Here’s What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

HHS

— by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, HHS Secretary

If you’ve read the headlines over the past few months, you’ve probably heard about the Zika virus. You might wonder how serious the virus is and what steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family.

HHS is committed to giving the American people the tools they need to live healthy and productive lives. And information can often be one of the best tools. So I want to share with you some of the things we have learned about this virus, and what you should know.

mosquito-580pxWhat is Zika?


Zika is a virus
that is primarily spread by mosquitoes, though it can also be sexually transmitted. As of July 20, there have been 5,200 cases of Zika in the United States and its territories.

The biggest risk of Zika is to pregnant women or women of childbearing age. Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

Zika can cause symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. An illness from Zika is usually mild, and the symptoms typically will only last several days to a week. Based on previous outbreaks, approximately 80 percent of people who have Zika will not have any symptoms.

How Do I Prevent Getting Zika?

Our colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have laid out helpful prevention guidance, which you can find right here. This is particularly important if you travel to an area with active Zika transmission. It is important to remember to follow the guidance not only when you are in an area with active Zika transmission, but also for three weeks after you return.

Pregnant women should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission. If you’re pregnant and you have traveled to an area with Zika, you should visit your doctor or other health care provider as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel sick. This checklist offers some topics and questions you should bring up.

Another way you can prevent Zika is by preventing the most common way Zika spreads – mosquito bites. You can reduce your risk of being bitten by:

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when outside.
  • Using EPA-registered insect repellents.
  • Installing screens on your windows and doors.
  • Emptying containers that collect water, or notifying the proper authorities if you see places where water has collected. The most common type of mosquito that spreads Zika can reproduce in as little water as a bottle cap.

CDC’s Response to Zika. Prevent Zika. (1) Cover up and use insect repellent. (2) Remove standing water. (3) Keep mosquitoes out of your home. (4) Use condoms. Learn more at www.cdc.gov/zika.

What Is All This Talk About Funding?

Back in February, the Obama Administration asked Congress for $1.9 billion to fight Zika and protect pregnant women. It was a request based on the advice of our most experienced public health experts.

These funds would be used to protect pregnant women in the United States by better controlling the mosquitoes that spread Zika, by developing new tools like vaccines and better diagnostics, and by conducting crucial research so we can better understand the effects of Zika, especially on infants and children.

Congress recently left Washington without providing these additional funds. At HHS, we’re going to do everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to this virus here in the United States, and especially in hard-hit places like Puerto Rico, but hope there is action on this necessary funding as soon as the Congress returns.

How Can I Help?

We are always stronger against public health threats when we work together. So the best thing you can do right now is to make sure more people get more information on the Zika virus.

Help us reach others by sharing this blog post on Facebook and Twitter. Click the “Share” button in the top right corner of this post, or click the “Tweet This” button at the bottom.

And share this information with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Make sure that everyone knows the risks, and how to stay safe.

6 Things Every American Should Know About the Clean Power Plan

By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthyToday, President Obama will unveil the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan—a historic step to cut the carbon pollution driving climate change. Here are six key things every American should know:

  1. IT SLASHES THE CARBON POLLUTION FUELING CLIMATE CHANGE.
    Carbon pollution from power plants is our nation’s biggest driver of climate change—and it threatens what matters most – the health of our kids, the safety of our neighborhoods, and the ability of Americans to earn a living. The Clean Power Plan sets common sense, achievable state-by-state goals to cut carbon pollution from power plants across the country. Building on proven local and state efforts, the Plan puts our nation on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, all while keeping energy reliable and affordable.
  2. IT PROTECTS FAMILIES’ HEALTH.
    The transition to clean energy is happening even faster than we expected—and that’s a good thing. It means carbon and air pollution are already decreasing, improving public health each and every year. The Clean Power Plan accelerates this momentum, putting us on pace to cut this dangerous pollution to historically low levels. Our transition to cleaner energy will better protect Americans from other kinds of harmful air pollution, too. By 2030, we’ll see major reductions of pollutants that can create dangerous soot and smog, translating to significant health benefits for the American people. In 2030, we’ll avoid up to 3,600 fewer premature deaths; 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children; 1,700 fewer hospital admissions; and avoid 300,000 missed days of school and work. The Clean Power Plan is a historic step forward to give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve.
  3. IT PUTS STATES IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT.
    The Clean Power Plan sets uniform carbon pollution standards for power plants across the country—but sets individual state goals based on states’ current energy mix and where they have opportunities to cut pollution. States then customize plans to meet their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses, and utilities. States can run their more efficient plants more often, switch to cleaner fuels, use more renewable energy, and take advantage of emissions trading and energy efficiency options.Because states requested it, EPA is also proposing a model rule states can adopt right away–one that’s cost-effective, guarantees they meet EPA’s requirements, and will let their power plants use interstate trading right away. But states don’t have to use our plan—they can cut carbon pollution in whatever way makes the most sense for them.

    The uniform national rates in the Clean Power Plan are reasonable and achievable, because no plant has to meet them alone or all at once. Instead, they have to meet them as part of the grid and over time. In short, the Clean Power Plan puts states in the driver’s seat.

