Wednesday 28 January 2015

The Ebola Outbreak Numerically and Graphically

The severity of the tragedy-

As we know, the first reported case of the Ebola outbreak damaging West Africa in December was in Gueckedou in Guinea. Travellers took it across the boarder and by March eight cases were found in its neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone. By June of 2014, 759 people had been affected with 467 dying from the disease, making it the worst Ebola outbreak ever seen with the numbers rising but being controlled well by specialised doctors from all over the world. As recent as last week, 21,724 cases of Ebola was confirmed with 8,641 deaths with the vast majority of these cases and deaths occurring in Liberia Sierra Leone and Guinea. These countries will have long term effects as the moral panic caused by the outbreak has deterred people from travelling to countries such as Sierra Leone who rely heavily on their tourist industry.

Sadly, the outbreak continues to claim lives, but there are glimmers of good news recently. Cases have fallen in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the WHO (World Health Organisation) states that there is now enough treatment beds to be able to isolate patients and treat Ebola.

The rate at which Ebola has given a rise to other communicable diseases is a key variable in aiming to contain Ebola. For easily communicable diseases the risk of catching other diseases can be high; for example measles begin very high. The very high mortality rate of the disease is 60% in this current outbreak which means that Ebola can quickly claim more lives than other killers such as Malaria and Chikungunya.

The unsatisfactory health systems in the three affected counties seem to help give a valid reason for why the Ebola outbreak has got this far. Developed countries such as Spain spend $3,000 per person at PPP(purchasing power parity) on healthcare which contrasts to Sierra Leone where the figure stands at just under $300. The vulnerability of health workers to Ebola therefore is a tragic issue. As of January the 18th, there has been 828 cases amongst medical staff in the three west African countries with 499 death and counting.

 Question must be asked such as what does the future hold for these countries? Is aid being given bierlaterally which would benefit firm and the national government? Will a cure be found to stop the spread of this communicable disease? Ebola is a major threat to today's society, and is threatening parts of today's culture. The WHO should aim to find ways to quickly stop the growing epidemic of Ebola from progressing ea

Tuesday 20 January 2015

ALL : Blogging Club Starts this Thursday 3.10 to 3.40

Dear All

Blogging Club , Thursdays, Room R26 (Roselands)

As you all know, blogging and website design are two skills which are essential for all business & economics students.

If you would like to develop your skills as a blogger, I am running an enrichment activity every Thursday in Room R26.  I will teach you how to become an expert blogger and how to set up your web browser to help you blog quickly.

The club is open to Year 10, Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13 students who study GCSE Business & Economics, A-level Business Studies and A-level Economics.

Increasingly, universities and employers expect young people to be able to use these skills, so start your training now!

See Mr Jeffery (Assistant Head) for more details.

Thursday 8 January 2015

What 2015 has in store for the world economy?

The currently world is a scary and unsettled place with the economy in choppy waters, however surprisingly, Britain’s economy has enjoyed increasingly smooth growth with the election around the corner.

2015 has started; experts have assessed the risk ahead for the global economy and especially Britain. Will we see Britain rocked by the storms, or emerge to be one of the leading economies again? Below is a short summary of the expected issues which will face various parts of the world economy this year.

Oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia will keep an eye on the price of oil in 2015, as the price of oil depreciate and could start to see those producers in anguish. This is good news from a consumer aspect; however it could make it harder for those countries to maintain a profit and eventually could lead to a price rise in oil in the near future.
At the end of 2014, the themes include the sharp fall in the price of crude oil which has now declined down to 42% since late June. A recovery in the oil price will depend mainly on when Saudi Arabia decides it has regained control of the global oil market as US have now entered the market with the production of shale gas which has currently taken over as the largest global oil producer. Reports show that the US plans on lifting the 40 year old oil export embargo due to the need for suitable refining as the US becomes self-sufficient.
The fall in oil could be felt by economies like Japan as the nation could struggle to hit its 2% inflation target if the price of oil continues to fall and could lead to the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to use further instruments stimulate growth. Japan could yet face as it was stated last year that they were in a recession, could yet face another tricky year if strategies do not reap economic benefits which could again put the BOJ credibility into question.
Economic drama is set to occur right here in Europe as European leaders aim to pull the Eurozone back from the brink of ruins. The ECB states that their aim is to try and hold the Eurozone together so that 2012 issues do not occur again even though Italy and Greece are suspected to pile on pressure to the European economy yet again. The Eurozone could slip into a Japanese scenario of deflation and little growth. Given the political tensions around the monetary issues, the Eurozone may end the year with a poor performance in 2015. EU constitutions have much to lose, politically and financially, from European disintegration. It seems to be time to recognise that debts cannot be repaid and restrains on government spending will not work and could cause the death of the EU
China’s economy has been motoring along nicely over the last few years, but the worry seems to be about whether 2015 will be the year that it starts to peter out, with potentially big outcomes. China has been the main engine behind global growth due to its export processing zone and is now facing real risk of effect s such as the property slump and concerns related to its increase in bad debts in its home-based financial institutions. If China begins a downturn in its economy, investors may take fright and move their money elsewhere to avoid market volatility issues. Negative devaluation of the renminbi could weigh on all the other emerging markets and lead to large capital outflows.
America is expected to storm on ahead, but the question is will it cope with its strong economic rivals? American exports could get hit by the poor conditions, forcing the government to push back up the interest rates to avoid then borrowing and affecting the fiscal deficit.
2015 looks set to offer a range of unexpected economic risks, just as 2014 did before with the Ebola virus outbreak disrupting air traffic, terrorist activity in the Middle East, and tensions with Russia over its seizure of Crimea sending shockwaves to the financial market.
If you think 2014 was anything for economic issues, then 2015 will be bigger and hit the world economy even harder.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Religon and Football?

Shooting For Supreme Joy

In 2009, the footballing authorities in many South American countries such as Brazil and Columbia received a stern telling off from FIFA, which administers soccer worldwide, because South American players have a habit of proclaiming their religious faith in very spectacular ways. South American players of a Pentecostal or evangelical background like to display their faith by pointing upwards to heaven after a goal, kneeling to give thanks after being victorious in a match, or, as Falcao famously did in 2007 and often thereafter, stripping down to an under-shirt which proclaimed "With Jesus you'll never be alone".... However, FIFA reminded football players by reminding them about the rule which states that " the basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements". FIFA clarified that they are not banning religion altogether as players are still allowed to knell to pray. 
Anyway, it seems to be that the government body expects to keep one of humanity's strongest connections, religion, entirely separate from one of its favourite activities, Football. It is a known fact that religion has helped to find many of Europe's greatest football sides. While Brazilian players have injected Europe with Christianity, Footballers whose roots are in Algeria, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia are adamant in refusing to abandon their Muslim obligations for the sake of an earthly prize. Devout soccer players utilise social-media accounts so that they can proclaim their faith to the world. Brazilian international and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) centre back Thiago Silva claimed on twitter that he sees a link between his Christian faith and his recovery from the disease tuberculosis (TB).
For Muslims, training and even matches have been organised around their need to fast and pray. Muslim players are often unhappy about appearing naked in front of their team mates and prefer to wear under-garments in the shower, some non Muslim players also copy this habit. In an intensive and expensive market for football talent, managers and head coaches have an interest in accommodating players with certain religious needs as pragmatically as possible. The fact that PSG is controlled by PSG is controlled by Qatari companies has not stopped it being an accommodating places for Christian Brazilians, such as David Luiz and Lucas.
Even FIFA have become more pragmatic as it has now laid down that women football players should be allowed to wear headscarf's, and have denied the French football federation from maintaining a ban.
But football's diversity does have its awkward side. Both those devout Brazilians from PSG caused a storm by voicing their opinion to homosexuality on French television at a time when German footballer Tomas Hitzlsperger had just become the first football player in Europe to come out and say he was gay. The PSG Qataris probably did not have a problem with the players stance, but in some parts of Europe it was seen as taking steps backwards to old prejudices. Many people recall the tragedy of Justin Fashanu,  a Black British football player who hanged himself after being accused of having consensual gay sex. 
The football pitch, like everywhere in the world, is struggling to get a grim of extraordinary range of value systems and cultural norms. Back in the day, sporting rivalries mirrored religious disparities between groups. For example, In Scotland, Glasgow comprised of two footballing giants, Celtic who were Catholic and Rangers who were Protestant. These days, people of widely differing believes and value systems find themselves on the same team and in the same changing room. 

