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China Hosts Meeting With Taliban, Calls Them 'Important to Peace' as US Leaves Afghanistan
The visit is likely to further strengthen the Taliban on an international stage during a time when violence is reportedly increasing in Afghanistan.
newsweek.com
Researchers say more contagious COVID-19 variants are on the horizon
Front-line workers who are trying to track COVID-19 variants are begging the U.S. to organize scattered sequencing data collected from coronavirus testing. Cynthia Koons, a senior reporter at Bloomberg News, joined "CBSN AM" to discuss how labs are working with the data.
cbsnews.com
Mask mandate reinstituted in House of Representatives by congressional physician, as concern increases about delta variant
The Office of the Attending Physician ordered that masks be used in all House office buildings, meeting areas and the chamber to prevent the spread among members and staff.
washingtonpost.com
Activision Blizzard CEO apologizes for 'tone deaf' response to equal pay, harassment claims
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick apologized for the company's "tone deaf" response to allegations of sexual harassment and equal pay violations.       
usatoday.com
Missouri County Overturns Mask Mandate One Day After It Goes Into Effect
It comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended vaccinated people wear masks in indoor settings in areas where vaccination rates are low.
newsweek.com
Olympics schedule and events to watch Wednesday
There's plenty happening at the Olympics in Tokyo, not to mention the news being made -- including gymnast Simon Biles' decision to drop out of Tuesday's team competition and the upcoming individual all-around competition.
edition.cnn.com
Blackburn, McCaul introduce bill to counter China, Russia at UN
Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Michael McCaul on Wednesday are set to introduce legislation to counter malign influences, require transparency and promote accountability at U.N.
foxnews.com
I’m a Pandemic Dad Who’s Been Covering COVID-19. I Don’t Know How to Think About the Risk Anymore
I’ll say this for the pre-vaccine days: it was far easier to think about risk when the only sensible option—for those lucky enough for it to even be an option—was to hunker down, avoid as much contact with other people as possible, and wait out the storm. But a year of self-imposed isolation, fueled partially…
time.com
AstraZeneca finds small clot risk after 1st shot of COVID-19 vaccine
A study conducted by AstraZeneca regarding its COVID-19 vaccine found a small risk of blood clots following the first dose of the shot, but none after the second jab.
foxnews.com
Giant robots create sport-inspired art during the Olympics
Interpreting the motion of athletes, these 1.3 tonne robots create daily unique artworks in a gravel garden inspired by ancient Japanese traditions. The installation has come from the UK as part of a city-wide art festival in Tokyo.
edition.cnn.com
Olympic host Japan records record number of new COVID cases
As the Delta variant fuels a surge in infections, a hospital director says "medical system collapse is a real possibility."
cbsnews.com
Simone Biles pulls out of another competition at Olympics
Simone Biles is focusing on her mental health after withdrawing from another competition at the Tokyo Olympics. CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas joined "CBSN AM" with more on the Olympian's decision.
cbsnews.com
When is MLB trade deadline? Rumors surround baseball world ahead of July 30
With pennant races heating up, contenders will be looking to upgrade their squads.      
usatoday.com
Violent thunderstorms, ‘derecho’ possible in Upper Midwest on Wednesday
Hurricane-force winds, destructive hail and a few tornadoes are possible. Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago could be impacted.
washingtonpost.com
'How did I mess that up?' Matt Damon talks 'Stillwater,' parenting and writing again with Ben Affleck
Matt Damon plays a relatable red state father desperate to help his daughter in 'Stillwater' and re-teams with buddy Ben Affleck for 'The Last Duel.'      
usatoday.com
After Tokyo, where are the next Olympics? From Paris to LA, these cities will host games
The International Olympic Committee announced when and where future games will take place. Beijing, Paris and Milan are among the selected cities.      
usatoday.com
The perils of blindly trusting expert authority
Ask questions, especially of the “experts” waving credentials rather than sound data.
washingtonpost.com
Matt Damon reveals what his oldest daughter thought of his new movie 'Stillwater'
Matt Damon chats with USA TODAY's Brian Truitt about his new movie "Stillwater" and sending his kids back to school this fall.      
usatoday.com
Olympic Sprinter Banned From Tokyo 2020 Denies Doping, Blames U.S. Meat
Swiss sprinter Alex Wilson had his doping ban reinstated on Wednesday following an appeal by World Athletics.
