Posts Tagged ‘United states’


Fewer than 50,000 Americans have thus far bought a health-care plan on the problem-plagued ObamaCare website according to an insurance industry report, representing only a fraction of the half-million enrollees the administration apparently wanted the first month.

The number was reported first Monday by The Wall Street and confirmed by Fox News, which was told the final reporting day was Nov. 3.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a prompt response, saying officials could not confirm the numbers.

“We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time,” said agency spokeswoman Joanne Peters. “And, as we have said, the problems with the website will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated.”

Healthcare.gov went live Oct. 1 and was immediately plagued with such problems as slow response time, volume-induced crashes and supplying incorrect information.

Official have since called in private technical experts and have taken the site off line in non-peak hours to perform maintenance and improve the situation.

The federal site handles insurance enrollment for 36 states without their own sites.

The administration has set a goal of signing up seven million Americans for insurance by next March, when open enrollment ends.

The Journal reported the number of enrollees thus far could be as low as 40,000 and  that the administration’s goal of 500,000 enrollees in October is based on an internal memo cited last week by Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp.

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a statement the low numbers are not surprising because of the website’s problems.

“Whether it’s higher costs, fewer choices or simply website glitches, it’s becoming more clear with each passing day that this law isn’t ready for prime time and should be delayed,” Hatch said.

End of last month the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),Graziano da Silvatold participants at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) in Copenhagen that every year an estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – around 1.3 billion tons. This costs around $750 billion per annum.

According to da Silva this would equal additional food to feed 2 billion people! This is unbelievable, isn´t it?

Reality, however, is that per capita food waste is around 100 kilograms in Europe and North America per year. At the same time FAO estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries. In general children are the most visible victims of undernutrition. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year-five million deaths! Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria.

Conclusion: The world produces enough food to feed everyone. At least in theory!

World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day according to FAO. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.

Possible Actions

1. Fighting Food Loss In A Holistic Manner

FAO noted that most food loss takes place in post-production, harvesting, transportation and storage. In developing countries, food waste is mainly related to inadequate infrastructure, while in more developed countries it is largely a problem in the marketing and consumption stages. Consequently investments in developing countries are needed in areas such as infrastructure, roads, and cold chains. Also improvement is needed in delivering more and better know-how to farmers on how to properly grow and market their products. In developed countries one priority should be to educate both companies and consumers to apply more responsible consumption patterns.

Fighting food loss and waste is clearly one area in which a strong partnership between governments and various organizations (companies, NGOs) is needed. Developing a global protocol can help provide clear measurements and indicators on which guidance on how to reduce food loss and waste can be based. FAO is working on such a protocal.

2. Stimulating Responsible Economic Growth

Besides climate change, political conflicts and certain political systems, poverty is the main cause of hunger. As a result economic growth plays a key role in reducing undernourishmnet. It is most effective in reducing poverty and hunger when it increases employment and income-earning opportunities that the poor can take advantage of. Sustainable agricultural growth is often effective in reaching the poor because most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for a significant part of their livelihoods. However, growth will not necessarily result in better nutrition for all. Policies and programmes are required that will ensure “nutrition-sensitive” growth include supporting increased dietary diversity, improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services and educating consumers regarding adequate nutrition and child care practices.

Economic growth takes time to reach the poor, and may not reach the poorest of the poor. Therefore, social protection is crucial for eliminating hunger as rapidly as possible. Furthermore, when properly structured, social protection also promotes economic growth by building human capital and helping farmers manage risk so that they can adopt improved technologies. Finally, rapid progress in reducing hunger requires government action to provide key public goods and services within a governance system based on transparency, participation, accountability, rule of law and human rights.

3. Behaving And Acting Responsible Ourselves

Firstly, and most importanly, all of us can and should adjust their consumption behavior, i.e. thinking at least twice when shopping (what is really needed, who will consume it, by when should it be consumed, etc.) and before throwing anything away. We should act as role models and should try to positively influence our environment, our families, friends, colleagues, and others we´re inter-acting with. No need to blame others, if we´re not doing what we should be doing.

