Infant Mortality – We’re 40th out of 180

via U.S. newborn death rate higher than in 40 other nations –

Published on Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, the study shows that babies under 4 weeks old account for 41 percent of child deaths worldwide.

Although the article doesn’t discuss reasons that the US rate is higher, it does say

“It’s not that things are worse in the United States than before, it’s that the U.S. isn’t making progress like other countries,” Lawn said.

Because of improvements in infant care in some countries, newborns in Qatar, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates now die at about the same rate as those in the United States, the figures show.

In 1990 the United States had the 28th lowest risk.

The leading causes of infant death are preterm delivery, asphyxia, and severe infections.  Developing nations have been able to provide better prenatal care, and thus have increased the survival rate of infants.  But according to the article, African nations still have a ways to go:

“Training more midwives and other community health workers could save the lives of many more babies,” she said. “We know that solutions as simple as keeping newborns warm, clean and properly breast-fed can keep them alive.”

Protesting Social Protests

Contrary to the general enthusiasm over Anna Hazare’s fast over Lokpal bill, the dalits have struck a divergent note, warning that the government should not accept the Gandhian’s demand against parliamentary processes, saying it would set a dangerous trend and make backward classes vulnerable.

via Dalits come out against Anna Hazare’s fast – The Times of India.

The no-caste dalits, formerly called untouchables, are not opposed to Hazare’s quest to rid Indian government of corruption.  Rather, they fear that social protests sidestep the democratic process, and if these protests succeed, the next one might be against them.

Dalit intellectuals said the possibility of mass mobilisation forcing a “set of solutions” on the Centre against constitutional processes raised fears that affirmative action could be a victim of similar techniques.

For thousands of years dalits lived on the fringes of Indian society; they were not allowed to mix with any of the varnas, or upper-class, castes.  When India finally won it’s independence from Britain in 1959 the caste system, a part of the Hindu faith, was outlawed.  In recent memory a system of affirmative action has been established, guaranteeing dalits seats in Parliament, access to a college education, and a quota in the job market.  If the majority of Indians protest against these quotas that could ” sound the death knell for SC quota in jobs and education” for dalits.

Common Concern, a group of dalit intellectuals, met on Tuesday and expressed opposition to corruption in sociological terms. “Dalits face corruption not from bureaucracy but from civil society where caste system is the biggest oppressor. And this civil society wants to overturn the Constitution which has given us respite from caste system,” was its refrain.

Although the caste system has been outlawed, it is still a major problem for the 25% of Indians who belong to the group.

Habitat Shift

Over the past few decades, the Earth’s rising temperatures have slowly shifted the climate in many areas. That would be expected to cause species to shift in response, and a variety of studies have suggested they are. (You can see this clearly at the US Arbor Day Foundation, which has an animated map showing changes in plant habitats.) But most of these studies have looked at a limited number of species or a narrow geographic region, making it hard to put together a clear picture of global trends. Now, a study has combined a lot of the individual ones into a meta-analysis, and finds that species are shifting habitat faster than we had assumed, but aren’t all moving towards cooler climes.

via Climate change causing species to change habitat faster than expected.

3 Cool Movies

3 short videos – Move, Learn, and Eat:

See them all at the Vimeo site.

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38000 mi, 2 cameras and 1 Tb footage condensed to 3 videos on movement, learning, and food!

Neither Rain, nor Sleet, nor Snow – the spread of the US Postal Service

Using data from the USPS Postmaster Finder and the USGS Geographic Names Information System, geography graduate student Derek Watkins maps the opening of new post offices from 1700 to 1900. As you know, the mail must go through. No matter if it rains or snows. The mail must go through. So it’s also a great way to see expansion of the US.

Some interesting spots: In 1776, after the revolution, new offices open along the east coast; in 1848, during the gold rush, offices sprout up on the west coast; in the 1870s, offices along the railroad open up.

h/t Flowing Data

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