BPR Fall 2018 Issue 1

Page 1

FALL 2018




Editors’ Note When we hear the word sustainability, we often reflexively think of the environment. Our eyes turn to the future of our planet, and as of now, it looks grim. A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change essentially put an expiration date on the Earth: one that falls squarely within our expected lifetimes. Questions of sustainability extend far beyond the sphere of the environment into virtually every corner of our lives—economic, social, technological, and political. According to the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainability is “the physical development and institutional operating practices that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations.” Sustainability is not just a lofty environmental buzzword. It is a political imperative for our generation. The premise of sustainability is simple: Don’t use things up if you want to rely on them in the future. Yet building things to last, while logical, has only recently become trendy in policymaking circles. In the past, innovators did not prioritize the needs of future generations as they pushed for development and industrialization: we’re left with the ramifications of their negligence. The 24-hour cycles of politics and news are unable to look beyond the most immediate issues. The luxury and responsibility of a political magazine, particularly a student publication like ours, is to zoom out. In this issue, our writers explore how to map the concept of sustainability onto a slate of contemporary challenges. The European Union experiments with smart villages to boost rural communities. The Middle East looks to fill bare woods by replicating the Chinese reforestation model. Japan’s revered universal health care system confronts an aging population. The US Department of Defense takes on climate change as a military strategy. Acting sustainably is the policy mission of our generation: How do we keep one foot firmly in the present while stretching the other into the distant future?

Michael & Olivia



THE RECYCLING JOURNEY of a plastic bottle

When you throw a plastic bottle in a recycling bin,

the bin’s contents get picked up and taken to a recycling center,

where the bottles, cans, and glass are separated by material type. paper



The plastic bottles and caps are then ground into flakes,

Cap flakes float to the top.

and the flakes are placed into water.

Bottle flakes sink to the bottom. Then, the separated plastic flakes are melted into a gooey liquid Now, manufacturers can use the recycled plastic pellets to make new products. which gets squeezed out into long strands,


and then cut into little pellets.


MASTHEAD Executive Board

Copy Edit



EDITORS IN CHIEF Michael Bass Olivia Nash

( continued )

SECTION MANAGERS Dhruv Gaur Sean Joyce Simran Nayak

MEDIA DIRECTORS Luke Landis Eileen Phou


Editorial SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR Angie Kim MANAGING EDITORS Mary Dong Christian Hanway Emily Yamron ASSOCIATE EDITORS Emma Blake Aidan Calvelli Noah Cowan Uwa Ede-Osifo Jack Glaser Jordan Kranzler Peter Lees Anagha Lokhande Nathaniel Pettit Marianna Scott Maia Vasaturo-Kolodner Lucy Walke Leticia Wood

Copy Edit CHIEF COPY EDITOR Sam Parmer ASSOCIATE CHIEF COPY EDITOR Namsai Sethpornpong COPY EDITORS Karina Chavarria Gabriela Gil Patrick Gilfillan Christopher Lewis Eliza Namnoum Michael Power

Achutha Srinivasan Brendan Sweeney Jason Tang Gabriela Tenorio Huayu Wang Rachel Yan

Interviews INTERVIEWS DIRECTORS Maya Fitzpatrick Cayla Kaplan INTERVIEWS ASSOCIATES Sai Allu Jordan Allums Grace Banfield Breanna Cadena Jack Thomas Doughty Jack Makari Charles Saperstein Glenn Yu


ASSOCIATE SECTION MANAGERS Chris Kobel Annie Lehman-Ludwig STAFF WRITERS Samy Amkieh Karina Bao Josh Baum Drew Bierle Stella Canessa Connor Cardoso Anchita Dasgupta Fayez Fayad Quinton Huang Junaid Malik Zoë Mermelstein Leonardo Moraveg Jack Otero Ye Chan Song Cameron Tripp Edward Uong

Culture CONTENT DIRECTORS Allison Meakem Jeremy Rhee SECTION MANAGERS Jamie Flynn Hugh Klein Erika Undeland ASSOCIATE SECTION MANAGERS Anna Corradi Tristan Harris STAFF WRITERS Priscilla Arevalo Kate Dario Anuj Krishnamurthy Angela Luo Kavya Nayak Madeline Noh Ava Rosenbaum Alex Vaughan-Williams

United States SECTION MANAGERS Sophia Petros Brendan Pierce Carter Woodruff

Data DATA DIRECTOR Aansh Shah ASSOCIATE DATA DIRECTORS Julia Gilman Zachary Horvitz CHIEF PLATFORM ARCHITECT Tyler Jiang DATA ASSOCIATES Eleanor Avril Prakrit Baruah Erika Bussmann Rohit Chaparala Sophia Chen Sarah Conlisk Benjamin Gershuny Peter Kelly Malavika Krishnan Dheeraj Namburu Huayu Ouyang Charlotte Perez Kyle Qian Andrew Wei

MEDIA ASSOCIATES Raphael Cohen Clara Devine-Golub Melis Gökalp Antonia Huth Jenna Israel Selene Luna Ambika Miglani Maya Smith Yashi Wang

Podcast EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Emily Skahill PODCAST ASSOCIATES Izzy Belleza Aidan Calvelli Kris Cho Noah Cowan Kate Dario Tobi Lepecki Rachel Lim Ali Martinez Sam Parmer Ella Rosenblatt


Marketing, Operations & Business


MOB DIRECTORS Bridget Duru Anna Marx

STAFF WRITERS Luke Angelillo Matthew Bailey Roxanne Barnes Zander Blitzer Ashley Chen Indigo Funk Jonathan Huang Ellie Papapanou Jackson Segal Emily Skahill Jamie Solomon Cartie Werthman Lucia Winton

SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR Maria Hornbacher MOB ASSOCIATES Max Alweiss Julia Hondros Miles Jasper Jasrine Kaur Dham William Pate Stephanie Kendler Calista Shang Claire Zhang


TABLE of CONTENTS Editors’ Note


Sustainability: A Closer Look





Raising the Bar

Judicial elections are recipes for corruption


by Noah Cowan

Health Policy Hits the Streets Re-evaluating roads in Rhode Island and beyond


by Emily Yamron Interview


Susanna Blankley

Tribes & Tribulations

Re-inventing the Indigenous education system


by Jackson Segal Interview

Peter Byrne

Reeling it Back


Improving anti-trust enforcement of streaming companies


by Luke Landis



It Takes A Smart Village

Rural Europe gets smart & sustainable


by Michael Bass

Camouflaged Climate Control by Daniel Steinfeld


The US military’s fight against climate change


Taking Root

Replicating China’s reforestation model in the Middle East


by Samy Amkieh

At What Cost Japan faces the pitfalls of universal health care by Kavya Nayak




Brenda Clement


Nursing the German Economy The status of immigrant workers in the EU powerhouse 34 by Allison Meakem Interview


Samuel Zipp

Between Borders

The identity crisis of Korea’s lost citizens


by Hyun Choi

Factory to Table Brazil grapples with its Big Food prolem by Marianna Scott Interview

Robert Azar

Parasites of Peace How the Eritrean-Ethiopian détente complicates malaria control

40 43 44

by Sean Joyce Interview

Kettia Dorsec


Quantifying Ideology

47 48

by Zachary Horvitz




8 8

RAISING THE BAR Judicial elections are recipes for corruption When American founding father Elbridge Gerry said, “the evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy,” he probably didn’t have judicial elections in mind. But the uniquely American and singularly deleterious practice of determining judges’ tenures through popular vote perfectly illustrates the danger of over-democratization. About 80 percent of people believe in the ideal of the US judicial election, which is partly why 90 percent of non-federal judges participate in some form of election. While these elections are admirable in theory, unfortunately, in practice, they are harmful to law, to justice, and, ironically, to democracy itself.

The origin of judicial elections can be traced back to the 1800s—the combination of the elevation of “the people” as a mythic, infallible collective under

President Andrew Jackson and the fiscal overreach of state governments led to strong, unified backlash against legislatures across the nation. Localities overspent on large infrastructure projects, resulting in a lack of funding to help the destitute when the economic crisis of 1837 struck. One way to check legislatures’ freedom to tax and spend however they wished was to separate the nomination process of judges from the other branches of government and grant the process to the people. Many lawyers predicted that this new system would increase the power of party politics and keep judges from making correct rulings, but the will of the populace overpowered dissent. The failure of state legislatures coincided with the crest of Jacksonian populist belief in the people. By the

start of the Civil War, almost 75 percent of states had amended their constitutions to institute judicial elections. The judicial system will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be held to its founding ideals: to distribute justice, uphold the rights of the people, and protect minorities from tyranny of the majority. All of these prerogatives are undermined by judicial elections. Through an election process, judges are incentivized to focus not on the law, but on the opinion of the people. Even worse, judges must commit their time to campaigning and fundraising instead of to judicial affairs.

US judicial election model, judges who want to keep their jobs must not only consider the facts of a ruling, but also its optics.

The popular deficit of information concerning the ability of judges leads to a dependence on advertisements and fundraising. After Citizens United, a Supreme Court decision in which the long-standing federal limits on corporate expenditures in elections were struck down, this dependence has become even more dangerous. Judges can see clearly who gave them money and whom they need to rule in favor of in order to keep their jobs. Elections necessarily make the application of the law uneven.

But there is a better way. Merit selection, in which a commission of lawyers and former judges gives the governor names of supremely qualified candidates, has been gaining traction in many states. This globally common practice has been found to be the most just way to nominate judges. Merit selection insulates judges from the tyranny of the majority, endows nomination responsibility to those who can understand how judicial candidates have ruled in the past, and has been shown to increase the proportion of minorities and women on the bench. Of course, merit selection has its flaws: The selection of commission members is susceptible to politicization, the process can perpetuate a system of cronyism and advantage legal insiders, and the concept feels explicitly undemocratic. While these claims are valid, they are insufficient to obstruct a call for change—merit selection is still far preferable to our current system, especially considering it is the only effective alternative model.

