China revokes its one-child policy
For the first time in close to 40 years, couples in China will be permitted to have more than one child. The country has been facing an impending crisis with its rapidly aging population. With too many elderly and not enough young people, the government responsibility for pensions, health care and other expenses increases, all while a lack of youth causes damaging labor shortages. These few young people then find that they run a household where they must care for their grandparents and parents, as well as their own children. A study run by the RAND Corporation found that at the start of this year, about 95 percent of China’s population of or over the age of 75 lived with their children, while those falling into a middle-aged category also lived predominantly with their children. The hope is that lifting the ban on multiple children from one per household to two will gradually resolve the aging issue. There are some anticipated strains with the change. Since 60 percent of women over the age of 35 can physically have children, the Chinese government has begun rapidly drafting plans to increase their compensation and healthcare benefits. While the one-child policy will be lifted, exactly when one must stop applying for approval to have a second child remains unclear.
Thousands of prisoners released under new sentencing guidelines
Last year, new sentencing guidelines were introduced for the U.S. prison system. As a result, those imprisoned for the use and distribution of drugs saw drastically reduced terms. Beginning on Friday Oct. 29, 6,122 of these prisoners were released. The reform was originally introduced as an effort to cope with America’s issues with mass incarceration. “Mandatory minimums” for lower-grade offenses have also been a controversial topic that many would like struck from policy. At the moment one in 100 adults is in prison in the United States, the highest of any nation in the world. The changes will gradually release prisoners until numbers reach about 17,000 men and women. However, these people will not be entering society and the workforce immediately. A great many of them will be sent to halfway houses, while any who are not U.S. nationals will be transferred to the custody of national customs officials, and will likely face deportation.
Tuberculosis now as deadly as HIV
Tuberculosis (TB) was once the second most deadly infectious disease after the ever-dreaded HIV/AIDS. However, World Health Organization TB Program Director Dr. Mario Raviglione has announced that the infection has caught up as an equal threat to health worldwide, saying “Tuberculosis now ranks alongside HIV.” Doctors Without Borders has called the finding “disheartening” and attributed the increased danger of TB to antibiotic resistance. For every 100 new cases of tuberculosis, three cannot be treated with one course of antibiotics, a fact that Doctors Without Borders says should “serve as a wake-up call.” Dr. Grania Brigden, also from Doctors Without Borders has warned that “we’re losing ground in the battle to control drug-resistant forms of TB, and without considerable corrective action, the vast majority of people with multi-drug resistant TB won’t be cured.” The majority of those newly infected with the illness live in Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions including China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. However, great progress has been made in coping with TB over the past two decades. The death rate of the infectious disease has been halved since 1990, and the number of new infections has been decreasing by roughly 1.5 percent annually since 2000.
Obama to send forces to Syria
The U.S. will be deploying “fewer than fifty” members of special forces to Syria to provide assistance, training and advice to the anti-government rebels fighting IS. While there have been special forces operations against IS in Syria before, this is the first time that the United States will be openly working on the ground there. This is a bit of a switch from earlier actions, which saw the United States ceasing training efforts with Syrian rebels and instead supplying equipment and weapons to the group’s leaders. The change and intensification of the campaign in Syria has been said not to be indicative of any alterations in military strategy. Defense Secretary Ash Carter maintains that “Our role fundamentally, and the strategy, is to enable local forces.” Josh Earnest, spokesman for the White House, has likewise commented that President Obama only seeks to provide support for Syrian rebel fighters who have been making real progress. He continued that Obama is simply “prepared to intensify the elements that have shown promise” and that these strategies were indeed “discussed a year ago.”