the economic outlook in the United States, however cloudy, is still better than in most other regions.

loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.

A fragile currency can sometimes work as “a buffering mechanism,” causing nations to import less and export more, Mr. Prasad said. But today, many “are not seeing the benefits of stronger growth.”

Still, they must pay more for essential imports like oil, wheat or pharmaceuticals as well as for loan bills due from billion-dollar debts.

debt crisis in Latin America in the 1980s.

The situation is particularly fraught because so many countries ran up above-average debts to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. And now they are facing renewed pressure to offer public support as food and energy prices soar.

Indonesia this month, thousands of protesters, angry over a 30 percent price increase on subsidized fuel, clashed with the police. In Tunisia, a shortage of subsidized food items like sugar, coffee, flour and eggs has shuttered cafes and emptied market shelves.

New research on the impact of a strong dollar on emerging nations found that it drags down economic progress across the board.

“You can see these very pronounced negative effects of a stronger dollar,” said Maurice Obstfeld, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of the study.

central banks feel pressure to raise interest rates to bolster their currencies and prevent import prices from skyrocketing. Last week, Argentina, the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Norway raised interest rates.

World Bank warned this month that simultaneous interest rate increases are pushing the world toward a recession and developing nations toward a string of financial crises that would inflict “lasting harm.”

Clearly, the Fed’s mandate is to look after the American economy, but some economists and foreign policymakers argue it should pay more attention to the fallout its decisions have on the rest of the world.

In 1998, Alan Greenspan, a five-term Fed chair, argued that “it is just not credible that the United States can remain an oasis of prosperity unaffected by a world that is experiencing greatly increased stress.”

The United States is now facing a slowing economy, but the essential dilemma is the same.

“Central banks have purely domestic mandates,” said Mr. Obstfeld, the U.C. Berkeley economist, but financial and trade globalization have made economies more interdependent than they have ever been and so closer cooperation is needed. “I don’t think central banks can have the luxury of not thinking about what’s happening abroad.”

Flávia Milhorance contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

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Credit Suisse aims for stronger franchise from global review

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HONG KONG, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Credit Suisse’s (CSGN.S) top two executives have told staff the bank is working to establish a stronger franchise in the longer term, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Saturday, amid uncertainty over a global review of its operations.

The memo sent by Chairman Axel Lehmann and Chief Executive Ulrich Koerner said a “heightened level of media and market speculation” regarding the review had raised questions among the bank’s staff and clients.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Credit Suisse had sounded out investors about a possible capital raising as it attempts a radical overhaul of its investment bank.

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Koerner was appointed chief executive in late July and ordered a review of the bank’s operations, the second of its type in two years.

“When we launched our strategic review, we committed to an ambitious timeline whilst also making it clear that we would carry out a rigorous and diligent evaluation of all options for Credit Suisse,” the note said.

“We want to establish a clear path for the bank that will strengthen our franchise for the long term. This process requires time and a significant effort from many parts of the organization.”

A Credit Suisse spokesperson confirmed the contents of the memo.

Various scenarios are under discussion for the investment bank, including the most drastic option of largely exiting the U.S. market, two sources said. A bank spokesman said “Credit Suisse is not exiting the U.S. market.”

The review’s findings will be published on Oct. 27 when the bank releases its third-quarter earnings, said the memo, first published by Bloomberg News earlier on Saturday.

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Reporting by Scott Murdoch; Editing by David Holmes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Scott Murdoch

Thomson Reuters

Scott Murdoch has been a journalist for more than two decades working for Thomson Reuters and News Corp in Australia. He has specialised in financial journalism for most of his career and covers equity and debt capital markets across Asia based in Hong Kong.

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They Were Entitled to Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them to Pay.

In 2018, senior executives at one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line.

The executives, led by Providence’s chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up.

Rev-Up provided Providence’s employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients — even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found.

nonprofits like Providence. They enjoy lucrative tax exemptions; Providence avoids more than $1 billion a year in taxes. In exchange, the Internal Revenue Service requires them to provide services, such as free care for the poor, that benefit the communities in which they operate.

But in recent decades, many of the hospitals have become virtually indistinguishable from for-profit companies, adopting an unrelenting focus on the bottom line and straying from their traditional charitable missions.

focused on investments in rich communities at the expense of poorer ones.

