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Peter Illich, 56, was feeding the ducks by Lake Michigan on Monday night when he noticed the temperature suddenly drop. Instead of turning in for shelter, Illich curled up on a park bench, his snowsuit his only protection from the cold.
The next day, he says, he noticed that he had frostbite in his hands. This has happened to him before.
“You can’t open and close your hands for ten days,” Illich says.
Chicago is currently facing some of its coldest temperatures this winter, with temperatures dropping to 0° F with a wind chill of -22° on Tuesday. And while most of the city’s residents can take refuge in the warmth of their own home, that’s not an option for Chicago’s approximately 80,000 homeless people, Illich among them. Temperatures that low can quickly become life-threatening, creating an urgent crisis for those without adequate shelter.
The City of Chicago on Monday urged people who are unable to find shelter to call for assistance. “3-1-1 offers a range of services to assist some of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents, including shelter for homeless residents, warming centers and well-being checks,” reads a statement from the City. Homeless shelters are also not turning anyone away who requests shelter, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a tweet. A spokesperson from the Chicago Department of Family and Support Service did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for further comment.
Tom Gordon, a 60-year-old homeless person in Chicago, says that he has a “sinus condition” that gets worse in the cold. Audibly sniffing while he talks, he says he can deal with it. “I’m a survivor,” he says. “I’m going to make it.”
Still, Gordon believes he’s one of the lucky ones by comparison. On Monday night, he slept over with a friend, Rex, who agreed to give him shelter. Gordon doesn’t know how long he will be able to stay with Rex, but he’s happy to be out of the cold for now.
When he’s not with a friend, Gordon typically sleeps in a park. To stay warm, he stuffs hand warmers inside his bedding and covers himself with industrial garbage bags. But when temperatures hit -4° last Friday, that wasn’t enough. “I thought I was going to die,” he says.
Making it through the winter outside used to be easier because he would sleep in a tent with a donated propane heater, Gordon says. While the heaters can be hazardous, he says that you only need to run them for 15 minutes inside of a tent to get warm. But city officials have reportedly cracked down on tents to make way for construction. Other reports say that police frequently clear out tents on the grounds that it’s illegal to block pedestrian thoroughfares.
In recent months, Gordon says he had four tents and two propane heaters taken away. Gordon believes that the city is unfairly concentrating on depriving homeless people of the supplies they need to survive instead of offering them permanent housing or finding other long-term solutions.
“I told the city, ‘get me what I need and you won’t see me no more,’” Gordon says. “But they didn’t, so I’m still out here.”
Doug Schenkelberg, the executive director of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, says Chicago has added about 500 beds to its homeless shelters during the current freeze, and has opened warming centers in buses, libraries, and recreational centers across the city. However, he says that there are many reasons homeless people may avoid shelters. Some are fearful for their safety or their belongings, others have difficulty traveling to them, and some can’t meet a shelter’s rules, such as a sobriety requirement. Most Chicago shelters also require people to leave in the morning, Schenkelberg adds.
“They can feel more safe and secure in an encampment on the street than a shelter where they have to move out every morning,” Schenkelberg says.
Schenkelberg adds that, while warming centers may save lives this week, they won’t address the long-term problem of homelessness.
“In a couple days, this weather will pass. They will close up the extra cots and the sense of urgency will be gone,” he says. “People are homeless 365 days a year and the City of Chicago isn’t doing enough to address homelessness.”
(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. projected quarterly revenue that came close to Wall Street’s estimates on Tuesday, suggesting a punishing end to 2018 hasn’t gotten much worse.
Apple also reported better-than-expected earnings from the key holiday quarter. While iPhone sales fell, revenue from other businesses, such as services and wearable devices, grew from a year earlier.
The Cupertino, California-based company said fiscal second-quarter revenue will be between $55 billion and $59 billion. Analysts were looking for $58.97 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Apple shares rose almost 4 percent in extended trading on Tuesday. The stock closed at $154.68 in New York.