Additionally, under a judicial election model, judges must explicitly think about how the general public might view the defendants under trial. This

That people are able to participate in their government and have the power to choose who represents them is a virtue that should never be extinguished.

Elections necessarily make the application of the law uneven. includes considering the public’s many prejudices. In 2008, Wisconsin’s first Black justice, Louis Butler, was targeted by a series of ads putting his face next to the face of a Black man convicted of rape. This smear campaign, which was funded by a group of businesses against which Butler had recently ruled, implied that Butler had exonerated the convicted man. Butler eventually lost his election to an opponent who barely had any legal experience. Factual inaccuracies of the ad aside, the incident served as a signal that under the

But the voice of the people is already included in the selection of judges, since elected officials typically have some say in the nominating process. It is the job of the judiciary to strive for impartial justice, and judicial elections run contrary to this ideal.

AUTHOR Noah Cowan ’19 is a Chemical Physics concentrator and an Associate Editor at BPR. ILLUSTRATOR Ellen He


HEALTH POLICY HITS THE STREETS Re-evaluating roads in Rhode Island and beyond


There is a fascinating irony about the way by which humans go about constructing streets: Boulevard after boulevard is paved not for people, but for their cars, trucks, and buses. Our vehicle-centric transit worldview is so deeply ingrained that, in the English language, one of the many synonyms for the word “road” is “drive.” Though designing roads for automobiles seems intuitive, creating our thoroughfares for vehicles instead of people has a number of negative ramifications, including noise pollution and unhealthy restraints on casual physical activity. While adapting streets to be more human-centric is a daunting challenge in many parts of the United States,


The premise behind Complete Streets is simple: reduce the amount of roadway dedicated to vehicles by reducing lanes in size or number, use this increased space to create dedicated bike lanes and wider sidewalks, and develop an atmosphere that welcomes both vehicles and pedestrians. Complete Streets could be introduced in Rhode Island with extraordinary success. The state is one of few compact enough that adapting major passages to create protected bike lanes or sidewalks could actually aid in bicycle-based daily commutes. Additionally, while pedestrian and cyclist-friendly design practices are limited to large cities in many other states, Rhode Island can reasonably implement the policy without leaving rural areas behind.

Rhode Island is uniquely positioned to reimagine how its streets can serve its citizens. In recent years, policymakers have proposed a number of solutions to remedy vehicle-centric streets. One of the largest and most radical overhaul proposals has come from Barcelona. Five years ago, the Spanish city began to pursue a novel redesign of city blocks called superilles, or superblocks, which essentially creates clusters of streets where the speed limit is extremely low and cars can park curbside. The superblock design has already shown promise in other Spanish cities for its ability to substantially reduce pollution and boost economies.

While publications around the globe lauded Barcelona’s nearly citywide superblock implementation plan, it is unlikely that even major American cities could raise the funds or political capital needed to embark on a comparable project: The projections to reconfigure Barcelona’s grid hover at 58 million USD. Perhaps most significantly, this design can really only be applied in the urban core, leaving rural areas out in the cold. Superblocks, then, may be relegated to the dreams of American urban planners. However, a middle ground between the status quo and the superblocks of Barcelona exists: a person-centric design aptly called Complete Streets.

Though there has been a recent push to implement Complete Streets in the Ocean State, the movement has largely been isolated to individual roads or intersections that need improvement. However, the potential to expand the initiative is nearly unparalleled—and the impact would be huge. “A lot of the people taking shorter trips opt for a car because it’s perceived to be easier, more convenient, and safer, and we want to make people more inclined to, when they are going a mile or two, walk or bike,” said C.J. Opperthauser, Training Manager at GrowSmart RI, one of several organizations working to advance the policy in the state. Encouraging people to walk and bike more isn’t easy, but Complete Street initiatives hold great promises of improving public health and safety. Cyclists in much of Providence are given the laughable courtesy of “sharrows,” the double arrows and bicycle symbol on roads that tell motorists pushing 30 miles per hour to share their lanes with bikers going 12. In certain regions of the state, such as the more sparsely populated Washington County, cyclists often have no choice but to get on highways where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. This oversight has had deadly consequences: A cyclist on



Route 1 was struck and killed in 2016. Evidence shows that small adjustments to bike lanes can decrease the risk of accidents, and that bike lanes are truly in demand. About half of Americans say they would be interested commuting via bicycle but are concerned for their safety. With a new bike-share operating in Providence, it is clear that there is both a desire for and a need to expand bicycle lanes. Redesigning vehicle-centric streets offers a way to improve transportation systems while also nudging individuals to make healthier choices. In addition to implementing more designated bike lanes, Complete Streets also ensure that pedestrians feel welcome on the street. There is a clear and dire need for more pedestrian spaces: Though 79 percent of youth in Rhode Island have access to sidewalks or walking paths, only 20.3 percent of Ocean State high school students achieve the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended one hour of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per day. In a CDC survey, nearly one-third of parents cited traffic dangers as a reason why their children could not walk to school,. Complete Streets can also encourage activity among adults—another critical need in the state. In 2016, 24.4 percent of adults in Rhode Island reported taking no leisure-time for physical activity. Expanding space for leisure exercise for adults and children alike should be a statewide public health priority. With Complete Streets policies that create sidewalks for the 21 percent of children who don’t have access to them, separate sidewalks from the road, and narrow streets so that they are easier to cross, Rhode Island can make walking a more accessible form of transportation. Finally, Complete Streets also have substantial environmental health benefits. Better-designed streets reduce emissions by swapping vehicle traffic for bike traffic. By encouraging Rhode Islanders to plant trees in sidewalks or bike lane barriers, human-friendly


streets can provide a local cooling effect, cleaner air, and a better urban environment. Transportation holds the distinction of being the state’s greatest greenhouse gas contributor: air pollution from vehicles was found to be the cause of asthma exacerbation in 15 percent of children. Complete Streets could help alleviate this burden. Similarly, the effects of heat are often more apparent in urban areas dominated by

From creating bike lanes to expanding sidewalks, a sharp expansion of Complete Streets in Rhode Island seems like both a clear choice to make and an easy policy to implement, especially given the widespread benefits of human-centric streets. automobiles. Thus, by targeting these dense city blocks, implementing Complete Streets cools the urban core and improves outcomes during heat waves. From creating bike lanes to expanding sidewalks, a sharp expansion of Complete Streets in Rhode Island seems like both a clear choice to make and an easy policy to implement, especially given the widespread benefits of human-centric streets. Moving forward, it is essential that the implementation of more Complete Streets is both geographically comprehensive and socioeconomically inclusive. The ability to safely walk or bike down a street is a right, not a privilege extended only to those who can pay for it. Over a quarter

of the state’s population of one million lives outside the densely populated Providence and Kent counties, and there’s a stark lack of access to alternative transportation for those in more rural counties. Expanding access to bike lanes and sidewalks in Washington County in particular could help cyclists avoid the busy Route 1 shoulder and make biking a much safer option. Beyond just creating more welcoming, safer, and more social streets, policymakers must also incentivize people to take advantage of these policy changes. One strategy is to promote the subsidized JUMP bike program, which has distributed bikes across Providence. Since the subsidy offers transportation at a more affordable price point than even RIPTA’s reduced fare, promoting the program would incentivize use of bike lanes. This would give those who rely on low-cost transport an opportunity to be more physically active without forcing them to choose biking all the time. After all, having multiple affordable transit options is not a bad thing, as long as the road is designed to accommodate all of them. With a unique opportunity to improve physical activity rates, decrease environmental pollution, and make a transit system built for the future, Rhode Island should build on its successes and establish Complete Streets to serve all residents. The myriad public health and environmental benefits of Complete Streets point policymakers in a clear direction: It’s time for them to stop spinning their wheels and cover the state with Complete Streets.

AUTHOR Emily Yamron ’20 is a Public Health concentrator and a Managing Editor at BPR. ILLUSTRATOR Jenny Yu


Interview with

Susanna Blankley Susanna Blankley is the Coalition Coordinator for the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition. She teaches community organizing at the City College of New York, as well as the Advanced Community Organizing Class through the Center for Neighborhood Leadership. Blankley began her work in labor organizing in Puerto Rico and has been organizing for safe and affordable housing in New York City since 2009.

What is the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition? The coalition officially formed in 2014 and is composed of different groups—tenant organizers, legal services, academics, and advocates for homeless, senior, or disabled community members—all who care about gentrification, tenants’ rights, and justice in housing courts. The coalition formed around the legislation for a right to an attorney when one is facing eviction in housing court. What forms of devaluation occur in eviction court? Every year in New York City, landlords attempt to formally evict, through the courts, at least a million people. Outside of the court, evictees are denied basic services and harassed in their homes. Once they get the court papers, they may decide to fight their case. However, many people don’t fight: They may think they are never going to win, be concerned about ICE’s (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) presence in the courts, or may not feel worthy of fighting their case because they have been told eviction is their fault. Before Right to Counsel, those who chose to fight did not have the right to an attorney. In fact, between 1 and 10 percent of tenants had attorneys. Many people thought they were going to court to fight their case, and thought the government—an institution made to

administer justice—would help navigate that process. The reality was that there were a lot of people who were evicted who would not have been if they had had attorneys.

organizers, to educate people about their rights. We also need to de-commodify housing, whether that is through old ideas—like social housing models—or through clarifying an individual’s housing rights.

Why would landlords be motivated to evict? INTERVIEWER Jack Makari

It is complex, and in the last 20 or 30 years, there has been a shift in who owns housing. With outsourcing and loss of industry, housing has grown as a commodity that has become focused on targeted investments, especially since 2008. Most people who are evicted are not being evicted by small landlords struggling to pay their mortgages. They are being evicted by multinational, global corporations who use housing court as a business model and a precise form of a targeted investment strategy. Evictions are built into these business plans from the initial mortgage.

