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US May Be Severely Underestimating Zika's Potential Impact; Costs Could Be in the Billions

Deadly carriers of disease: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.  Paulo Whitaker | Reuters

Gulf Coast region is vulnerable to Zika attacks

Congress may not appreciate full extent of potential damage

Conservative calculations suggest full impact could exceed $2 billion

CLICK HERE - PLOS - The potential economic burden of Zika in the continental United States

cnbc.com - by Robert Ferris - May 11, 2017

The Zika virus stands to cost the United States billions of dollars, even if few people are infected.

Researchers from several American institutions have calculated that the "virus from Hell" could result in total costs ranging from $183 million to over $1.2 billion, depending on infection rates in several at-risk states in the South.

The researchers warn that infection rates could engender costs that exceed the amounts of money the U.S. government may give for prevention and treatment, if the recent debates over funding are any indication.

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A Socio-economic Impact Assessment of the Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: With a Focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname

undp.org - April 3, 2017

In early 2016, Zika was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to its association with a surge of birth defects. Zika has since spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with local transmission also reported in parts of the USA, Asia and Africa. The nature of the neurological complications Zika can cause in humans, and the emergence of a condition in infants known as ‘congenital Zika syndrome’, have posed and continue to pose a significant challenge to health specialists, international organizations and governments alike.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), produced this assessment of the socio-economic impacts of Zika on countries, families and communities, and to examine institutional responses.

CLICK HERE - READ COMPLETE ARTICLE AND ACCESS THE REPORT

 

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Zika Could End Up Costing Latin America and the Caribbean Up To $18 Billion, UN Reports Finds

                           

CLICK HERE - REPORT - A Socio-economic Impact Assessment of the Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: with a focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname

un.org

6 April 2017 – In addition to the impact on public health, the tangible impact of the Zika outbreak, such as on gross domestic product (GDP), could cost the Latin American and the Caribbean region as much as $18 billion between 2015 and 2017, a new United Nations report has revealed.

The report Socio-economic impact assessment of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has a particular focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname – countries that first reported the outbreak in October-November 2015.

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After Bringing Cholera to Haiti, U.N. Can’t Raise Money to Fight It

           

A clinic in Rendel, Haiti, was overflowing with cholera patients in October. The disease has killed nearly 10,000 people in Haiti since it was introduced there in 2010 by a United Nations peacekeeping force. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

nytimes.com - by Rick Gladstone - March 19, 2017

When the leader of the United Nations apologized to Haitians for the cholera epidemic that has ravaged their country for more than six years — caused by infected peacekeepers sent to protect them — he proclaimed a “moral responsibility” to make things right.

The apology, announced in December along with a $400 million strategy to combat the epidemic and “provide material assistance and support” for victims, amounted to a rare public act of contrition by the United Nations. Under its secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, the organization had resisted any acceptance of blame for the epidemic, one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern times.

Since then, however, the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic, which it calls the “New Approach,” has failed to gain traction.

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As Solar Booms, Utilities Look to Build New Business Models With Strategic Investments

           

Image credit: Flickr user 10 10

utilitydive.com - by Herman K. Trabish - March 14, 2017

Beyond simply contracting for solar, utilities are increasingly investing in the sector to ‘position themselves to be the utility of the future'

Solar energy is becoming a generation resource so ubiquitous that utilities are looking beyond simply contracting for new capacity and are increasingly moving into the sector themselves.

Solar added a record-breaking 14,762 MW of capacity in 2016, nearly doubling its 2015 growth. The resource added 39% of all new U.S. generation capacity in the year, making it the leader among all resources for the first time.

Growth was dominated by utility investment in 2016, a trend that’s expected to continue, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

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UN Calls for Support to Recovery Plan as Haiti Loses $2.7 Billion in Hurricane Matthew

           

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti causing widespread damage in the western cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie. Photo: UN/MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi

un.org

6 March 2017 – The United Nations office dedicated to disaster risk reduction today called for urgent support to improve disaster risk management in Haiti, following a damage assessment that shows the country lost $2.7 billion, or 32 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), as a result of Hurricane Matthew six months ago.

“Hurricane Matthew revealed disturbing truths about least developed countries which lack the capacity to respond adequately to climate change and the rising intensity and frequency of weather-related disasters,” said the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser in a press release.

His call came on the eve of the 5th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, which opens in Montreal, Canada, tomorrow.

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The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

Image: A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

nytimes.com - February 18th 2017 - Diane Cardwell

This was supposed to be America’s nuclear century.

The Three Mile Island meltdown was two generations ago. Since then, engineers had developed innovative designs to avoid the kinds of failures that devastated Fukushima in Japan. 

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‘A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax

James A. Baker, seen here at former first lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral in March 2016, is a member of the Climate Leadership Council. Despite its impeccable Republican credentials, the group faces long odds with its carbon-tax idea. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

nytimes.com by John Schwartz - February 7, 2017

A group of Republican elder statesmen is calling for a tax on carbon emissions to fight climate change.

The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, says that taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is “a conservative climate solution” based on free-market principles.

Mr. Baker is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as well as Ivanka Trump.

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Why Venezuela's Currency Crisis Is A Case Study For Bitcoin

           

People stand in line to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a bank in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Wil Riera/Bloomberg)

forbes.com - by Kevin Rands - February 3, 2017

As the value of hard currency changes drastically—and often—developing or recession-hit countries are finding Bitcoin as an innovative solution.

Just look at Venezuela, the country with the highest inflation rate in the world. The socialist nation has experienced a swift fall in oil prices, throwing the entire economy into turmoil. Experts say that Venezuelan inflation could go as high as 1,600%, leaving many people without basic necessities. . . .

. . . With the Venezuelan bolivar essentially worthless and supplies rapidly running out, Bitcoin is rising as an answer.

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UN Humanitarian Wing OCHA Lays Off 170, Starts Overhaul

           

Stephen O'Brien visits a camp in Saint Saveur, Central African Republic. Nektarios Markogiannis/MINUSCA

CLICK HERE - OCHA Functional Review - Final Report - 29 July 2016 (155 page .PDF report)

irinnews.org - by Samuel Oakford - 16 January 2017

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will reduce spending by at least $20 million in 2017. The 10-percent cuts, including at least 173 staff layoffs, come along with an internal reform process sparked by a damning independent review.

In notes dated November addressed to OCHA staff and exclusively reported by IRIN, its head – UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien – said donors hadn’t met growing demands.

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UN - Office of Internal Oversight Services - Internal Audit Reports
(click on the link below, and scroll to the bottom . . . click on page 2 for the most recently published .PDFs)
https://oios.un.org/page?slug=report

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