December News Roundup

Happy holidays from all of us at Simply Virtuous. This month we will be releasing one monthly news roundup instead of four weekly news roundups.

I'd like to dedicate this post to my grandfather, who passed away earlier this month from Alzheimer's disease.

Climate Change

The UN's latest climate summit, COP24, is over. 195 countries agreed to create a rulebook for putting the Paris Agreement into action. Read more about the summit here. 

Only 4% of global financing for climate action is spent on adaptation. As we've talked about in our climate change portfolio, the effects of climate change are already changing communities across the world, therefore it is crucial that we mitigate further damage while simultaneously adapting to the inevitable consequences of a warmer Earth. 

Temperatures in the Arctic are at all-time highs while the amount of sea ice is at its all-time low

Climate change policies (and environmental policies in general) tend to be regressive in nature, placing heavier economic burdens on the poor.

Low oil prices are hurting the renewable transition, therefore lowering our chances of limiting warming to 2 degrees C. 

A group of 415 global investors who collectively manage $32 trillion have released a statement calling on world governments to increase their efforts regarding the goals of the Paris Agreement, warning that failure to act could put global financial systems at risk. They also called for commitments to improve climate-related financial reporting, something we here at Simply Virtuous are strong proponents of. 

Finally, the democrats are realizing that cap-and-trade programs won't be easily passed, and instead plan to focus their 2020 agenda on a Green New Deal - a focus on investing in energy conservation and efficiency as a way to spark economic development

Education

The New York Times argues that we spend too much money on college students and not enough on everyone else.

The Education Department plans to help teachers whose TEACH grants were wrongly converted into loans. The program worked as follows: Aspiring teachers who agreed to teach a high-need subject at a low-income district for four years would receive grants to help pay for their university degrees. Unfortunately many teachers had their grants converted into loans (with interest) after their notoriously finicky paperwork was received even a day late. The Education Department has agreed to make the paperwork more straight-forward, and to reverse the debt accumulated of teachers whose loans were wrongly converted. 

The Education Department is also forgiving $150 million for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges. 

Elderly and Aging

Scientists will begin using virtual reality to test the navigational skills of 300 people aged 40 to 60 who are believed to be at risk of dementia. The overall goal is to discover if we can detect changes in brain function before people are aware of them, eventually allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment before considerable damage to the brain has occurred. 

A new study indicates that the use of two episodic memory tests were helpful in predicting brain atrophy and Alzheimer's disease. 

An experimental Alzheimer's drug has been found to improve memory in mice

Increasing evidence is showing a link between sleep problems and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia

Human Rights

Two class action lawsuits have been launched against the Australian government which claim that asylum seekers and refugees have been subjected to torture, crimes against humanity, and intentional infliction of harm.

Seventy years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still resisted.

Facebook has been placed on a "dirty list" of corporations who are accused of human rights and environmental violations in Myanmar.  The reason? Their platform is used to incite hatred and violence against minorities in Burma.

Afghanistan has launched a database to help fight rising rates of human trafficking.

The number of migrants asking the United States for asylum out of fear of returning to their home countries jumped nearly 70 percent from 2017. A similar article can be found for free here.

Two Honduran teens were murdered at the border, highlighting the many dangers migrants and refugees face when awaiting processing.

A US federal judge on Wednesday struck down the policies put in place by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that made it harder for individuals fleeing domestic and gang violence to obtain asylum.

Mental Illness

A new study has found that a neonatal vitamin D deficiency is associated with a 44% increased risk of schizophrenia later in life.

The state of Washington was fined $83 million for forcing people with mental illness to wait in jails for services and treatments. A settlement has now been reached which is designed to provide timely competency evaluations and treatment for mental ill people charged with crimes. The state will also expand programs that help police work alongside mental health care providers. 

Another study is showing a link between depression and major health conditions such as heart disease

We enjoyed this to-the-point article which tells you "12 Ways to Show Up for a Friend with Bipolar Disorder".


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