ILLUSTRATOR Jonathan Muroya

What policy or legislation would you like to see enacted tomorrow that you think might put New York on the right track toward justice? New York City shouldn’t be the only city that makes it a right to be able to defend yourself, but instead this right should be institutionally and systematically implemented on a state and national level. Right to Counsel should also fund not only public lawyers, but also community






Re-inventing the Indigenous education system

The US has historically othered Indigenous populations, & the decision to place the BIE in the DoI represents a continuation of this trend.


The history of Indigenous peoples in the United States is replete with genocide, erasure, and forced assimilation. Oppression of Indigenous peoples has been pervasive, especially in the ever-important domain of education. Originating with boarding schools’ forced cultural assimilation, Indigenous education is now defined by decrepit schools delivering sub-standard education. Federal education policy shows a consistent lack of reparative concern for the well-being of Indigenous students’ education. The institutions that uphold schools for Indigenous Americans necessitate complete restructuring and reformation. In 2006, President George W. Bush created the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) with the goal of promoting educational success for Indigenous students. The BIE currently supervises 183 schools, 53 of which are

directly managed by the Bureau. These schools are plagued by poor infrastructure and a low quality of education. Former Minnesota Representative John Kline testified at a congressional hearing in 2015 about the current state of reservation schools: “You’ve got collapsing roofs, leaking roofs, buckling floors, exposed wires, popping circuit breakers, [and] gas leaks.” The most basic level of repairs for schools under BIE management is estimated to cost $1.3 billion. Students are struggling as much as the infrastructure: The graduation rate at BIE schools is only 53 percent—28 percent lower than the national average. Students at BIE schools score between 22 and 14 percentile points lower on standardized reading and math tests, respectively, than Indigenous Americans at traditional public schools. Moreover, BIE schools teach little outside the scope of what’s


necessary for standardized tests; they recently lost a lawsuit holding that the BIE “failed to expose children to subjects like science, social studies, and physical education.” It would be easy to trace these discrepancies back to underfunding, but BIE schools are better funded than most public and charter schools in the United States. The Cato Institute estimates that the BIE spent $20,000 per student in 2014; the average public school spent $12,400. Instead, the most blatant cause of this educational failure is corruption. The BIE was placed on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) 2017 High Risk List of programs most vulnerable to “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.” A 2014 report from the GAO found that the BIE knew of almost $14 million in unallowable expenses that it failed to prevent. Even worse, the funds that aren’t misused rarely improve educational outcomes. Local school officials are

often unable to navigate the bureaucratic maze regulating BIE purchases, and the aforementioned 2014 GAO report identified “administrative woes caused by overlapping offices and bureaucratic red tape” as one of the main problems with the agency. Even Keith Moore, the Director of the BIE from 2010 to 2012, called his own organization “an inefficient, ineffective, poorly structured bureaucracy.” With the education of over 40,000 Indigenous students at stake, it’s critical that major reform is enacted. The Obama administration started a minor restructuring of the BIE that it hoped would increase tribal influence and clarify administrative roles, but that marginal change is an insufficient response to such a significant problem. While the Trump administration has supported increased funding for the BIE, it has proposed few substantive changes. A school voucher program supported by the late Senator John McCain has gained traction, but it

would require dialing back funding for the BIE. The McCain program would put students who are unable to attend traditional public schools due to geographic or cultural challenges in a worse position than before. When an organization is riddled with corruption, fraud, ineffective leadership, and unclear order, any impactful solution must take drastic steps to completely reorganize and restructure that agency. Created without any Indigenous input and misplaced in the Department of the Interior (DoI)—a department dedicated to conservation of America’s resources—the BIE may have been doomed from the start. An imperative element of the BIE’s transformation should be its relocation from the DoI to the Department of Education (DoEd). While the DoI does house the Bureau of Indian Affairs, it makes little sense for a department devoted to the preservation of land to oversee all programs relating to Indigenous peoples in the US.



This separation would not be unprecedented. For example, the Indian Health Service is located in Health and Human Services, not in the DoI. By relocating to the DoEd, the BIE would benefit from shared institutional knowledge and a clean administrative slate. BIE schools face challenges that are admittedly different from those faced by traditional public schools, but to suggest that such challenges require complete isolation from the federal department is ludicrous. Urban schools differ greatly from rural schools, yet city schools are not placed under the control of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The separation of the BIE from the DoEd isolates Indigenous American decision makers from the DoEd’s resources, including new research about education. The US has historically othered Indigenous populations, and the decision to place the BIE in the DoI represents a continuation of this trend. A move to the DoEd would facilitate important reforms needed within the BIE, including a transfer of management from the BIE to tribal authorities. Already, 130 of 183 BIE schools are managed by tribal authorities, and the remaining 53 cannot continue to suffer under the Bureau’s mismanagement. Traditional public schools are run by local school districts, and for good reason: Localized education is superior to federal-run education in its personalization. Factors such as job prospects and local culture also influence what students value, and a national approach to education cannot account for these nuances between localities. Transferring control of reservation schools to tribal authorities allows for the much-needed inclusion of Indigenous cultural education. In American Indian Educators in Reservation Schools, education professor Terry Huffman argues “strong cultural identity is essential for academic success for American Indian students.” One Montana reservation school principal who Huffman interviewed expressed concern about the prevalence of students who are


“ashamed to be Indian.” As one student expressed, “They always talk about us being dog eaters and make fun of us being poor…and being dumb.” Most of the principals Huffman interviewed agreed that Indigenous cultural education in schools would strengthen local identity and contribute to greater educational success. Some may argue that teaching tribal history, culture, and language would take away from a practical education. But any curricular addition capable of promoting student engagement, self-esteem, and cultural belonging is far more important and more likely to facilitate student growth than rote memorization assessments— the current norm.

It’s time for the BIE to serve as a resource for Indigenous students, rather than a flawed institution restricting their academic success. Local tribes are also more effective administrators than the BIE because they are more connected to the communities they serve, and consequently will have a more substantial relationship with students and their families than a federal BIE administrator. Moreover, the tribal administrators can be held accountable in a way that a distant federal employee or department cannot, reducing corruption and mismanagement. Tribal authorities can avoid overlapping regulations that hinder effective spending and target funding to programs that encourage student success. Increasing connections between tribal communities and their educational administrators could also encourage parental involvement

in shaping policies. While the transition from BIE control to tribal control would undoubtedly be difficult, the BIE has developed a framework for supporting administrators during the transition mode by the other 130 schools already managed by tribal authorities. Even when US policy toward Indigenous peoples has been well-intentioned, the paternalistic inclination to command rather than suggest has produced disastrous results. By forcing Indigenous peoples through a corrupt, bureaucratic, and ineffective educational system, the US government’s trend of harm toward them only continues. The federal government has a reparative obligation to ensure that Indigenous students receive a quality education. It’s time for the BIE to serve as a resource for Indigenous students, rather than as a flawed institution restricting their academic success.

AUTHOR Jackson Segal ’22 is an intended Public Policy and Economics concentrator and a US Staff Writer at BPR. INFOGRAPHICS Klara Auerbach & Rohit Chaparala


Interview with

Peter Byrne Peter Byrne is a professor of real property law at Georgetown. He has been a member of the law center’s faculty since 1985. After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School, he served as a law clerk to Judge Frank Coffin and US Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. Throughout his career, he has published several scholarly essays focused on land use, constitutional law, and higher education policy. In 2003, his article “Two Cheers for Gentrification” was published in the Harvard Law Review.

Gentrification is an issue that triggers an emotional and often angry response in many people. What do you believe critics of gentrification are getting wrong? I’ll begin by saying that there is plenty to criticize, and I definitely understand why people are angry and upset. However, in response, I would offer a few points. First, it’s important to consider historical perspectives. It wasn’t very long ago that many US cities were considered to be on the brink of collapse. These dying cities created closed enclaves of low-income minorities with poor education and employment options. The economic rebirth of cities can be positive. It can create the possibility for greater tax receipts, greater education opportunities, and more employment—all things that benefit low-income people. Second, a lot of what people complain about with gentrification is the degree of income inequality in society at large—an issue that cities themselves have no power over. Third would be the lack of federal government involvement in remedying these income disparities that the economy is producing. Gentrification has occurred with virtually no federal involvement, so cities often must pay from their own budgets to remedy the equity issues that arise.

How can gentrification benefit minorities? And how has your opinion changed since you published “Two Cheers for Gentrification” in the Harvard Law Review in 2003? The cascading levels of economic inequality generated by the economy make it all the more troubling. We live in a time where you have more people who are extremely wealthy and more people who are bereft and have little sense of possibility. That doesn’t cause me to recant what I said in my article in 2003, but it is a function to consider. So, going forward, the one thing to be said is that the wealth that is being created in these cities needs to be effectively managed by government to make sure that minorities have educational and employment opportunities and more affordable housing. Cities are doing more now for affordable housing than they’ve ever done, but it seems painfully inadequate. They need to do more. How can the destruction or removal of a neighborhood’s culture be justified by economic progress? Cultures are very fragile, and I think people romanticize cultures that are gone to an extent. I grew up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in the Bronx. That neighborhood’s culture went away—not by

economic development, but by economic stagnation. It’s unfortunate, but cities change all the time. The history of every city is a history of change in which cultures rise and fall. While I don’t think there are legal means by which you can maintain cultures, there are ways you can preserve them and honor them going forward. How do you respond to people who say that gentrification is an inherently racist issue? I think that that is wrong. We live in a country in which income inequality is racialized. The word “gentrification” was coined in England in a context in which there was no racial considerations. Many of the neighborhoods in the US that were gentrified were white working class neighborhoods, and many of the neighborhoods that are currently shifting from predominantly black to predominantly white were previously Italian or Jewish neighborhoods. Cities are dynamic in that way. I understand why people would say that gentrification is inherently racist, but it seems to me not to consider the reality of what’s going on.

