- This map, courtesy of Opencyclemap.org, shows the density of cycleways in the Netherlands. Twenty-seven percent of all trips in the Netherlands are bicycle trips. In the US it’s just over one percent of all trips.
The World Health Organization identified "vaccine hesitancy"—"the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines"—as one of its top 10 health concerns facing the world in 2019. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease—it currently prevents 2 to 3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved, according to WHO. Measles, for example, has seen a 30 percent increase in cases globally. New York State recorded 170 measles cases between September and early January, mostly in the close-knit Orthodox Jewish communities across the state where children go mostly unvaccinated.
Sources: World Health Organization; NBC News
In mid-January, Digital First Media, a corporate front for Alden Capital, a hedge fund known for gutting newsrooms, announced it would be making a hostile bid for Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and 100 other newspapers. The unsolicited offer, worth over $1.3 billion, would create the largest newspaper company in the United States. Not just an abstract example of further consolidation in a struggling industry, these companies operate two of the Mid-Hudson Valley's daily newspapers, the Poughkeepsie Journal (Gannett) and the Kingston Daily Freeman (Digital First Media). Critics have described Alden Capital as a destroyer of newspapers that is prone to savage layoffs and as "one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism."
Sources: New York Times, Washington Post
A Florida brewery has a solution to plastic six-pack rings that can tangle the wings of sea birds, choke seals, and warp the shells of growing sea turtles. Saltwater Brewery, a microbrewery in Delray Beach have developed biodegradable six-pack rings with start-up E6PR. After years of research and development, the rings—made of wheat and barley that can either biodegrade or serve as a snack for wildlife—are now popping up in south Florida stores. Plastic pollution is a big issue for the Gulf of Mexico. According to recent research by Louisiana State University, the Gulf has one of the one world's highest concentrations of marine plastic.
Source: Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
The growing concentration of the world's wealth has been highlighted by a report showing that the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet's population. In its annual report on the disparity between the world's wealthiest and poorest people, Oxfam said 2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer: the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet's population. The wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900 billion in 2018. The 12-percent increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11 percent in the wealth of the poorest half of the world's population. The world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to $112 billion. Just 1 percent of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.
Source: Guardian (UK)
- “Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It’s because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism, and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume.”—Jerry Fallwell, Jr., president of Liberty University