newsweek.com
Minnesota sets new state records for murders, assaults on police officers in 2020
Minnesota saw the highest number of murders on record in 2020, as well the most assaults against police officers in the line of duty ever recorded within a one-year period, according to the annual uniform crime report released by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday.
foxnews.com
San Francisco shoplifting: Women caught on video allegedly bolting from CVS with bags full of stolen goods
A witness captured a group of women running out of a San Francisco CVS Pharmacy with bags allegedly stuffed full of stolen items as a spree of retail thefts continue to plague the city.
foxnews.com
Biden calls new CDC mask guidelines a step in fighting COVID-19
President Joe Biden says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new mask guidance is "another step" in the journey to defeat the fast-evolving coronavirus, as the White House plans to mandate vaccinations for federal employees or face "stringent" COVID-19 protocols. CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes joined CBSN to explain what's next for the administration.
cbsnews.com
San Francisco School Board Ordered Not to Cover Mural With Slaves, Dead Native Americans
The judge ruled that the board was required to order an environmental impact review that including studying alternatives before making its decision.
newsweek.com
ROC Olympic Star Wants Journalist Removed for Question on Russia's Doping Scandal
Tennis player Daniil Medvedev became incensed when asked whether Russian athletes were "carrying a stigma of cheaters" in Tokyo.
newsweek.com
The best sales to shop today: Nordstrom, Rocketbook, Leesa and more
Today, you'll find a deal on our favorite liquid eyeliner, discounted Leesa mattresses and savings on power tools from The Home Depot. All that and more below.
edition.cnn.com
Expert slams NYC's data on sending social workers to 911 calls, suffers from selection bias
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health has released the results of the first month of a new program designed to send social workers and other unarmed first responders to answer certain 911 calls.
foxnews.com
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson sidelined with COVID-19 issue
The Baltimore Ravens find themselves opening training camp without the engine of their offense as Lamar Jackson lands on the COVID-19 list.       
usatoday.com
Lorenzo Lamas announces engagement to Kenna Nicole Smith on Facebook
Lorenzo Lamas is in love and engaged.
edition.cnn.com
England relaxes travel restrictions for vaccinated Americans, who will no longer have to quarantine
Fully vaccinated Americans will be able to visit England without quarantining beginning Monday, but the U.S. doesn't plan to reciprocate.      
usatoday.com
1/6 Riot Officer Receives Slur-Laden, Abusive Voicemail During Committee Testimony
Police Officer Michael Fanone revealed the message after telling committee members he'd been "grabbed and tased, all while being called a traitor."
newsweek.com
McCormick recalls some seasonings due to salmonella concern
McCormick is voluntarily recalling some seasonings due to possible salmonella contamination
abcnews.go.com
To many on the right, perceived toughness outweighs patriotism
Simone Biles and the Capitol Police officers force many Americans to confront a different sort of patriotism.
washingtonpost.com
Team USA Wins First-Ever Women’s 3×3 Basketball Olympic Gold
The Team USA 3×3 basketball squad—featuring WNBA players Stephanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young of the Las Vegas Aces and Allisha Gray of the Dallas Wings—won the first-ever women’s gold medal in Olympic 3×3 basketball on Wednesday Night at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, getting by the Russian Olympic…
time.com
Britney Spears feeling ‘rebellious’ amid ‘a lot of change’ in her life
The pop star painted an abstract piece at home amid her conservatorship battle.
nypost.com
'Jussie Smollett' Slur Used Against Officer Harry Dunn's Testimony Sparks Outrage
The House select committee into the January 6 riot at the Capitol has become a partisan issue with Donald Trump followers questioning its legitimacy.
newsweek.com
Back-to-Travel Thrills: Adventures to Make Up for Lost Time
From soaring over the French Alps with a world-record glider pilot to trekking with chimpanzees in Uganda like Jane Goodall, these next-level escapes will make up for dream trips put on hold.
newsweek.com
'I don't feel any fear going out.' How residents are living in America's most vaccinated state
Throughout Vermont, hospital Covid-19 units are mostly empty. Bars and restaurants are hopping again. In remote rural towns, diners, country stores and campgrounds are filling up. This is life in the most vaccinated state in America.
edition.cnn.com
Piers Morgan Admits It Was 'Gutless and Cowardly' to Quit TV Show Over Meghan Markle
Piers Morgan stormed out of the "Good Morning Britain" studios in March as he clashed with a co-host over Meghan Markle's Oprah Winfrey interview.
newsweek.com
These pickled shrimp are full of flavor and make an irresistible snack
This pickled shrimp recipe from "Sweet Home Cafe Cookbook" by Jerome Grant helps illustrate the contributions of Black people to American food culture.
washingtonpost.com
What is cacio e pepe and how did it take over the world?