INTERVIEWER Maya Fitzpatrick ILLUSTRATOR Jonathan Muroya






Improving anti-trust enforcement of streaming companies For much of the early 20th century, only a handful of film studios dominated the movie industry. The “Big Five”—Paramount, Warner Bros, RKO, 20th Century Fox, and MGM—cranked out pictures at an incredible rate and reaped unprecedented profits. Moviegoing was an essential part of the fabric of American leisure: In 1930, 65 percent of the US population saw at least one movie per week. With power over such a vast market, the large studios sought to maintain the status quo and further expand their influence.

an oligopoly. The decision, US v. Paramount, ended over a decade of litigation and forced the studios to sell their theaters and terminate their tactics of control. However, 70 years later, vertical integration is returning to prevalence with the rise of streaming services. US v. Paramount failed to force any lasting regulations that would protect competition in the industry. Still, the ruling may indicate the right direction when considering how to respond to the domination of streaming services.

The biggest asset that propelled the studios’ dominance throughout the first half of the 20th century was their tight control of theaters in the US: The Big Five owned 17 percent of theaters. Independent theaters were also kept under their thumb through the use of coercive tactics such as “block booking,” whereby theater owners were forced to display a whole slate of films from a studio in order to display any single film they might want. As a result, every theater essentially only showed content from the big studios. No new competitors could arise because no theater would show their films, completely boxing out any viable competition.

In recent years, the media landscape has shifted to favor streaming companies in two ways. First and most obviously, traditional media has taken a downturn. Fewer than 60 percent of millennials pay for cable or satellite television; five years ago, 75 percent of them did. Box office revenue continues to grow incrementally, but theaters are selling fewer tickets.

These practices were put to an end in 1948, when the Supreme Court declared that the studios had formed


The second shift follows the changing nature of streaming companies. As streaming services move toward content creation, they are responsible for an ever-increasing share of investment flowing into productions. When Netflix’s streaming service launched, its catalogue was composed entirely of independently produced content. Now, the company is overshadowing


those projects with its ballooning slate of Netflix Originals. Netflix spent $13 billion on original content for its platform in 2018 alone, dwarfing the $4 billion and $2.5 billion that CBS and HBO spent on production in 2017. Other streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon have started pouring millions into their own original content. If this trend continues, streaming services may soon consist entirely of original content. And customers with limited budgets will subscribe to a few services at most, opting for the platforms that offer the best content. Growth for a streaming service only begets more growth; the larger a service, the more it can spend on

content and the larger it can grow. This dynamic will create a handful of dominant companies with near total control of the market. In fact, these companies have already begun to emerge. Today, Disney and its soon-to-be-subsidiary 21st Century Fox are responsible for 6 of the 10 highest grossing films at the US box office as of 2018. Disney’s cable channels’ fees bring in $13 billion in revenue. And next year, Disney will undermine both when it launches its forthcoming streaming service. Disney’s streaming service will feature new releases as well as movies from Disney and Fox’s extensive archives. Disney has announced a slate of television shows that will premiere only on its streaming platform, and that it will not renew contracts to license content to Netflix. The company may also soon decide to start premiering its movies on its streaming service the same day they are released in theaters. Disney would lose ticket sales, but it would no longer have to share its profits with theaters, for whom this would be a fatal blow. Other studios might be even better positioned than Disney to adapt to a post-theater landscape. NBC Universal is only the third-largest studio right now, but it has one key advantage: It is owned by the largest internet provider in the US, Comcast. With the future of net neutrality laws uncertain, Comcast may leverage its control of internet connections to undermine other competition and boost its own offerings. In doing so, Comcast would be following in the footsteps of AT&T. AT&T is the second-largest mobile carrier, the thirdlargest broadband provider, and recently merged with Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros, the secondlargest movie studio, as well as HBO, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, and TNT. AT&T entered the streaming market with DirecTV Now, and its subsidiary HBO has fully embraced streaming with its HBO Now and HBO Go services. Today, AT&T offers HBO and DirecTV Now packaged with a wireless plan that exempts their

streaming services from certain data restrictions. In the future, the company could easily throttle competitors or block them from its network entirely. What happens when Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Comcast, AT&T, or some other company eventually wins the streaming wars? In a post-theater and post-cable world, streaming will be the only place to exhibit medium-to-high-budget work. All content creators will have to go through one of the new Big Five in order to fund their projects or turn a profit. The media world will have regressed to its pre-1948 form, with a few companies acting as gatekeepers. When only one avenue for exhibition exists, also creating the content for it gives exhibitors too much power. Streaming certainly has it upsides: We can enjoy hours of on-demand entertainment, wherever we want it, for a small monthly fee. But the quality and diversity of media we consume may suffer without competition among streaming services. One of the first steps to combat this is to protect net neutrality, but there is already a wide coalition fighting on that front. A similar coalition should push the Federal Communications Commission, the agency in charge of regulating the consolidation of broadcast media, to set guidelines for the ownership of media exhibitioners by media producers. Netflix should not be allowed to create original content exclusively for itself. Disney should not be able to start a streaming service if that means pulling its content from other streamers. AT&T and Comcast should be forced to divest from their media empires. These regulatory changes would require a far heavier hand than the government has been willing to play for decades, but they are essential to protect competition and freedom of speech within the media industry.

AUTHOR Luke Landis ’21 is a Public Policy concentrator and a Media Director at BPR. INFOGRAPHICS Klara Auerbach & Prakrit Baruah



SUSTAINABIL It Takes A Smart Village

Rural Europe gets smart & sustainable

by Michael Bass

Camouflaged Climate Control

The US military’s fight against climate ch

by Daniel Steinfeld

Taking Root

Replicating China’s reforestation model in the Middle East

by Samy Amkieh

At What Cost Japan faces the pitfalls of universal health care by Kavya Nayak





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IT TAKES A SMART VILLAGE Rural Europe gets smart & sustainable On a midnight raid in a rural region of Brittany, France, furious farmers blockaded roads with bales of hay. Other farmers dumped 3.5 million liters of milk next to a popular monastery, torched tax offices, and doused 140 metric tons of fish with diesel. These actions, however extreme, were by no means irrational. In fact, these French farmers have been protesting government negligence of an agri-food crisis that has plagued Center-West Brittany for the last decade. The region is home

tells the opposite story. Brest is a renowned oceanographic research hub boasting a youthful population, a dominant service sector, and a burgeoning start-up scene. Brest is booming; the rest of Brittany is lagging. Indeed, similar tales of rural-urban stratification are prevalent globally. Cities are all the rage, and rural areas are enraged. The European Commission explained the phenomenon best in December 2010: “Europe’s rural areas

Cities are all the rage, and rural areas are enraged. to 97,000 people scattered across aging municipalities, all clamoring for economic progress. The European Union has tried dumping millions of euros into the rural economy, but throwing money at the problem has not facilitated any sustainable growth. Meanwhile, the narrative of Brest, a maritime city on the coast of Brittany,


face a common challenge—their capacity to create high quality, sustainable jobs is falling behind urban areas.” Not so fast. Piloted in April of 2018 via the Bled Declaration, the European Commission’s new Smart Villages program attempts to loop 502 million rural Europeans into the globalized economy. The initiative aims to


promote sustainable investment in rural areas and identifies renewable energy and digital services as the priorities of the Smart Village. Place-based initiatives in France and Germany have become models of Smart Villages, demonstrating that rural municipalities can become beacons of sustainable growth. In 2015, France launched one of the first programs to facilitate “city-countryside reciprocity contracts.” These agreements—precursors to the Bled Declaration—facilitated mutualistic relationships between urban and rural areas. Brest and Center-West Brittany signed one such contract in November 2016. These contracts are brand new, but their early successes are undeniable: After pouring in €2 million of funding, France has made significant strides in rural-urban collaboration in areas such as bioenergy and health care. In the energy sector, the Brest-Center West Brittany contract precipitated a new wood energy cluster, which aggregated wasted timber from rural timber businesses to use for public lighting. Given that 25 percent of Center-West Brittany is covered in forest that has an annual production potential of 120,000 metric tons of wood, the reciprocity contract has found ways to take advantage of that potential and link rural and urban economic activity. Now, three trucks leave Center-West Brittany per day to feed a biomass station in Brest, which in turn reduces the city’s carbon dioxide emissions. The reciprocity contract has also increased health care collaboration, addressing Center-West Brittany’s risk of becoming a medical desert. In fact, the University Hospital of Brest expanded operations to its rural neighbors with outpatient consultations with specialists and mobile MRI scanning. The hospital has also made strides to make Center-West Brittany both a test bed for new disease research and a site for courses in dentistry and vocational training. The results of the program have yet to manifest, but these small reforms have already tied the region to



urban activity and growth. These successes set the standards for Smart Village initiatives throughout Europe. But efficient energy is only one tenet of the Smart Village framework; the contemporary village must also be digitized in order to truly reap the benefits of globalization. According to a 2014 Volenteurope report, in the majority of EU nations, “only 47 [percent] of rural households can access broadband internet, compared to 80 [percent] in non-rural areas.” The Broadband Competence Offices of the EU, along with the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, are leading institutions trying to bridge this gap. With broader internet access, supporters of the Bled Declaration hope to facilitate digital platforms for essential services in rural areas, from e-learning to e-administration to e-health. The “Digital Villages” project in Germany epitomizes these goals. Piloted in 2015, it involves 33 participating villages and seeks to expand to the 56 million Germans living in sparsely populated areas. One notable product of this initiative is an e-commerce site called BestellBar, where local vendors can list their stock on a one-stop website. Volunteers sign up to deliver parcels from BestellBar and are rewarded for their service with digital currency that can be spent on the site. Bringing local commerce online in this way widens the consumer base of small-town vendors: More demand precipitates more sustainable prosperity in towns as small as 335 residents. What BestellBar achieves for commerce, DorfNews accomplishes for media. A local news aggregator for these digital villages, DorfNews allows for rapid communication between residents and governments. Sponsored by the larger regional authorities, it integrates social media and existing news sources to provide citizens with access to news relevant to them and their region. Unlike most local publications, DorfNews allows users to contribute


their own updates. Above all, the portal connects disparate rural communities on one platform. Across towns, digital villages can’t facilitate sustainable growth without this kind of connectivity among local residents. The German angle of sustainability combats rural exodus and recognizes that the presence of digital services simply makes rural areas more appealing,. Digitization facilitates business operations and allows for efficient municipal governance. German Digital Villages have shown progress in these criteria, but they are only prototypes. Their mass implementation hinges upon fundraising to build the necessary infrastructure.