The company had lost about a third of its market value since October on concern about a saturated smartphone market and the trade war between the U.S. and China. The world’s second-largest economy recently revealed the slowest expansion since 2009. Apple gets about a fifth of its sales from Greater China. Earlier this month, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook warned that the company would miss its holiday quarter sales target. That set a low bar for Tuesday’s results.
“While it was disappointing to miss our revenue guidance, we manage Apple for the long term, and this quarter’s results demonstrate that the underlying strength of our business runs deep and wide,” Cook said in a statement.
While iPhone revenue declined 15 percent in the quarter from the period a year earlier, sales increased for all other product categories, the company said. Revenue from services grew 19 percent to $10.9 billion, Mac sales gained 8.7 percent to $7.4 billion and iPad revenue increased 17 percent to $6.7 billion.
The company, for the first time, specified “wearables, home and accessories” as a product category with sales of $7.3 billion — a 33 percent jump.
Cynthia Brown had been taking the drug valsartan for about two years when she learned last August that it had been recalled over fears of potential carcinogen contamination. Brown, a writer and patient advocate living near Cincinnati, had been prescribed valsartan to control shortness of breath related to primary pulmonary hypertension, but suddenly she had a whole new concern: cancer.
“I’ve always been very conscientious about my health. I never dreamed I’d be on all these medications, and I’m real funny about what I take,” Brown, 65, says. “Valsartan has made me leery of all medications.”
Brown is just one of the patients affected by a string of drug recalls dating back to last summer. Dozens of batches of generic drugs including valsartan, irbesartan and losartan have been recalled by a variety of manufacturers because they may contain amounts of nitrosamine impurities that exceed current safety standards, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced. Nitrosamine impurities including N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), which are also sometimes found in meat, dairy products, vegetables and water, are considered probable carcinogens, the FDA says.
Valsartan, irbesartan and losartan are angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Almost 50 million prescriptions for losartan were written in 2016, according to ClinCalc, as well as 8.4 million for valsartan and 3.6 million for irbesartan.
Recalls have been so widespread that there’s now a national shortage of valsartan, according to the statement from the FDA, and “other types of products may fall into shortage soon.” An FDA representative tells TIME it’s impossible to predict when the valsartan shortage could end or which other drugs may soon be in short supply, but said the agency remains “focused on protecting patients from exposure above the interim intake levels.”
The agency says it continues to investigate how these substances got into ARB drug supplies, and is working to stem the flow of potentially tainted pharmaceuticals from overseas manufacturers. Many of the affected ARBs came from producers in China and India, according to FDA recall notices, and the FDA warned one Chinese manufacturer about “significant” production issues last year.
The FDA also emphasized that the overall risk to consumers is fairly low. FDA scientists estimate that if 8,000 people had been taking the maximum daily dose of valsartan for four years — the length of time affected products may have been on the market — there would only be one cancer case in that population beyond what’s normally expected, according to the statement. Plus, not all ARBs have been affected by the recalls and levels of exposure vary even among recalled supplies, so it’s unlikely that most people have experienced the worst-case scenario, the FDA says.
Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, calls the breadth of the recalls “unusual,” but says they likely don’t point to a larger drug supply issue.
“This is the exception rather than the norm,” Alexander says. “For every one of these market events, think of all of the tens of millions of prescriptions that are dispensed uneventfully. Our pharmaceutical supply chain is remarkably safe in the United States, and these are very rare events.”
Alexander has studied how FDA drug-risk warnings affect future use of medications, and says in this case, there will “without a doubt” be “large reductions” in the use of these drugs, given the recalls and FDA warnings.
But because there are “dozens of tools in the toolbox” when it comes to treating conditions like high blood pressure, Alexander says it’s unlikely that reductions in use of these specific ARBs will lead to population-wide upticks in conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. That is, even if people have to stop taking their normal drugs, they’ll likely be switched to an effective alternative, Alexander says.
“This may be hugely disruptive with respect to [individual] people’s treatments,” Alexander says, “but I would not expect to see any population-level effects.”
Swapping drugs isn’t always easy, however.
