Inflammation and stories on future

For individuals who are passionate about improving worldwide living conditions and gaining the skills necessary to further oneself in the field of global health, internships are fraught with worthwhile and unique opportunities to gain knowledge and hands-on experience. With the plethora of diverse internships, the Global Health Corps (GHC) initiative, established in 2009, has stood out as an enriching opportunity for passionate young individuals. The Global Health Corp was engendered by the belief that adequate health is not only a privilege, but also a right for every human across the globe.

GHC aligns interns with top-notch organizations so both parties are able to collaborate-mutually benefiting each other in order to improve global health. According to the GHC, many opportunities to improve global health are not available for individuals who have not already established themselves in the medical field. Thus, another goal of the Corp is to provide opportunities for young people, especially individuals from diverse roots, to achieve their potential and make an impact on worldwide healthcare.

The program offers summer internships at the GHC headquarters in New York City. Furthermore, fellows can also be placed in locales such as Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. The internship provides unique opportunities such as aiding the enhancement of the GHC program, raising money through fundraising, and improving communications support.

According to the Corp, there are a series of six steps taken throughout the internship project. First, fellows are chosen, then they are paired with a host organization and partnered with a participating organization. Additionally, fellows are able to develop their unique skill-sets, establish an educated community and continue to promote global health initiatives long after the internship expires.

The Corp also provides opportunities for interns to work for global change through three key goals. Interns will be able to help increase the impact of prominent organizations by working with such organizations. Additionally, the GHC provides excellent training for aspiring future leaders by engaging interns in a wide-range of developmental activities. Furthermore, interns are able to engage in constructing an international community for change that will continue to flourish even after the yearly internships have been brought to a successful end.

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Global Health Corps, Huffington Post
Wize Hive

Imagine having the ability to know that something drastic was going to happen before it ever took place. Some might call it being psychic; others call it science.

Over time, technology has steadily risen and become more advanced. Recently, a team of neuroscientists “published a paper claiming it has developed a mathematical calculation that could potentially predict the tipping point of any massive event.”

These events would vary from market crashes, all the way to someone having a brain seizure.

This would be accomplished through a working system of nodes. During this, one neuron inside the brain would “ignite a stream of connected activity – a web-like chain reacting that unfolds in seemingly unpredictable ways.”

Scientists, however, have discovered that events can in fact be predicted with the proper information. A group of professors at the University of Sussex, along with colleagues working in psychology and physics, are conducting experiments that replicate monitored brain activity.

This team has also formulated an equation that disclosed the effects of information being flown between multiple nodes. Lionel Barnett, one of the leading authors on the paper, discovered that all of the elements “casually influence each other.”

Barnett’s discovery will enable scientists to differentiate between when a node is dependent upon its own behavior, and when it is dependent upon all other nodes.

“The dynamics of complex systems – like the brain and the economy – depend upon how their elements casually influence each other; in other words, how information flows between them,” said Barnett.

Since the system is this complex, how is it possible to be able to predict something so sporadic?

The team of researchers proposes that it is manageable to measure when a system reaches its “tipping point,” as it alters from a healthy system to one that shows immense change.

The theory was tested using a model that physicists use to predict “phase transitions” in standard systems. This, accompanied by supercomputers at the Charles Sturt University in Australia allowed the team to find the “global transfer entropy flow.”

This basically means that scientists have discovered that certain flows reach peaks repeatedly, right before a tipping point. If the possibility of this major scientific discovery is plausible, the world as is known will be altered entirely.

According to Anil Seth, the co-director of the Sackler Centre, “This would change the course of the dynamics and prevent seizures.” This was before Seth further suggested that the application could be used for financial, climate and immune systems.

Seth explained, in depth, that he believes this possibility is really feasible, in spite of the systems being so vastly diverse. On the other hand, although there is faith in the project itself, there are many factors that come into play.

