Costa Ricans Live Longer Than We Do. What’s Their Secret?


Álvaro Salas Chaves

Life expectancy tends to track national income closely. Costa Rica has emerged as an exception. Searching a newer section of the cemetery that afternoon, I found only one grave for a child. Across all age cohorts, the country’s increase in health has far outpaced its increase in wealth. Although Costa Rica’s per-capita income is a sixth that of the United States—and its per-capita health-care costs are a fraction of ours—life expectancy there is approaching eighty-one years. In the United States, life expectancy peaked at just under seventy-nine years, in 2014, and has declined since.

People who have studied Costa Rica, including colleagues of mine at the research and innovation center Ariadne Labs, have identified what seems to be a key factor in its success: the country has made public health—measures to improve the health of the population as a whole—central to the delivery of medical care. Even in countries with robust universal health care, public health is usually an add-on; the vast majority of spending goes to treat the ailments of individuals. In Costa Rica, though, public health has been a priority for decades.

The covid-19 pandemic has revealed the impoverished state of public health even in affluent countries—and the cost of our neglect. Costa Rica shows what an alternative looks like. I travelled with Álvaro Salas to his home town because he had witnessed the results of his country’s expanding commitment to public health, and also because he had helped build the systems that delivered on that commitment. He understood what the country has achieved and how it was done.

Decades ago, I worked in and around the medical community in New Haven, Connecticut. Never as a provider. Most often in one or another support system. I had many friends who were undergrads, graduate students, faculty…ranging from Yale Med School to their superb Public Health School. And it all reflected the characterizations in this article. Public Health in American politics has been and continues to be a lesser add-on to the “more important” medical care system. At best. If that’s changed, I’ll be pleased to hear about it.

Trump’s wall sucks big time!

Gate in bollard-style fencing…along the U.S.-Mexico border. The gates remain open during the summer, with strands of barbed wire to prevent cattle from crossing the border.

Ha ha ha. Donald Trump’s impermeable wall ain’t so impermeable, after all. Not even these high walls of racist fury can withstand good ol’ Mother Nature: The Washington Post reported Thursday that the president’s beloved border wall between the U.S. and Mexico would need to leave portions wide open every summer to prevent flash floods from knocking it over…

In the Southwest, monsoon season comes around from June to September. Arizona and New Mexico receive up to half of their annual rainfall during these months. Though these storms—often accompanied by roaring thunder and lightning—can be healthy for the vegetation in need of some water, it’s no good for infrastructure in the area. This phenomenon is a result of the land and the Pacific Ocean warming up, but because the land warms faster than the ocean, the air pressure begins to affect the wind. This air, which is full of moisture, eventually makes its way from northern Mexico into the Southwestern U.S., where it pours.

What’s worse, climate change is making this monsoon season worse, according to a 2017 study. If the president wants to build this ridiculous wall, he may have to come to terms with the reality of climate change. That, or risk it being washed away by worsening storms. Or, as we’re already seeing, falling due to high winds. Nature is just as over this goddamn wall as I am.

Mother Nature couldn’t care a rat’s ass for all the concerns about borders, nationalities, legal/illegal crossings that occupy the tiniest of brain cells in police, pimps, so-called patriots and prigs.

Microsoft will get new accounts they may not want!

Apple announced new features Thursday that will scan iPhone and iPad users’ photos to detect and report large collections of child sexual abuse images stored on its cloud servers.

“We want to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM),” Apple said in a statement.

“This program is ambitious, and protecting children is an important responsibility,” it said. “Our efforts will evolve and expand over time.”

Bravo!

Synagogue shooting victims win right to sue gunmaker

A California judge decided that victims of the 2019 synagogue shooting near San Diego that killed one worshiper and wounded three can sue the manufacturer of the semiautomatic rifle used in the attack and the gun shop that sold the weapon.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Medel said Wednesday that victims and families in the Poway synagogue shooting have adequately alleged that Smith & Wesson, the nation’s largest gun maker, knew its AR-15-style rifle could be easily modified into a machine-gun-like or assault weapon in violation of state law, according to a newspaper report.