Despite the valsartan shortage — and the fact that her prior prescription had been recalled — Brown found herself with a new prescription for the drug this month. Her doctor initially switched her to losartan, but Brown says it didn’t work well for her. Then they tried irbesartan, but that, too, was recalled. Finally, her doctor suggested valsartan from a manufacturer that has not been affected by recalls.
“When she first said that, I looked at her and said, ‘Are you feeling all right?’” Brown says. But valsartan had controlled her breathing issues without side effects, so Brown decided to give it a shot — though not without doubts. Brown, who has a family history of cancer, says she’s now concerned about developing it herself, and is staying vigilant about doctor’s appointments and preventative screenings.
“You do worry, because a lot of cancers don’t show themselves until they’re in the late stages. I pray about it, but I’m still human, so I worry about it,” Brown says. “You wonder what’s truly in [these drugs].”
The Congressional Budget Office on Monday delivered its estimated economic cost of the five-week partial government shutdown: $11 billion dollars, with $3 billion in permanent economic losses.
Those numbers are now being leveraged for partisan ends on either side of the political spectrum. But even the CBO admitted that they don’t provide a full picture of the shutdown’s cost. The estimates “do not incorporate other, more indirect negative effects of the shutdown, which are more difficult to quantify but were probably becoming more significant as it continued,” the agency said.
Indeed, the ripple effects of the shutdown itself is making it harder for economists and other researchers to grasp the shutdown’s full impact. That’s in part because important information-gathering agencies were among the government offices shuttered for more than a month during the country’s longest-ever shutdown, leaving experts without vital data even now.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which provides official macroeconomic statistics, was closed during the shutdown. Also shuttered was the U.S. Census Bureau, depriving business leaders and policymakers of important economic indicators. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which among other things is responsible for releasing monthly unemployment numbers, was open.) While the shutdown is over, those agencies need time to collect and disseminate data that would’ve otherwise been handled during the closures. Those delays are having consequences for researchers, policymakers, business leaders and more.
“When you get [information] delays, you get a slowdown of policymaking decision making that depends on that information,” says Erica Groshen, the former Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “People were making decisions without the full information that they hoped for or expected during that time.”
While some data from the shutdown period will be delivered after a delay, other economic data routinely collected by the shuttered departments will be permanently lost, Groshen says.
Good economic data has always been important both in the private sector and government. But Steve Landefeld, former director of the BEA, says that it’s more critical today than ever before. “We’re increasingly in a world where we are especially data-driven in our monetary policy,” he says.
One especially important economic indicator is the BEA’s quarterly assessment of the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. The BEA said Monday that the initial GDP estimates for the fourth quarter of 2018, originally scheduled for release on Jan. 30, will be delayed. It’s unclear how long we’ll go without updated GDP numbers. National Economic Director Larry Kudlow said during a press conference Monday that they will be issued in about a week, though the BEA hasn’t specified a release date.
Landefeld directed the BEA during the pronged 1996 government shutdown, and when the government reopened, his agency had to forgo releasing the advance estimate entirely. “We came back, not quite as late as this, but we had lost so much data by that point … that we weren’t going to make a bunch of assumptions,” he says.
For economists trying to make sense of mixed economic signals in the current period of strong labor markets alongside stock market upheavals, GDP numbers are essential to figuring out America’s true economic situation.
“This is a time of tremendous uncertainty,” says David Berger, an economist at Northwestern University. “The GDP numbers are some of the biggest numbers that we see to give us an indication of how the economy’s doing … we just don’t have that much idea what’s going on in terms of output.”
“We’re flying blind a little bit,” he adds. “It may take us a little while, a month, a quarter, to figure out what’s going on in the economy.”
The lack of data could make it harder for economists, journalists and others to fact-check politicians’ claims about the economy. During the shutdown, President Trump continued to tout that the economy was “doing great.” Looking at some metrics, that appears true on the surface. Employers added nearly double the expected number of jobs in December (though that was largely before the shutdown began on Dec. 22). And as the shutdown dragged on, the stock market recovered from its initial shock. But that information doesn’t offer a complete picture of the economy without other statistics that, because of the shutdown, we simply don’t have yet.
