Archaeology shows how ancient African societies managed pandemics : The Conversation

Archaeologists have long studied diseases in past populations. They’ve explored the evolution of pathogens and how they interacted with humans.

Source: Archaeology shows how ancient African societies managed pandemics : The Conversation

If Germany atoned for the Holocaust, the US can pay reparations for slavery : The Conversation

The idea of paying reparations for slavery is gaining momentum in the United States, despite being long derided as an unrealistic plan, to compensate for state violence committed by and against people long dead.

The topic saw substantive debate in the July 30 Democratic primary debate, with candidate Marianne Williamson calling slavery “a debt that is owed.” Some Democratic congressional representatives are also pushing for financial recompense for the descendants of enslaved people.

Calls for reparations in the U.S. are generally met with skepticism: What would reparations achieve? Who should receive them, and under what conditions?

Other countries have tackled these questions. In 1995, South Africa established its Truth and Reconciliation Commission and paid reparations to the victims of apartheid. Eight years before, the United States apologized to 82,000 Japanese Americans unduly imprisoned during World War II and paid them US$20,000 each to compensate for their suffering.

Even Germany, birthplace of the worst racism ever institutionalized and elevated to official policy, has some lessons for the United States as it considers reparations.

Compensating victims of Nazi enslavement

I am a professor of political science who studies the relationship between democracy, citizenship and justice. My recent work on Germany examines how the country dealt with the horrors of the Holocaust.

Nazi Germany not only killed millions of Jews between 1933 and 1945. It also forced over 20 million people into slave labor, working them to their death in German industries. By 1944, a quarter of the German workforce was enslaved laborers.


Source: If Germany atoned for the Holocaust, the US can pay reparations for slavery : The Conversation

Trump goes full white supremacy with South Africa tweet: Does he want a “race war”? |

Does Donald Trump have a wish list of white supremacist dreams, hopes, desires and wishes that he is determined to fulfill? The answer would appear to be yes.

On Wednesday evening the president took to his preferred means of communication and made the following pronouncement:

I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews

Why did Trump address this so-called issue at this time? And where do such specious and dangerous claims come from?

Fear-mongering about the fate of white South African (and Zimbabwean) farmers, and how they are supposedly the victims of racist violence by “blacks,” is a set of talking points Trump could have taken almost verbatim from white supremacist websites and similar sources.

Earlier in the day, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson — who repeats white supremacist talking points as a matter of routine — had featured a segment on South Africa’s white farmers and how they are allegedly being “victimized” by black people. This is another example of how Trump’s tweets tend to parrot whatever he has recently seen on Fox News.

Are these claims true? They are not. Carlson’s report, like the white supremacist sources from which it was drawn, lacks historical context.

As the Washington Post explains, this issue “stretches back to the early 20th century, when South Africa’s Natives Land Act of 1913 stripped black people of the right to own land outside specific plots set aside for them. The restriction tightened during the apartheid era, as the governing National Party created desolate ‘homelands’ for black people.” Although a legal framework for land restitution emerged with the end of apartheid in 1994, the process has been “slow and riddled with bureaucratic uncertainty.”

The South African government also condemned Trump’s comments. It said, “South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past. South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation.” Patrick Gaspard, the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa for the Obama administration, also rejected Trump’s claims:””The President of the US needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he’s attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of ‘large scale killings of farmers’.”

There can be little doubt that Trump has heard arguments about the unfair treatment of white people in South Africa and around the world from advisers such as Stephen Miller, Michael Anton and Steve Bannon.


Source: Trump goes full white supremacy with South Africa tweet: Does he want a “race war”? |

South African court rejects Pistorius right to appeal murder conviction – ENCA TV | Reuters

South Africa’s Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected Olympian Oscar Pisitorius the right to appeal against his conviction for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, television news channel ENCA reported.

Source: South African court rejects Pistorius right to appeal murder conviction – ENCA TV | Reuters

Oscar Pistorius murder verdict has restored some faith in the South African judiciary system

The trial was conducted in the glare of international media and added pressure on the original judge’s verdict.

Source: Oscar Pistorius murder verdict has restored some faith in the South African judiciary system

Oscar Pistorius trial: Murder verdict means Reeva Steenkamp ‘will now be able to rest’, family says – live updates | People | News | The Independent

Here are the latest updates:

Source: Oscar Pistorius trial: Murder verdict means Reeva Steenkamp ‘will now be able to rest’, family says – live updates | People | News | The Independent

10 Top Disability Friendly Nations in the World

Reblogged from Beyond Disability




top 10Where does your nation lie under disability benefit ?