Cacio e pepe is everywhere. How this simple Italian dish with four ingredients became the dish of the moment.
latimes.com
Starting a business? Check whether you signed a non-compete agreement at your old job
Non-compete agreements can have a chilling effect on new business, keeping people from starting companies out of fear of litigation costs and stress.      
usatoday.com
D.C. won’t lose residents because of a modest tax increase on the wealthy
Decades of data show that people don't uproot their lives for what amounts to pocket change.
washingtonpost.com
We are going backward on covid-19. The government must step up its response.
We need to put the onus on the unvaccinated.
washingtonpost.com
Leon Bridges Moves Forward on New Album Gold-Digger Sounds
Leon Bridges eclectic third album Gold-Diggers Sound finds the acclaimed singer-songwriter further moving away from the '60s retro-soul feel of his breakout debut
newsweek.com
Trump’s Shrinking Legacy
As president, Donald Trump wasn’t known for his mastery of the federal regulatory process. The “Muslim ban” is perhaps the most famous example of a Trump policy that was enacted hastily, challenged repeatedly, and ultimately undone by his successor; others, like his attempted changes to the census, methane emissions, and payday lending, fell flat for similar reasons.Trump’s failures to permanently change government policy were remarkably diverse. Even when his administration pursued classically Republican agenda items, such as cutting food stamps, and had lots of outside help from conservative advocacy groups, it ran into trouble. For a time, the Trump administration did significantly change the way food stamps worked. But in that realm, too, few of Trump’s changes stuck: Some were struck down by courts, and others were reversed by the Biden administration.The Trump administration seems to have fundamentally underestimated the difficulty of changing U.S. government policy: As of April, out of the 259 regulations, guidance documents, and agency memoranda it issued that were challenged in court, 200, or 77 percent, were unsuccessful, according to a tracker from the Institute for Policy Integrity, a think tank at New York University that researches regulatory policy. A typical administration loses more like 30 percent of the time, the group says. (Though it is nonpartisan, the institute submitted critical comments and briefs on the Trump Department of Agriculture’s rules.)Part of the reason so many of Trump’s changes were short-lived is simply that he was a one-term president. It’s easier for your successor to reverse your policies if they have only a few years to set in. But that doesn’t explain the huge number of times his regulations were struck down by courts. Trump’s team fell short because it often made mistakes in the nitty-gritty work of rule-making, experts told me. That might come as a relief to Democrats, but it’s actually a warning: All it will take is someone with the same priorities as Trump, but better discipline, to reshape the way the government works.The food-stamp saga highlights Trump’s rule-making foibles. The Department of Agriculture controls the food-stamp program, otherwise known as SNAP, which provides free food to 38 million mostly poor Americans. Almost as soon as Trump was elected, the department, led by former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, set about tightening eligibility for the program.Through a Freedom of Information Act request, I received emails that showed how Trump administration officials worked with conservative groups to reform SNAP. Perdue had help from an organization called the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based think tank that, broadly, wants Americans to get off government benefits and get back to work. On his biography page on FGA’s website, the founder Tarren Bragdon writes that he wants “more Americans to experience the freedom that work brings.”Bragdon has long wanted to “ensure that people don’t remain in poverty, that they get back to work and on the path to the American dream,” he told me. Trump’s election presented the perfect opportunity to pursue those goals, and luckily, Trump’s USDA seemed extremely open to his group’s suggestions. Throughout the Trump years, FGA sent the agency research that advocated for tightening limits on food stamps and encouraging work requirements. Brandon Lipps, a former Republican congressional staffer Trump had picked as the acting head of the Food and Nutrition Service, had several meetings with FGA to discuss work requirements. Agency staff outlined FGA memos for their bosses. Robin Walker, FGA’s director of federal affairs, emailed Lipps and his colleagues in Washington, asking to drop off a document “for your review.”Administration officials seemed to understand themselves to be working hand-in-glove with the outside group. In December 2017, Kailee Tkacz, one of the department’s policy advisers, sent USDA ​​Chief of Staff Heidi Green an email calling FGA “one of our conservative allies” and letting Green know that FGA had sent out a “complementary press release” about the agency’s approval of a waiver in Arizona, apparently one limiting the number of replacement food-stamp cards for recipients. In 2018, when Walker emailed another positive FGA press release to Lipps and Tkacz, Tkacz wrote back, “Thanks Robin and team we always appreciate the support from you!” Lipps wrote to Walker that an FGA op-ed had been “well written,” and later requested a meeting “to get briefed on what you are sharing with the Hill.”All sorts of outside groups pressure bureaucrats to make rules friendlier to their interests, of course. Lipps told me that he’d had an open-door policy, and that he’d met with lots of different organizations, including more left-leaning ones, such as Feeding America. He took some suggestions from these groups, he said, and he ignored others.But to some, FGA’s involvement was a sign of trouble. The Trump administration “simply didn’t have the type of personnel that knew how government works,” says Amit Narang, an expert on federal regulatory process at the consumer-rights organization Public Citizen. “It just felt like ideologues. These people came in, and they’re just like, ‘Who does the policy in this space?’ and they went straight for the most radical think tanks.”FGA got much of what it wanted—at least initially. In 2019, the USDA proposed tightening eligibility rules that had made it easier for slightly less poor Americans to qualify for food stamps. Later that year, the agency issued a rule that would have limited the circumstances under which adults without children could qualify for more than three months of food stamps in three years. After the pandemic began, the Trump administration decided that if a person was already receiving the maximum SNAP benefit, he or she was not eligible for additional emergency benefits. All the proposals pointed in the same general direction: Cut the number of people on food stamps in hopes of getting them back into the workforce and saving the government money.But few of these changes lasted. In October 2020, a judge struck down the rule that would have kicked an estimated 700,000 able-bodied adults without dependents off the program. “The agency has been icily silent about how many [recipients] would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought in the Final Rule been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country,” Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote in a scathing opinion.This past spring, the Biden administration withdrew the eligibility-rules proposal, which could have removed 3 million people from the program, and settled a lawsuit about the emergency benefits, essentially allowing people to access the funds. (Lipps noted that other rules his team wrote held up.) A few months after Joe Biden took office, he increased food-stamp benefits for 25 million people.Trump’s agencies wrote fewer rules than past administrations, including other Republican ones, says Susan Yackee, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who focuses on rule-making. Although many controversial regulations wind up in court, agencies typically win those cases, she told me. Here, too, the Trump administration was an outlier: It lost a lot.The rule process is specific, technical, and tedious, which did not exactly fit Trump’s style. Some experts say Trump’s agencies wrote their rules carelessly, failing to provide good explanations for what they were doing. “​​You do have to explain why you’re making the change you’re making and give some good reasons for it. And you have to respond to criticism from the public,” Jack Lienke, the regulatory-policy director of the Institute for Policy Integrity, told me. “And the Trump administration often didn’t do that.” At this, Lienke let out a little laugh, as though amazed anyone could be so foolish as to not follow proper regulatory procedure.The Trump administration did not like to acknowledge the negative consequences of its decisions, Lienke said. For example, its eligibility-rules proposal didn’t include a discussion of the regulation’s impact on free school lunches, according to a letter to Secretary Perdue from Representative Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia. Other agencies had a tendency to leave unfavorable data out of their proposals, shielding the public from their true impact.The USDA didn’t cite many benefits to removing people from the food-stamp program. “They would say, ‘Well, the government will save this many millions of dollars,’” Lienke said. “But that can’t be the reason for the policy change, because the best way to save the government money would be to just stop providing SNAP benefits at all.”Lipps disagrees with Lienke’s critique. The Trump-era rules, he noted, were written by career staff, he said—lifelong bureaucrats, not political appointees. They were well thought out and well drafted. Cutting food-stamp waste is important, he said, because it bolsters Americans’ confidence in the program. A millionaire has reportedly collected food stamps. That’s the kind of thing that “makes so many Americans say that program’s just full of waste, fraud, and abuse,” he said.As is typical for political appointees, Lipps and Tkacz resigned when Biden was elected. Lipps now runs his own consulting firm, and Tkacz became president of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, “advocating on behalf of refiners who produce 95 percent of domestic edible fats and oils.” (She did not return requests for comment.)Bragdon, too, is taking a break from the D.C. bureaucracy. “We were happy with what we were able to accomplish during Trump and not surprised that the Biden administration moved in another direction,” Bragdon told me. He said he hasn’t worked as much with the Biden USDA as he had with Trump’s. “It doesn’t seem like, based on their policy priorities, they’re very interested.” Like many conservative groups, FGA is now pivoting to the states, trying to find governors who might be more receptive to its ideas.To Democrats, this all might look as though the system worked. Trump tried to do something and courts stepped in, thwarting him. But this might not be the last attempt to slash the number of Americans on government benefits. “The Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of President Trump right now,” says Jeffrey S. Lubbers, an administrative-law professor at American University. “If the Republicans win in 2024, I would think the nominee is going to be somebody who would want to start trying to put back in place some of the Trump things that have gotten struck down during the Biden administration.” Liberal lovers of regulatory procedure might find themselves torn: unsure whether to hope that the next Republican president will be someone who is good at rule-making or blessedly bad at it.