Residents of rural Europe should not be tormented by fluctuations in global commodity markets or isolated from the rest of the online world.

collaboration among different management authorities.” A lot of red tape is at play here, and so far, the EU is mostly talk and very little action. The importance of rural development and sustainability cannot be understated. Economic disparities between urban and rural areas not only exacerbate imbalances in development; they often intensify political polarity. These cleavages already pervade political situations within Europe and globally: they are evident in voting booths, deeply divisive campaigns, and the rise of populist movements. Perhaps Smart Villages will play an important role in curbing these tensions and addressing these issues. Residents of rural Europe should not be tormented by fluctuations in global commodity markets or isolated from the rest of the online world. It may be too soon to pass judgement on the concept of a Smart Village, but the successes of French reciprocity contracts and German Digital Villages show promise for larger-scale implementation. Smart Villages may help clean up the protestors’ bales of hay, spilled milk, burned buildings, and soiled fish across Europe. AUTHOR Michael Bass ’20 is a Modern Culture & Media concentrator and an Editor in Chief at BPR. ILLUSTRATOR Julie Benbassat

The EU is excited about the potential of Smart Villages: The Bled Declaration bleeds idealism for the future of European rural areas. Talk of eco-mobility, shared economies, and e-everything pervades official EU papers. But so far, these buzzwords have barely left the pages of social science studies and have materialized in only a few real-world test cases. The obstacles to these projects are excruciatingly bureaucratic. Proposals are drowned in acronyms and inundated with interest parties. Similarly, as the plan for Italian rural areas concedes, “in each project area, individual EU funds apply their own rules, which does not facilitate




CLIMATE CONTROL The US military’s fight against climate change

Although the US Department of Defense (DoD) may not commonly be seen as a leader in environmental sustainability, the US military has been finding ways to combat and adapt to climate change. Much of the military’s efforts against climate change have been purely practical, protecting its infrastructure and facilities from climate-related factors such as extreme weather and rising sea levels. But the security challenges posed by climate change are far more pressing than just threats to infrastructure. The effects of climate change have the potential to destabilize many regions where the US military operates. Beyond merely trying to “go green,” the DoD sees addressing climate change as an integral component of national security strategy. Take the area around Lake Chad as an example of a region where climate change is already having a significant impact on regional stability. Approximately 30 million people in Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon depend on the lake as a water source for fishing and agriculture. According to the UN, the lake’s water mass has

shrunk 90 percent since 1963. A rise in temperature at twice the global rate since 1970, along with desertification and unreliable rainfall in the broader Sahel region, has exacerbated the water shortage. Rapid population growth, as well as overuse and mismanagement of water resources, compound an already delicate environmental ecosystem. The scarcity of resources has pushed farmers, pastoralists, and fishermen into closer contact, naturally leading to increased competition. This process destabilizes the economic situation of people across the region, threatening their livelihoods to the brink of conflict. This instability creates conditions for non-governmental armed groups such as Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group which has operated and carried out attacks in the area since 2009, to take root. Extremist groups like Boko Haram often arise from a number of complex socio-political and economic causes such as ineffective governance, civil unrest, struggling economies, and factional violence. These groups see recruitment opportunities in areas with large populations of vulnerable



underemployed youth. Climate change is a potent force that influences almost all of these factors, especially in areas like the Sahel, which are experiencing its effects particularly acutely. The correlation is by no means direct, but climate change concerns have aggravated an already dangerous situation. In 2013, President Obama deployed 100 US troops to Niger in hopes of working with governments to address the rise of extremist groups. By 2017, there were about 800 US military personnel in Niger and 6,000 across the broader Sahel region. The US also operates drones in the area for surveillance and strikes against ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

An effort to encourage local cooperation should play a role in any solution to mitigate the influence of climate change on human conflict. Far from sub-Saharan Africa but with consequences just as important to the DoD, the Arctic demonstrates an entirely different operational challenge to the military. The Arctic region is rapidly becoming an area of contention among nations, including the US and Russia, due to its abundance of natural resources, increasing economic potential, and strategic position. Here, too, the DoD may find itself on a battleground in coming years as the US becomes embroiled in conflict over shipping routes and oil. In both the Arctic and the Sahel, climate change is creating new security challenges for the DoD. The US has


an interest in many areas affected by climate change, even if it doesn’t have a troop presence there. This means that the US military will have to proactively encourage global cooperation to mitigate the threats emanating from climate change. US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Command have hosted a number of workshops with governments, the private sector, and scholars to focus on responding to the projected effects of climate change in the Arctic. The US military sees the challenges posed by climate change as opportunities to strengthen relationships with other militaries and nations through an increased capacity for humanitarian missions. These projects are run through DoD regional commands, such as US Africa Command and US Central Command. The military also manages programs such as the Defense Environmental International Cooperation Program: The initiative organizes multilateral tabletop exercises, participates in climate change studies, and develops guidebooks to address environmental challenges. Climate concerns touch every nation and military on Earth, and the US military knows that international coalitions are indispensable. Furthermore, the DoD is a significant benefactor of environmental and geoengineering research, leveraging its power and resources to drive climate change studies. While the DoD still funds projects in weather modification, which have historically been used as war tactics, most of the environmental research that it carries out now is related to mitigating the effects of climate change. Projects like these are often difficult to implement without broad international support. But if the US military expands and institutionalizes smaller-scale initiatives, such as the workshops and joint exercises in which the military is already engaged, it could go a long way in responding to the role of climate change as a catalyst of conflict.

An effort to encourage local cooperation should play a role in any solution to mitigate the influence of climate change on human conflict. Current US military interventions abroad often focus on assisting local forces in counterterrorism efforts, so far with little demonstrable success. Environmental programs to implement sustainable local resource management and agricultural practices, along with government collaboration to protect carbon sinks, are more effective ways to avert or alleviate conflict. Having a focus beyond direct combat operations could also minimize backlash against a US military presence. It remains unclear whether the DoD will be able to expand these climate-oriented initiatives, given the Trump administration’s broad anti-environmental protection stance. Still, the $716 billion defense bill passed by Congress in 2019 includes plans to protect military assets against environmental risks. This could indicate that as long as the administration’s priorities on higher defense spending are met, the DoD will continue to be granted funds to allocate to climate change-related conflict prevention. While the military recognizes the threat that climate change poses, many of its responses to climate-related effects at the local level are not yet institutionalized or carried out at scale. These local initiatives hold promise in preventing the escalation of conflict in unstable regions and ought to be expanded to prepare for the emerging effects of climate change.

AUTHOR Daniel Steinfeld ’20 is a History concentrator. ILLUSTRATOR Yilan Gao




R O OT Replicating China’s reforestation model in the Middle East

Though now one of the most arid regions in the world, the Middle East was once home to a lush environment. Sadly, the scattering of forests and natural vegetation that formerly defined the landscape have all but disappeared as a direct result of deforestation, development, and climate change—both natural and man-made. Cedar forests and pine groves have been replaced by naked countryside and smog-filled metropoles in a region that was once a cradle of agriculture. This gradual environmental change has been accompanied by acute climatological crises: From 1998 to 2012, a devastating drought scorched the Middle East—one worse than any other in the past 900 years. Its effects were searing. Groundwater reserves dwindled and agricultural



Cedar forests and pine groves have been replaced by naked countryside and smog-filled metropoles in a region that was once a cradle of agriculture. yields struggled, jeopardizing the basic needs of many and contributing to instability in the region. Perhaps the most pressing ecological change in the Middle East is the increasing run-off of the arid region’s ever-important groundwater. Natural forest cover plays an important role in retaining subterranean water reserves, so the widespread deforestation of remaining forests presents a serious threat to water security in the Middle East. Yet even with officials recognizing the importance of forests and other plant life, reforestation policies seem difficult to implement in such an arid region. Fortunately, Middle Eastern governments and NGOs can look to China, a country with significant success in reforesting to resist desertification, as a model for creating a healthy and sustainable environmental future for the region. In 2018, China pledged to plant an area the size of Ireland with drought-resistant trees as part of a program that has already invested more than 80 billion USD in ecological restoration efforts. In the Kubuqi Desert of Northern China, business firms have partnered with local and governmental groups to replant hand-picked vegetation, which has reduced the chances of sandstorms in nearby areas. China has been successful in restoring an estimated value of 1.8 billion USD to the region over 50 years through the return