Have you ever heard of The Food Recovery Network in the US? It´s an organization which unites students at colleges and universities across America to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from their college campuses and surrounding communities that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need. Founded in September of 2011, it has since expanded to reach 23 college campuses and recovered over 160,000 pounds (72.75 metric tons) of food that would otherwise have been wasted.

Very similar, and much more known, is the Food banking system which exist in many countries in the world. Food banks acquire donated food, much of which would otherwise be wasted, from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, and make it available to those in need through a network of community agencies. These agencies include school feeding programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS and TB hospices, substance abuse clinics, after-school programs, and other nonprofit programs that provide food to the hungry.

Have you ever supported your local food bank or any similar institution?

Finally, and from a company perspective, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility is not new. Still, there is significant room for many more organizations getting involved, donating money, providing know-how, and “ walking their talk“ in regards of being serious about helping our society and our planet. In other words: How many companies do you know which have teamed up with organizations such as the SAVE FOOD project, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Think-Eat-Save, or with any other programe targeted to change wasteful practices, to fight hunger, and to promote responsible consumption habits?

What do you think? Looking forward to receiving your feedback. Join the discussion!

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Andreas von der Heydt is the Country Manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany. Before that he hold senior management positions at L’Oréal. He´s a leadership expert, management coach and NLP master. He also founded Consumer Goods Club. Andreas worked and lived in Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

Source:http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131107110059-175081329-what-a-shame-one-third-of-food-is-wasted?trk=tod-posts-recentPosts-psum

I coined a phrase to define this world we live in where everyone has an opinion and there are a multitude of ways to express that opinion. I call it, “The Feedback Society.”

Whether on a consumer review site like Yelp; in the ‘comments’ section of an online publication; or something as simple as calling your congressperson, it’s clear that everyone has an opinion and they are eager to share it with as many people as possible.

The vast majority of these are anonymous postings—or as I like to tell my celebrity clients, “Writing on a bathroom wall.” I actively discourage them from reading it knowing that they can be toxic, mean-spirited and just plain hurtful. As their representative I do take into account the whole of the feedback, so I have an idea of how a story is being received.

Certainly a public relations person is tasked with presenting a client to the public, but equally important is letting the client know what kind of environment they are stepping into and how their news is being received.

President Obama has access to some of the most sophisticated opinion analysts in the world. And while he can certainly take heart in the fact that his own approval rating held steady at about 44 percent during the government shutdown while Republicans were plummeting; it is equally clear that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been a real shit show.

His problems didn’t begin with the rollout; they began with a lame effort at selling Obamacare to the American people. His lack of clear targeted messaging and inability to get people behind it at the grass roots level made it easy prey for his political opponents.

Even people who clearly stood to benefit from provisions in the act expressed their hatred for it. His own ham-handed PR rollout was further denigrated by the opposition who took, and still take, every opportunity to demonize the law and its provisions.

Despite losing the PR battle, POTUS won the war. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. It has the added bonus of being vetted by the U.S. Supreme Court and found lawful.

The official rollout of the Affordable Care Act coincided with the shutdown of the U.S. government by Congress on October 1. Defunding Obamacare was the major incentive for shutting down the government and, ironically, opposition to the shutdown made the act more popular than it had been.

What was clear from the beginning of the rollout was that the online systems to handle a massive rollout of complicated and sophisticated data was just not in place and the system crashed.

Despite multiple news reports that 476,000 Americans have applied for the coverage, no one seems to have access to accurate information. Additionally, this bill was, in part, designed to simplify the health care coverage process.

The inability of the government to handle this system supported the opponents’ argument that it’s just too big and complicated for the government to handle and would be better dealt with by private industry.

On Monday, President Obama held a news conference, which some referred to as an ‘infomercial,’ to discuss the state of the law.

To his credit, he didn’t sugarcoat the problems and expressed his own believable and apparent frustration with the technical aspects of the rollout.

Not surprisingly, his political opponents are using the glitches to heir own advantage. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that a visit to the Obamacare website made a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles seem pleasant.