theatlantic.com
I Have The Cleanest Shower of Anyone—All Thanks to This
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Scouted/AmazonScouting Report: This tiny squeegee maintains your glass shower’s shine without taking up precious bathroom space.I love my glass door shower; it looks nice and reduces my chances of pulling back a shower curtain to find a murderer by 100%. However, despite its benefits every bit of shampoo soap is incredibly visible and I find it annoying. Cleaning is a lot to keep up with, and so, in order to keep my shower clean and retain all of its anti-horror movie qualities, I tried out this little tool.It’s a squeegee, but it’s my little secret to keeping a clean and beautiful shower. This small but mighty shower squeegee easily wipes away water and other shower-related residues that would otherwise stay on the glass and leave those tenacious soap scum spots I spent an hour scrubbing off three days prior. In just about one minute of wiping post-shower, this little squeegee not only extends the life of a newly cleaned shower but makes the next time you have to deep-clean it so much easier.Read more at The Daily Beast.
thedailybeast.com
Don’t dwell on the 2020 drop in US life expectancy. Worry about the long-term trend.
A mother kisses her newborn baby on November 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. | Brandon Bell/Getty Images Covid-19 cut US life expectancy by 1.5 years, but that might not mean what you think it means. US life expectancy has declined 1.5 years because of Covid-19, to 77.3 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on July 21. This is a sobering statistic. But if it makes you worry that your life (or your children’s lives) will be 1.5 years shorter, you can rest easy. As a demographer, I can assure you that’s not what the CDC is saying, and the Covid-19 dip in life expectancy is less surprising and less important than many people might think. Despite its misleading name, life expectancy does not predict how long anyone should expect to live. Life expectancy is a quick but incomplete measure of health, like gross domestic product for the economy or batting averages for baseball players. Like those numbers, its value does not come from predicting the future, but from explaining the past. It provides a way to track trends over time. In this case, it quantifies what we already knew: The US experienced a lot of deaths last year, more than any other year in recent memory. Another thing we already knew is that Black and Hispanic communities, which experienced a three-year decline in life expectancy, were especially hard hit. Some news outlets have gotten this wrong. The Associated Press, for example, defined life expectancy as “an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live.” The exact definition is a little more complicated. Life expectancy, the CDC report says, “represents the average number of years a group of infants would live if they were to experience throughout life the age-specific death rates prevailing during a specified period.” The portion I’ve italicized is the important part. It assumes that newborns will face the same health risks, throughout their lives, as people who were adults in the unprecedented year of 2020. Christina Animashaun/Vox To be clear, any drop in life expectancy is a bad thing. But this one simply confirms Covid-19’s profound effect on US society, rather than telling us something new. It’s essentially a mathematical way of restating that millions of people have lost loved ones to the coronavirus. Unless the Covid-19 death toll remains in the hundreds of thousands for years to come, we should not expect the decline to be permanent. If people continue to get vaccinated before it mutates more, life expectancy will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. What Americans shouldworry about is the longer-term trend. US life expectancy has been stagnant for the past decade, and had actually declined by 0.1 years before the pandemic started, from 2014 to 2019. Though smaller in magnitude, that drift downward says something much more worrying about health in the US. Our national health has not improved for over a decade, despite the trillions that Americans spend on health care every year. We won’t know the actual life expectancy of today’s babies until at least 2110 To understand some of the surprising lessons of life expectancy, it’s helpful to consider what the concept does and doesn’t measure. A lot of people think that it tells you how long a child born in a given year can expect to live. Isn’t that literally what “life expectancy” means? Well, not exactly. Consider the case of babies who were born during 2020, a year when Covid-19 killed hundreds of thousands of people in the US and became the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. The pandemic was bad news for everyone who was already alive, especially older people who are at higher risk of severe disease. But that doesn’t automatically mean 2020 babies are going to live shorter lives — especially if the world gets the pandemic under control while they’re young. The only way to know the precise life expectancy of 2020 babies is to wait until most of them die. In 90 or 100 years, between 2110 and 2120, demographers will add up all the years lived by 2020 babies and divide them by the total number of 2020 babies. That’s not very helpful right now. What life expectancy is and is not The CDC calculated life expectancy from a simulation of deaths based on what occurred last