And, as Providence illustrates, some hospital systems have not only reduced their emphasis on providing free care to the poor but also developed elaborate systems to convert needy patients into sources of revenue. The result, in the case of Providence, is that thousands of poor patients were saddled with debts that they never should have owed, The Times found.

provide. That was below the average of 2 percent for nonprofit hospitals nationwide, according to an analysis of hospital financial records by Ge Bai, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ten states, however, have adopted their own laws that specify which patients, based on their income and family size, qualify for free or discounted care. Among them is Washington, where Providence is based. All hospitals in the state must provide free care for anyone who makes under 300 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that threshold is $83,250 a year.

In February, Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, accused Providence of violating state law, in part by using debt collectors to pursue more than 55,000 patient accounts. The suit alleged that Providence wrongly claimed those patients owed a total of more than $73 million.

Providence, which is fighting the lawsuit, has said it will stop using debt collectors to pursue money from low-income patients who should qualify for free care in Washington.

But The Times found that the problems extend beyond Washington. In interviews, patients in California and Oregon who qualified for free care said they had been charged thousands of dollars and then harassed by collection agents. Many saw their credit scores ruined. Others had to cut back on groceries to pay what Providence claimed they owed. In both states, nonprofit hospitals are required by law to provide low-income patients with free or discounted care.

“I felt a little betrayed,” said Bev Kolpin, 57, who had worked as a sonogram technician at a Providence hospital in Oregon. Then she went on unpaid leave to have surgery to remove a cyst. The hospital billed her $8,000 even though she was eligible for discounted care, she said. “I had worked for them and given them so much, and they didn’t give me anything.” (The hospital forgave her debt only after a lawyer contacted Providence on Ms. Kolpin’s behalf.)

was a single room with four beds. The hospital charged patients $1 a day, not including extras like whiskey.

Patients rarely paid in cash, sometimes offering chickens, ducks and blankets in exchange for care.

At the time, hospitals in the United States were set up to do what Providence did — provide inexpensive care to the poor. Wealthier people usually hired doctors to treat them at home.

wrote to the Senate in 2005.

Some hospital executives have embraced the comparison to for-profit companies. Dr. Rod Hochman, Providence’s chief executive, told an industry publication in 2021 that “‘nonprofit health care’ is a misnomer.”

“It is tax-exempt health care,” he said. “It still makes profits.”

Those profits, he added, support the hospital’s mission. “Every dollar we make is going to go right back into Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Alaska and Montana.”

Since Dr. Hochman took over in 2013, Providence has become a financial powerhouse. Last year, it earned $1.2 billion in profits through investments. (So far this year, Providence has lost money.)

Providence also owes some of its wealth to its nonprofit status. In 2019, the latest year available, Providence received roughly $1.2 billion in federal, state and local tax breaks, according to the Lown Institute, a think tank that studies health care.

a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.”

Ms. Tizon, the spokeswoman for Providence, said the intent of Rev-Up was “not to target or pressure those in financial distress.” Instead, she said, “it aimed to provide patients with greater pricing transparency.”

“We recognize the tone of the training materials developed by McKinsey was not consistent with our values,” she said, adding that Providence modified the materials “to ensure we are communicating with each patient with compassion and respect.”

But employees who were responsible for collecting money from patients said the aggressive tactics went beyond the scripts provided by McKinsey. In some Providence collection departments, wall-mounted charts shaped like oversize thermometers tracked employees’ progress toward hitting their monthly collection goals, the current and former Providence employees said.

On Halloween at one of Providence’s hospitals, an employee dressed up as a wrestler named Rev-Up Ricky, according to the Washington lawsuit. Another costume featured a giant cardboard dollar sign with “How” printed on top of it, referring to the way the staff was supposed to ask patients how, not whether, they would pay. Ms. Tizon said such costumes were “not the culture we strive for.”

financial assistance policy, his low income qualified him for free care.

In early 2021, Mr. Aguirre said, he received a bill from Providence for $4,394.45. He told Providence that he could not afford to pay.

Providence sent his account to Harris & Harris, a debt collection company. Mr. Aguirre said that Harris & Harris employees had called him repeatedly for weeks and that the ordeal made him wary of going to Providence again.

“I try my best not to go to their emergency room even though my daughters have gotten sick, and I got sick,” Mr. Aguirre said, noting that one of his daughters needed a biopsy and that he had trouble breathing when he had Covid. “I have this big fear in me.”

