Adolf Hitler apparently relied on a stunning array of drugs while ruling Nazi Germany, including one made popular by the show Breaking Bad: crystal meth.
According to a US military dossier, a physician filled the Fuhrer with barbiturate tranquilizers, morphine, bulls' semen, and a pill that contained crystal meth, depending on Hitler's momentary needs.
即将揭幕的618大促将直播带货作为主场，快手与京东在618前携手合作；甚至就连国外的亚马逊、Facebook等巨头也开始Copy From China有模有样地做起了直播带货业务。
Adolf Hitler apparently relied on a stunning array of drugs while ruling Nazi Germany, including one made popular by the show Breaking Bad: crystal meth.
【钛媒综合】方面，根据来自多方的消息来源显示，苹果将在10月16日的发布会上正式发布全新一代的iPad Air，同时宣布Apple Pay服务的正式推出时间。
不过，据美国科技博客Re/code撰稿人约翰·帕兹科维斯基(John Paczkowski)周一报道称，本次产品发布会上，苹果公司不会发布长期以来备受市场期待的Retina显示屏MacBook Air。
而根据美国科技媒体日前获得的一份有关Apple Pay的内部培训材料，苹果最新移动支付服务Apple Pay将于10月18日正式启用， Apple Pay可以通过Passbook 来设置，最多存储8张信用卡/借记卡。
方面，美国《华尔街日报》之前有报道称，HTC的工程师正在和谷歌展开紧密协作，研发九英寸平板Nexus 9。有关这款产品，多家科技媒体日前传出了进一步的消息，谷歌将会抢先苹果一天，即在10月15的一个发布会上对外发布。其中，Nexus 9价格定为399美元，有望在11月3日正式开售，传闻它搭载了64位Android 5.0系统。
另外，10月15日除了Nexus 9，谷歌还会带来Android Wear 2.0和Android TV。
DALLAS (AP) — Medical records provided to The Associated Press show that about 70 staff members at a Dallas hospital were involved in the care of an Ebola patient before his death last week.
The employees at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital drew Thomas Eric Duncan's blood, put tubes down his throat and wiped up his diarrhea. They analyzed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness.
The group included a 26-year-old nurse now being treated for Ebola.
The size of the medical team reflects the hospital's intense effort to save Duncan's life and suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the agency must broaden the pool of people being monitored.
Last year, Forbes estimated the economy created by Americans' expenditures on fantasy football, everything from direct revenues to time value, amounts to as much as $70 billion annually. That's a lot of cheddar. Here are six things that could be accomplished if that money was appropriated elsewhere.
David Cohen understands that mosquitoes aren't just pesky annoyances -- they're global killers, too.
That's why the 12-year-old from Dallas invented a robot that drowns the pests using a pump-jet system that traps them underwater using mesh. He submitted his work to the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge earlier this year and is one of the competition's ten finalists.
The challenge, which is open for students who are in grades 5 through 8 at the time of submission, awards its winner $25,000, the title of "America's Top Young Scientist," and an all-expenses paid vacation. A victor will be decided after finalists present their work on Oct. 13 and 14 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
While Cohen pointed out to The Huffington Post that malaria, a mosquito-borne illness, kills roughly 627,000 people each year -- predominantly in developing regions of sub-Saharan Africa -- Cohen said he got the idea for the project after his own family was affected by the dangerous pests.
"My sister actually got a pretty bad staph infection from itching a mosquito bite," he told HuffPost in an email, noting that mosquitoes love Texas' hot and humid climate. "She was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. It took her a couple weeks to heal with heavy antibiotics."
Like the other finalists, Cohen was matched with a mentor to help make his work become a reality. The high school freshman was paired with Delony Langer-Anderson, a 3M advanced new product development specialist in the Consumer Health Care Division.
Cohen and his mentor throughout the competition, Delony Langer-Anderson. Photo courtesy 3M Young Scientist Challenge
Langer-Anderson, who helped connect Cohen with experts in mosquito-borne illnesses throughout their mentorship, said the Dallas preteen's unique perspective makes him a standout scientist.
