Tag Archive for: infant mortality


Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation.

FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports.

Poland, Slovakia to send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine.



Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation

A recent Household Pulse Survey by the Census Bureau found that more than half of Mississippians (52.9%) are struggling to pay typical household bills. This is the highest percentage in the nation and the only one over 50%. Mississippi narrowly edges out neighboring Alabama which came in second at 49.7% and far exceeds the national average of 39.7%. 

Over that same period (the week of Feb. 4-13), Mississippi was 5th in the nation at 48.6% among states whose residents fear eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. Mississippians also led in the category of householders that were unable to pay an energy bill in full in the last 12 months with 30.5%.

Median household income is the lowest in the nation at $46,637, far below the national average of $70,784. Recent data shows that Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation with 19.07%.

State Republicans suddenly remember this is an election year

During the pandemic, states received millions in federal dollars to help people get through the economic downturn. Despite the great need, average Mississippians received far less help than people in other states. Instead, the state government decided to use this windfall to push for income tax cuts.

While income tax reduction is popular in the state (62%), the suspension of the state’s 7% grocery tax is far more popular (74%). Mississippi is one of the few states to tax groceries and has the highest rate of any of them. Grocery taxes disproportionately burden the poor while income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. But the state’s Republican leadership hasn’t considered using the state’s surplus to cut grocery taxes, despite rising food costs. 

State legislators recently narrowly rejected proposals that would have eliminated income taxes in the state. This means the stalled bills likely won’t move forward in this year’s legislative session. However, House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar said the bills’ failure was “more of a timing issue with some of these representatives as opposed to any real opposition to income tax elimination. Coming off the heels of last year’s income tax bill, and this being an election year, there are a few that would just prefer to wait a little longer before making further cuts”.

Reeves believes life begins at conception, but when does it end?

In a rare win for public welfare in the state, Gov. Reeves has just signed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers and babies from 60 days after birth to 12 months.

Mississippi has some of the worst rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the country. Until Reeves signed this latest bill, Mississippi was the only state in the nation that had neither extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers nor expanded Medicaid eligibility overall. 

Reeves touted expanding Medicaid coverage for new moms and babies to 12 months as being in line with the state’s pro-life stance. However, Reeves was quick to remind us he still opposes expanding eligibility for Medicaid for low-income families under Obamacare. Maybe Reeves thinks life ends at 12 months?


FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports

So far in 2023, there have been at least nine near-collisions of commercial airplanes at eight US airports. That number may seems small in light of the fact that there are about 45,000 flights taking off each day. But when you consider the hundreds of lives put at risk each time, even one near-miss is unacceptable.

The circumstances vary in each case, but in some instances, the near-miss was the result of air traffic control clearing two planes to use the same runway. This was the case in the most dramatic near-collision in Austin, TX, in which a FedEx cargo plane came within 100 feet of a Southwest Airlines passenger plane. Controllers had cleared the FedEx plane to land on the same runway where the Southwest Airlines flight was taking off. In this case, it was the quick thinking of the FedEx pilot that averted disaster, rather than any action by air traffic control.  

On Wednesday, FAA held an emergency summit this week, its first in 14 years, to discuss the issue. The panel of aviation experts cited low staffing numbers at the FAA and a lack of experience among new hires as a major factor. The staffing issues come at the same time that US demand for air travel is surging, making accidents and near-accidents more likely.

It may also be significant that 8 of the 9 incidents took place after an outage of the FAA’s automated NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system which notifies pilots of potential hazards they may encounter during their flights. The NOTAM system went dark late in the night of Jan. 10 and grounded all flights in the US for two hours the following morning. An investigation found that the outage was the result of FAA contractors deleting files.

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Poland, Slovakia send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine

After nearly a year of requests from Kiev, Poland yesterday agreed to send about a dozen Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Today, Slovakia followed suit, promising 13 MiG-29s. At the time of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s that it had retained following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not clear how many of these remain in service over a year later.

According to Slovakia’s Defense Minister, the European Union is offering Slovakia 200 million euros ($213 million) in compensation for giving the jets to Ukraine. Slovakia will also receive $745 million in unspecified arms from the US, the minister said. There’s no reporting on whether Poland is receiving similar compensation for its pledge. However, Poland’s Defense Minister did mention that they would be replacing their MiGs with South Korean and American-made fighter jets.