That is the outcome that hospitals like Providence may be hoping for, said Dean A. Zerbe, who investigated nonprofit hospitals when he worked for the Senate Finance Committee under Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

“They just want to make sure that they never come back to that hospital and they tell all their friends never to go back to that hospital,” Mr. Zerbe said.

The Everett Daily Herald, Providence forgave her bill and refunded the payments she had made.

In June, she got another letter from Providence. This one asked her to donate money to the hospital: “No gift is too small to make a meaningful impact.”

In 2019, Vanessa Weller, a single mother who is a manager at a Wendy’s restaurant in Anchorage, went to Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital.

She was 24 weeks pregnant and experiencing severe abdominal pains. “Let this just be cramps,” she recalled telling herself.

Ms. Weller was in labor. She gave birth via cesarean section to a boy who weighed barely a pound. She named him Isaiah. As she was lying in bed, pain radiating across her abdomen, she said, a hospital employee asked how she would like to pay. She replied that she had applied for Medicaid, which she hoped would cover the bill.

After five days in the hospital, Isaiah died.

Then Ms. Weller got caught up in Providence’s new, revenue-boosting policies.

The phone calls began about a month after she left the hospital. Ms. Weller remembers panicking when Providence employees told her what she owed: $125,000, or about four times her annual salary.

She said she had repeatedly told Providence that she was already stretched thin as a single mother with a toddler. Providence’s representatives asked if she could pay half the amount. On later calls, she said, she was offered a payment plan.

“It was like they were following some script,” she said. “Like robots.”

Later that year, a Providence executive questioned why Ms. Weller had a balance, given her low income, according to emails disclosed in Washington’s litigation with Providence. A colleague replied that her debts previously would have been forgiven but that Providence’s new policy meant that “balances after Medicaid are being excluded from presumptive charity process.”

Ms. Weller said she had to change her phone number to make the calls stop. Her credit score plummeted from a decent 650 to a lousy 400. She has not paid any of her bill.

Susan C. Beachy and Beena Raghavendran contributed research.

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4.4M Americans Roll Up Sleeves For Omicron-Targeted Boosters

Some Americans who got the new shots said they are excited about the idea of targeting the vaccine to the variants circulating now.

U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that “the pandemic is over.”

The White House said more than 5 million people received the new boosters by its own estimate that accounts for reporting lags in states.

Health experts said it is too early to predict whether demand would match up with the 171 million doses of the new boosters the U.S. ordered for the fall.

“No one would go looking at our flu shot uptake at this point and be like, ‘Oh, what a disaster,'” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we start to see a large uptick in cases, I think we’re going to see a lot of people getting the (new COVID) vaccine.”

A temporary shortage of Moderna vaccine caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments while encouraging people to reschedule for a Pfizer vaccine. The issue was expected to resolve as government regulators wrapped up an inspection and cleared batches of vaccine doses for distribution.

“I do expect this to pick up in the weeks ahead,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “We’ve been thinking and talking about this as an annual vaccine like the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine season picks up in late September and early October. We’re just getting our education campaign going. So we expect to see, despite the fact that this was a strong start, we actually expect this to ramp up stronger.”

Some Americans who plan to get the shot, designed to target the most common Omicron strains, said they are waiting because they either had COVID-19 recently or another booster. They are following public health advice to wait several months to get the full benefit of their existing virus-fighting antibodies.

Others are scheduling shots closer to holiday gatherings and winter months when respiratory viruses spread more easily.

Retired hospital chaplain Jeanie Murphy, 69, of Shawnee, Kansas, plans to get the new booster in a couple of weeks after she has some minor knee surgery. Interest is high among her neighbors from what she sees on the Nextdoor app.

“There’s quite a bit of discussion happening among people who are ready to make appointments,” Murphy said. “I found that encouraging. For every one naysayer there will be 10 or 12 people who jump in and say, ‘You’re crazy. You just need to go get the shot.'”

President Biden later acknowledged criticism of his remark about the pandemic being over and clarified the pandemic is “not where it was.” The initial comment didn’t bother Murphy. She believes the disease has entered a steady state when “we’ll get COVID shots in the fall the same as we do flu shots.”

Experts hope she’s right, but are waiting to see what levels of infection winter brings. The summer ebb in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths may be followed by another surge, Dowdy said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, asked Thursday by a panel of biodefense experts what still keeps him up at night, noted that half of vaccinated Americans never got an initial booster dose.

“We have a vulnerability in our population that will continue to have us in a mode of potential disruption of our social order,” Fauci said. “I think that we have to do better as a nation.”