We are still working out how to manage that in football, but banning religion does not seem to be a realistic answer.

Sunday 14 December 2014

America's Police On Trial: The United States needs to overhaul its law-enforcement system.

Criminal Justice

John Crawford was standing in a Walmart in Ohio holding a toy rifle he picked off a shelf and was presumably planning to buy. He was pointing it at the floor while talking on his phone and browsing other goods. The children playing near him did not consider him a threat; nor did their mother, who was standing a few feet away. The police responded to a caller who said that a black man with a gun was threatening people. The police broke down the shop door and shot him dead. The children’s mother died of a heart attack in the ensuing panic. In September a grand jury declined to bring a formal accusation against the officers who shot Mr Crawford...
Most people have probably never heard this story, for such tragedies are disturbingly common: America’s police shoot dead more than one person a day (nobody knows the exact number as not all deaths are reported). But two recent cases have sparked nationwide protests. First Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri, just after he robbed a shop, and then Eric Garner, a harmless middle-aged black man guilty only of selling single cigarettes on the streets of New York, was choked to death by a policeman while five cops watched—and this time the event was filmed by a bystander.

It seems to be that the police are using excessive violence enforced by the state. Americans simply do not realise how violent their law enforcement system is compared with those of other 'core' countries. It could be changed in ways that would make America safer, and fairer to both black and whites. So far much of the debate within America has focused on race.

That is not unreasonable; the victims were all black, and most of the policemen involved were white. American blacks feel that the criminal-justice system works against them, rather than for them. Some 59% of white Americans have confidence in the police, but only 37% of blacks do. If any racial group looses trust in enforcers of the law, it erodes social relationships. It also hurts America’s moral standing in the world (not aided by revelations about the CIA’s use of torture). But racial division, rooted as it is in America’s past, is not easily mitigated.

Don’t shoot:
Bits of America’s criminal-justice system can be justified such as New York’s cops but overall the country is an outlier for all the wrong reasons. It jails nearly 1% of its adult population, more than five times the rich-country average. A black American man has, by one estimate, a one in three chance of spending time behind bars. Sentences are harsh. While other nations have focused on community policing, some American police have become militant, equipping themselves with grenade launchers and armoured cars. 

Fewer armoured cars, more body cameras:
One reason why so many American police shoot first is that so many American civilians are armed. This year 46 policemen were shot dead; last year 52,000 were assaulted. When a policeman is called out to interrupt a robbery, he knows that one mistake could mean he never makes it to retirement. The vastly differing rate at which policemen shoot young black men is not simply a matter of prejudice. Roughly 29% of Americans shot by the police are black, but so are about 42% of cop killers whose race is known.

If America did not have 300m guns in circulation, much of this would change. That, sadly, is not going to happen soon. But there are other ways to make the police less violent.

Ways to tackle the problem:
Every police force should report how many people it kills to the federal government. And if communities want to buy gadgets, they should give their police body cameras. These devices deter bad behaviour on both sides and make investigations easier. Had the officer who shot Mr Brown worn one, everyone would know how it happened.

The second is accountability. It must be easier to sack bad cops. If an officer is accused of a crime, the decision as to whether to him may rest with a local prosecutor who works closely with the local police, attends events with them and depends on the support of the police union if he or she wants to be re-elected. 