“Although BEA and Census were shut down, they left their websites running (thank goodness) and had already posted the figures we needed for GDP, corporate profits, trade deficits, and homeownership,” says Brooks Jackson, director emeritus and chief financial writer at FactCheck.org, in an email. But he adds that “getting anything more current is going to be a problem going forward, however.”
Others caution that any further shutdowns will only compound the problem.
“The fact that we have delayed statistics is going to make it harder to figure out the direct effect of the shutdown, but also more importantly what the overall state of the economy is at,” says Matthew Shapiro, an economics professor at the University of Michigan. “Until there’s a more permanent agreement on funding the government, uncertainly on policy is going to be a drag on the economy.”
For some in the economics world, the greatest loss caused by the shutdown may not be the missing or delayed information, but the damage done to the economic information collectors themselves. Agencies like the BEA have thin margins for improving their data collection efforts, and a one-month shutdown can cripple improvement efforts for a whole year. Moreover, like in other areas of government, prolonged shutdowns that furlough federal workers also make public service less appealing — especially for the highly skilled workers at agencies like the BEA, many of whom would be able to find more lucrative positions in the private sector.
“Trying to keep the best and the brightest with this going on, I don’t think it’s tenable,” says Landefeld. “There’s that long-term damage too.”
After President Trump announced on Friday that he would temporarily re-open the government for three weeks while border security negotiations proceed, both parties in Congress promptly selected 17 experienced dealmakers to do that job.
But the outcome is still riddled with uncertainty, mainly because it is subject to the approval of a fickle President.
The committee, deemed the House-Senate Conference Committee on Homeland Security, is slated to hold its first meeting on Wednesday. Members have until Feb. 15 to pass a funding bill for Homeland Security that would avert another government shutdown, but both sides seem confident that they can agree among themselves.
“I think we’ve approached these negotiations with an open mind,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic Caucus chairman, told reporters Tuesday. “We have incredibly skilled members of Congress who are practiced in the art at arriving at a bipartisan agreement.”
The committee will be chaired by Rep. Nita Lowey, a 30-year veteran of Congress who heads the House appropriations committee. Joining her from the House side will be five Democrats: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who oversees funding for homeland security on the Appropriations committee; Reps. David Price, Barbara Lee, Henry Cuellar and Pete Aguilar; and and four Republicans, Reps. Kay Granger, Chuck Fleischmann, Tom Graves and Steven Palazzo. The Senate side also includes the top appropriators from both parties, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, along with Republican Sens. Roy Blunt, Shelley Moore-Capito and John Hoeven, as well as Democratic minority whip Dick Durbin and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.
“This is a group of very good people,” Graves, who described himself as “optimistic” about the negotiations, said Tuesday. “Over the next 17 days I am hopeful my 16 colleagues and myself can come together, we can bridge our differences based on facts.”
Both parties appeared amenable to concessions on Tuesday. While Democrats remain opposed to a border wall, Jeffries said the party would be willing to support fencing “where it makes sense” as long as there was enough evidence to support the need for it. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the structure could be a “barrier” rather than a wall, noting that the Democrats even discussing additional barriers signaled progress. And both parties said a border security deal must include investments in personnel, technology and infrastructure.
But underneath all of this public optimism was the acknowledgement that the President could once again upend these negotiations. Much to the chagrin of some Republican senators, the President has not ruled out using an emergency declaration to build a border wall and shutting down the government if he doesn’t like the ultimate compromise. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Sunday, Trump predicted there was only a 50% chance the group could reach a deal, and said a shutdown was “certainly an option.”
Democrats have been explicit in their desire to keep Trump away from the negotiating table. “When the President stays out of the negotiations, we almost always succeed,” said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. “When he mixes in, it almost always ends in failure.”
Republicans were more strategic in their responses. “The President of course speaks for himself,” said Sen. John Barasso. “We’re working with him, working with the White House. He’s working with all of us. We want to make sure we get the kind of border security we need to keep the government open.”