Some Americans who got the new shots said they are excited about the idea of targeting the vaccine to the variants circulating now.

“Give me all the science you can,” said Jeff Westling, 30, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who got the new booster and a flu shot on Tuesday, one in each arm. He participates in the combat sport jujitsu, so wants to protect himself from infections that may come with close contact. “I have no issue trusting folks whose job it is to look at the evidence.”

Meanwhile, President Biden’s pronouncement in a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday echoed through social media.

“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” President Biden said while walking through the Detroit auto show. “If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”

By Wednesday on Facebook, when a Kansas health department posted where residents could find the new booster shots, the first commenter remarked snidely:

“But Biden says the pandemic is over.”

The president’s statement, despite his attempts to clarify it, adds to public confusion, said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

“People aren’t sure when is the right time to get boosted. ‘Am I eligible?’ People are often confused about what the right choice is for them, even where to search for that information,” Michaud said.

“Any time you have mixed messages, it’s detrimental to the public health effort,” Michaud said. “Having the mixed messages from the president’s remarks, makes that job that much harder.”

University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi said he’s worried the president’s pronouncement has taken on a life of its own and may stall prevention efforts.

“That soundbite is there for a while now, and it’s going to spread like wildfire. And it’s going to give the impression that ‘Oh, there’s nothing more we need to do,'” Salemi said.

“If we’re happy with 400 or 500 people dying every single day from COVID, there’s a problem with that,” Salemi said. “We can absolutely do better because most of those deaths, if not all of them, are absolutely preventable with the tools that we have.”

New York City photographer Vivienne Gucwa, 44, got the new booster Monday. She’s had COVID twice, once before vaccines were available and again in May. She was vaccinated with two Moderna shots, but never got the original boosters.

“When I saw the new booster was able to tackle Omicron variant I thought, ‘I’m doing that,'” Gucwa said.

“I don’t want to deal with Omicron again. I was kind of thrilled to see the boosters were updated.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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States Begin Receiving Money From $26B Opioid Settlement

Families hope the money can help combat an epidemic some say is just getting worse, as fentanyl claims lives and targets younger generations.

Opioids rocked households and seized people of all walks of life. 

Kim Humphrey, a commander with the Phoenix Police Department at the time, thought he had it all.

“A marriage, a home, a wonderful life raising two sons,” he said. “It was really good.”

But a call about his 15-year-old son ignited distress that would span nearly a decade:

“‘My daughter goes to school with your son and she’s very concerned that he’s going to overdose,'” he continued. 

A drug test confirmed their fear — it came back positive for opioids. The struggle spiraled and extended its grip to their second son.

“As a parent, we’re looking at this and saying, ‘We must be the worst parents on the planet,'” Humphrey said.  

It took Humphrey and his wife years to find a nonprofit support group called Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, also known as PAL, which he now leads.

“That was the first time that we were sitting in a room full of people who understood,” Humphrey continued.

The opioid crisis contributed to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. in two decades. At the epicenter — three major pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. A yearslong multistate lawsuit led to a historic $26 billion  settlement over the next 18 years.  

Now, some of that money is starting to come in. This year, by the end of August, 27 of nearly 50 states that filed lawsuits had received a total of $310 million. Of that, Arizona received $16 million of their more than $540 million settlement — money Humphrey hopes will trickle down to PAL, which is in dire need of financial assistance following the pandemic.

“What we do is this peer-to-peer support that has plenty of research behind it that it works. And it did for us,” Humphrey said.

Each state and county has a say in how the money is spent. In Wisconsin, a spending dispute temporarily blocked funds from distribution. 

Sara Whaley, a research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the school put together five planning principles to help guide states on spending.

“This is the opportunity to kind of look at what you’re doing and where you’re investing money, and if there are any gaps,” she said. “One, is to spend the money to save lives. Two, is to use evidence to guide spending. Three, invest in youth prevention. Four, focus on racial equity. And five, create a fair and transparent process.”

She adds that the settlement includes basic payout guidelines.

“They are things like broadening access to naloxone or increasing the use of medications to treat opioid use disorder, enriching prevention strategies, improving treatment in jail,” Whaley said.

It’s treatment desperately needed as fentanyl fuels deaths and overdoses, with a holistic and smart spending approach.

Humphrey hopes families can find the peace his has now reached. Both his sons are now clean.