of agriculture, grazing, and tourism. Admittedly, this initiative has been a double-edged sword: It employs up to 60,000 workers at a time but has occasionally displaced established farmers from their lands. Nevertheless, China’s tree-planting program demonstrates that even in arid regions, reclaiming lost plant cover is not only possible, but also carries the benefits of creating jobs and making the environment more suitable for economic development. China’s success may partially be due to its authoritarian government’s ability to allocate huge sums of money without public scrutiny. Though often rightfully criticized, many of the governments of the Middle East— such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates—have authoritarian control and could initiate these projects with the same efficiency. Poorer countries in the Middle East could emulate the public-private partnerships used in China’s ecological restoration program. Many other options exist to aid public financing. Countries can lower taxes for businesses willing to invest in these projects, reduce regulatory hurdles for private impact funds interested in investment, and offer matching funds for companies and NGOs willing to take on this challenge. Nonetheless, governments hoping to reforest must consider two concerns about China’s approach. First, the creation of “green deserts” has raised questions about the true sustainability of such projects. Green deserts are stretches of forest where only one plant species is planted, preventing other species from flourishing. Fortunately, this issue is relatively simple to address. When repopulating the green zones of the Middle East, programs must be proactive in using a vast array of plant species that will enable other low-level flora and fauna to proliferate. Additionally, reforestation serves little purpose if it does not address the precise environmental needs of the

region. The Middle East should not simply replace deserts with forests. There were never vast growths of trees across the region, and the increase in groundwater accompanied by mass tree-planting would be offset by the high levels of water needed to maintain the nascent forests. Rather, drought-resistant shrubs and plant life are equally needed to restore the ecology of the Middle East and improve air quality, water retention, and facilitate heat reduction. The environmental innovations used in China should be implemented in similar areas worldwide. Countries in the Middle East—for whom the need for reforestation is most pressing— have the opportunity to learn from China’s missteps while attempting widespread environmental restoration across a region whose gardens were once the envy of the world. AUTHOR Samy Amkieh ’21 is a Biology concentrator and a World Staff Writer at BPR. ILLUSTRATOR Eliza Von Zerneck




COST Japan faces the pitfalls of universal health care

Universal health care can transform a country. In Japan, the kokumin kaihoken insurance system has led to the world’s highest life expectancies, equal access to affordable health care, and extensive long-term care for the elderly. Japan is not alone. Other than the United States, every country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a collection of mostly developed countries, has some form of universal health care. These systems help support healthier populations, ensure access to medical treatment for low-income citizens, and promote general economic equality. However, the extended lifespans made possible by these successful health care policies, combined with falling birth rates, have put increasing economic strain on these countries’ hospitals and clinics. Growing elderly populations not only threaten the financial basis of universal health care but also force us to confront how we approach end-of-life care. For every elderly person receiving extensive health care, a large number of young, healthy taxpayers paying

insurance premiums are required. A low ratio of dependents per worker— known as the dependency ratio— sustains robust health care systems without redirecting large amounts of government expenditure to cover costs. Although Japan’s health care system cost only 10.2 percent of its GDP in 2013, the nation has a rapidly increasing dependency ratio, which puts significant stress on its health care infrastructure. By 2050, a projected two-fifths of Japan’s overall population will be above the age of 65. As a result, health care spending is expected to double in proportion to Japan’s GDP. So long as birth rates remain low and health care policy remains unchanged, Japan’s insurance system will put too great a burden on the government’s coffers for its current model to remain sustainable. Funding is not the only issue facing kokumin kaihoken. The types of health care problems faced by the elderly require different specialists and facilities from those designed for the majority of the population. In order to preempt this problem, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has increased



Governments around the world have a duty to start incentivizing specialization in geriatric care now in preparation for their aging populations.


spending on the research and development of biomedical technologies that target the needs of the elderly. But the country still suffers from a shortage of geriatric doctors and general surgeons, and it lacks the resources to support terminally ill patients, forcing many out of their homes and into hospital wards. The lack of geriatricians exacerbates the financial burden on Japan’s health care system and means the country’s growing elderly population does not receive adequate care. In the past, the benefits of universal health care systems have been taken for granted in developed countries. But no current system seems well-prepared to meet the inevitable demographic changes occurring as medical advances outpace human reproduction. One solution could be to increase co-pays or insurance premiums. Yet this would create issues in terms of accessibility for low-income individuals and for the elderly who are paying with pensions and savings, threatening the very universality that defines universal health care.

Instead of simply increasing the average citizen’s healthcare costs, long-term structural changes are needed. Bureaucratically, structural health care reform may be easier in countries where the government controls subsidies and provides health care, such as in the United Kingdom. In countries such as Japan, however, health care providers are predominantly private, so policymakers must find ways to incentivize private companies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. To this end, the most promising proposal is a value-based or outcomebased system of health care, which aims to reduce unnecessary health care spending. Instead of the current fee-based system in which payment is levied on a per-service basis, a valuebased system would base payments upon final health care results. A valuebased system would be exceptionally effective in Japan, where hospitals often employ excessive testing to increase their profit margins. This


practice takes a heavy financial and emotional toll on families and can inflict great discomfort on the patient. A value-based model would curb these issues and save on general health care spending, freeing up more capital to be directed toward elderly care. Although value-based models have not yet been implemented on a large scale, significant research has been done to confirm their economic benefits and to determine the value of health outcomes. Recognizing the potential for systematic improvement, Japanese Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki proposed a value-based system in his report titled Japan Vision: Health Care 2035. Another approach is to raise the quality of geriatric care. All-inclusive geriatric care units, developed by Taipei Veterans General Hospital, specifically address the needs of the elderly. These units aim to cut costs by providing comprehensive overall outpatient care, integrating services specifically required by the elderly, and preventing the need for repeat visits to specialists in different hospitals. The program has seen promising results: The number of physician visits by elderly patients has gone down by 30 percent since it was first implemented. Nevertheless, this kind of program requires a large number of geriatric-care specialists, which many countries currently lack. Governments around the world have a duty to incentivize specialization in geriatric care now in preparation for their aging populations.

a system of universal access to health care, and elderly care must be reorganized if universal health care is to endure. But it could be that the problem lies in our perceptions of what good end-of-life care looks like. As of now, doctors, driven by a fee-for-service pay scheme and an incentive to prolong life at all costs, eschew communication with their patients in favor of a battery of tests until their deaths. A value-based approach to medicine would not only help reduce frivolous tests but also give physicians an incentive to inform their patients about all available options and discuss difficult topics such as palliative care. Exploring a variety of medical care options gives patients more agency in their end-oflife care. Indeed, the quality of life is just as important as its length.

The problem lies in our perception of what good end-of-life care looks like.

AUTHOR Kavya Nayak ’22 is an intended International Relations concentrator and a Culture Staff Writer at BPR. INFOGRAPHICS Klara Auerbach & Pete Kelly

To begin, countries can make specializing in geriatrics more appealing by raising geriatric salaries to be comparable to other more attractive specialties such as neurosurgery. And in countries such as Japan and Singapore, where the government has a degree of control over the number of people trained as doctors, governments can create quotas on each specialty within medical schools based on the number of doctors needed. The massive potential of modern medicine can only be realized within



Interview with

Brenda Clement Brenda Clement is the Director of Housing Works at Roger Williams University. She is directly responsible for the oversight of Housing Works’ goals: to advance housing affordability, educate and inform local decision making, and increase awareness of the importance of affordable housing. Brenda has over 20 years of experience in housing advocacy representing people in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Rhode Island has witnessed a staggering increase in real estate prices. Would you accredit this change to gentrifying practices? If not, what forces do you believe are at work? It does not only have to do with gentrification, but rather, gentrification is an end result, a product of rising home sale prices. The cause is simply that we are not building enough. Sadly, it’s basic supply and demand—demand is increasing but supply is staying the same, effectively pricing people out of the market. The reason why we’re not building enough? The regulatory barriers, the zoning issues—all of these challenges are hindering our ability to develop greater quantities of affordable housing. Communities simply will not embrace and encourage housing developments of this type. In the Providence Journal, City Council Member Luis Aponte highlighted a dilemma focusing on the allocation of one bedroom apartments in Downtown Providence for college students. Does this present a problem for developing low-income housing? It’s certainly not problematic that we are providing housing for students: All people deserve and are entitled to housing. What I do have a concern over is the use of public incentives to develop those


properties, while almost no incentive or capital is invested in developing affordable housing. We need to more sensibly allocate these precious public dollars and tax stabilization plans. We need to have a statewide discussion, and we have yet to have that. People are vehemently opposed to the idea of “density,” or congestion, in their neighborhoods. Could you argue that those who strongly advocate for sustainable development simultaneously support the elimination of affordable housing initiatives for this reason? Yes, simply because they don’t understand what we mean by density. Othering and ostracizing “those” people who need affordable housing is rampant. When you put a face to the housing crisis, people can begin to sympathize. Not all public housing endeavors resemble the Cabrini Green. We want to build at a scale that makes sense. In Rhode Island, a threestory, six-apartment complex can go a long way. We want to help people break this stigma down, and see that affordable housing makes sense. Many students are aware of the captive nature of “The Brown Bubble,” but are not aware of how it hinders their greater understanding of the Providence community. Which neighborhoods in Providence have endured

the most drastic shift in housing availability/gentrification? Let me just clarify that gentrification is not entirely bad. It can lead to economic diversification, and generally greater economic opportunity. A study conducted by Fay Strongin at HousingWorks RI divided Providence’s census tracts into three categories: “high-income, potentially gentrifying, and non-gentrifying.” Eight of the 39 tracks are “high-income” and six of those are surrounding Brown and RISD. These universities are seeking to expand their landholdings, proliferating their presence in neighborhoods like Mount Hope, one of the last strongholds of African-American culture in Providence. Citywide rent has increased by 26.1 percent in the last 15 years but, shockingly, by 47.8 percent in “potentially gentrifying,” district census tracts. Demographic shifts to college educated, young, and well-to-do residents are easily noted in these areas. As Fay Strongin’s work implies, “You don’t have a problem until you do.” Therefore, it is important to be aware of subtle indications of gentrification before it disadvantages entire communities.

