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Norway unseats Denmark as world’s happiest country: report

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017


A girl stands on her hands near Vang, Norway. Svein Nordrum/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

Norway displaced Denmark as the world’s happiest country in a new report released on Monday that called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the well-being of their citizens.

The Nordic nations are the most content, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.

“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.

The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.

South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.

Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.

Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.

“They are all aimed at increasing inequality – tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction,” he explained.

The rankings are based on six factors — per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

“The lowest countries are typically marked by low values in all six variables,” said the report, produced with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

Sachs would like nations to follow United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.

“I want governments to measure this, discuss it, analyze it and understand when they have been off on the wrong direction,” he said. —  By Patricia Reaney | NEW YORK

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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Study confirms higher breast cancer risk with hormone-based contraception

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 8th, 2017

FILE PHOTO: A woman undergoes a mammograms, a special type of X-ray of the breasts, which is used to detect tumors as part of a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a clinic in Nice. REUTERS

(Reuters Health) – Women who currently use or recently used hormone-based contraception face a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer, although the overall risk for most women is relatively low, a new study of 1.8 million women in Denmark has concluded.

Older contraceptives were known to carry a higher risk of breast cancer, but doctors had hoped that the newer lower-estrogen formulations might pose a lower risk.

The new findings, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that they do not, and the longer the products were used, the greater the danger.

The researchers calculated that hormone contraception produced one extra case of breast cancer for every 7,690 women each year. That’s a lot of cancers, given that 140 million use hormonal contraception worldwide – or about 13 percent of women ages 15 to 49.

Breast cancer strikes about 255,000 U.S. women each year and kills about 41,000, according to the American Cancer Society.

The study shows that “the search for an oral contraceptive that does not elevate the risk of breast cancer needs to continue,” said Dr. David Hunter of the University of Oxford in a Journal editorial.

Beyond the fact that they provide an effective means of contraception and may benefit women with menstrual cramping or abnormal menstrual bleeding, “the use of oral contraceptives is associated with substantial reductions in the risks of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers later in life. Indeed, some calculations have suggested that the net effect of the use of oral contraceptives for 5 years or longer is a slight reduction in the total risk of cancer,” Hunter said.

But as women get into their 40s, non-hormonal alternatives such as IUDs might be better, he said. Most cases of breast cancer were seen in women using oral contraceptives in their 40s.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to say stop taking oral contraceptives. That’s not necessary and not supported by the data,” said Dr. Roshni Rao, chief of breast surgery at New York – Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, who was not involved with the study. “But it does show an increased risk, so for people who don’t have a great reason for taking oral contraceptives, or are amenable to alternatives, perhaps they should think about it.”

Such alternatives include a copper IUD, condoms or, if women are done having children, tubal ligation.

The new study looked at all women in Denmark ages 15 to 49 who had not had cancer, clots in their veins, or treatment for infertility. The women were followed for nearly 11 years.

The 20 percent increase in breast cancer risk varied by age and how long the women used hormone-based contraceptives, including pills, contraceptive patches, vaginal rings, progestin-only implants, and injections.

The risk was 9 percent higher with less than one year of use and 38 percent higher with more than 10 years of use.

“Another thing that has not been clear before is that after discontinuation, if you have used this product for more than 5 years, the risk seems to be increased, even after 5 years of discontinuation of the drugs,” chief author Dr. Lina Morch, a senior researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital told Reuters Health by phone.

On the other hand, among women who used hormonal contraceptives for short periods, the excess risk of breast cancer disappeared rapidly after use was stopped, the researchers said.

IUDs infused with hormones also appear to pose a risk, Morch said, so “so there’s a lot of things to take into account when deciding what type of contraception to use. Contraception itself is a benefit, of course, but this study indicates it might be worth considering an alternative to hormone contraception, like the copper intrauterine device or barrier methods like condoms.”

“If you compare this to other risks, such as obesity and being overweight, there’s more of a risk with obesity than if you take a few years of oral contraceptives,” Rao told Reuters Health by phone.

“There’s no need to panic based on these results,” said Morch, “We don’t want women dropping their contraception without having something different to go to. And there are alternatives.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2jUGTHR The New England Journal of Medicine, online December 6, 2017.

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Twenty countries join global alliance to phase out coal by 2030

by UNTV   |   Posted on Friday, November 17th, 2017


Since signing the Paris agreement in 2015, which aims to wean the world off fossil fuels, several countries have made national plans to phase out coal from their power supply mix before 2030, environment ministers said on Thursday.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance brings together many of these countries and others that will commit to phasing out coal, sharing technology to reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage, and encouraging the rest of the world to cut usage.

Coal is responsible for more than 40 percent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

“Coal is literally choking out cities and our people. Around the world, we see close to a million deaths a year from air pollution created by burning coal. Not only is there a human cost, there is also a huge economic cost totaling billions of dollars a year,” Catherine Mckenna, Canadian environmental minister.

The alliance includes Angola, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Portugal, and Switzerland.

“Actually, I tried to ban in my country by a new law two new authorization to try to find fossil energy, and specifically coal, and we will ban production of electricity by 2022. The production of coal, so of course, we are close to you and congratulations for this coalition,” said French environment minister Nicolas Hulot.

The US States of Washington and Oregon, as well as five Canadian provinces, have also signed up.

The alliance, which is not legally binding, aims to have at least 50 members by the next U.N. Climate Summit in 2018 to be held in Poland’s Katowice, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

But some of the world’s biggest coal users, such as China, India, the United States, Germany and Russia, have not joined. — Reuters

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Resumption of peace talks with Reds awaits Duterte’s go-signal

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte (Cerilo Ebrano/Photoville International)

President Rodrigo Duterte (Cerilo Ebrano/Photoville International)

PHILIPPINES — President Rodrigo Duterte has signified recently his intention to resume talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines if they prove their sincerity to talk peace with the government.

He also laid what he wanted the rebel group to do in order for the peace negotiations to proceed.

These include releasing the rebels’ prisoners of war; stopping extortion activities or the collection of revolutionary taxes, and ceasing the destruction of government equipment.

READ: Malacañang enumerates compelling reasons for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks

Meanwhile, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jess Dureza clarified that these are not conditions since there are no preconditions on the negotiating table.

On the other hand, Government Peace Panel Chief and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the peace talks may be an agendum during today’s Cabinet meeting with the president.

It is also expected that President Rodrigo Duterte will give his directive on the terminated peace talks and the supposed bilateral ceasefire deal.

“Before we resume, whatever the President orders, we will talk about the ceasefire first,” said Sec. Bello.

RELATED: No peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF until Duterte says so – Sec. Abella

Meanwhile, on the communist rebels’ demand to remove military deployment in areas where they plan to release six prisoners of war, Sec. Bello said the government and the NPA has an ongoing arrangement on the matter.

“That is confidential, so we cannot just reveal things. There is an ongoing arrangement,” he said.

It can be noted that President Duterte ordered to cease the peace talks after several members of the military were killed during an attack perpetrated by communist rebel group despite the implemented unilateral ceasefire.

Due to this, the supposed meeting of both sides regarding a bilateral ceasefire deal in February, as well as the fourth round of the formal peace talks on April 2 to 6 in Oslo Norway were postponed. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue

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