For example, human error and factors such as interference from mathematically-drawn conclusions as a result of errors, could affect the results. Through further research, the team hopes to make exciting revelations in this field.

Samaria Garrett

Sources: The New Yorker, Wired
Photo: Severa Rules

Published in 1943 amidst the chaos of the Second World War, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is classified as a children’s book. Being both the most sold and most translated French piece ever written, however, the novella about a peculiar young boy is much more than that. Told from the point of view of a pilot stranded after his plane crashes in the Sahara desert, it is an emotional, deeply meaningful and philosophically-loaded journey.

More than half a century after being written, The Little Prince still has a few things to teach anyone willing to listen. A tale of love, sacrifice, loneliness, greed and the importance of staying true to oneself, it is a profound study of human nature, told in the simplest of jargon and skillfully presented through the unlikely platform of fairy tales.

The Little Prince himself is a confused character: traveling in space away from his home planet, he is driven by heartbreak from caring for someone who was too vain and spoiled to love him back – a beautiful rose which mysteriously came to grow on his planet.

The Prince’s journey takes him to many planets; he encounters various characters who through their actions symbolize vanity, redundancy, close-mindedness and others alike. As shown through the eyes of, essentially, a child, these and other vices seem all the more pointless and illogical. For example, on one of the destinations our hero encounters a drunkard. He tells the prince that he drinks so that he may forget his shame. “Of what?” asks the Prince. “The shame of drinking!” the drunkard retorts. Commenting on the weirdness of adults, our boy leaves the man alone.

Eventually he reaches Earth, where he meets the narrator and later on, a lonesome fox. The Prince always brings up his rose, obviously angry and frustrated, but also increasingly worried about her. The fox comes to tell him a simple truth: “You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” The value of this quote can be translated as such: this world is our rose. To neglect any part of it is to betray the ties we’ve established – it’s selfish as it is unthinkable.

Another essential thing the fox tells us is that “the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched; they are felt with the heart.” That is, materialistic things can never bear the same importance as kindness, selflessness, friendship and affection. If more people could live by these words, issues such as global poverty would doubtfully be as prevalent.

Visiting a train station, the Little Prince gets to witness in awe, the locomotives go by, speeding away in the distance. People are in a hurry to get somewhere, but what important things are they pursuing – he wonders? “’They are pursuing nothing at all,’ said the switchman. ‘They are asleep in there, or if they are not asleep they are yawning. Only the children are flattening their noses against the windowpanes.’” Surely, these passengers have lost their ways. Consumed by greed, or perhaps laziness or conceit, they waste their lives away in an endless road leading to nowhere. Children are innocent, selfless; that’s why they are superior to the adults in this quote’s context.

Inspirational and pure, The Little Prince’s tale should be known to everyone in the world. Too often we are too blinded by materialist concepts to see the beauty of other human beings. Truth is, each and every one of us was once an innocent, hopeful, positive and loving child – channel that child more often and influence others to do the same.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: Good Reads, The Little Prince

Motivation is what causes people to act in certain given circumstances. For example, motivation causes children to stand up to bullies or causes citizens to stand up to a dictator. Motivation is extremely important in daily life. Motivation can be either internal or external. Internal motivation comes from within and external motivation comes from the external environment such as from money or compliments. If people are internally motivated, they will not easily lose focus of their goals. On the other hand, if people are externally motivated, they are more likely to lose their focus when the external motivational factors are removed.

To eradicate global poverty, intrinsic motivation is extremely important. Intrinsic motivation is the combination of activation, persistence, and intensity.

The activation component helps people recognizing the need to reduce global poverty because reducing poverty means having more equality, better environment and a better world. In addition, people are social creatures and they want to help other. This instinct is built inside each and every one to ensure the survival of the human race.

The persistence component involves people keeping focus on the goal ahead – erasing global poverty. Global poverty is a big issue and it is impossible to erase it in a short amount of time.  Persistence is essential. Understanding the time and effort it takes to end global poverty, one must prepare and devote oneself, because it is a life time commitment.