INTERVIEWER Jack Thomas Doughty ILLUSTRATOR Jonathan Muroya






GERMAN ECONOMY The status of immigrant workers in the EU powerhouse

In Pflaumheim, a small German village about a marathon’s distance from Frankfurt, revealing that one has a Polin or “Polish woman,” has become tantamount to announcing one’s own slow demise. As in many rural areas in Germany, Pflaumheim confronts an aging population. The nursing and elderly-care industries have become so heavily dominated by Polish women in recent years that local retirees no longer bother to refer to the nurses by title—as Krankenschwestern or Pflegekräfte—but rather allude to the nationality of many of the practitioners. This trend, epitomized by this crass shift in nomenclature among certain older cliques, is unique neither to rural communities nor to Bavaria. The entire Federal Republic of Germany is experiencing a nursing shortage so severe it has its own name: the Pflegekräftemangel. The Pflegekräftemangel has called into question the sustainability of the nation’s unique apprenticeship programs and the future of European integration, as increased demand for qualified caretakers prompts an influx of guest nurses from Eastern Europe to

fill empty positions. These caretakers gain the opportunity to earn a living in Europe’s strongest economy while filling a critical gap in the market—a mutually beneficial solution to a difficult problem. Nevertheless, these trends have prompted outrage from conservatives who claim that the ensuing export of German welfare payments to families who reside elsewhere in Europe is an abuse of the system. However, maintaining the full compensation and welfare payments of intra-European guest workers and their children is not just an opportunity to address Germany’s public health crisis. It is also a chance to invest in the future of Europe while promoting the sustainability of a German economic model that privileges skilled labor and highquality goods and services. Germany has long been lauded for its unique education system. German high school students are presented with two paths upon graduation: free university or a trade school education paired with a variety of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are precursors to

careers in everything from hair-styling to taxi-driving to IT. Upon completing an apprenticeship, workers are considered fully qualified specialists in their field and are compensated as such. Though it has some drawbacks—making drastic career changes difficult, for example— the German model is largely regarded as a path toward equitability through the value it places on all professions and skills. But such a model only functions if high school graduates pursue a diversity of professions upon entry into the job market. Although there are still more applicants for apprenticeships than spots available—a surplus of 31,500 in the 2016–2017 academic year—more and more graduates are streaming into a select number of career paths, narrowing the breadth of the German economy while creating a dearth of workers in less desirable professions. Restaurant manager is currently Germany’s most unpopular apprenticeship, with butcher following closely behind. The field of nursing (Pflege), too, has suffered considerably—creating the Pflegekräftemangel. Not only do the current 137,000 nursing graduates report dissatisfaction and frustration with their apprenticeships, but 30,000 nursing positions across Germany are also presently unoccupied, a number that experts anticipate will reach 50,000 in the coming years. While some might cite the declining popularity of the butchering profession as cultural erosion in the land of bratwursts, the fact of the matter is that most employment vacancies in Germany are not existentially threatening; however, the Pflegekräftemangel represents a direct affront to public health and human survival. The situation is especially grim given Germany’s rapidly aging population and declining birth rate. Next year, the number of Germans aged 60 and older will be greater than the number of those aged 30 and younger, a trend that looks as if it will continue under the current fertility rate of only 1.5 births per woman.



For these reasons, the Pflegekräftemangel has taken on a pressing political weight in Berlin. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has been tasked with developing a plan of action to attract more workers to the field—a massive PR campaign aimed at “making nursing cool again.” Among other actions, Spahn is mulling a tax-free bonus of €5,000 for those who take up full-time nursing positions. Spahn is also the first to admit that the nursing shortage cannot end without immigration, particularly from within Europe. Of the roughly 1.6 million nurses and caretakers currently active in Germany, 11 percent are foreigners—a number that is rising rapidly. Most come from Poland, Romania, and Croatia. As part of his initiative, Spahn also seeks to attract more nurses from the Balkans. In total, the Ministry of Health has announced plans to employ

to Germany alone, leaving families and children behind. Even though these children may not reside within the German state, their German-employed parents still receive Kindergeld on their behalf. Critics argue that when these payments are shipped to Poland, Romania, or Croatia, where the cost of living is lower, they take on a disproportionately high value compared to their value in wealthy Germany. This is an issue of equity, critics say—these payments privilege the children of foreign Pflegekräfte at the cost of domestic German youth. Over the past two years, the number of Kindergeld recipients living outside of Germany has risen decisively, from 232,000 in December 2016 to 268,000 in June 2018. To portray this trend as debilitating to the state is erroneous, however, given that the number of foreign workers contributing to the

30,000 nursing positions across Germany are also presently unoccupied, a number that experts anticipate will reach 50,000 in the coming years. around 50,000 more foreign caretakers in Germany in the near future. Though they fill a crucial gap in the German economy, these foreign nurses and caretakers have recently come under immense political scrutiny for the alleged burden they place on the German welfare state. Every worker who pays taxes in Germany is entitled to state benefits, regardless of nationality. A specific form of welfare payment has borne the brunt of political criticism: Kindergeld, literally “children’s money,” which mandates that all parents in Germany receive a monthly government stipend of €194 for each of their first and second children, €200 for the third child, and €225 for any additional children under 18 years of age. The largely foreign-staffed nursing industry has recently become the target of Kindergeld-related anger. Many Eastern European nurses come


German economy from other EU countries has also grown proportionally from 1.782 million in 2016 to 1.963 million in 2017. If workers are contributing to the well-being of Germans and residing in Germany, they should be fairly compensated. To adjust welfare payments based on a worker’s nationality would be to grant tacit government acknowledgement of their position in a separate, and lesser, social class. Such an act of nationalistic discrimination would run counter to Germany’s policies of EU inclusion, which includes its support of the accession of five Balkan states into the EU by 2025 through its promotion of various economic and state development initiatives. Exported welfare payments are a preferable way to spur Eastern European development because they are transactional: Germany offers a comparatively small export of funds to youth in Eastern European states

in return for the incredible service their parents provide to the German economy and its aging population at a precarious moment. Thankfully, the European Commission firmly refuses to endorse the adjustment of Kindergeld—and other welfare payments—to the cost of living in Eastern European countries. However, the demand itself demonstrates that growing xenophobia now includes prejudice towards fellow EU citizens at a time when Germany needs immigration most to ensure the long-term sustainability of its welfare state. It’s critical that Germany encourage and properly compensate inter-European workforces like nurses; in doing so, it has the chance to stabilize its own economy while bolstering the entire European Union.

AUTHOR Allison Meakem ’20 is an International Relations concentrator and a Content Director at BPR. ILLUSTRATOR Clarisse Angkasa


Interview with

Samuel Zipp Samuel Zipp is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Urban Studies at Brown University. He is the author of Manhattan Projects: The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York, a story of the efforts to transform the urban landscape of Manhattan after World War II and the resistance with which they were met. A historian with a focus on the 20th century, Professor Zipp studies the cultural, political, and urban history of America during the postwar period.

What are the arguments in favor of urban renewal, and how would you respond to them? Urban renewal is a historical phenomenon. I think that term gets expanded and becomes ahistorical—it can signify any attempt to remedy supposedly bad city conditions at any time since the term was coined in the 1950s. I’m interested in a particular period in which urban renewal became an idea about how to remake cities. The arguments in favor of urban renewal have roots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. City planners and real estate interests wanted to bring capital back into downtowns. This all came to a head right after World War II when the federal government stepped in to subsidize programs that attempted to rejuvenate cities. That’s where the particular history of urban renewal begins. Do you think there’s a difference between urban renewal and gentrification? Gentrification and urban renewal are in some ways different. Urban renewal is driven by federal subsidies, while gentrification is a more bottom-up phenomenon. Most of those neighborhoods that people are moving back to have been redlined for many years. They were determined in the 1930s as unfit for public and private

investment. People who are coming back to these neighborhoods have social capital that the folks who live there don’t have, so they create movements to get banks to lend there. Gentrification occurs later than urban renewal and in some ways displaces urban renewal because many of the people who are involved consider themselves to be part of a “back-to-the-city” movement. They wanted to move back into these neighborhoods that everybody had considered slums, but in the process of doing that they also ended up raising the property values in these neighborhoods, contributing in some cases to the displacement of the populations that had lived there. Currently many people are moving away from the Bay Area. A major cause of this crisis is the influx of tech start-ups. Do you think that technological advancement outweighs the consequences to those who are displaced?

So, is some development worth the displacement of a small population of individuals? I don’t know if it’s important to say whether it’s worth it or not. You have to make that calculus in every particular instance. There are situations in which we do want to transform land for the public good. The thing is that the political circumstances around eminent domain since the era of urban renewal have allowed eminent domain to be used for what have been called public goods but what are actually private goods. We don’t have a politics right now that can discern between those two in sophisticated enough ways to make urban transformations benefit everyone.

INTERVIEWER Jordan Allums ILLUSTRATOR Jonathan Muroya

No, I don’t. This is not a place where one can imagine how to make the transformative possibilities of city life work for everybody. Not just for people who already have tech capital, this sense of being a part of the zeitgeist of the people who are running our society. They do some good things, but they’re also the source of a few problems in society.