The White House says it was informed of Poland’s decision before it was announced. Biden has long been under pressure to give Ukraine F-16s, a request the US has so far steadfastly refused. National Security advisor John Kirby neither endorsed nor condemned Poland and Slovakia’s decision, but said it would have no bearing on the US position on sending F-16s. 

Unlike F-16s, Ukraine’s fighter pilots require no additional training to fly MiG-29s. But maintaining them may pose a problem. Slovakia had previously grounded its MiG-29 fleet due to difficulties obtaining spare parts and the departure of Russian maintenance workers.

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British man killed after taking Texas synagogue hostage. Mississippi has highest U.S. infant mortality rate. Fears after volcanic eruption cuts communication in Tonga




British man killed after taking Texas synagogue hostage

On Saturday, FBI agents stormed a Dallas-area synagogue where a British national had taken four hostages. The agents shot the attacker dead and freed the hostages unharmed. This ended a 10-hour standoff between law enforcement and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, who hailed from Lancashire, England.

It’s since emerged that Akram had a history of mental illness. It’s not clear exactly when he arrived in the country, but he apparently began putting a plan into motion soon after arriving. In an impromptu statement to reporters, President Biden said Akram purchased his weapons here soon after landing in the U.S., and spent his first night in a homeless shelter. It’s not clear if he was working alone, but British police have arrested two teenagers in connection with the case.

During the siege, video captured Akram demanding the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui has been serving an 86-year sentence in a Ft. Worth federal prison since 2010 with multiple convictions, including attempted murder of a U.S. soldier. Her case has been a source of controversy and international tension since she was taken into custody in 2008 by U.S. forces. U.S. prosecutors claimed that she had ties to al-Qaeda, and that while in custody in Ghazni, Afghanistan, she attempted to shoot some of her U.S. captors with an M4 carbine.

There are many in the international Muslim community who believe Siddiqui’s prosecution was unjust due to the secrecy and conflicting reports about her offenses and arrest. Her supporters contend that she was a mentally-ill woman caught up in the overzealous prosecution of the war on terror.

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Mississippi has highest infant mortality in U.S.

Even as the Supreme Court prepares to consider Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the state has so far made little headway in improving infant care since the law’s passage. When former Gov. Bryant signed the law in 2019, he said he aimed to make Mississippi the “the safest place for an unborn child in America”. But, he offered no plan to strengthen care for children already born. That year, Mississippi led the nation in infant mortality by a considerable margin at 8.71 deaths per 1000 births. The only state that came close to catching us was Louisiana, with 7.97 deaths per 1000 births.

In 2019, Mississippi’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee called for allowing new mothers to stay on Medicaid for up to a year after giving birth rather than the current 60 days. Statistics show that 40% of pregnancy-related deaths occur after the 6-week mark. Two years later, MMRC co-chair Dr. Charlene Collier is still waiting for movement on this issue.

According to Dr. Collier, “In Mississippi, there’s been a lot of focus on the issues of abortion and restricting that, but there’s no commensurate efforts to improve birth outcomes for pregnant women and babies in the state”.

Now, some Republican and Democrat state legislators are pushing to extend Medicaid coverage for new babies and mothers. They have until February 1 to put the proposal to a committee vote if there is any chance of passing such a measure this year.

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Fears after volcanic eruption cuts communication in Tonga

On Saturday, an undersea volcanic eruption near the Pacific island nation of Tonga erupted violently, sending a tsunami crashing over its shores. A satellite captured dramatic footage of the eruption from space. Communications from the island since Saturday have been difficult, but there have been some videos uploaded of the destruction. New Zealand is planning to dispatch a surveillance flight over the island to try to assess conditions on the ground.

The ash cloud from the volcano is now apparently blanketing the island. Tonga has a limited fresh water supply under the best of circumstances, and the ash cloud will bring with it poisonous contaminants. New Zealand plans to deliver a supply of fresh water to the island by sea.

Since communications are spotty, it’s difficult to get a full picture of the impact of the eruption remotely. One British man managed to learn that his sister was killed, but even days later there’s no clear picture of total casualties. Tonga has a total population of about 100,000 people throughout its archipelago.

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