While millions stand to benefit from the provisions of Obamacare, the system is dependent on people, indeed millions of people, signing up for the system. When the system designed to manage that doesn’t work, the result is chaos, frustration and a huge political opportunity for opponents.

And if The Affordable Care Act cannot attract the critical mass it needs to make the numbers work, it could be a very costly program.

I’m glad the President owned the problem. But what’s more important is that he owns the solution. Because, unless he gets an effective and efficient system in place to access the new provisions, The Affordable Care Act and the benefits possible to tens of millions of uninsured Americans will go down as his greatest folly and a huge failure for any future government program that dares to think big.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By Tim Fernholz @timfernholz October 11, 2013

JP Morgan devoted $9.3 billion to legal expenses last quarter, driving its net loss of $380 million.  Its legal troubles took up 39% of its total revenue in the same period, by far the company’s largest single expense.

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That’s right: The largest bank in the United States spends more money fighting and paying off legal and regulatory challenges than it does paying its staff, buying securities or paying rent on its 5,600 Chase retail bank branches.

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What does your largest expense say about your business? Ideally, the biggest cost should get at the heart of what the firm does. Goldman Sachs’ largest expense was compensation and benefits for its (in)famous talent. Apple’s largest expense in its most recent quarterly report was on sales, largely new stores and employees. General Motors’ largest expense is building cars.

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For the first time, the bank revealed its total expenditures on legal costs. Since 2010, JP Morgan has devoted $31 billion to legal problems, spending $8 billion on settlements and reserving $23 billion for future costs. That’s almost half of its net earnings ($57.5 billion) in the same period, keeping in mind some of those reserves can be returned to stockholders if settlements and legal fees turn out to be less than expected. The exhaustive list of all the civil and criminal investigations JP Morgan is dealing with—from Libor to the London Whale to the Madoff ponzi scheme—could lead to the largest bank fine in history, some $11 billion. That would be on top of the the $3.7 billion the company has already paid this year. Settlement talks are ongoing.

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The bank avoided reporting losses of $932 million by saving $542 million less this quarter to cover the costs of future defaulted loans. This reflects an improving US economy—fewer people are defaulting on loans—but it also reflects a scramble at the bank to cover the costs of its near-constant run-ins with regulators and prosecutors. Those are costs its normal businesses just can’t cover. The financial industry has been more than happy to overlook JP Morgan’s law-breaking under Jamie Dimon as long as it has been profitable, but it may not take too many quarters of losses to change that tune.

Sourcehttp://qz.com/134534/jp-morgan-is-spending-more-on-fines-and-lawyers-than-on-employee-salaries/

As the days drag on, the shutdown has deepened public disgust with leaders of our government.

I share the feeling – there’s no doubt that most of this current Congress has got to go – but I also feel something that I don’t think many share, unfortunately, and that’s a sense of optimism.

Last week, I had the chance to talk about the government shutdown on LinkedIn Today with CBS’s Jill Schlesinger andUniversity of Michigan Professor Jeff DeGraff. It was a great conversation.

Here’s what we need to remember: Yes, this Congress is in charge right now but they don’t have the monopoly on leadership.

Right now, there are states and municipalities that are getting it done. (Look at Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal). They’ve recognized that this is a time where we’re confronting some very thorny problems, none of which has a clean solution. Instead, they’re compromising, innovating, moving forward as best they can with common-sense strategies.

This is the next generation of leadership. They’re earning their chops now for future greatness. A mayor who will become a congresswoman. A state congressman on track for a Senate run. A governor eyeing the presidency.

They’re not hampered or hamstrung by the problem that’s tying so much of Washington up in knots.

They’re willing to be disruptors.

When I talk to people in DC, I’m struck by the slavish adherence to incrementalism. An inch in the right direction is heralded as magnificent progress, even if it’s evidence of massive dysfunction to the rest of the country. Here in Silicon Valley, my colleagues and I see an area that’s ripe for disruption, for exploring big, creative, smart ideas that really could generate momentum. It needs us, though, to believe it can happen and to work for it, whether it’s voting for the right leaders, lobbying for our passions, writing letters and blogs, etc.

