Thursday November 23, 2017

Smoking costs Global economy more than $1 Trillion a year, will kill one-third more people by 2030 than it does now: Study

That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014

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FILE - Cigarette packs are seen on shelves in a tobacco shop in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, VOA

Smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion a year, and will kill one-third more people by 2030 than it does now, according to a study by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute published on Tuesday.

That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014.

“The number of tobacco-related deaths is projected to increase from about 6 million deaths annually to about 8 million annually by 2030, with more than 80 percent of these occurring in LMICs [low- and middle-income countries],” the study said.

Around 80 percent of smokers live in such countries, and although smoking prevalence was falling among the global population, the total number of smokers worldwide is rising, it said.

Health experts say tobacco use is the single biggest preventable cause of death globally.

“It is responsible for… likely over $1 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity each year,” said the study, peer-reviewed by more than 70 scientific experts.

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The economic costs are expected to continue to rise, and although governments have the tools to reduce tobacco use and associated deaths, most have fallen far short of using those tools effectively, said the 688-page report.

“Government fears that tobacco control will have an adverse economic impact are not justified by the evidence. The science is clear; the time for action is now.”

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How to quit

Cheap and effective policies included hiking tobacco taxes and prices, comprehensive smoke-free policies, complete bans on tobacco company marketing, and prominent pictorial warning labels.

Tobacco taxes could also be used to fund more expensive interventions such as anti-tobacco mass media campaigns and support for cessation services and treatments, it said.

Governments spent less than $1 billion on tobacco control in 2013-2014, according to a WHO estimate.

Tobacco regulation meanwhile is reaching a crunch point because of a trade dispute brought by Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic against Australia’s stringent “plain packaging” laws, which enforce standardized designs on tobacco products and ban distinctive logos and colorful branding.

The World Trade Organization is expected to rule on the complaint this year. Australia’s policy is being closely watched by other countries that are considering similar policies, including Norway, Slovenia, Canada, Singapore, Belgium and South Africa, the study said. (VOA)

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Hindu Mandir in Illinois, USA Witnesses Grand Tulsi Vivah on a Global Scale

The Hindu Mandir of Lake County, Grayslake, IL celebrated a grand Tulsi Vivah, the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil that represents purity) to the Hindu God Vishnu or his Avatar as Krishna

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Grand Tulsi Vivah
Grand Tulsi Vivah in Grayscale. IANS.

Grayslake, IL, November 17: The Hindu Mandir of Lake County, Grayslake, IL celebrated a grand Tulsi Vivah, the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil that represents purity) to the Hindu God Vishnu or his Avatar as Krishna on October 31 (the day of ” Dev Ekadashi” – 11th day of Hindu month of Kartik Shuklapaksha), with more than 200 devotees.

During Tulsi Vivah, which signifies the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season in India, male devotees carried Lord Krishna’s statue with Shaligram stone into the shrine as Varpaksha. The temple priests performed Gotraachar and Hasth-meelap of Varpaksha with Kannyapaksha of female devotees who came in with Tulsi and other deities.

The Tulsi Vivah puja is celebrated auspiciously
The Tulsi Vivah puja is celebrated auspiciously . Wikimedia.

Pt. Anil Joshi, Ramachari, and Yogesh Pandya performed first Abhishekam and Vivah Vidhividhan with all the Vedic rituals, mantras, Saptapadi, offering of Mangal Sutra and Sindoor and Bidayi of the bride to Groom’s abode.

Rita Anand Patel and Kamlesh Desai sang melodious “Saath Phere” songs that narrated the meaning and significance of the relationship of couples in each phere that represents each life of the couple. Devotees donned Indian traditional colorful dresses but also brought nice new clothes for the deities with elegant jewelries, Shringar samagris, flowers, and various sweets.

Mandir celebrates all Hindu festivals with all the Vedic rituals to preserve, educate, and encourage the continuation of Hindu culture and heritage by Indian younger generation. (IANS)

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Texas Mass Shooting: ‘It isn’t a guns situation, but a mental problem’, Says Trump

An eyewitness to the shootings, who is a Vietnam War vet, told VOA's Mehtap Colak Yilmaz that he had not seen anything like the church massacre "since Vietnam."

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, not pictured, at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg(VOA)

White House, November 6, 2017 : A man opened fire with an assault weapon at a church near San Antonio, Texas, Sunday morning, killing 26 worshippers and wounding at least 20.

The victims range from five to 72 years old.

The gunman is also dead and there is no clue so far as to his motive.

Federal investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms have joined local law enforcement officers in tiny Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 50 kilometers from San Antonio.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said the mass shooting “isn’t a guns situation” but is instead “a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.” He said the shooter was “a very deranged individual.” The president is monitoring the situation from Japan, the first stop on his five-nation Asian trip.

Earlier, Trump called the shootings “an act of evil” and appealed for prayers. He ordered U.S. flags on federal buildings to be flown at half-staff through Thursday.

“We cannot put into words, the pain and grief we all feel and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they so dearly loved. Our hearts are broken,” the president said.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott says this is worst mass shooting in Texas history. He said there are “many pieces of a complex puzzle” to put together.

Texas
Members of the Wilson County Sheriff’s office stand inside a taped off area near the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Nov. 5, 2017. VOA

What is known, according to Texas public safety official Freeman Martin, is that the gunman, later identified as Devin P. Kelley, was described as a young white male dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest. He first opened fire with an assault rifle outside the First Baptist Church and continued shooting after going inside.

Freeman said a local resident with his own rifle confronted the shooter, causing the gunman to drop his weapon and flee in his car. The citizen pursued the gunman, joined shortly by police. Freeman said the suspect crashed the car just over the county line and was found dead in the vehicle from a gunshot wound. It is unclear if he killed himself or was shot by the citizen.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt says police found multiple weapons in the suspect’s car.

U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told VOA late Sunday that records show Kelley was discharged from the Air Force about three years ago: “Records checks confirm Devin P. Kelley was previously a USAF member, who served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman AFB, NM, from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of Article 128 UCMJ ((EDS: Uniform code of Military Justice)) — assault on his spouse and assault on their child. Kelley received a Bad Conduct Discharge, confinement for twelve months and a reduction to the grade of E-1.”

ALSO READ 26 people killed as a Shooter opens fire in a Church in Texas

Two of the victims were killed outside the church. The rest were shot inside.

An eyewitness to the shootings, who is a Vietnam War vet, told VOA’s Mehtap Colak Yilmaz that he had not seen anything like the church massacre “since Vietnam.”

Marie Ann Montgomery, the church’s Sunday school director, told VOA’s Yilmaz that people in the congregation knew Kelley and some of the suspect’s family members were among the victims. Montgomery stopped short, however, of saying the suspect deliberately targeted his family.

While none of the victims have been publicly identified, First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy told U.S. news networks that his 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Renee Pomeroy, is among the deceased.

Pomeroy was in Oklahoma at the time of the shooting. He told ABC News he was on his way back to Sutherland Springs.

Sutherland Springs, Texas on the map. VOA

​He said all of the people killed Sunday were close friends. Pomeroy also said he wants the world to know his daughter “was one very beautiful special child.”

Sheriff Tackitt says the church posts its weekly services on YouTube and that the massacre was likely caught on camera. The FBI says it believes only one gunman was involved.

Sunday’s Texas shooting comes just weeks after October’s mass killing in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music show there, killing 58 and wounding about 500. Paddock shot from his 32nd floor hotel room and killed himself as police moved in. Investigators in the Las Vegas shooting are still working to confirm a motive. (VOA)

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

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Measles Victims Dropped
Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)