1. Estonia
With a population of just 1.5 million, Estonia does not have a very large welfare budget in either absolute or relative terms. However, unlike many countries, much of the Estonia’s welfare budget is administered online, keeping costs down. Citizens can apply for all relevant benefits once, without having to fill out lots of very similar forms.

For disabled people and the long-term sick, working age adults are eligible for incapacity benefits, with varying payment according to the severity of the disability or illness from €17-54 a month. This is supposed to go towards medical costs, transport and other expenses not covered by health insurance or other benefits. Citizens also receive health insurance.

2. France
Disability benefits are calculated according to the individual’s average salary over a 10-year period. If claimants can work, the rate is based on 30% of the claimant’s average salary over the decade and can range from €282 to €951 per month. For those no longer able to work, a higher rate of 50% is used, up to a ceiling of €1,585 per month. Those who cannot work and require care receive the same scale of benefits as this second group, but also get €1,104 per month to pay for a carer. Disabled adults who have never worked can claim a monthly allowance of between €403 (for a single person) and €666 (for a couple), as long as they do not have financial resources of more than €800 per month (for single person) and €1,600 (for couples). If the disabled person has worked for less than one year and has minimal resources, they can also claim the RSA as well as housing benefits. Disability benefits are also available for parents looking after disabled children under 20 who are living at home. They cover education, and the employment of a carer, but are means-tested and the benefits depend on the severity of the child’s disability.

3. Germany

Those with a disability, who are unable to work more than three hours a day, are eligible for a disability pension as long as they have contributed to the social security scheme for a minimum of five years. Those unable to work more than six hours a day are entitled to a partial pension. The average disability pension is around €8,900. Disabled people are entitled to health treatment via the nationwide health insurance scheme at no extra cost, but must have been paying into the system prior to the disability. Seriously disabled people are entitled to further allowances and special employment protection.

Disabled children are automatically insured with their parents in the health insurance scheme without having to pay any additional costs. Children and students with disabilities are entitled to various rights, including wheelchair access and a sign language translator in certain circumstances. Companies receive benefits and tax breaks for employing people with disabilities. Grants are available of up to €2,557 per project to adapt the home of a disabled person to their individual needs. They are also entitled to housing benefit of up to €1,500, depending on the severity of the disability; help towards taxi fares to enable mobility and participation in normal life; and free public transport. There is also money to cover care at home, measured on three levels, according to an individual’s care needs.
10 Innovative Designs To Help The Sight Impaired
Sign Language
4. Ireland
The overarching criteria for disability allowance is that individuals are residents of Ireland and have a disability that is expected to last for at least one year and substantially restricts a person from undertaking work that would otherwise be suitable for them. “Deciding officers”, appointed under Irish social welfare legislation, determine who is entitled based on the merits of each individual case. Applicants are required to have their doctor complete a medical report which is reviewed by one of the department’s medical assessors. Payments are means-tested above €50,000 of any capital. The maximum payment for those aged 26 or over is €188 per week for individuals. Those with children receive extra.

If a disabled person goes back to rehabilitative work they can earn up to €350 a week and still receive the allowance. However, that individual must first get permission from the department before taking up that job
Help for the Disabled
Disability in Kenya
5. Italy
There are about 2.6 million disabled people living in Italy, 4.8% of the population, who describe themselves as unable to perform essential daily tasks independently. Benefits for disabled people are recalculated every year based on inflation and the cost of living. In 2015, disabled Italians between the ages of 18 and 65 are entitled to €279.75 a month. They also receive tax breaks to buy certain goods such as special vehicles and adjustments to the home. In Italy generally, disabled people are not necessarily encouraged to work and the funds they are given are not enough to support an autonomous life, according to the Academic Network of European Disability Experts. Researchers at Academic Network of European Disability (ANED) found that the proportion of disabled adults who live at risk of poverty is 16.5%, compared with 6.6% for non-disabled people. And only 29% of disabled adults have jobs, according to 2009 data, compared with 65% of able-bodied adults.

6. Japan
People with physical or learning disabilities, as well as those with mental health conditions, are eligible for government assistance. According to the Japanese cabinet office, 7.4 million people belong in these three categories. Adults with severe physical and mental disabilities with an income of less than ¥3.4 million yen (£20,000) are eligible for ¥26,800 yen (£153) a month, while families with children under 20 with physical and mental disabilities can receive ¥50,050 or ¥33,330 a month depending on the severity of the disability. If the children require constant homecare, families receive an additional ¥14,180 , provided their total income is below a certain level. Disabled citizens are also eligible for discounts on public transport and telecom fees.