"David looked at the problem of mosquito-borne illnesses in a different way," Langer-Anderson told HuffPost in an email. "He asked, 'What if the mosquito was never born?' As he's worked through prototypes and ideas, he's never lost sight of the idea that if he can stop the mosquito from emerging from the larvae stage, he can prevent them from spreading diseases."
Langer-Anderson said that while it remains to be seen if Cohen's invention will decrease the number of cases of diseases like malaria or West Nile virus, the fact that young people are already solving real world problems is a great sign.
"I think that people like David have the potential to impact the futures of people living in our country and in developing regions of the world," she said.
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A Kentucky-based company hopes to make a killing by offering customers the option of dropping their loved ones' cremated ashes 20 miles above Earth.
The company, Mesoloft, recently started offering a service where a weather balloon takes the cremains to the stratosphere and releases the ashes into the air.
The ashes return to Earth as dust or, possibly, in raindrops or snowflakes. The entire flight is captured for posterity on two GoPro cameras that are attached to the balloon and the payload holding the ashes. The shroud that carries the urn can be kept as a souvenir, according to Mesoloft co-founder Chris Winfield.
The company doesn't perform cremations but it costs $2,800 for the basic package that includes a video of the entire flight.
The $7,500 package also allows the loved ones to see the balloon take off to visit one of the company's three flight areas in Colorado, Indiana and New Mexico.
"Trees are not our friend," Mesoloft co-founder Chris Winfield explained to HuffPost. "We need to do this in big open areas, where we have open access."
Winfield said the balloons and the payloads stay in the air for about two hours and the company ensures they land in a five-mile radius of where they took flight.
The company also has to send out a notice to pilots to make sure planes don't bump into the funeral balloons.
Winfield said he and his two partners have thought about the idea for at least five years, but only recently figured out how to empty the ashes into the atmosphere.
"We did about 10 test flights using ashes -- not the human kind," he said. "At first, we had trouble getting the GoPro cameras to work in extreme conditions. Then it was figuring out the right amount of helium. The last few went off without a hitch so we thought it was time to take it to consumers."
Only two customers have purchased the service but Winfield figures clients will be dying to try it when they learn about how far the ashes theoretically might travel.
"Sand from dust storms in the Sahara desert has been traced in California, so we're confident when we say these ashes might go around the world."
Take a look at the company's promo video below:
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ISTANBUL -- Istanbul Fashion Week, abuzz with Turkey’s forefront designers and fashion icons, opened Monday with a salute to the country’s rich past.
Menswear designer Hatice Gokce kicked off the week with her runway collection inspired by the great Ottoman adventurer Evliya Celebi.
Known for colorful narratives documenting his journeys through the Ottoman Empire and abroad, Celebi’s legacy made it to the catwalk Monday -- more than 400 years later.
“I’m inspired by him,” Gokce told The WorldPost after her show. “The fact that he had that passion for traveling really excited me. I believe in our world, everyone is a bit of a traveler.”
With hues of silver, brown, and black, coupled with metallic and leather pieces -- hints of craftsmanship from the Ottoman era -- every outfit had a distinct Ottoman flair. Many of the models had full beards and wore harem pants.
Gokce incorporated horses throughout her collection, from hats with wispy silver ponytails to horses printed on shirts and bags. And just as Celebi the traveler is often depicted with a horse, Gokce’s runway screen lit up with horses.
The designer, a leading name in men’s fashion here, said Turkey’s culture and its past are hugely important to her own work, as well as to her country’s future in fashion.
“I believe there is still lots of room to dig into history more thoroughly,” Gokce said.
While Turkey has long been a manufacturing hub for textiles, the country’s own fashion scene has been growing. Just a handful of years ago, Istanbul Fashion Week was a small event. Now, it’s an elegant affair, held at the city’s sleek contemporary art museum, Istanbul Modern, overlooking the Bosphorus.
While the rest of Monday’s collections had little notable Turkish influence, with models donning see-through belly shirts and bold dresses that screamed ‘consume,’ Gokce’s collection struck a different tone.