The shutdown will end – as Dr. DeGraff pointed out, there will be some kind of face-saving deal.

In the meantime, look to Nov. 5 and remember that we need daring disruption sooner, not later, even at the local level.

What ideas do you wish our leaders would implement?

October 12, 2013 by webnerbob

 

The continuing saga of the federal government’s Affordable Care Act website is worth following, because it is telling us a lot about how modern government works, and doesn’t work, and what we should believe.

Most people, including me, have focused on the access issues with the Healthcare.gov website — that is, the fact that there are ongoing reports that people simply cannot get on the website and use it as intended, and whether the design of the system in fact works against that.  But there are other issues, too.

For example, how complete and accurate is the information the website is collecting?  Anyone who has filled out a health-care application knows that a mass of information must be provided.  Arecent article quoted industry sources who estimated that only one in 100 applications completed on the website contain enough information to actually enroll someone in a plan — which of course is the entire point.  As the article notes, much more serious problems could be coming if people believe they have successfully enrolled, only to be told later that the information they provided was insufficient or lost.

And speaking of information — how secure is the data those lucky people who have been able to use the website have provided?  Health care information and financial information is extraordinarily confidential.  Given the apparent design flaws with the website, why should anyone have great confidence that the designers at least got system security right?  Given the coverage of the problems with the website, are legions of hackers around the world targeting it as an easy potential source for personal information, like Social Security numbers and credit card data?

And finally, there is cost.  Some sources have tried to piece together government contracting data to determine how much the Affordable Care Act websites have cost the taxpayer.  The Washington Post says about $400 million has been committed to the health care exchanges.  The Digital Trends website estimates the cost so far is more than $500 million, with a total cost of more than $2 billion expected.

With costs like this, it’s fair to ask whether we are really getting our money’s worth.  On Thursday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius visited Pittsburgh as part of a nationwide campaign to tout the exchanges.  She assured the audience that the “glitches” were being addressed and the system is getting better every day.  Event planners had brought more than 20 certified health care application counselors to meet with uninsured people, but even the certified counselors couldn’t access the Healthcare.gov website.  So, who do you believe — the bureaucrat who says the system is improving, or the fact that even computer geeks can’t get it to work?

His public awaits. AP Photo / LM Otero

If there was ever a backdrop for a heist film, the last few weeks would have been it. In preparation for the launch of the new $100 bill, pallets of millions of dollars worth of bank notes emblazoned with Ben Franklin’s visage arrived in US Federal Reserve banks across the country. The new C-note is chock-a-block with fancy security features, including:

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  • A blue “security ribbon” with images that look like they’re moving when the note is tilted
  • An image of a copper inkwell, with a holographic Liberty Bell inside that turns green when tilted

Here’s what it looks like.

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Of course, its unclear how long these high-tech banknotes will stay in the country. As we’ve told you before, the working theory is that a large chunk of US $100 billsfinds its way outside of the US. (Though, incredibly, there are few good answers about exactly how much.) And the growth of foreign holdings of $100 bills is one of the main reasons that the share of US currency outstanding denominated in $100 remains near 80%. It was 76.6% at the end of 2012, up from 75.5% in 2011, according to the Federal Reserve. The $100 bill is the world’s most popular bank note.

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So when will you see one? It’s really up to the banks. The notes started circulating today. And that basically means that banks who put in new orders for paper currency to the Federal Reserve will start getting the new bills today. But it’s up to the banks to dole them out over time. So it could take awhile before they start appearing more broadly in circulation.

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Oh, and it might pay to take a look at the serial numbers on the bills when you finally do get them. Currency collectors prize bills with so-called fancy numbers. (Those are especially low serial numbers or other strings of digits that are particularly distinctive.) The fanciest of them all would be the redesigned $100 note with the serial number 00000001. That could be worth as much as $15,000,according to the Boston Globe.