Tag Archives: ranks

EU cracks show after China’s ‘friend’ Hungary breaks ranks to strike deal with Beijing

The European Parliament voted to suspend the ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) earlier this year after relations between the two sides plunged. It came after the EU joined the US, UK, and Canada in placing sanctions on Chinese officials involved in alleged human rights violations in the region of Xinjiang. But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with counterparts from Hungary, Ireland, Serbia and Poland this week and reportedly agreed to “reflect on problems in China-Europe relations”.

It came after Mr Wang praised Hungary’s “friendly attitude” towards China in a bilateral meeting in Guiyang in southwestern Guizhou province.

Beijing said “four goals” for the bilateral relationship were agreed on with Budapest during Wang’s meeting on Monday with Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade.

The four goals are said to relate to deepening strategic mutual trust, pursuing high-quality economic cooperation together, encouraging cultural and people-to-people exchange and co-defending international institutions and multilateralism.

After the meeting between the ministers, the Hungarian government also announced a deal was struck to produce the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine locally too.

Hungary is the only EU country to vaccinate its citizens with the Chinese jab after domestic regulators approved its use, breaking with an EU consensus that any COVID-19 shot used inside the bloc would be authorised by the European Medicines Agency.

This week marked Mr Wang’s first meeting with his European counterparts since the stalling of the CAI.

Serbia is not a member of the EU, but the other three – Hungary, Ireland and Poland – are.

But Mr Wang insisted China was not trying to divide Europe.

READ MORE: Macron’s grip on UK: Boris Johnson’s £23billion nuclear plan ‘dependent’ on France 

He added: “The current difficulties between China and Europe is something China does not wish to see, and it does not serve the fundamental and long-term interests of both sides.

“On the level of China-Europe relations, China’s cooperation with Hungary was never, and will never be, about dividing Europe.

“Instead, it is to boost mutual understanding and tolerance, to stand against moves that destroy China-Europe cooperation and to stand against conspiracies that divide the world.”

Hungary’s warming relations with China appear to be in contrast with the atmosphere between Beijing and the EU.

A statement by the Chinese foreign ministry quotes Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto supporting the signing of the CAI, backing the Beijing narrative that China has never interfered with Europe and stating that Hungary welcomed Huawei.

It comes after many European countries were called on by the US to block the Chinese telecoms investment because of “security concerns”.

The EU has no blanket ban on Huawei being used within the bloc but individual members, including Poland, have issued domestic embargoes.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Austin ranks among US cities where housing affordability is falling fastest

Austin Neighborhood, homes_128872
A home in east Austin (KXAN)
AUSTIN (ABJ/KXAN) — When it comes to housing, there are plenty of cities more expensive than Austin — but there are few that have seen affordability decline as rapidly recently.

Losing bang for the buck is now the American norm. After two years of steady affordability growth in the U.S. housing market, March brought a nationwide decline in affordability, according to a report by First American Financial Corp. (NYSE: FAF). The Austin metro area showed the fifth-biggest drop in housing affordability among 50 major markets.

The study used the real house price index, or RHPI, which measures changes in housing price, income levels and interest rates to determine actual homebuying power. The higher the RHPI, the less affordable the market.

Kansas City, Missouri, topped the list with a 16.2% year-over-year increase in RHPI, followed by Phoenix; Tampa, Florida; Seattle; and Austin, which had a 12.1% increase. 

Recently, Austin City Council voted to increase the fees commercial developers will have to pay to build high-priced condos in high rises that exceed height/density limits — and those dollars will go into the City of Austin’s Affordable Housing Fund. Alternatively, developers can elect to provide affordable housing on their property instead of paying the fees.

The City of Austin says it’s received about $ 1 million in fees for affordable housing since the program’s start in 2014.

The City of Austin is currently working on several projects to achieve its goal of housing 3,000 people in the next three years. This would entail creating over 750 new permanent housing units.