In addition to the runway pieces, she distributed booklets detailing her leather collection, which includes items based on eight different ancient civilizations at different times in Anatolia, known as Turkey’s heartland.
Turkey’s Ministry of Economy, as well as several leather organizations, have been major backers of Gokce’s work.
Gokce is one of Turkey’s fashion success stories. She said she hopes other designers will keep pushing boundaries and showcase their work more to help ignite Turkey’s fashion scene.
“We need to create more,” she said, emphatically. “We need to make it happen. It will trigger the transformation.”
(Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a newly built residential district and a scientific establishment, state media reported early on Tuesday, his first public appearances since Sept. 3.
The 31-year-old Kim's prolonged absence from public view had fuelled speculation over his health as well as his grip on power in the secretive nuclear capable nation.
(Reporting by Tony Munroe; Editing by David Gregorio)
Oct 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was no Ebola scare at Boston's Logan Airport on Monday after concerns were raised when five passengers with flu-like symptoms were removed from a flight that landed there.
"There was not an Ebola scare at Boston's Logan Airport," Shelly Diaz, a CDC spokeswoman, said.
Emergency crews in protective gear removed the passengers from Emirates flight 237 after it had arrived from Dubai on Monday. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Sandra Maler)
(Reuters) - British lawmakers voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state on Monday in a move that will not alter the government's stance on the issue, but that carries symbolic value for Palestinians in their pursuit of statehood.
Lawmakers in Britain's lower house of parliament voted by 274 to 12 to pass a non-binding motion stating: "That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution."
Britain does not classify Palestine as a state, but says it could do so at any time if it believed it would help peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel. Government ministers were told to abstain and the non-binding vote will not force Britain to recognise a Palestinian state.
(Reporting by William James)
An Arizona police officer threatened an immigrant with death if he moved after his car was stopped for an unclear reason, a video uploaded to YouTube by an immigrant rights activist appears to show.
Teodulo Sánchez, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States for 14 years, said he was returning home to Mesa, Arizona, on Friday afternoon from a job in Yuma where he works as a plumber when he was stopped by police in the town of Buckeye. Sánchez said he noticed an unmarked car following him before he was stopped, which he made him nervous and prompted him to film the interaction.
Erika Andiola, co-director of the immigrant advocacy group DRM Action Coalition, uploaded the video to YouTube.
In the video, the officer who approaches Sánchez speaks English at first, then switches to Spanish after Sánchez identifies himself. The officer asks Sánchez if he has any guns in the car. Sánchez replies that he had only work tools.
The officer asks him to put his hands on the steering wheel and keep them where he can see them.
“If you do anything, I’ll kill you right here,” the officer says as Sánchez hands over his driver’s license. Though Sánchez tells the officer he is recording the incident, the cop repeats the threat: "If you move, I'll shoot you. You understand?"
The 1:14 minute video cuts off shortly after the threat. Sánchez said he was stopped for about 20 minutes total and was released without charges.
“I really thought they he was going to shoot me,” Sánchez told The Huffington Post. “He had a pistol in his hand and was pointing it at me the whole time.”
Sánchez said the policeman searched the car for drugs and guns, finding nothing. But he said that after searching the car, the officer told him he had stopped him because of an identification sticker on his rear window that he uses to enter the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma when he works there. He said the police told him not to use the sticker when he leaves the base, although his employers at the base have not told him to remove it.
Sánchez, who has a wife and two young children, said he planned to file a complaint with the department on Monday.
The Buckeye Police Department did not immediately return a phone message asking for comment.
JERUSALEM (RNS) A new bus ad campaign promoting the right of girls to celebrate their bat mitzvah at the Western Wall is the latest push by the feminist group Women of the Wall to prod Israel’s Orthodox religious establishment to expand opportunities for women at one of Judaism’s most sacred sites.
As it stands now, bar mitzvah boys are encouraged to read from the Torah at the Western Wall, but the state-supported Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which is run by Israel’s Orthodox establishment, prohibits girls and women from doing so.
The women’s group, which in 2013 won a Jerusalem District Court case permitting women at the wall to wear prayer shawls and phylacteries — ritual items historically used by men — has been trying for more than 25 years to pray at the site with a Torah, undisturbed by hecklers and the threat of arrest.