Source: newsy.com

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How the Car Market Is Shedding Light on a Key Inflation Question

In a recent speech pointedly titled “Bringing Inflation Down,” Lael Brainard, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair, zoomed in on the automobile market as a real-world example of a major uncertainty looming over the outlook for price increases: What will happen next with corporate profits.

Many companies have been able to raise prices beyond their own increasing costs over the past two years, swelling their profitability but also exacerbating inflation. That is especially true in the car market. While dealerships are paying manufacturers more for inventory, they have been charging customers even higher prices, sending their profits toward record highs.

Dealers could pull that off because demand has been strong and, amid disruptions in the supply of parts, there are too few trucks and sedans to go around. But — in line with its desire for the economy as a whole — the Fed is hoping both sides of that equation could be on the cusp of changing.

data, and several industry experts said they didn’t see a return to normal levels of output for years as supply problems continue. Prices are still increasing swiftly, and dealer profits remain sharply elevated with little sign of cracking.

Ford Motor said on Monday that it would spend $1 billion more on parts than it was planning to in the third quarter because some components had become more expensive and harder to find.

By contrast, the supply of used cars has rebounded after plunging in the pandemic, and prices have begun to depreciate at a wholesale level, where dealers buy their stock. But, so far, those dealers aren’t really passing those savings along to consumers. The price of a typical used car has stabilized around $28,000, up 9 percent from a year ago, based on Cox Automotive data. Official used-car inflation data is easing, but only slightly.

Why consumer used-car prices — and dealer profits — are taking time to moderate is something of a mystery. Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, said dealers might be basing their prices on what they paid earlier in the year, when costs were higher, for the cars sitting on their lots.

“Dealers are feeling it,” Mr. Smoke said of the price moderation. “But because they price their vehicles based on what they pay for them, the consumer isn’t seeing the price discounts yet.”

Some early instances of discounting are showing up. At the Buick and GMC dealership that Beth Weaver runs in Erie, Pa., demand for used cars has begun to slow down, and the business has sold a few vehicles at a loss.

rolling lockdowns in China.

The Fed could raise rates so much that it snuffs out demand, but given how much pent-up car-buying appetite exists, Mr. Murphy thinks it would take a lot.

“You probably would have to go farther on rates than they have so far, or even than they are expected to go,” he said. “There may be a point at which you have enough pain that you see a pause on demand.”

If demand continues to outstrip new-car supply and dealers continue to reap big profits, that could limit how quickly inflation will ease. If the mismatch is large enough for sellers to keep pushing up prices without losing customers, it could even continue to fuel inflation.

While the car market is just one industry, the uncertainty of its return to normal holds a few lessons for the Fed. For one thing, new-car production makes it clear that supply chain disruptions are improving but not gone.

More hopefully, the car industry could offer evidence that the laws of economics are likely to reassert themselves eventually. Used-car prices have at least stopped their ascent as inventory has grown, and experts say discounting is likely around the corner. If that happens, it could be evidence that companies won’t be able to keep prices and profits high indefinitely once supply catches up with demand.

But cars reinforce the prospect that the readjustment period could last a while.

Automakers are flirting with the idea of keeping production lower so there are fewer cars in the market and price cuts are less common. Mr. Smoke is skeptical that they will hold that line once it means ceding market share to competitors — but the process could take months or years.

“I’m hesitant to say that we won’t have discounting again,” Mr. Smoke said. “But it’s going to take a while to get back to that world.”

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Experts Are Expecting High Flu Numbers This Year

Doctors and health officials are recommending that you get your flu shot early this year — especially for kids.

Health experts are warning this flu season might be worse than a few years ago. Is that a good indicator?

“It was Australia’s worst flu season in 5 years and came earlier than any other flu season with the exception of the ’09 pandemic,” said Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  

In the past two flu seasons, COVID protocols like mask wearing, hand washing and lockdowns have protected us from the flu virus. Now that restrictions have been lifted, people are traveling more. We’re more than likely to come into contact with the virus.  Another reason is there were fewer people who got the flu, which means less natural immunity.  

Dr. Bruce Y. Lee is a journalist at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health.

“But now that that many people aren’t maintaining a lot of those precautions and also the fact that people haven’t been exposed to the flu over the past couple of years leave people a lot more susceptible,” said Lee.  

Experts recommend getting the flu shot — or getting both a COVID booster and flu shot at the same time. 

“Both of those are needed, both of those should be scheduled as soon as possible and ideally at the same time, so that one doesn’t fall into the trap of getting one and forgetting to get back to get the other,” said Pekosz. 