year. To calculate the 2020 figure, researchers created a fictional cohort of 100,000 babies. They counted how many would live to their first birthday, based on the proportion of last year’s newborns who lived to their first birthday. Then they did the same thing for every other age, again based on last year’s probabilities. At the end of the exercise, they added up all the simulated years lived by the 100,000 simulated babies. After dividing by the 100,000 simulated babies, researchers got the life expectancy the CDC reported in July. Given that life expectancy relies on past probabilities of death, it shouldn’t be treated as a projection or model of the future. The calculation doesn’t predict what factors will contribute to deaths. It doesn’t factor in future pandemics or potential medical advances. Life expectancy just summarizes what has already happened. One might ask why anyone uses such a complicated system. The answer is that unlike other measures of health, like death rates, life expectancy accounts for the specific probabilities of dying at each age. If you don’t do that, your calculations can lead to absurd conclusions. For example, Japan, a country legendary for its longevity, has a higher death rate than the US. Why? Three in 10 adults in Japan are 65 or older, a proportion twice as high as in the US. While Japan may suffer more deaths as a share of its population, the fact that its people have lived such long lives is evidence of its better health. Since life expectancy accounts for age, it empowers demographers to compare populations across time and geography. The Covid-19 life expectancy dip tells us what we already knew Because life expectancy projections are historical, the Covid-19 drop really just confirmed what news stories have been saying for a long time: The US experienced a lot of death last year. It would have been shocking if the number did not fall, given that more than 610,000 US residents have died of the disease. To put the decline in context, the CDC reported that last year’s decline was the largest that the US has experienced since 1943, in the midst of World War II. But this comparison isn’t perfect. Back in 1943, life expectancy was increasing steadily, and the dip did not interfere with an overall positive trend. The difference in 2020 is that US life expectancy wasn’t increasing before the pandemic: It was slowly falling. Pre-pandemic life expectancy in 2019 was 78.8 years, compared to 78.9 years in 2014. Christina Animashaun/Vox That decline, though much smaller than the 2020 dip, signals something much more ominous about how difficult life has become in the US. Lives have been cut short by addiction and suicide, especially among men — what Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton call “deaths of despair” — and by long-term, preventable diseases, such as heart disease and kidney failure, especially among women. The stagnation in life expectancy isn’t due to some natural limit of human lifespans. In 2019, life expectancy was 84.4 in Japan, 83 in France, and 81 in the United Kingdom and Germany. The US, with its life expectancy of 78.8 years, was already lagging before the pandemic. The US can improve life expectancy by going back to basics We now have extremely effective tools to reduce Covid-19-related deaths, vaccines chief among them. But the longer-term stagnation and decline in US health can’t be solved with vaccines alone. In fact, it is likely that many solutions need to come from outside of the health care system entirely. The relatively poor health of the US is rooted in “fundamental causes,” according to epidemiologists Bruce Link and Jo Phelan. These are the social conditions like economic inequality and racial segregation that worsen some illnesses and reduce access to health care. In the US, solutions could also include policies that replace jobs in towns and cities that have been hollowed out by globalization and deindustrialization. The dignity of meaningful work can improve health. Of course, we should not ignore the gains that can be made within medicine. I don’t mean high-profile technological advances that will make headlines or boost the bottom line of new biotech startups. I mean routine and preventive care that can detect disease early, help get patients into treatment, and provide a trusted source of medical advice. Rather than wringing our hands about the Covid-19 life-expectancy dip, the US should be passing laws and expanding programs that draw medical workers into primary and preventive care, not least by paying them more. This is especially true in rural areas with aging populations and a shortage of doctors. Training more Black doctors, especially in obstetrics and gynecology, may lead to dramatic improvements in the shamefully bad maternal health outcomes among Black women in the US. By focusing on one historical measure of years lost to the pandemic, we run the risk of dwelling on what we can’t change and ignoring what we can improve. If you want the next generation to live longer and healthier lives, one of the best things you can do is push for economic and health care policies that reduce economic and racial inequality, and help ensure that every person has access to the kind of world-class, routine health care that saves lives. Let’s give the demographers of 2110 something to celebrate. Michael Bader is an associate professor of sociology and policy and the associate director of the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University.
vox.com
Do I want kids?