The ad campaign, the first of its kind, features Israeli girls wearing a prayer shawl and holding a Torah scroll in front of the Western Wall. The ads say, “Mom, I, too, want a bat mitzvah at the Western Wall” and “Now it is my turn.”
Among the girls featured is Ashira Abramowitz-Silverman, the niece of U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman. The girl’s parents — Yosef Abramowitz and Rabbi Susan Silverman — are activists.
The ads were posted Sunday (Oct. 12) on public buses following last week’s High Court decision against the state and the Egged bus company, which two years ago refused to put ads featuring women on its buses out of fears they would be vandalized by ultra-Orthodox extremists.
Acknowledging the potential for vandalism, Lesley Sachs, director of Women of the Wall, called the 11- to 14-year-old girls featured on the buses “brave” for appearing in the ads.
At the launch, the organization said the foundation is placing unnecessary restrictions on women’s prayer.
“To deny any Jew access to a Torah scroll, as has been done so many times before throughout Jewish history, is an affront to religious freedom. To refuse women access to Torah has no basis in halakhah (Jewish law) and has no place in a public site in a democratic state,” the group said in a statement.
But Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who heads the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, gave no indication it would budge.
“Every stream of Judaism, he said, “thinks that only its way is correct,” he said. “My job, and it’s a difficult one, is to maintain the status quo.”
In a further activist push the group announced it is planning the “first Torah reading from a Torah scroll” in the women’s section on October 24.
"What is the only country in the world whose name starts with the letter 'Q?" A quiz question I remember being asked as a child, playing the word game "Name Place Animal Thing" on long family drives in Pakistan thirty odd years ago. The name of the country still causes much confusion, with prominent world leaders and journalists still mispronouncing it with an unseemly "G" instead of a "Q." Yet despite all these comical tales, and its relatively small geographic and demographic size (a population of only around 2.1 million, of which only 300,000 are indigenous inhabitants and the rest are migrant temporary workers), this country is now a major power broker in the Middle East.
Until the discovery of fossil fuels in the 1940s, Qatar had little global presence. The Al-Thani family had controlled the emirate since 1825, while skirmishing and frequently losing control to neighboring Bahrain and the Ottomans during much of the nineteenth century. The British formed an alliance with the ruling family in exchange for allegiance to the Crown that continued until 1971, when the country was granted full independence. As with most benevolent autocracies in the region, Qatar's fate has been determined by the emir for better and for worse. Its rise to global prominence can be largely credited to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-thani who took power in a 1995 coup, while his father was vacationing in Switzerland.
Sheikh Hamad, wisely influenced by his wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, started the Qatar Foundation to utilize the country's wealth strategically around media, art and education development. During his reign, Education City was built, attracting leading American universities such as Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon to open their campuses and offering fully accredited degrees in the country's capital Doha. The world's largest museum of Islamic Art, designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, was opened at choice location along the capital's corniche. And perhaps most notably, Al Jazeera was launched as an alternative media voice in both Arabic and English, much to the chagrin of many Western audiences, but also drawing ire from Saudi Arabia and Egypt for critical commentary.
"Alternative" as it was, Al Jazeera resisted criticism of the Qatari regime's political decisions and the same was true of research conducted at the universities and think tanks supported by the government. As noted in a recent New York Times article, a certain respectful distance was taken on criticism the Qatari government's decisions regarding support for Hamas or for the Muslim Brotherhood as well as controversies surrounding labor practices and the alleged bribery involved in the country's successful bit to host the Football World Cup in 2022. I observed such inconsistencies in media and research products firsthand while living in Doha for 4 months in 2009 as a visiting fellow at The Brookings Doha Center. Nevertheless, I felt relatively comfortable in Qatar which was still far more intellectually open and energizing than its various neighboring states and willing to host public forums such as the "Doha Debates" (that are still broadcast on the BBC) . The meltdown of the Arab Spring appears to have vindicated some of Qatar's censorship as a price to pay for stability in a volatile region, though foreign institutions should still disclose any restrictions or restraints in their research reporting from the country.