But others are choosing not to get the flu vaccine, like an Omaha resident who says she’s never gotten the flu.  

“I’ll wait and see if I get it, I just try to eat healthy live healthy, stay healthy, clean and neat,” said Theresa Gart. 

“The influenza vaccine won’t prevent you from getting influenza but it dramatically decreases your illness and dramatically decreases your risk of hospitalization,” said Dan Fick, a doctor at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  

This holds particularly for the elderly and children who are the most vulnerable. A NIH 2020 study found vaccines reduced flu-related hospitalizations for children by 41% and ER visits by 51%.  

“The best thing you can do to get your child ready to stay healthy and in school, is to get them vaccinated and boosted. It is a lot. ‘As a parent of three kids I can’t take them all together because then they all scream.’ I know this pain. But it is really important to keep your child healthy and in school,” said Keri Alhoff, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health. 

Ultimately, it’s also about preventing a strain on our medical system as we go through another winter season of the pandemic and flu.  

“What we always say is we don’t do it for us, we are doing it for other people so we want to make sure if we are around babies or around older people we are looking out for them,” said Jessica Charlsen, who took all three of her kids to get a flu shot. 

Source: newsy.com

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Germany edges closer to nationalisation of ailing gas importer Uniper

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  • Uniper, government weighing bailout options
  • No new bailout decisions made, company says
  • Germany could take 88% stake – Bernstein
  • Shares fall 20%, hit all-time low

DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Germany’s Uniper (UN01.DE) said on Wednesday the government might take a controlling stake in the company as the ailing gas importer seeks further aid, paving the way for a what could result in a full nationalisation of the firm.

Uniper, Germany’s largest importer of Russian gas, burned through its cash reserves sourcing gas on the expensive spot market after Moscow slashed flows to Germany, triggering a rescue package with Berlin agreed in July.

But that package, which has grown to 19 billion euros ($19 billion), is no longer enough, and Uniper needs more.

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“The parties are looking into alternative solutions, inter alia a straight equity increase that would result in a significant majority participation by the German Government,” Uniper said in a statement.

In July, Berlin said it would take a 30% stake as part of its bailout, details of which are still being discussed by the company, its majority shareholder Fortum (FORTUM.HE) and the government.

Uniper CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach at the time flagged the possibility that the government could end up holding more than 50% of the company.

No decisions have so far been made beyond what was agreed in July, Uniper said on Wednesday. Its shares fell as much as 20.5% to an all-time low and closed down 18.3%. European ratings agency Scope also downgraded Uniper’s credit rating to BBB- from BBB+.

Analysts at Bernstein estimate that Uniper may need an additional equity infusion of 4.5 billion euros, adding this would take the government’s stake to 88% and dilute Fortum’s holding to 8% from 78% now.

A person familiar with the matter said that Uniper’s additional capital need could be more than 8 billion euros.

‘THE ONLY SOLUTION: NATIONALISATION’

FILE PHOTO: The logo of German energy utility company Uniper SE is pictured in the company’s headquarters in Duesseldorf, Germany, March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

The economy ministry said it was in talks with Uniper, and Fortum also said talks with the German government continued.

“We want discussions to be successful, which is why we are not commenting,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.

Bloomberg reported earlier in the day that the government could take a stake of more than 50%, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Uniper has secured 13 billion euros of credit lines from the state, most of which it has already drawn. It asked for more state help last month, raising the bill for its bailout to 19 billion euros.

“Nationalisation is the only solution left, Uniper’s capital resources are totally under water. Mathematically speaking, there is nothing else that could be done,” a source close to the matter told Reuters.

The state will take more than a 50% stake, likely even full ownership, the source said, adding there were few alternatives left.

Harald Seegatz, head of Uniper’s workers’ council and the group’s deputy supervisory board chairman, said it would welcome the government taking a majority stake, noting the security that would provide to the workforce.

The cost of replacing falling gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine pushed Uniper to a loss of 12.3 billion euros for the first half of the year.

The company is weighing legal proceedings before a Swedish arbitration court to claim billions of euros in compensation from Gazprom over what it says are unjustified gas supply cuts, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. read more

($1 = 1.0001 euros)

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Reporting by Baranjot Kaur in Bengaluru, Riham Alkousaa in Berlin, Tom Kaeckenhoff in Duesseldorf, Emma-Victoria Farr and Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen; writing by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Emma-Victoria Farr

Thomson Reuters

Reports on European M&A with previous experience at Mergermarket, Bloomberg The Daily Telegraph and Deutsche Presse Agentur.