How do I decide whether to have kids? A new episode of Glad You Asked explores this enormous life decision. “Why did you change jobs to take care of us, and not Dad?” My mom sighed. It was the first time I’d ever asked her this question directly. Like many families, we hadn’t been able to see each other in person for most of 2020, so we were on a video call. But unlike many families, our conversation was being recorded. I’d set out to make an episode of our YouTube Originals series Glad You Asked about a question that has been on my mind often recently: “Do I want kids?” My mom had agreed to be part of it. It was one more way she’d agreed to make herself uncomfortable in order to support me — like pregnancy and early morning swim meets and that time I stuck a bead up my nose in preschool and she had to leave an important work meeting to take me to the doctor. My mom carrying baby me. “Well, it wasn’t completely voluntary,” my mom finally answered. “I was young and very ambitious and I just thought I could do everything, no matter what the environment. And that turned out not to be true.” “I’m really afraid of that,” I confessed. For most of my life, I’ve assumed I want kids. But as the question gets less theoretical, it gets harder to answer. A 2017 report from the United States Census Bureau shows that among married heterosexual couples, the average female spouse’s earnings fall significantly immediately after childbirth, and do not recover until the child is 9 or 10 years old. The average male spouse’s income only rises. Also, in many countries, including the United States, survey data suggests parents are less happy than childless adults and report higher levels of anxiety and depression. Researchers call this the “happiness gap.” Professor Jennifer Glass, who ran several parental happiness studies in the US, tells me parents are often surprised by her results. “If we asked parents, ‘Have your children made you happy?’ They would all say yes. I would say yes! Everybody I know would say yes, no one is going to say that their children have made them unhappy. But what their children have brought into their lives in many ways is anxiety, stress, and financial trouble that they would not have experienced.” What else would my mom have done with the time, energy, and money she spent on me? I imagine her reading a book on a Sunday morning instead of carting me to those swim meets. Running for office. Taking a trip to Nepal. But when I share the happiness gap research with my mom, she tells me it’s missing “all the joy” — the emotional highs — that children provide. “There’s this little flame somewhere in you that’s lit and it never goes out.” Professor Glass agrees: “The emotional tenor of life is flatter without children.” My mom and me during our interview. I’m afraid of missing out, but I’m not sure what exactly it is I’m afraid I’ll miss out on. As the image of a “flat” life stretches in front of me, I imagine creating hills, like my decisions are a RollerCoaster Tycoon game. But I can’t tell if those hills are the emotional highs of having children, or the projects and pursuits that might be easier without them. This video — the first of five new episodes of Glad You Asked — is an exploration of this enormous life decision. How do I decide whether to have kids? How long do I have to make this decision? How can we make this decision freer and easier, both for people who want to be parents and those who don’t? Before our call ended, after I laid out my anxieties about having kids and what it might mean, my mom reminded me: She’s been to Nepal. I’m the one who hasn’t yet. Additional reading “Parenthood and Happiness: Effects of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies in 22 OECD Countries” by Jennifer Glass, Robin Simon and Matthew Andersson “American Time Use Survey Summary” US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Results “The Parental Gender Earnings Gap in the United States” 2017 US Census report by YoonKyung Chung, Barbara Downs, Danielle H. Sandler and Robert Sienkiewicz “Racial Disparities in Seeking Care for Help Getting Pregnant” by HB Chin, PP Howards, MR Kramer, AC Mertens, and JB Spencer “The Impact of Female Age and Nulligravidity on Fecundity in an Older Reproductive Age Cohort” by Anne Z. Steiner and Anne Marie Z. Jukic “Is Childcare Affordable? Policy Brief on Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs” OECD 2020 report “The Age That Women Have Babies: How a Gap Divides America” by Quoctrung Bui and Claire Cain Miller “Should I Freeze my Eggs?” by Nicole Ellis
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