The third, and hardest, is reversing the militarisation of the police. Too many see their job as to waging war on criminals; too many poor neighbourhoods see the police as an occupying army. The police need more training and less weaponry.

In many ways America remains a model for other countries. Its economic growth has roared back to expected levels.Yet its criminal-justice system, the backbone of any society, is DEEPLY flawed. Changing it will be hard; but change is needed and much overdue.

Monday 8 December 2014

Britain's Autumn Statement: So what difference did it really make?

On December 3rd 2014, The Chancellor George Osborne delivered the autumn statement which is the countries annual mini-budget. A short summary of how the statement affected groups within the economy is seen below.

There was good news for all workers in the sense that the £100 increase in the personal tax allowance was also extended to higher-rate taxpayers. But otherwise various groups will have less to cheer.
Older people with savings and no plans to move home will benefit the most. But Londoners planning to buy expensive properties will be cursing the Chancellor most loudly.
Many of our groups will suffer – or benefit – roughly the same.
But most have been promised more in the future in what was clearly a vote-grabbing Autumn Statement for the conservative party.

Single person:
It was pleasing news for all workers that income tax personal allowances will rise to £10,600 from April. The plan was to raise it to £10,500 but the Chancellor – presumably in a pre-election fever – managed to find a little extra cash to add to the fiscal budget.
The headline-grabbing stamp duty reforms will make it cheaper for a single person to get on the property ladder. Those at the lower end of the market will feel the benefits the most. Properties under £125,000 are still exempt from stamp duty.
However, if you get benefits then you may find times get even tougher in the future as the Chancellor has frozen working-age benefits as part of his welfare cap.
National insurance for apprenticeships are being frozen which should improve access to work and training.

Poor family:
George Osborne gave with one hand but potentially took away with another if you’re a hard-up family with a couple of kids.
The good news is that working families on low incomes will benefit from an increase in the personal allowance from next April.
It had been planned that the allowance would rise to £10,500 but a further £100 will be added to increase it to £10,600. The Chancellor also promised that the personal allowance would rise to £12,500 if the Tories win the general election. That would mean that no one on the minimum wage would pay income tax, he claims.

However, families getting workplace benefits will have less to cheer about. As part of a further £1bn in welfare savings, working-age benefits will be frozen for a further two years. Tax credits would be reduced where it was considered that payments are likely to be “certain”.

Middle-wage family
The annual summer holiday is going to get a cheaper. Air passenger tax was already set to be abolished for children under 12 from next May. However, from March 2016 children under 16 will also be exempt.
As for income tax, the first rise for a few years in the personal allowance for those paying the higher 40 per cent rate will introduced.
The amount that can be earned before 40 per cent becomes payable will rise from £41,865 to £42,385. On top of that, the Chancellor also signalled that after the election he wanted to see the 40 per cent income tax threshold rise to £50,000 by 2020.

Single parents:
Working single parents will be able to earn more from April before they are liable for income tax as the income tax threshold will rise to £10,600.
Those parents on benefits will be in for a harder time as a further £1bn is decreased off the nation’s welfare bill. As a result, working-age benefits will be frozen for two years.

Well-off family:
There was good news for your savings and holidays in the Chancellor’s statement, but potentially bad news if you’re planning to move home soon, depending on the value of your property.
The good news? You can transfer any saving you have in a tax-free Isa between partners and retain the tax-free status. The Chancellor also scrapped the 55 per cent “death tax” that currently applies when you pass an unused pension pot on to your loved ones, which could mean a substantial saving in the future.
But if you’re moving home any time soon, you will pay more stamp duty.

The Chancellor’s main hand-out was aimed at older people. The most significant move which should help the most was the scrapping of the 55 per cent “death tax” on unused pensions.
But the new rule which allows Isa savings to be transferred to partners and retain their tax-free status will be of great benefit to those with a nest-egg.

All in all, has Mr Osboune's Economic plan be on course for prosperity in Britain or is Mr Osborne’s vote-grabbing Autumn Statement a ploy for the Tories to increase their votes five
months prior to the general election?