More than a year has passed since Sheikh Hamad abdicated power to his 34-year old son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani in June 2013. The decision was sudden and there was little known about the new Sheikh, apart from his signature studies at the prestigious Harrow School and the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst (UK), which are a frequent right of passage for Gulf rulers. There were some indications that new Sheikh was more conservative than his father, particularly with reference to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. However, after some teething troubles in his first year with diplomatic clashes involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the US, the Sheikh appears to be settled in a far more stable and mature position. Qatar's ambivalence on issues like Islamist politics appears to have an emergent strategy and greater transparency of purpose. The country, despite its majority Wahabbi Sunni population, also has a better relationship with Iran, with whom it shares the enormous South Pars North Dome gas field in the Arabian/Persian Gulf.
In his first media interview to a foreign news organization, the Sheikh spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour on September 25, 2014, and came across as articulate and strategically insightful. He stood his ground on the rationale for giving refuge to certain Islamist elements but noted restrictions imposed on their activities, soon after announcing the expulsion of several Brotherhood members who were violating the terms of their asylum. Sheikh Tamim also expressed conciliatory gestures towards the United States and even noted a willingness to engage with Israel as soon as the peace process with the Palestinians gains traction. He has also committed to enforcing strict labor standards and admitted the potential for indentured exploitation from the old migrant sponsorship control system which he has abolished.
Sheikh Tamim is thus showing sensible political acumen that is most welcome in Gulf politics despite his young years. He should also be willing to embrace greater freedom of press and resume the hybrid democratization process which was started by his father. Legislative elections were supposed to occur in Qatar in 2013 but were "postponed indefinitely" when Sheikh Hamad abdicated the leadership to Sheikh Tamim. Ironically, the Qatari leadership has supported democratization processes in Libya and Egypt, despite their troubled outcomes and perhaps this may lead the Sheikh to question such processes in his own land. However, given the positive development investment and affluence of Qatar's population across the board, democratization is unlikely to cause any major upsets in the country. This small peninsular state has much promise to be a democratized outlier in the Gulf and there are signs that it is learning from past policy mistakes and reaching a level of maturity that could make it a major diplomatic force in the region.
Ripping down the Palestinian flag that hung from my wall was my first reaction to hearing the sirens in Jerusalem one day last summer. It was not out of hostility for Palestine or even for Hamas, for that matter, but for hearing the fireworks and cheers in the neighboring Palestinian Arab village of Isawiya, next door to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I was studying on the Mount Scopus Campus. As I watched the Iron Dome of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intercepting rockets fired at the Holy City, many of these residents flocked to the streets in celebration.
Who's to blame in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? The Israelis? The Palestinians? The governments? The religions? Or people like me who irrationally react to uneducated feelings and uninformed beliefs. The Middle East is stricken with motivated violence, but who really is to blame? Where's this motivation coming from?
I'll tell you this much: after living as a student in Israel and Palestine for the past year, I've realized that people on the ground do not want peace; they want their own states. Westerners (myself included) want coexistence for the people living in that land, but people living there are already coexisting out of necessity. When will we "out-of-group" members even acknowledge the wants of the people living in this region?
I'm in no position, nor am I in any way warranted, to pass judgment on this issue. I'm neither Israeli nor Palestinian, let alone Jewish or Arab. Then why comment?
Throughout my time attempting to promote plurality and inclusive relations between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East and while interning with the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), I have found that both sides want different things, but also the same things.
They both want chaos, suffering, and turmoil to end and to wake up each morning not fearing the day. They both want to go through their normal routines, just as we all do and take for granted each and every day.
Yes, this is too simple; it is not enough.
Of course, government policies need to be created and amended, fair borders drawn, and extremists silenced, but this is not the purpose of my writing. The ICCI, along with other interreligious and peace organizations in Israel and Palestine, believe that religion could be used as a weapon (yes, pun-intended) for peace and not destruction. Just as Desmond Tutu discusses, religion is a simple tool, like a knife: when it is used to cut bread, it is good; when it is used to cut someone's throat, it is bad.