The last and most important component is intensity. Intensity allows people to act aggressively to  go above and beyond to ensure the success of the goal. This component pushes people to realize their full potential. Intensity about eradicating global poverty is contagious. People will listen and follow the examples and ideals that are given to them and embrace it even more.

Anyone can be intrinsically motivated to take good actions to reduce global poverty. The job of the representative in ending poverty is to activate the motivation sleeping deep inside others and bring it to the surface.

– Phong Pham

Sources: Psychology, Sparknotes

Paradigm Shift Millennium Development Goals Post-2015
For nearly 15 years, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) have been a sign post for development efforts—guiding, informing and evaluating them to ensure they were on the right track. But with 2014 right around the corner, one has to wonder what is next for the global development agenda—what is to become of the MDG after 2015?

Fortunately, forging a post-2015 development agenda has been well underway since 2010.

The current MDG, which were established at the Millennium Summit in 2000, outline eight targets for development which were to be reached by 2015. They are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, empower women and reduce child mortality; improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

While certain targets which were agreed upon have been met, there is still a long way to go. Furthermore, it was precisely that which a high level UN plenary meeting on the MDG decided in 2010. What was promised at that meeting was an acceleration of current MDG goals towards reaching their 2015 target date, but more importantly it set the course for a post-2015 development agenda.

To that end, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established several UN panels and task teams while appointing a special adviser on post-2015 development. His efforts resulted in a High Level Panel of Eminent Persons in 2012, which included a myriad of high level officials from every corner of the world.

In May 2013, the panel released a report entitled ‘A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development.’ The report highlights and codifies the efforts that had been underway since the 2010 summit.

Calling for a new post-2015 development paradigm, the report concluded that business as usual is not an option. The report further explained that the post-2015 agenda is a universal agenda which needs to be driven by the following “five big transformative shifts:”

1. Leave no one behind: 

With 1.2 billion people still living in poverty, this shift is meant to change the paradigm from target reduction to total eradication of extreme poverty.

2. Put sustainable development at the core.

With the continued pace of environmental degradation, sustainable development now includes increased social inclusion and a greater emphasis on reducing unsustainable consumption to be brought about through structural changes in our current models of sustainability.

3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.

With so many people working far too many hours for too little pay, it is vital to ensure not just equal job status, but equal economic opportunity. That is to say, everyone should have the equal opportunity to engage in work which provides a living wage.

4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all. 

With so much poverty resulting from conflict and wars, the post-2015 agenda calls for “a fundamental shift—to recognize peace and good governance as core elements of well-being, not optional extras.”

5. Forge a new global partnership.

Touted as perhaps the most important of the transformative shifts, the idea is to get everyone involved “towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation and mutual accountability.”

These shifts are meant to affirm the success of the MDG while acknowledging that there is still work to do. And with the new target date of 2030, everyone gets 15 more years to get it done right this time.

Pedram Afshar

Sources: Post-2015 HLP, UN Report: A New Global Partnership, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013
Photo: Vintage 3D

When it comes to international aid programs, everyone has heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Warren Buffett’s astronomical donation track record, with last year’s donations reaching $1.87 billion. However, outside of the American audience, African billionaires are also stepping up and contributing to causes they care about. Here is a list of African philanthropic billionaires that lead programs in their own countries.

The wealthiest African, Aliko Dangote, worth an estimated $20.2 billion, donates millions of his wealth to education, health and social causes. Last year Dangote took part in the first ever Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, where he discussed the benefits of donating, listing Gates and Buffett as inspirations.

Nathan Kirsh, a South African native, earned his $3.6 billion wealth by monopolizing the small goods market in New York City. According to Forbes, his philanthropic efforts focus on Swaziland, where he supplied approximately 10,000 people with starter capital for small businesses. Kirsh states that 70 percent of his recipients are women with a 70 percent success rate for his program overall. He also hopes to make Swazi schools the first in Africa to boast guaranteed computer literacy for all graduates.

