A Lancet commission report calls for global efforts to rein in the food industry to address the linked health crises of obesity, malnutrition, and climate change. “Overconsumption of junk food and not having enough to eat are two sides of the malnutrition coin, said a commission of experts brought together by the Lancet medical journal. A third major global problem is interlinked – climate change that is worsened by food production, waste and transportation… The commission said political leaders and civil society must step up to counter the commercial interests and lobbying of the food industry. It called for a UN treaty along the lines of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to support countries in drawing up sustainable and healthy food policies. As the FCTC does with the tobacco industry, the proposed treaty would ban food and drink companies from discussions. The commission also recommended removing subsidies for agriculture and transport that contribute to poor diet and health. It proposed a $1 billion fund for civil society organisations that want to take on the food industry and press for sugar taxes and other measures to improve diets and counter obesity.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey sponsored a resolution this week laying out the principles of a Green New Deal, a 10-year plan to “jumpstart the complete transition of our society away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. The resolution outlines the plan to virtually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from every sector of the economy through a World War 2 scale mobilization of our society to create the renewable energy infrastructure and clean industries as fast as possible…” The Green New Deal also connects climate change with the need to address high-quality education and healthcare, clean air and water, a healthier food system, affordable housing,” and economic security for those who cannot work or are not employed. The resolution is currently backed by 60 House Democrats and nine Senate Democrats.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists quantified Californians’ exposure to dangerous air pollution and found that, on average, African-American residents are exposed to levels of dangerous particulate matter 43% higher than white residents, Latino residents face 39% higher exposure than white residents, and low-income households face levels 10% higher than the state average. The report also identifies key strategies to reduce these inequities, including investing in regional Sustainable Communities Strategies, adopting land-use policies to reduce the need for driving and incentivize active transportation and use of public transportation, and addressing vehicle emissions and freight traffic.
In 2018, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women changed its definition of domestic violence, a change that was little reported at the time. The previous definition, developed during the Obama administration, had an expansive definition of domestic violence, encompassing physical and sexual violence as well as emotional, economic, and psychological abuse. The new guidance defines domestic violence as “felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence…” and the definition no longer includes dating relationships where partners do not live together.
The Atlantic reports on how the government shutdown exposed how financially precarious many people’s lives are: “Even for many of those workers not officially on federal salaries, the shutdown represented a squeeze. Federal contractors also went without pay, and it’s unclear whether they will receive back pay at all. Many of those contractors—for example, maintenance or custodial workers—are themselves members of the working poor. And that’s not to mention the shutdown’s implications for those on federal assistance. On multiple fronts, the shutdown likely exacerbated ongoing struggles with income and wealth inequality. For poor and low-income people across the country, the shutdown meant real or threatened constrictions on housing and nutrition programs. The closures revealed that many housing authorities lack the reserves to survive any prolonged disruption of federal funds, and shrinking food support began to strain food banks and local grocers. The shutdown was especially difficult for people who depend on more than one federally subsidized program…”
A ProPublica investigation reveals new information about how Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family countered “bad PR” as opioid addiction mounted by further stigmatizing people suffering with addiction as “criminals” and “junkies, covered up for doctors the company knew were irresponsibly prescribing opioids, and stepped up fraudulent marketing practices.
The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court for an extraordinary expedited decision on whether the administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Earlier this year, a federal judge struck down the Commerce Department’s push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, after finding clear evidence that Secretary Wilbur Ross violated federal law by misleading the public and members of the administration about the rationale for adding the question, which would likely lead to a severe undercount of immigrant communities.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rolling back Obama-era requirements that payday lenders ensure that loan repayment doesn’t prevent borrowers from being able to cover their basic living expenses. The Guardian reports that “payday loans typically work by offering small loans to borrowers who are then obliged to repay them with their next pay installment. Interest rates on such loans can be steep, at about 400% or more, with the bureau finding that the vast majority of loans are rolled over into another loan within two weeks. This mounting debt has caused severe financial hardship for low-income workers, with the Obama administration vowing to curb the practice, which it described as predatory lending… Under the new proposal, lenders would not be obligated to ensure borrowers can repay loans with enough leftover cash to live on. A limit preventing lenders from making more than three short-term loans without a 30-day “cooling off” period would also be dismantled. Advocates for borrowers said the move was a result of intense lobbying and campaign donations by the payday lending industry.”
State legislators in Connecticut are considering a bill that would ban sugary drinks from children’s menus across the state, allowing only unsweetened water, non-flavored milk, and non-dairy milk alternatives.