  4. IT’S BUILT ON INPUT FROM MILLIONS OF AMERICANS.
    The Clean Power Plan reflects unprecedented input from the American people, including 4.3 million comments on the draft plan and input from hundreds of meetings with states, utilities, communities, and others. When folks raised questions about equity and fairness, we listened. That’s why EPA is setting uniform standards to make sure similar plants are treated the same across the country.

    When states and utilities expressed concern about how fast states would need to cut emissions under the draft Plan, we listened. That’s why the Clean Power Plan extends the timeframe for mandatory emissions reductions to begin by two years, until 2022, so utilities will have time to make the upgrades and investments they need to.

    But to encourage states to stay ahead of the curve and not delay planned investments, or delay starting programs that need time to pay off, we’re creating a Clean Energy Incentive Program to help states transition to clean energy faster.

    It’s a voluntary matching fund program states can use to encourage early investment in wind and solar power projects, as well as energy efficiency projects in low-income communities. Thanks to the valuable input we heard from the public, the final rule is even more fair and more flexible, while cutting more pollution.

  5. IT WILL SAVE US BILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR.
    With the Clean Power Plan, America is leading by example—showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity. By 2030, the net public health and climate-related benefits from the Clean Power Plan are estimated to be worth $45 billion every year. And, by design, the Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American’s monthly electricity bill by 7% in 2030. We’ll get these savings by cutting energy waste and beefing up energy efficiency across the board—steps that make sense for our health, our future, and our wallets.
  6. IT PUTS THE U.S. IN A POSITION TO LEAD ON CLIMATE ACTION.
    Today, the U.S. is generating three times more wind energy and 20 times more solar power than when President Obama took office. And the solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. For the first time in nearly three decades, we’re importing less foreign oil than we’re producing domesticallyand using less overall.

    Our country’s clean energy transition is happening faster than anyone anticipated—even as of last year when we proposed this rule. The accelerating trend toward clean power, and the growing success of energy efficiency efforts, mean carbon emissions are already going down, and the pace is picking up. The Clean Power Plan will secure and accelerate these trends, building momentum for a cleaner energy future.

    Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. With the Clean Power Plan, we’re putting America in a position to lead. Since the Plan was proposed last year, the U.S., China and Brazil – three of the world’s largest economies – have announced commitments to significantly reduce carbon pollution. We’re confident other nations will come to the table ready to reach an international climate agreement in Paris later this year.


Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone’s rights or obligations.

Please share this post. However, please don’t change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don’t attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.


Advoacy: Trans-Pacific Partnership

— by Senator Bernie Sanders

Since 2001, the United States has lost more than 60,000 factories and millions of decent-paying jobs. Enabled by free trade agreements like NAFTA, corporations shut down factories in this country to move abroad where they can get away with paying workers pennies an hour.

Fighting against these disastrous free trade deals has been a principal focus of my 24 years in Congress. I voted against NAFTA, CAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China, because we need trade policies that rebuild our manufacturing sector, not agreements that will lead to fewer jobs and lower wages.

The newly-proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, written behind closed doors by corporate lobbyists, is the biggest free trade agreement of all. It’s part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large multi-national corporations by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; and dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws.

Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies that stand to benefit from this agreement are now pressuring Congress to authorize the TPP treaty without allowing lawmakers due process to revise it in order to ensure the deal benefits American workers. They’re lobbying for a “fast track” process to deny senators the right to amend the agreement in order to represent their constituents’ best interests.

We can’t afford to let them rubber stamp another disastrous free trade deal that would lead to the loss of more American jobs.

Sign-the-Petition-blu.fw

Congressional Progressive Caucus Unveils The People’s Budget: A Raise for America

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3/18/15: Congressional Progressive Caucus Press Release

8.4 million good paying jobs by 2018

$1.9 trillion investment in America’s future

$820 billion infrastructure and transportation improvements

WASHINGTON – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC Members Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Judy Chu (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Janice Hahn (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) unveiled the Progressive Caucus’ FY 2016 budget alternative called The People’s Budget: A Raise for America.

The executive summary for The People’s Budget is below and the full budget can be found here.

The press conference to introduce The People’s Budget was live-streamed at noon and can be seen here.

“The most important thing Congress can do as we recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression is pass a budget that invests in the American people,” Rep. Grijalva said. The People’s Budget create good paying jobs by addressing our nation’s biggest challenges head-on, from rebuilding crumbling roads to updating antiquated energy infrastructure. It’s a down payment on the continual effort to improve the quality of life for all Americans by raising wages, restoring and enhancing vital programs like SNAP and emergency unemployment compensation, and making bold new investments like debt-free college for all, which will increase our global competitiveness and ensure every student has a fair shot at achieving their dreams.”