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Why Is It So Difficult To Tackle Homelessness?

How to resolve homelessness is a long-running topic of conversation, with few easy answers.

The U.S. is struggling to solve its homelessness crisis.  

The number of Americans living on the streets and in shelters is growing. 

“This is home. Housing is so expensive, and you can’t afford. I would be killing myself to pay rent,” said Knoye Brown, who lives in a tent. 

Those rent prices are only increasing.  

And that means even more Americans will have a difficult time affording housing.  

When you add in record high inflation, that leaves America’s homeless even more vulnerable.  

In 2020 nearly 600,000 Americans were left without a home, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.  

Data from the non-profit organization shows overall homelessness has improved by 10% since 2007. 

But in 2020, the U.S. saw a 30% increase in unsheltered homelessness.  

And in recent months homelessness has reached crisis levels in major cities across the country. 

This year Knoxville saw a 50% increase in its homeless population, Long Beach, California saw a 62% increase since 2020 and

Phoenix saw a 33% spike.  

Homelessness can come in many forms and can impact all ages.  

In January 2020 70% of the homeless were individuals and 30% belonged to families with children.  

“I wasn’t able to finish school because I didn’t know where I would sleep after school. So I would stay where I was at, so I had a spot,” said Conner Showen, a former young homeless person.  

States and cities have set aside more funding to try to curb the issue. 

New York has more than doubled its spending to over $3 billion since 2014. 

Colorado’s governor approved $45 million to convert a youth corrections facility into a homeless recovery campus.  

And in New Mexico, $10 million is going to communities to buy old motels and hotels and transform them into transitional housing. 

These are just a string of new methods in an attempt to tackle a problem that goes back decades. 

According to Bloomberg, homelessness first peaked after the Civil War when veterans without jobs struggled to find housing and freed slaves struggled to find affordable homes or jobs.   

From then on affordable homes were demolished in many minority neighborhoods as part of urban renewal. 

In the 1970s investment in public housing started to decline when President Richard Nixon imposed a moratorium on new public housing after he declared them a failure, and instead pivoted to housing subsidies. 

And in the 80s welfare programs to support those in need were cut under President Ronald Reagan’s economic plans to lower taxes for businesses.  

Bloomberg adds the AIDS crisis that hit the LGBTQ+ community, a drug epidemic and mass incarceration of people, specifically Black or Hispanic people, also fueled the problem.  

This was further exacerbated by policies that favor single family housing zones.  

According to the New York Times, most land plots are designed for a single-family house. Many state laws and zoning rules limit the land that can be used to build multi-unit buildings, like apartment buildings that can house multiple families.   

“Really it’s a blend of a trifecta of affordable housing, mental illness and substance abuse. When you add those three at various levels for each person, this is what we’re facing,” said Jeff Hicks, the executive director of Hope Rescue Mission.   

Other states like California and Oregon have taken other approaches and passed laws in recent years to end single-family zoning so more affordable housing can be built.  

Some cities, like Missoula, Montana have moved toward sanction camps, known as temporary safe outdoor spaces.  

“49% of the people that have gone through here are now permanently in housing, recovery, or in areas where we mended some family situations, but they have not turned back to the system,” said April Seat, the director of outreach at Hope Rescue Mission. 

In the last year a number of state legislatures introduced bills that some say criminalize homelessness.  

In Tennessee, it’s now a felony for homeless people to camp in parks or other public property. Some argue this is not the solution. 

“I believe it’s only a misdemeanor but with a small misdemeanor and a failure to appear, now you have warrants. You can be jailed at any time, it’s difficult to walk into a state building or federally funded building because you’re worried instead of getting help or resources, you’re scared you’re going to get indebted to a lack of it all,” said Seat. 

Others, like Judge Glock with the Cicero Institute, believe camping bans are the right path to helping the homeless long-term. 

And record-high inflation is adding another hurdle for Americans struggling to keep up with rising rent prices. 

For some those rent price increases are simply unaffordable.  

“We do see people falling into homelessness because they can’t afford rent. It’s not like it’s being raised $30 to $60 and some areas are raising $200,” said Seat. 

According to government data reviewed by the LA Times, new rent leases have increased by more than 11% year-over-year. 