7. Norway
After a year claimants are assessed for disability benefits. This can be rapid, but it can also take a year or two while they go through a process of rehabilitation to try to get them into work. In contrast to many countries where disability benefits are only available for those in the labour market, here it is a universal right. Benefits are calculated at two-thirds of a person’s gross salary three to five years before the disability occurred. Those who have had very low or no wages, receive 40-50% of the average wage. Over 10% of all working-age adults receive permanent or temporary disability allowances, according to the OECD – a figure that rises to 14% if you include people receiving support to get them back into work after illness or injury. There is also means-tested support for each child in families in which a parent is a recipient of disability benefits.

People on disability benefits in Norway get extra help to pay for a carer, make adjustments to their homes (wider doors for wheelchairs etc), pay for taxis and so on. In Sweden, if you are in a car accident or similar, and end up with a disability, you may have the right to financial assistance for home adjustments, for example, to make it possible for you to move around in the house with a wheelchair, move the kitchen or a bedroom from upper to lower floor and so on. Unusually, if you build a new house in Sweden (quite a popular option among Swedes) you will not get planning permission if the house is not adjusted for such unexpected events – you need to have the kitchen on the ground floor, plus a bathroom accessible for a wheelchair, and at least the possibility to easily convert one room on the first floor to a bedroom, no matter whether anyone in your family has a disability. This amendment to construction law was introduced to reduce future claims for extra help for home adjustments in case of disability. Until the late 1980s, Nordic countries paid very high levels of out-of-work benefits, says professor Axel West Pedersen of the Institute for Social Research in Oslo. But “retrenchment” had already begun in the 80s and accelerated following the global recession of 1991. In Norway, unemployment benefits are financed from general taxation, while in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, unemployment insurance is voluntary, although non-insured unemployed people are entitled to cash benefits significantly lower than unemployment benefits.

8. Russia

For those out of work with serious illness or disability, the state pays sickness benefits as long as the illness first presented during work or within 30 days of terminating work, and as long as the work was fully legal and thus the person was paying social insurance through their employer. Sickness benefit can cover up to four consecutive months or five months in total in any calendar year. Depending on how long the person has been employed for, the payments will be between 60% and 100% of their normal salary. There is a catch, however: the total amount cannot exceed 415,000 roubles per year (£4,100), so those on high salaries will receive just a small portion of their salary. Low income families may be entitled to extra benefits, especially if they have three or more children or if the family includes a veteran of the second world war. Low-income families can also get discounts on certain foods and medicines, and some may qualify for a reduced utilities bill. Disability is grouped into three categories in Russia. Group one consists of people who have lost all of their working capacity and require constant care; group two are also people who have lost all their working capacity but do not require constant care, and group three includes people who have more than a 50% reduction in working capacity. Payments range from 2,974 roubles a month in the first group to3,170 roubles in the third group. For those with permanent disabilities, the sums are higher, up to 10,000 roubles per month, and higher if the person has dependents.

9. South Africa

Applicants for disability grant are assessed and diagnosed by a doctor who recommends whether their impairment is severe enough to qualify. The South African Social Security Agency makes the final decision. A disabled person is typically eligible for a grant of R1,350 (£76) per month – equivalent to 9% of South Africa’s average wage of R14,731 per month. There is a means test: claimants must not earn more than R5,150 rand per month if they are single or R10,300 per month if married. They must not have assets worth more than R891,000 if single or R1,782,000 if married.They are paid on a sliding scale – the more income an applicant has, the less they will receive for the grant. More than one million people were recipients of a disability grant in 2013/14. But Olwethu Sipuka, spokesperson for Disabled People South Africa, believes the money could be better spent on education to help disabled people gain skills and find jobs. He said: “The government thinks this is the best it can do. It’s not. We’re creating a developmental welfare state and in the long term it’s going to be unsustainable.”

10. United States
The US system of benefits for disabled people could be used as a cautionary tale for anyone who wants to know what happens when state financial support for citizens with physical or mental impairments is paired down to the minimum. The vast majority of people receive nothing in the way of disability benefits. For many who don’t qualify food stamps (a federally funded programme for the most impoverished people) is an essential, if meagre lifeline.

There are two main benefits that disabled people can apply for, both of which are administered nationally by the social security administration. The is Social Security Disability Insurance, (SSDI) which is funded through worker and employer payroll contributions. Approximately 9 million working-age adults are currently in receipt of SSDI. SSDI payments average $1,140 per month (£777) and are much less than the benefits paid by most other advanced nations

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the second type of disability benefit and which is designed to meet the basic needs of the poorest disabled people, is paid to just under 5 million working age people with around 1.3 million disabled children also receiving payments. On average, working age adults on SSI receive $525 per month and for most it is their only source of income.

Additional reporting from the The Guardian  ……………’