“Too many working Americans open their paychecks each week and ask themselves how they will make ends meet,” Rep. Ellison said.The People’s Budget fully funds childhood health, education and affordable housing to help working families stretch their paychecks. The Progressive Caucus budget is a blueprint of proven investments to end grinding poverty, promote economic mobility and enable shared prosperity. It asks the wealthiest Americans and multi-national corporations to pay their fair share, so we can afford debt-free college, universal pre-kindergarten, paid sick leave and workforce training for all. The People’s Budget makes smart cuts to the Pentagon budget and puts the money towards working families. The People’s Budget invests in people, providing hard-working Americans with a raise they deserve.”

“First and foremost The People’s Budget reflects our progressive priorities – leveling the economic playing field by increasing wages for middle- and low-income workers,” Rep. Pocan said. “With families struggling to make ends meet, it is clear the American people want Congress to help create good-paying jobs and expand economic opportunity for all.”

“Working a full time, 40 hour schedule is supposed to lift you out of poverty, not chain you to it,” Rep. Chu said. “It’s not just unfair, it’s wrong. It flies in the face of the promise of America. And it is why this budget – The People’s Budget – is so necessary. This budget promises to not only to grow our economy but to tackle inequality.”

“During our economy’s best decades, Congress invested in the American workforce and every family was better off for it. But recent years have been dominated by growing inequality and a Republican majority in Congress obsessed with slashing the budget, making it harder for working Americans to find decent jobs and save for the future,” Rep. Jackson Lee said. “The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ People’s Budget reverses the damage budget austerity has inflicted on hard-working families and restores our economy to its full potential by creating 8.4 million good paying jobs by 2018.”

“Today Americans are working more and earning less. Republicans, however, continue putting forth a budget that gives tax breaks to the wealthy instead of helping working American families,”  Rep. Gallego said. “While the GOP budget would end Medicare guarantees and make cuts to education that would make college even less affordable, the Congressional Progressive Caucus does the opposite ensuring that we make investments in the American people – creating good paying jobs, providing universal pre-K, and restoring funding for programs like SNAP that many American families rely on. It’s time for us to pass a budget that reflects the needs of the American people and focuses on giving American families the best opportunity to move ahead.”

“The Progressive Caucus works on everyday issues of the working family, and our budget reflects this commitment,” Rep. Napolitano said. “We will continue to fight to deliver that which we all feel is a necessity for our districts, for our working class.”

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget expands economic opportunity for middle class and lower income families and reflects priorities different from the House Republican proposal,”Rep. Hahn said.“Our budget creates jobs and invests in essential repairs and upgrades to America’s roads, highways and bridges to keep us globally competitive in the future.  The CPC budget also includes my recommendation to fully spend the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, returning money collected at our nation’s ports so they can make necessary improvements.”

“Despite a recovering economy, too many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet,” Rep. Lee said. “This budget supports American families and focuses on much needed investments here at home,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This budget also reins in waste, fraud and abuse at the Pentagon and ends the OCO slush funds for defense contractors.”

The People’s Budget Executive Summary

The People’s Budget fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead. Despite their skills and work ethic, most American workers and families are so financially strapped from increasing income inequality that their paychecks barely cover basic necessities. They earn less and less as corporations and the wealthy continue amassing record profits. It has become clear to American workers that the system is rigged.

The People’s Budget levels the playing field and creates economic opportunity by increasing the pay of middle- and low-income Americans. More customers and higher consumer spending advance American businesses, not tax cuts and relaxed regulations. The People’s Budget drives a full economic recovery by creating high-quality jobs and reducing family expenses, restoring the buying power of working Americans.

The People’s Budget closes tax loopholes that companies use to ship jobs overseas. It creates fair tax rates for millionaires and provides needed relief to low- and middle-income families. It invests in debt-free college, workforce training and small businesses within our communities, helping return our economy to full employment and giving a raise to Americans who need it most. Investments in The People’s Budget boost employment and wages by addressing some of the biggest challenges of our time: repairing America’s rapidly aging roads and bridges, upgrading our energy systems to address climate change, keeping our communities safe, and preparing our young people to thrive as citizens and workers.

A fair wage is more than the size of a paycheck. It’s having enough hours, paid overtime, sick and parental leave, and affordable health and childcare. It’s being able to afford a good education for your kids and never living in fear that your job will be sent overseas. It’s knowing you can make ends meet at the end of the month. The People’s Budget helps achieve that with a raise for American workers, a raise for struggling families and a boost to America’s long-term global competitiveness.

The People’s Budget: A Raise For America
The People’s Budget: A Raise For America (03/18/15 11:06 AM PST)
EPI Analysis of The People’s Budget (03/18/15 11:00 AM PST)
The People’s Budget: A Raise For America Summary (03/18/15 09:21 AM PST)

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The Nuclear Omnicide

by Harvey Wasserman
We’ve always been worried about the safety of humans, but evidence shows that nuclear disasters, from Three Mile Island to Fukushima, have put the whole global ecosystem at risk. Samplings of 15 tuna caught off the coast of California indicate all were contaminated with fallout from Fukushima. What’s that radiation doing to the tuna themselves? And to the krill, the phytoplankton, the algae, amoeba and all the other microorganisms on which the ocean ecology depends?
Read more..