The judge also said the shop, San Diego Guns, could be sued for selling the weapon to the shooting suspect, John Earnest, who was 19 and lacked a hunting license that would have exempted him from California’s minimum age of 21 for owning long guns.

Prosecutors say Earnest, a nursing student, opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle during the last day of Passover services in April 2019. The attack killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and wounded three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, who lost a finger.

I’ll give you an idea how long overdue this is. I learned how to “rewatt” machines guns around 1955. And, no, it wasn’t from one of the gunsmiths in my family. It was the “gun-guy” in the street-racing gang I ran with.

Juneteenth – here’s what it celebrates

The United States has a new federal holiday. On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that officially designates Juneteenth—observed each year on June 19—as an American holiday…Known to some as the country’s “second Independence Day,” Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States at the end of the Civil War. For more than 150 years, African American communities across the country have observed this holiday.

At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect and declared enslaved people in the Confederacy free—on the condition that the Union won the war. The proclamation turned the war into a fight for freedom and by the end of the war 200,000 Black soldiers had joined the fight, spreading news of freedom as they fought their way through the South.

Since Texas was one of the last strongholds of the South, emancipation would be a long-time coming for enslaved people in the state. Even after the last battle of the Civil War was fought in 1865—a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed—it is believed that many enslaved people still did not know they were free. As the story goes, some 250,000 enslaved people only learned of their freedom after Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and announced that the president had issued a proclamation freeing them…

With Granger’s announcement, June 19—which would eventually come to be known as Juneteenth—became a day to celebrate the end of slavery in Texas. As newly freed Texans began moving to neighboring states, Juneteenth celebrations spread across the South and beyond.

“Say, Amen!”

US cannabis industry’s big problem: Too much cash


Matthew Hatcher/Reuters

Marijuana can be sold legally in 36 US states and the District of Columbia (DC) for medical use and in 15 of them and in DC for recreational purposes. But it is still illegal on a federal level, meaning most banks refuse to service the industry in case they fall afoul of money laundering laws…

With the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing legalisation driving a surge in cannabis use, the sector’s producers, manufacturers and retailers are awash in cash, adding risk and costs to the most basic business transactions from paying employees and filing taxes to finding somewhere to store their income…

Legal US cannabis sales grew 30 percent to $22bn last year, more than the $17.5bn Americans spent on wine, according to data from Euromonitor. Sales are expected to jump more than 20 percent this year…

The House of Representatives passed a bill in April that would allow cannabis firms to have bank accounts, get loans and accept credit card payments but it may not make it to the Senate because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to work instead towards lifting the federal ban on cannabis.

A full federal green light is the industry’s ultimate goal but it is not counting on Schumer’s pledge to make it happen by next year.

Ah, yes. Several solutions are at hand. All that is needed is decision, a vote, and implementation by Congress. And our politicians are so good at getting that part done, eh?

Philadelphia says remains of 1985 bombing victims were not destroyed … every time they said they were.

A day after the Philadelphia health commissioner was forced to resign over the cremation of partial remains belonging to victims of a 1985 police bombing of the headquarters of a Black organization, the city said those remains were never actually destroyed.

Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement late on Friday saying that remains of Move bombing victims thought to have been cremated in 2017, under orders from health commissioner Thomas Farley, had been located at the medical examiner’s office…

“I am relieved that these remains were found and not destroyed. However I am also very sorry for the needless pain that this ordeal has caused the Africa family,” Kenney said, adding that “many unanswered questions” surround the case – including why Farley’s order wasn’t obeyed.

Kenney compelled Farley to resign on Thursday, the 36th anniversary of the Move bombing, after consulting the victims’ family members. At the time, the mayor said Farley’s decision to order the cremation and disposal of the remains without notifying the decedents’ family members lacked empathy.

The medical examiner’s office has now pledged to turn over the remains once the investigation is complete. Watch this space! Someday, we’ll find out who’s in charge.