Other Recent Trends and Indicators Besides the 2016 Election

While the election has dominated the news, life has gone on. Here are some news stories you may have missed. Some of it is good news, but as you would expect, much of it is troubling.

Good News

Expert Advice: William Perry, former Defense Sectary to President Carter, published anpentagon waste, endless war abroad, troubling news around the world intelligent op-ed in the New York Times, suggesting that the U.S. should scrap its ICBMs.

Health: Malaria deaths have decreased in Sub-Saharan Africa by almost 60 percent over the last 15 years, according to an online article in the New England Journal of Medicine, largely due to insecticide treated bed nets and drugs. However, progress varies widely by location and age.

National Poverty: The recent census estimates that around 3.5 million Americans were able to climb above the poverty level last year; however, there is a long way to go – 43 million Americans still live in poverty, of which 14 million are children.

World Poverty: Nicolas Kristof reported in his New York Times column that the number of people living in extreme poverty ($1.90 per person per day) had been reduced by half in the last two decades, and that the number of small children dying has dropped by a similar proportion – six million lives a year saved by vaccines, breast-feeding promotion, pneumonia medicine and diarrhea treatments!

Education: High School graduation rates have reached 83.2 percent, an increase in recent years. The Grade-Nation campaign to have 90 percent rates by 2020 was said to be pleased. Unhappily, the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress said that math scores dropped.

Happiness: A recent Gallup Poll shows that 80 percent of Americans are “satisfied with their standard of living”, a number that was 73 percent in 2008. Fifty five percent say that they are “thriving” versus 49 percent in 2008.

Now for the bad. Where to start?

Syria: Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia and Assad of war crimes because of their bombing of hospitals, medical facilities, women and children. A convoy bringing humanitarian supplies to Aleppo was also bombed. Russia has also deployed S-300 and S-400 to protect Syrian airports and ports.

Yemen: Attacks reportedly directed at Houthi radar stations were in response to middle attacks at a U.S. naval destroyer. Saudi Arabia is said to be using cluster bombs provided by the U.S. More than 300 have been killed since August, with Saudi attacks on a funeral, hospitals and other citizen locations. The United Nations, Doctors without Borders, but only a few U.S. politicians, have expressed disgust.

Afghanistan: The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconciliation reports there has been almost no compliance by senior Afghan officials. Of 83 senior officials (past and present), President Ashraf Ghani is said to be only individual to cooperate. The Taliban is reported to be actively threatening five of the 34 provinces in the country.

Turkey: President Recep Erdogan reacted to the failed coup in mid-July with a heavy hand. Al Jazeera reported that 40,000 were arrested, and over 80,000 removed from their jobs, including judges and prosecutors, academics, teachers, journalists and others in the media.

CIA-sponsored Torture: The long term effects of torture at Guantanamo and other secretly CIA locations were recently explored by the New York Times. The descriptions of on-going mental health challenges resulting from American torture is hard reading.

Military Suicides: More than 2000 active and reserve soldiers have committed suicide many because of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Brain injuries accounted for 25 percent of the total for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq; Twenty percent of all veterans of those two conflicts are reported to have PTSD. However, there is good news in the form of generals like Donald Bolduc who experienced PTSD and actively persuaded the military to do something about it.

Cyberwarfare: Senior intelligence officers concluded that Russia is behind the hacked emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s Campaign, and various state election officials. Some suggest their theft and release is designed to help Donald Trump and his claim that the American election process is “rigged.”

Nuclear Concerns – North Korea: In early September, they conducted their 5th nuclear test and now claim they can reach the west coast of the United States. More recently, another missile test of theirs is said to have failed.

Nuclear Concerns – Russia: Perhaps in response to our European missile policy, Russia is said to be moving nuclear weapons from the Leningrad area to Kaliningrad, the small stretch of land bordering the Baltic sea between Poland and Lithuania. President Putin has also indicated he no longer agrees with a 16-year-old agreement with the U.S. to reduce weapons grade plutonium stockpiles.

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