Folorunsho Alakija hails from Lagos, Nigeria and is Africa’s richest woman thanks to her very profitable ownership of an oil block in the 1990’s. Since then, Alakija has expanded her $7.3 billion enterprise to real estate around the world, notably $200 million worth in the United Kingdom alone. With her money, Alakija founded the Rose of Sharon Foundation in 2008 which aids orphans and widows in her native country of Nigeria.

Mohamed Mansour has an estimated $2.3 billion fortune from his investment company the Mansour Group, which owns Egypt’s largest grocery store Metro and Egypt’s McDonald’s franchises, among other businesses. Mansour founded the Lead Foundation, a nonprofit that has provided over 1.3 million loans to small business endeavors and under-privileged women in Egypt. Mansour also chairs the Mansour Foundation for Development, which strives to eliminate illiteracy, poverty, and disease in order to expedite the development of Egyptian society.

Emily Bajet

Sources: Daily Mail, Forbes, Rose of Sharon Foundation, Mansour Foundation For Development

Drone strikes and the moral turbidity they incite have been hot international topics this year. Advancements in drone technology are happening more quickly than our understanding of their potential. The U.S. war on terrorism has become dominated by precision drone strikes, and other countries like Iran and China are quickly developing their own drones to counter. Stealth reconnaissance, missile guidance, and bomb delivery are just some of the ways Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are being used in combat to improve military power. Yet, the expanding technology can be used for more than just warfare, and, in the future, UAVs could potentially save more lives than they destroy.

Drones have a couple of advantages over humans in the exploration of dangerous areas in that they are both expendable and as resilient as you choose to make them. While many people are known for having thick skin, metal and high-density plastics are tougher. In Costa Rica, the Dragon Eye UAV successfully travelled into the plume of an active volcano. Obviously, going inside a volcano would be incredibly dangerous, but just getting close has proven difficult for scientists due to the toxic sulfuric ash, high temperatures, and ash and smoke clouds that can stretch for miles. Understanding more about how they erupt will lead an increased ability to predict eruptions and allow for earlier, more accurate warnings.

Smoke from forest and brush fires is just as harmful to human lungs and seriously obstructs vision. In 2012, just 13 people died from wildfires in the U.S., but over 2,000 homes were destroyed. Many of those who die each year are the firefighters who attempt to control these fires. Fireflight Unmanned Aircraft Systems has developed a lightweight UAV to assist firefighters that uses infrared cameras to locate people in danger and track the path of fires.

Natural disasters present other dangers to rescue teams than fire and smoke. Floods, typhoons, and earthquakes can level structures and make roadways impassable. UAVs are perfect for rescue missions into inhospitable areas like these. After being frustrated at the amount of time it took to locate and help survivors of Japan’s 2011 tsunami, Shane Coughlan developed OpenRelief to create affordable drones that could map disaster areas in real-time and better facilitate relief efforts. The drones will cost no more than $1,000 to make commercially and offer upgradeable sensor systems to customize for the needs of the disaster.

Perhaps the most innovative and amazing use of robots for disaster relief comes from a group led by Vijay Kumar at Penn State University. A team there has developed automated micro-UAV’s that can work in tandem to perform herculean tasks. Weighing less than ten ounces and with a diameter of 50 centimeters, these fully automated robots can map areas without GPS, lift hundreds of pounds in teams, maneuver through obstacles without guidance, and even construct basic structures, to name only a few of their capabilities. Getting help to those in disaster areas is becoming faster and easier as UAV design moves away from the battlefield.

– Tyson Watkins
Sources: TG Daily, USA Today, Linux Magazine, TED, Popular Mechanics, International Symposium on Robotics Research 2011, FireFlight Unmanned Aircraft Services