This graphic from housing advocacy group HousingWorks Austin illustrates what types of neighbors fall into different income levels in the city of Austin. (Source: HousingWorks Austin)
Advocacy group HousingWorks Austin shows what types of neighbors fall into different income levels (Source: HousingWorks Austin)

Current numbers show the City is well behind on its goal, however. According to its latest estimates, the City of Austin would need to develop over 13,000 affordable housing units per year to get back on schedule.

Housing affordability in Texas’ Capitol city has become even more of a focal point, as concerns over those without homes has grown into a contentious local issue. In order to house the city’s homeless, hundreds of units are being planned for construction.

To read more, visit Austin Business Journal.

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Trying to make sense of how Texas ranks on coronavirus vaccinations? Here’s a look behind the numbers.

As Texas lumbers toward its goal of vaccinating most of its 22 million residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the state continues to show up in the lower half of some national rankings measuring states’ progress toward reaching herd immunity against the coronavirus.

Texas ranks 45th nationally[1] in terms of the overall percentage of its population fully vaccinated, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, a business publication whose rankings are widely circulated. On Friday it ranked 36th[2] in terms of how fast allocated doses are going into arms.

Looking only at the adult population, the state has fully vaccinated 23% of residents 18 and older, compared to 25% for the nation as a whole.

Meanwhile, Texas beats the national percentage[3] of senior citizens who have been fully vaccinated.

Rankings are done by a variety of news organizations and health research groups and are usually based on statistics tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s vaccination effort has been plagued by geographical, demographic and data challenges, many of which are unique to Texas, including a higher-than-average number of people who are too young to get the vaccine and a sluggish data collection system that can take days to publicly report doses administered.

An average of 265,910[4] administered doses[5] were reported in Texas each day in the last week, but state officials say potentially tens of thousands more may not be reported on a timely basis due to lag times and some providers still unable to report daily numbers.

Health organizations and statisticians say Texas’ own fractured distribution system can’t be let entirely off the hook for what appears to be, by many measures, a slower-than-average rollout.

But the various national rankings — which vary widely depending on which metric is used and where the data is coming from — can change quickly and are also subject to delays in reporting, state officials said. The February winter storm also created a domino effect, with providers unable to administer what officials said at the time could have been 1 million doses that week, which would have moved the state higher in the rankings.

For those reasons, officials say, rankings can tell an incomplete story about where Texas falls in comparison to the rest of the country.

CDC officials have said state data can lag and are not uniformly updated across every state, and federal vaccination programs may also report their administered doses on a separate timeline, which can lead to further undercounts or lags.

Texas’ vaccination effort has been successful in terms of lowering COVID-19 transmission rates, deaths and hospitalizations, even as some other states are seeing increases, which “shows how far we’ve come,” no matter what the rankings say, said Chris Van Deusen, spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The state continues to streamline the process and reach more marginalized communities, he said, most recently through the creation of a centralized statewide registration site and hotline for health departments and community clinics.

“Vaccine providers across the state have done an excellent job getting shots into arms and are further picking up the pace,” he said.

Critics of Texas’ vaccine rollout say that rankings — however they are interpreted — are still useful when evaluating how Texas has managed its program and can identify weaknesses as the state participates in the largest vaccination program in U.S. history, said Gizem Nemutlu, assistant professor of data analytics at Brandeis International Business School.

“The total number of vaccines administered as a count is not terrible, but the coverage [of its overall population] is really low compared to other states,” she said. “So I think they [Texas] should look into the reasons why Texas is not operating well to serve its community and residents in a better way. I think it is an operational problem.”

But because Texas has so many residents who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated, it’s more fair — if less headline-grabbing — to measure progress based on the percentage of eligible residents fully vaccinated as opposed to the percentage of the total population vaccinated, Van Deusen said.

By that measure, Texas is a bit higher in the overall rankings, on par[6] with populous states like California and Florida and just under the national totals.

Texas also ranks higher than the national rate in terms of fully vaccinated people over 65, with 61% of that age group fully inoculated in the state, compared with 58% nationwide.[7] Texas is ahead of more than 30 states[8] on that metric.

Another key measure of a state’s vaccination program is the percentage of doses received by the state that have actually been given to people.

Texas has administered 91% of the 14.5 million doses[9] that have been received by providers, according to DSHS.