And polling from Freddie Mac found a majority of renters saw a rent price hike in the last year. 

One in five say they’re “extremely likely” to miss a payment. 

The severity of America’s homeless problem ranges depending on the city and state, but cities across the country are taking action to address the problem. 

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness says the solution is to tackle the housing issue, integrate healthcare, strengthen crisis response systems and build career pathways. But this can’t be done without building and fostering partnerships to address the root causes of homelessness.  

Source: newsy.com

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Russia’s Unfounded Claims of Secret U.S. Bioweapons Linger On and On

The United States secretly manufactured biological weapons in Ukraine. It trained birds to carry pathogens into Russia. It created Covid-19. It operated laboratories in Nigeria that engineered this year’s outbreak of monkeypox.

Of the many falsehoods that the Kremlin has spread since the war in Ukraine began more than six months ago, some of the most outlandish and yet enduring have been those accusing the United States of operating clandestine biological research programs to wreak havoc around the globe.

The United States and others have dismissed the accusations as preposterous, and Russia has offered no proof. Yet the claims continue to circulate. Backed at times by China’s diplomats and state media, they have ebbed and flowed in international news reports, fueling conspiracy theories that linger online.

international treaty that since 1975 has barred the development and use of weapons made of biological toxins or pathogens, gives member nations the authority to request a formal hearing of violations, and Russia has invoked the first one in a quarter-century.

the origins of Covid-19 has.

“The message is constantly about these labs, and that will erode confidence in that infrastructure and the work that’s being performed,” said Filippa Lentzos, an expert on biological threats and security at King’s College London. “And it will significantly undermine global biosafety and biosecurity efforts, so it does have consequences.”

Russia added the outbreak of monkeypox to its list of American transgressions in April. Gen. Igor A. Kirillov, the head of the Russian Army’s radiological, chemical and biological defense force, insinuated that the United States had started the latest outbreak because it supported four research laboratories in Nigeria where the epidemic began to spread.

In the months after the general’s comments, there were nearly 4,000 articles in Russian media, many of them shared on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, according to research conducted by Zignal Labs for The New York Times.

For evidence of a conspiracy, some of the Russian reports pointed to a simulation in 2021 at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of defense officials and experts from around the world. The simulation, intended to test how well countries would contain a new pandemic, posited a hypothetical monkeypox outbreak that began in a fictional country called Brinia and caused 270 million deaths.

a statement in May trying to tamp down any misconception.

routinely amplifies Russian claims about the war with Ukraine and about secret biological weapons research, as part of its own information battle with the United States that began with the debate over the spread of Covid-19.

China’s heavily censored internet, which aggressively stifles unwelcome political opinions, has also freely circulated conspiracy theories about a possible American role in the spread of monkeypox, as Bloomberg reported.

Russia’s efforts to push the claims about biological weapons come from an old Russia propaganda playbook, adapted to the age of social media.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation called the Russian strategy a “fire hose of falsehood,” inundating the public with huge numbers of claims that are designed to deflect attention and cause confusion and distrust as much as to provide an alternative point of view.

died on Tuesday, that it would hurt newly warming relations with the West.

Russia’s propaganda model today has been adapted to take advantage of “technology and available media in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War,” according to the RAND study.

Despite “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions” and a disregard of consistency, the strategy can often be persuasive to some, especially those who have preconceived biases, one of the authors, Christopher Paul, said in an interview.

“There are still people who believe the C.I.A. caused AIDS in Africa, even though that idea has been thoroughly debunked,” Mr. Paul said. “Not many, but some.”

Like many disinformation campaigns, Russia’s accusations on occasion have a passing relationship to facts.

Even before the war in Ukraine, Russia raised alarms about U.S. efforts to establish closer defense and research ties with several of Russia’s neighbors, including other former republics of the Soviet Union.

invoked a special session was in 1997, when Cuba accused the United States of spraying a plume of insects over the country’s crops, causing a devastating infestation.

The proceedings were not public, but several nations later submitted written observations about Cuba’s claims and the United States’ rebuttal. Only North Korea supported Cuba’s claim. Eight countries — Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand — concluded there was no link. China and Vietnam said it was impossible to determine. (Russia submitted no response.)

“There’s a big silent majority that just wants to sit on the fence,” Dr. Lentzos said. “They don’t really want to take a side because it could hurt their interests either way. And so the big question is not ‘Do these guys believe it, or not?’ It’s to what extent are they motivated to act on it and speak out.”

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