I suggest this:
Let us take a step-back and think about intercultural dialogue and forming interconnected webs of mutual recognition before focusing on religion. And we first need to target the places where many Israelis and Palestinians inhabit: community centers. There are over 30 community centers in Jerusalem and virtually none of them rely on intercultural work. Colin Hames, Director of the Jerusalem Suburbs Community Center, believes that it's more useful to work on intercultural dialogue and from there slowly move into interreligious dialogue.
The simplest way to go about this is to get people together to become aware and learn about the other! Once you know the person, from an I-Thou Relationship and not merely an I-It Relationship (to use the words of Martin Buber), you begin to dialogue about intercultural relations. It is only when you look into the eyes of the other and acknowledge them for being from the same source that can interreligious dialogue become valuable. Creating intercultural programs in community centers can counter the prevailing attitudes of both Israelis and Palestinians against celebrating at the peril of the other. It is only by long-term intensive religious and cultural humanistic education that we can address the issues in the Middle East; the true way of doing this is to build infrastructure on the ground that will allow such to happen and not rely on Westerners coming into their land to find solutions for 'peace."
The mission of the ICCI is "to harness the teachings and values of the three Abrahamic faiths to transform religion's role from a force of division and extremism into a source of reconciliation, coexistence, and understanding." Quite simply, the ICCI aims to act as a support system for both Israelis and Palestinians, and all that seek their council. In 2011, my friend and mentor, Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, Founder and Director of the ICCI, helped create a collation of more than 40 different organizations to express tolerance and unity against Tag Mechir ("price-tag") with Tag Meir ("spreading the light").
There has been much incitement due to Operation Protective Edge, and many houses, cars, mosques, synagogues, etc. have become vandalized. Common reflections from personal experiences have included the response (or lack thereof) of the local police, the role the Knesset must place to diminish such attacks, and how Tag Meir is indeed, "lighting" the way. Dr. Kronish states, "Fighting against price-tags brings people of good will together to combat xenophobia and insensitivity to fellow human beings. It reminds us that all human beings are created in the Divine Image."
Maybe we should stop playing the blame game. Maybe we should stop posting hateful, bigoted, and ignorant comments on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe my religion isn't better than your religion, my God isn't better than your God...or maybe we are all to blame: especially people like me who reacted so unresponsively Pavlovian for something I barely understood and continue to barely understand.
Rather than blaming each other, we ought to accept responsibility for each other's fate. All of us as human beings are inextricably intertwined. Instead of blame, let's try a new game: act for peace, and encourage those on the ground in both Israel and Palestine who are doing so.
NEW YORK -- Two new studies show, once again, the magnitude of the inequality problem plaguing the United States. The first, the U.S. Census Bureau's annual income and poverty report, shows that, despite the economy's supposed recovery from the Great Recession, ordinary Americans' incomes continue to stagnate. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, remains below its level a quarter century ago.
It used to be thought that America's greatest strength was not its military power, but an economic system that was the envy of the world. But why would others seek to emulate an economic model by which a large proportion -- even a majority -- of the population has seen their income stagnate while incomes at the top have soared?
A second study, the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report 2014, corroborates these findings. Every year, the UNDP publishes a ranking of countries by their Human Development Index HDI, which incorporates other dimensions of well-being besides income, including health and education.
America ranks fifth according to HDI, below Norway, Australia, Switzerland and the Netherlands. But when its score is adjusted for inequality, it drops 23 spots -- among the largest such declines for any highly developed country. Indeed, the U.S. falls below Greece and Slovakia, countries that people do not typically regard as role models or as competitors with the U.S. at the top of the league tables.
The UNDP report emphasizes another aspect of societal performance: vulnerability. It points out that while many countries succeeded in moving people out of poverty, the lives of many are still precarious. A small event -- say, an illness in the family -- can push them back into destitution. Downward mobility is a real threat, while upward mobility is limited.
In the U.S., upward mobility is more myth than reality, whereas downward mobility and vulnerability is a widely shared experience. This is partly because of America's healthcare system, which still leaves poor Americans in a precarious position, despite President Barack Obama's reforms.