It is very possible convincing the President to accept Congress’ compromise could fall on leading Republican lawmakers like Barasso. It was the phone call Trump received from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week, for instance, that was instrumental in coercing him to reopen the government without funding for a border wall. McConnell made clear on Tuesday that he was adamantly opposed to another shutdown, an implicit signal he would be open to whatever bipartisan agreement is reached.
“There certainly would be no education in the third kick of a mule,” McConnell said Tuesday. “I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody, and I hope they will be avoided.”
The narrative of business being the driver of social good is as old as it is appealing.
It once again underpinned the annual gathering of elite business leaders, politicians and wealthy individuals at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And yet every year, the gap has become starker between the aspirations I hear at this festival of wealth and the conditions of poverty and inequality I witness through Oxfam’s work.
The best solutions to these problems belong, before all, with governments: their policies created this crisis; they can solve it by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax, then investing that money into means proven to reduce inequality, like free quality healthcare and education for all.
But when it comes to business, those of us who gather in Davos year after year must recognize that tackling the world’s most urgent questions requires a fundamental transformation to the dominant business model, in which shareholder returns trump any other considerations in society.
We should rid ourselves of the belief that business innovation inherently means social progress. The shareholder-first model has inhibited progress on tackling the breakdown of the world’s climate, and it has channeled an ever-growing portion of wealth to a small global elite at the expense of the majority of citizens — both in the U.S. and across the globe.
This is cause for concern for business, just as it is for a strong economy. When, for example, corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes, they undermine the ability of governments to invest in an educated and healthy workforce, good transport connections, the rule of law and so on — all of which they rely upon. A more unequal world is a riskier world to do business. Over 12,000 business people across 140 economies rated unemployment and underemployment, as well as failure in national governance systems, as the biggest risks for doing business, according to research by none other than the World Economic Forum, which hosts the Davos meeting.
We need a debate about how to overcome existing tensions, trade-offs and conflicting interests between the business elite and the vast majority of people in our societies.
Fortunately, momentum is building behind exciting proposals to reshape our economic model, including in the U.S. — from worker cooperatives reinvigorating struggling communities in cities like Cleveland, New York or Jackson, and employee-owned enterprises breaking through the straitjacket of short-term profit maximization, like Chobani and Eileen Fisher, that are hardwired to better align economic viability and social impact. I welcome companies rejecting regressive tax reforms, which contribute to rising inequality, like Patagonia, and legislative proposals like Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act, which proposes sweeping corporate governance reforms to rebalance the skewed power dynamic between U.S. corporations and workers.
Big corporations must recognize that their policies are often part of the problem. They include employment practices that do not guarantee decent working conditions and a living wage, tax avoidance strategies that deprive governments of money to invest in universal health and education, and lobbying for business that damages our environment or undermines human rights.
We must also talk about rebalancing power. Large companies use their muscle to transcend jurisdictions, obscure their ownership, source globally and monopolize their markets — making most people feel increasingly powerless as citizens, workers or consumers. It will take a great deal for big business to tackle what people increasingly realize: that their short-term gains in power and money are also their long-term losses in inequality, political dysfunction and social polarization.
For that reason, let’s be clear what Davos is. The Davos set has proven itself to be full of adept disruptors and innovators. Davos should be a space of creative thinking and bold experimentation.
But Davos should not be where political agendas are decided. To do that, we must include all voices, not just the elite. That’s not possible in the Swiss Alps.
I am not naïve about business actually changing a system that benefits it so much. But I am eager to be proven wrong.
(WASHINGTON) — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
Schumer told reporters Tuesday that he asked Abrams three weeks ago and he was “delighted” when she accepted. The role elevates Abrams in Democratic politics after she narrowly lost the governor’s race in November. Schumer called Abrams a “great spokesperson” and a leader on voting rights.
A group backed by Abrams filed a federal lawsuit this month saying Georgia deprived many low-income people and minorities of their voting rights with Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp overseeing the 2018 election. After a long dispute, Kemp won the governorship.
Senate Democrats are urging Abrams to run for Senate in 2020 against Republican Sen. David Perdue.