, complaining about a lack of transparency with respect to how PPP funds were used — and seeking a much larger stimulus for an economy in recession.

In their appeal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged an end to the impasse, which last week saw President Trump call off negotiations before reversing himself in the wake of bipartisan anger.

“The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” the officials wrote.

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Unemployment benefits

New US jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled 898,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The reading came in above the consensus economist estimate of 825,000, and also marks an increase from the previous week’s revised figure.
Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 10 million for the week that ended October 3. That was lower than economist forecasts.
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The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance rose last week, indicating discouraging progress around the US labor market’s ongoing rebound.

New US weekly jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 898,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labor Department announced Thursday morning. That reading came in above the median economist estimate of 825,000 compiled by Bloomberg, and also reflects an increase from the prior week’s revised total.

Continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, slid to 10 million for the week ended October 3. The reading came in slightly below the median economist estimate of 10.6 million.

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Roughly 65 million unemployment-insurance filings have been made since early February, trouncing the 37 million sum seen during the 18-month Great Recession. Thursday’s report comes in well below the highs seen earlier in the pandemic but still lands above the 665,000 filings made during the Great Recession’s worst week.

The millions of Americans still unable to find work are set to endure tougher economic conditions in the near term. Democrats and Republicans remain far apart in reaching a stimulus compromise, and Wall Street economists increasingly expect new fiscal relief to arrive after the November elections.

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While most polls point to a strong Biden victory in the presidential race, Senate election outcomes will “mean the difference between substantial fiscal expansion and fiscal gridlock,” Morgan Stanley said in a Wednesday note.

The lack of another expansion to unemployment benefits also leaves jobless Americans more prone to lingering debt through the pandemic. A recent study by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Americans on unemployment insurance benefits used nearly half of the benefits to pay down debts. Roughly 24% of the payments were used for buying essential goods, and 23% were saved.

Read more: Morgan Stanley lays out its 5 favorite trades for investors looking to dominate a looming V-shaped recovery, even if a stimulus deal takes until 2021

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healthcare in Eritrea Eritrea is a small country in Northeast Africa, with a population of 3.2 million people. Eritrea gained independence in 1993 and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Considering the total population, 66% of Eritreans live below the poverty line. Also, almost 33% of the population lives in extreme poverty — surviving on less than $1 per day. Eritrea is also a politically unstable country and calamities, such as war and natural disasters have contributed to the poverty level in Eritrea. Healthcare in Eritrea is another area in which the country is struggling. Although Eritrea has made great strides in life expectancy, maternal health and disease control — it does not measure up to other countries’ healthcare around the world. To learn more about the country’s health system, here are five things everyone should know about healthcare in Eritrea.

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Healthcare in Eritrea

Resources are scarce. Eritrea currently has around six physicians and 75 midwives for every 100,000 people. While most of Eritrea’s healthcare providers are located in urban areas, 80% of the population that lives in rural areas is often omitted from healthcare provisions.
Malaria is a major public health concern. Considering the total population, 70% live in areas that are at high risk for the disease. To rectify this, Eritrea’s government has been implementing widespread public health strategies. The government uses both national and community-based education programs to provide awareness of the disease. Besides this, the government is creating preventative strategies, such as the distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to households across the country. Due to these efforts, more than 60% of people own at least two ITNs.
Private healthcare facilities are few and far between. While private doctors are present in rural and urban areas, they are usually very expensive and only serve a small percentage of the population. There are two types of healthcare facilities in Eritrea — healthcare centers and emergency rooms. Only in emergencies can patients be admitted to hospitals without an appointment. For all other instances, people must consult with a local doctor in advance, to be admitted to a hospital.
Infant mortality is decreasing and life expectancy is increasing. In Eritrea, infant mortality rates are lower than average (for sub-Saharan Africa). As the rest of the world watches global, infant mortality rates rise — the country has been taking steps to further decrease them. In 2018, the infant mortality rate was 31.3 deaths per 1,000 children born. In terms of life expectancy, Eritrea has made incredible strides. Since 1960, the life expectancy in Eritrea has increased by nearly 30 years and the average life expectancy is at 65 years (as of 2016).
Healthcare in Eritrea is improving. In 2010, Eritrea published its National Health Policy, which outlined the country’s plans to improve its healthcare system. One goal of the policy includes hiring more healthcare workers (especially ones skilled in the treatment of non-communicable diseases). A second goal is to make technological improvements to allow for distanced training of healthcare workers. Final goals include increasing the quality and quantity of resources and adapting its healthcare worker distribution to be highly mobile and dispersed.

An Outstanding Record

While Eritrea is a relatively young country, it is making great strides in its healthcare system. It has one of the most robust healthcare infrastructures in the region. Eritrea’s response to COVID-19 shows the country’s ability to mobilize its government and healthcare system, to protect its people. Because of this, Eritrea has the lowest rate of infection and fewest deaths within the Horn of Africa. Hopefully, healthcare in Eritrea will only continue to improve.

– Hannah Daniel
Photo: Google Images

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office of international disability rightsOne billion people, or over 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability, according to The World Bank. Despite the widespread prevalence of disability, many people with disabilities across the world struggle to access basic services, public spaces and employment. This traps many people with disabilities in poverty and impairs their health. To address this issue, Representative Dina Titus (D-NV-1) introduced The Office of International Disability Rights Act in order to create the Office of International Disability Rights within the Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

What Challenges Do People With Disabilities Face?

Disability intersects with a range of other issues, including education, poverty and health. Though 140 countries signed the Convention On The Rights Of The Child officially recognize the “the right of the child to education,” in practice this right often does not apply to children with disabilities.