Those at the bottom are only a short step away from bankruptcy with all that that entails. Illness, divorce, or the loss of a job often is enough to push them over the brink.
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") was intended to ameliorate these threats -- and there are strong indications that it is on its way to significantly reducing the number of uninsured Americans. But, partly owing to a Supreme Court decision and the obduracy of Republican governors and legislators, who in two dozen U.S. states have refused to expand Medicaid (insurance for the poor) -- even though the federal government pays almost the entire tab -- 41 million Americans remain uninsured. When economic inequality translates into political inequality -- as it has in large parts of the U.S. -- governments pay little attention to the needs of those at the bottom.
Neither GDP nor HDI reflects changes over time or differences across countries in vulnerability. But in America and elsewhere, there has been a marked decrease in security. Those with jobs worry whether they will be able to keep them; those without jobs worry whether they will get one.
The recent economic downturn eviscerated the wealth of many. In the U.S., even after the stock market recovery, median wealth fell more than 40 percent from 2007 to 2013. That means that many of the elderly and those approaching retirement worry about their standards of living. Millions of Americans have lost their homes; millions more face the insecurity of knowing that they may lose theirs in the future.
These insecurities are in addition to those that have long confronted Americans. In the country's inner cities, millions of young Hispanics and African Americans face the insecurity of a dysfunctional and unfair police and judicial system; crossing the path of a policeman who has had a bad night may lead to an unwarranted prison sentence -- or worse.
Europe has traditionally understood the importance of addressing vulnerability by providing a system of social protection. Europeans have recognized that good systems of social protection can even lead to improved overall economic performance, as individuals are more willing to take the risks that lead to higher economic growth.
But in many parts of Europe today, high unemployment (12 percent on average, 25 percent in the worst affected countries), combined with austerity-induced cutbacks in social protection, has resulted in unprecedented increases in vulnerability. The implication is that the decrease in societal well-being may be far larger than that indicated by conventional GDP measures -- numbers that already are bleak enough, with most countries showing that real (inflation-adjusted) per capita income is lower today than before the crisis -- a lost half-decade.
The report by the International Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (which I chaired) emphasized that GDP is not a good measure of how well an economy is performing. The U.S. Census and UNDP reports remind us of the importance of this insight. Too much has already been sacrificed on the altar of GDP fetishism.
Regardless of how fast GDP grows, an economic system that fails to deliver gains for most of its citizens, and in which a rising share of the population faces increasing insecurity, is, in a fundamental sense, a failed economic system. And policies, like austerity, that increase insecurity and lead to lower incomes and standards of living for large proportions of the population are, in a fundamental sense, flawed policies.
This piece also appeared on Project Syndicate.
© Project Syndicate, 2014
Deutsche Bank is losing some of its best-performing traders, the Financial Times reports. The bank says it's no longer keen on rewarding people to rig interest rates, manipulate foreign exchange rates and then send sweary emails bragging about it. So traders who like to get paid to do those things are leaving.
"Cultural change," in the words of Colin Fan, Deutsche Bank's co-head of investment banking, is sweeping through the company, and the message is clear -- you can't be vulgar, amoral or even, it seems, profitable. After all, this is a trading floor. "We definitely are seeing leakage," Fan told the FT, using inexplicably medical imagery. Traders who are "purely financially driven [are] going to less regulated spaces" like hedge funds or boutique firms, he said.
Leaving aside Fan's amusing implication that there are traders who aren't purely financially driven, there are two important things happening here. The first is that the traders departing Deutsche Bank aren't spending a lot of time looking for new work. They're getting jobs at places that presumably don't mind -- or that might even desire -- a bit of rate-rigging on their traders' resumes. If you care about the financial system as a whole, as opposed to just Deutsche Bank, that's worrying.
The second is that it appears Deutsche Bank's push for "cultural change" is yielding some results. As the FT's Alice Ross and Daniel Schäfer perfectly put it, "'cultural change'... in non-banker speak, means stopping traders from saying stupid things." And stopping traders from saying stupid things involves not paying them to say stupid things. Employees at Deutsche have been caught both doing bad things and talking about them.