But popular rankings[10], which show Texas at 73% as of Friday and ranked 36th, measure doses going into arms against the number of doses allocated to the state. That measure uses the nearly 20 million doses that have been allocated to Texas, but not all of them have arrived in the state yet, and a large portion of those doses are administered by federal programs that don’t regularly report their vaccination rates to the state.

Texas has moved up in various national rankings from its early position near the bottom last month, in spite of challenges that complicated the state’s vaccine rollout, Van Deusen said.

He said Texas’ population has grown faster than many other states since 2018, and because vaccine allotments rely on 2018 population numbers,[11] Texas isn’t getting as many vaccine doses as it would if the federal government used current population numbers, he said.

Texas is also an enormous state with roughly 10 million people living in largely rural areas west of the state’s largest cities. Getting doses to these remote areas slowed the rollout in some areas, state officials have said.

And unlike states like Florida and California that have more centralized public health systems — and therefore can compile statewide data and control distribution more easily — Texas’ decentralized public health system has spread the responsibility for vaccinations and data collection among thousands of individual providers, Van Deusen acknowledged.

“It all kind of adds up,” Van Deusen said.

An underfunded public health system, combined with a state immunization registry that was not set up to easily handle the massive reporting required during the pandemic, may be the largest reason Texas doesn’t rank higher, said Allison Winnike, president and CEO of The Immunization Partnership, based in Houston.

“If Texas, in every legislative session, would have put in the money for our public health infrastructure or modernized our immunization registry years ago, as it should have been, we would be miles ahead of where we are today,” Winnike said.

References

  1. ^ 45th nationally (www.beckershospitalreview.com)
  2. ^ 36th (www.beckershospitalreview.com)
  3. ^ beats the national percentage (covid.cdc.gov)
  4. ^ 265,910 (apps.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ doses (apps.texastribune.org)
  6. ^ on par (covid.cdc.gov)
  7. ^ nationwide. (www.cnbc.com)
  8. ^ 30 states (www.npr.org)
  9. ^ 91% of the 14.5 million doses (tabexternal.dshs.texas.gov)
  10. ^ popular rankings (www.beckershospitalreview.com)
  11. ^ 2018 population numbers, (www.expressnews.com)

Karen Brooks Harper

Grading COVID-19 data inside prisons, jails and juvenile centers — where Texas ranks

Grading COVID-19 data inside prisons

AUSTIN (KXAN)– It’s fairly simple now to track COVID-19 cases by demographic in Travis County, thanks to Austin Public Health’s dashboard.

But the same isn’t necessarily the case for jails and prisons in the state.

A new report from the University of Texas at Austin[1] found transparency is very low across the country.

The research team gave Texas a “C+” for data transparency for prisons and a “D” for tracking in local jails and juvenile facilities.

Michele Deitch, co-author of the report, says that’s because while Texas tracks data, there are gaps.

“There’s no way to break down the numbers of tests or cases or deaths by people’s age or race or gender or ethnicity, which means that we don’t know whether the responses that are being taken to COVID are equitable,” Deitch explains.

She also says that means there’s little data on how effective those COVID-19 policy responses have been at all.

The fact that Texas reports basic information at all earned them a better grade than many other states.[2]

You can see the “F”s across the board in this map, for example, ranking data transparency in local jails:

Texas is one of only three states that doesn’t a unified corrections system and still collects and reports statewide COVID data about jails. (Source: Hidden Figures report[3])

But Deitch says it’s not hard to be one of the top COVID-19 reporting states for prisons, jails and juvenile facilities because there’s a very low bar.

Deitch and her team outline several data points they hope state and local leaders will push to require, including the number of inmates who are both partially and fully vaccinated and population changes during COVID.

“Policymakers, stakeholders, the public, people who are incarcerated and their family members– they don’t know whether people who are in custody, and the staff who work in those facilities, whether they’re safe during this public health crisis,” says Deitch.

She also says without more data inside these facilities, we don’t know what the risks are to surrounding communities, either.

Deitch also hopes greater transparency can become something permanent, for things like tracking suicides or assaults.

Tahera Rahman