Children with disabilities are less likely to have access to education than children without disabilities. This is because access needs for children with disabilities to understand educational materials, or even be able to navigate a school building, are not guaranteed in many nations. For example, unless children with physical disabilities have access to wheelchairs, ramps and accessible school rooms, they will be unable to fully participate in school. Without sufficient access to education, people with disabilities are disproportionately poor, are often unemployed and lack financial access to healthcare. According to the United Nations, 80% to 90% of working-age people with disabilities are unemployed.

Disability rights are particularly essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations, “barriers such as physical accessibility, barriers to implementing basic hygiene measures, affordability of healthcare, limitations on health insurance, and discriminatory laws and stigma, can be life-threatening in the midst of a pandemic.” Ensuring equal access to healthcare resources can help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people, many of whom live in poverty. This is where The Office of International Disability Rights Act comes in.

What would The Office of International Disability Rights Act Do?

The office would serve multiple purposes, including acting as the State Department’s advisor on disability issues, representing the U.S. within international governance bodies on the topic of disability rights and making sure that the State Department itself is inclusive of disabled people. The Office of International Disability Rights would coordinate with civil society organizations as well as the U.S. government at large and other governments to advance disability rights around the world.

To make sure that State Department practices follow disability rights guidelines, the State Department will create disability inclusion training for personnel and develop a formal disability inclusion policy. The Office of International Disability Rights would also collaborate with other offices of the State Department to ensure that disability rights violations are properly recorded in annual reports on human rights.

If Congress passes The Office of International Disability Rights Act, the Secretary of State will brief the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate on progress made on the above efforts, as well as any recommendations for legislative actions to advance disability rights.

Why Should International Disability Rights Be A U.S. Priority?

This bill has both domestic and foreign policy precedents. In 2010, the U.S. first appointed the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the Department of State. The advisor helped incorporate awareness of disability rights as part of Department policies and annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Trafficking in Persons report. Thirty years ago, the U.S. passed the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect the rights of disabled people within the U.S. to access basic services, education, healthcare, workplaces and other public spaces.

While neither of these past initiatives has solved every disability rights issue, each helped build institutional capacity and an important framework for disability rights at home and abroad. The Office of International Disability Rights Act would help build on these initiatives, in a time when the unmet needs of people with disabilities are a quickly growing international concern.

– Tamara Kamis
Photo: Flickr

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Lotus flowers are used to make lotus face masks in Cambodia to address PPE waste and a high face mask demand. Several activists and actors have raised alarm over the potentially devastating effects that personal protective equipment (PPE) can have in terms of increasing pollution around the world. There have been reports of PPE waste collecting on coasts around the world. Plastic pollution negatively impacts ocean health and, for maritime nations, this could translate to economic losses and the loss of livelihoods for those working within the ocean economy. One study by Plastics Hub found that if every person living in the UK utilized a single-use face mask for every day of 2020, it would contribute an additional 66,000 tons of plastic waste. It is unclear how much of this waste could end up in marine environments, but with 150 million tonnes already circulating the earth’s water, there is a pressing urgency to address the unsustainability of single-use face masks to fight the spread of COVID-19. As a result, an eco-friendly designer in Cambodia created lotus face masks to address this PPE waste.

Is There a Way to Combat PPE Pollution?

Cambodia is not exempt from the negative impacts that pollution can have on marine environments. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) identifies Cambodia as being highly dependent on its aquatic resources for both food security and the livelihoods of the Cambodian people.  In 2013, Cambodia averaged 700,000 tons of fishing and aquaculture production.  At a conference on maritime issues in Cambodia in 2015, hosted by the National University of Management in Phnom Penh, speakers highlighted the risk pollution poses to the economic livelihoods of those who depend on the marine economy.  The FAO has also spoken about the degradation of the marine habitat in the country due to pollution. Photographer Niamh Peren described one scene of coastal pollution in Sihanouk, Cambodia as “mountains and mountains of plastic.” Pollution in the marine environment is a global problem. Due to the nature of the ocean’s currents, marine plastic pollution does not respect national boundaries and one country’s actions will not be enough to address the problem alone. However, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, is implementing an innovative solution to tackling plastic pollution, while simultaneously diversifying the economy in Cambodia and alleviating poverty rates in the country.

Turning Unwanted Lotus Stems into Organic Fabric

Delaval’s lotus face masks are made utilizing ancestral techniques of producing lotus fiber from lotus stems, which are commonly regarded as waste within the country. The entire process of creating sustainable lotus face masks is entirely eco-friendly, as well as biodegradable.  The fabric produced using lotus fibers is remarkably efficient at filtration and, according to Delaval, is a superior fabric due to its light texture and breathability. The eco-textile company Samatoa, which Delaval manages, produces lotus masks that meet the standards of both the United States’ CDC and France’s Association Francaise de Normalization, making them an effective alternative to plastic single-use face masks. Samatoa also values the tenets of fair trade and has made a positive impact on the livelihoods of poor Cambodians in the Battambang province. The company has provided employment that empowered thirty Cambodia women to be financially independent and provide for their families. According to Samatoa, the wages earned by company workers are twice what they would receive from other textile work in the country. Additionally, the company ensures that workers have access to a number of benefits, including trade union rights, paid leave and health insurance.

Impact of Lotus Face Masks

Delaval’s innovative solution to plastic pollution produced from single-use face masks gained international attention. The company he manages, Samatoa, is striving to increase production and capacity to improve the lives of an additional 500 women. Samatoa also provides educational opportunities to lotus farmers on sustainable farming practices, further improving the lives of the Cambodian people. Deval’s lotus face masks provide a sustainable solution to the problem of PPE waste while simultaneously providing economic development to rural communities in Cambodia. – Leah Bordlee Photo: Pixabay

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Original Source: borgenproject.org

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