But the bank's solution, the FT reported in May, is to focus on the latter. A video that Fan sent to employees -- complete with a jarring jump cut and zoom that both grab your attention and induce nausea -- sternly instructs them to stop being "boastful, indiscreet and vulgar."
"Communications that run even a small risk of being seen as unprofessional," he said, "stops right now ... Think carefully about what you say and how you say it."
The F-bomb is commonly heard wherever traders are gathered, and if banks want fewer profane emails bragging about rate-rigging and champagne-chugging sitting on company servers, well, that's understandable. Saying silly things in an email is a easy way to attract scrutiny. Just ask Fabrice Tourre.
Clamping down on traceable communication is a bet against regulators' ability to investigate your shady activities through other means. That can be a profitable bet for a very long time. (Hedge fund honcho Steve Cohen knows this better than anyone.) A better way to ensure that your bank earns and maintains a reputation for lawfulness might be to focus on not doing illegal things. But stopping that behavior, after it's been flourishing for years, is hard to do, and hard to talk about in one-minute videos.
NEW YORK (RNS) Days ahead of an annual conference in New York’s Madison Square Garden, the founder of the Hillsong music and church empire is facing strict scrutiny for what he knew about sex abuse allegations lodged against his father.
Hillsong is an Australian megachurch that has exported its influence to major global cities and into churches’ music across the U.S.
In 1999, Brian Houston’s father, Frank Houston, who was also a minister, confessed to sexually abusing an underage male at his New Zealand congregation 30 years before. In response, the younger Houston, who was then president of the Assemblies of God in Australia, fired his father, took control of the church and merged it with Hillsong.
The elder Houston died in 2004.
On Thursday and Friday (Oct. 9-10), the son took the witness stand in Sydney and denied any attempt to cover up the allegations. Next week, Brian Houston will be in New York City for the church’s conference, at Madison Square Garden.
In his testimony, Brian Houston denied trying to hide his involvement in a $10,000 compensation payment made to a man who was abused as a child by his father.
“I acknowledge the courage of the victim in taking the stand today to outline the trauma he has suffered by Frank Houston,” Brian Houston said in a statement. “However I disagree with his perception of the phone call with me, and I strongly refute that I — at any time — accused him of tempting my father. I would never say this and I do not believe this. At no stage did I attempt to hide or cover up the allegations against my father.”
Through what’s called a royal commission, the Australian government is scrutinizing how institutions — including the Pentecostal church network that gave birth to Hillsong – have handled sex abuse claims. A royal commission is Australia’s highest level of inquiry.
Frank Houston never faced prosecution for crimes committed in the 1960s and 1970s. The Assemblies of God in Australia allowed Houston to resign quietly with a retirement package.
“We believe that exposing child sexual abuse and the response of institutions to that abuse, and allowing survivors to share their traumatic experiences, is a powerful step in the healing process,” Brian Houston said in a statement. “Having to face the fact that my father engaged in such repulsive acts was — and still is — agonizing.”
Hillsong congregants, based in western Sydney, gave him a standing ovation after he delivered his sermon on Sunday (Oct. 12) addressing his father’s sexual abuse.
“They have done the journey with us so there’d be very few people (at Hillsong) with any surprises. I’ve never hidden it from the church,” he told Australia’s “Today” show.
Brian Houston told the commission he first became aware of the abuse allegations in 1999, but learned in 2000 there were additional claims involving six boys in New Zealand. He said there may be more victims who have not yet come forward.
The 30-year-old Hillsong multisite church based in the outskirts of Sydney mixes Christian rock, charismatic energy and Australian accents in shaping Christian churches in major cities across the globe. Hillsong’s ubiquitous praise songs like “Shout to the Lord” can be found in many U.S. churches on any given Sunday.
More than 50,000 people attend Hillsong offshoots in London; Cape Town, South Africa; Paris; Kiev, Ukraine; Stockholm; Amsterdam; Barcelona, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; New York and most recently Los Angeles. Its American congregations received front-page attention in The New York Times last month.