BETWEEN BORDERS The identity crisis of Korea’s lost citizens

After the Japanese annexation of the Korean peninsula in 1910, many Koreans migrated to Japan—some voluntarily, others by force. During Japan’s 35-year occupation of the country, all Koreans were legal Japanese citizens, but after the defeat of the Japanese Empire, Koreans in Japan were effectively stateless. These people, dubbed as having Joseonjeok by the temporary government during the Allied Occupation of Japan, were eventually allowed to remain as Special Permanent Residents but were not given Japanese citizenship. Today, there are about 30,000 people with Joseon-jeok, though the number is decreasing each year. It is important to note that Joseonjeok is not an actual nationality—it is a term applied to the Special Permanent Residents who hold neither Japanese nor Korean citizenship and are effectively stateless. People with Joseon-jeok



can be recognized as South Korean citizens or apply for naturalization to gain full Japanese citizenship at any time. Indeed, after the normalization of South Korean–Japanese relations in 1965, most people with Joseon-jeok gradually registered as South Korean citizens for convenience, since lacking an official nationality made them subject to myriad bureaucratic challenges. However, many people with Joseonjeok have no desire to change their legal statelessness and refuse to choose a citizenship for a variety of reasons. Some believe that North Korea is their true motherland but cannot legally choose North Korean citizenship, since Japan does not recognize North Korea as a country. Others believe that neither North nor South Korea represents their identity, as their ancestors came from a unified Korea. Still, others don’t want to accept the citizenship of Japan, their former colonizer. Among many challenges, the lack of an official nationality makes international travel a significant issue for those with Joseon-jeok. The easiest

their use as travel documents is seriously limited. The statelessness of those with Joseon-jeok leads to complicated questions of national identity and family separation. South Korea doesn’t treat people with Joseon-jeok as citizens unless they register as such, so visiting South Korea can be difficult. Those who wish to visit must apply for travel certificates—which only allow for single trips to South Korea— and applications have often been denied in recent years under conservative administrations. A man who was denied a travel certificate sued the Korean government in 2009 and eventually lost in the Supreme Court in 2013, when it ruled that people with Joseon-jeok do not have an inherent right to enter South Korea. However, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s new administration seems to be easing restrictions on people with Joseon-jeok entering South Korea. In January 2018, the government made it easier for those with Joseon-jeok to receive travel certificates by reducing

Many people with Joseon-jeok have no desire to change their legal statelessness and refuse to choose a citizenship for a variety of reasons. solution for the Japanese government would be to unilaterally give citizenship to all people with Joseon-jeok, but this would likely cause massive backlash. Issuing passports to non-citizens is impractical as well, since it is international custom to issue full passports only to citizens. The modern Japanese government has nonetheless attempted to offer meaningful solutions for people with Joseon-jeok. Recognizing the need to address its historical faults, the Japanese government has created a workaround in re-entry permits, which can be used as international travel documents. Still, many countries don’t accept these as valid passports for visa issuance, so

ethnicity who refuse South Korean citizenship, issuing travel certificates is a basic humanitarian benefit with few drawbacks. This potential policy may face opposition, especially from the conservative party, but Moon Jae-in’s approval ratings have been on the rise since his summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Moon Jae-in’s increasingly positive public approval may clear the way for his administration to implement potentially controversial policies. In principle, it is the burden of the colonizing power to make amends with its former colonies. But in this case, Japan has already done practically everything it can, regardless of whether people with Joseon-jeok choose to accept or refuse these accommodations. While it is unfortunate that the onus of reparations now falls on the formerly colonized state, the fact of the matter is that it is now South Korea’s responsibility to minimize the feelings of displacement and statelessness for people with Joseon-jeok.

AUTHOR Hyun Choi ’21 is a Computer Science and Public Policy concentrator. ILLUSTRATOR Katie Kwak

the issue time to eight days. After the change in administration in 2017, the issuance rate jumped from 50 percent to 93.1 percent. But the South Korean government needs to go further, as the ability of these people to travel and obtain legal recognition ought to be prioritized over questions of historical fault, especially because policy solutions are virtually free and carry little political cost. The government should issue multi-use travel certificates that can be used as passports for foreign travel to those who request them, as well as grant the opportunity to visit South Korea without restriction. For those of Korean




FACTORY TO TABLE Brazil grapples with its Big Food problem Fifty years ago, when Carlos Monteiro began his career as a pediatrician in the sprawling slums of São Paulo, Brazil, his patients were starving. The children he treated were underweight and anemic, with low heart rates and protruding collarbones. Today, Monteiro’s patients are still malnourished, but now they suffer from fatty livers and hypertension: The cause of their ailment is not starvation—it’s obesity. Over the past several decades, transnational food corporations have colonized Brazil, upending traditional diets and sparking a national obesity epidemic. As sales of ultra-processed foods—industrial concoctions packed with sugar, oil, and fat—plateau in the wealthy West, developing nations have become critical markets. In Latin America, sales of such foods increased by over 50 percent from 2000 to 2013, and soda sales doubled. “Big Food” has taken advantage of opening markets and emerging consumer classes to market aggressively in Brazil and other developing nations. In Brazil in the 1970s, less than 3 percent of men and 8 percent of women were obese. Now,


18 percent of adults are obese and over half are overweight. Every year, 300,000 Brazilians are diagnosed with Type II diabetes, and for many, heart disease, hypertension, and other obesity-related ailments have become realities. Transnational food corporations wield incredible power in both the public and the private sector. They produce 10 percent of the nation’s economic output and employ an astounding 1.6 million Brazilians. Before the Supreme Court banned corporate campaign contributions in 2015, over half of Brazil’s federal legislators were funded by the food industry, and food corporations donated 158 million USD to members of the National Congress of Brazil in 2014 alone. Despite the court’s ruling, these conglomerates still wield immense influence over the everyday lives of consumers. A powerful method by which Big Food has pervaded Brazil is through advertising. Globally, food conglomerates have pursued reformulation strategies that involve minute adjustments to the percentages of fat and salt in their

products that allow them to promote their products as healthy. The ultimate consequence of these strategies is largely negativ. Once these products are perceived as healthy, people are likely to consume them in larger quantities, foregoing fresh, nutritious food in favor of packaged foods that, in reality, aren’t healthy at all. Brazil’s government can counter these strategies by tightening the requirements for foods that can be marketed as healthy.

Instilling good eating habits is the most sustainable way to promote long-term health. To achieve this goal, Brazil must focus on two critical components of healthy eating: access and education. Greater access to healthy food is necessary to improve the national diet. In rural areas, where food insecurity is more common, Nestlé’s travelling carts of Kit Kats and puddings are highly appealing largely due to a lack of alternatives. In order to improve access to food in rural areas, Brazil should invest in its family farms. Family farms are responsible for 70 percent of the food Brazilians consume and comprise 84.4 percent of the total number of farms in the country, but many farmers live in a state of insecurity and face threats of land encroachment by big agribusiness. By providing microcredit loans and crop insurance to these farmers and implementing policies that protect their land, Brazil’s government can provide the security that will enable farmers to feed their communities. In urban areas, convenience plays a crucial role in determining what families eat. Unfortunately, many do not have time to cook for themselves and turn to pre-packaged, ultra-processed food. Still, several solutions have arisen to meet the demand for quick, nutritious food. “Per-kilo” restaurants serve wholesome, nutritious food buffetstyle, providing affordable, convenient, and healthy options for people. Meal kits similar to ones sold by start-ups in the US are another option. At the farmers market, a family can buy




packages of chopped onions, carrots, grains, potatoes, greens, and herbs, which form the base of a healthy meal. However, increasing the supply of healthy foods isn’t enough. There must also be a substantive demand. Most people don’t understand the health effects of ultra-processed food. In many rural areas, people believe Nestlé’s products are healthy and are attracted to the brand’s flashy packaging. Unless people recognize that ultra-processed foods are bad for them, they won’t have any incentive to change their diet. Brazil’s government has already taken some steps to educate the public about healthy eating. In 2014, Brazil released one of the world’s most progressive sets of nutrition guidelines. The guidelines transcend basic advice about food groups and proper proportions of fat and calories and instead classify foods based on their level of processing—a radical step in the arena of food education. They also consider the social, cultural, and environmental dimensions of consumption far more thoroughly than US guidelines, which remain vague in order to protect corporate interests. The Brazilian guidelines provide not only a foundation for food educators, but also a clear government statement of intent that activists can build on. With these guidelines in place, programs to implement them are now in progress. Brazil’s school lunch program is an exceptional example—the World Food Programme dubbed it “an inspiration for other countries.” The government spends 1.3 billion USD annually on student nutrition. Every student from preschool through university is guaranteed a free meal every day. 70 percent of the ingredients used to prepare these meals must be basic: greens, veggies, grains, and the like. Furthermore, 30 percent of the food must be procured from family farms, exposing children to fresh, local food and providing farmers with access to a massive, dependable market.


The Brazilian government can make an even bigger impact by adding an educational component to the program, in which children can learn about the virtues of fresh produce and whole grains through the food they eat every afternoon. In accordance with Brazil’s nutrition guidelines, the curriculum should teach students to judge food based on the way it is prepared and aim to instill an appreciation for fresh food, a respect for the country’s traditional food customs, and an awareness of environmental issues surrounding food consumption. While this is a gradual process, it’s one that must begin now.

Most people don’t understand the health effects of ultraprocessed food. Brazil is not the only country plagued by skyrocketing rates of obesity. Transnational food corporations are waging war on traditional food systems around the world; globally, more people are now obese than underweight. For many countries, the road ahead is rocky: These corporations wield immense power and are often deeply entrenched within the public sector. Brazil’s brilliant pre-existing government programs and its administration’s commitment to promoting healthy eating put the country in a unique and remarkable position; Brazil has a chance to win the fight against Big Food, reverse the trends that have wreaked havoc on the health of its people, and serve as a model for the rest of the world.

AUTHOR Marianna Scott ’21 is an English concentrator and an Associate Editor at BPR. INFOGRAPHICS Klara Auerbach and Sarah Conlisk


Interview with

Robert Azar

As Deputy Director of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Providence, Robert Azar creates long-range plans for growth and development for Providence and implements strategies for those plans. Azar is also a Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice of Urban Studies at Brown University. He is currently teaching an Urban Studies seminar called “Downtown Development,” which uses Providence as a laboratory to explore development from the differing perspectives of planners, developers, and city residents. What is your thought process when planning or implementing a project to ensure that it fits in the context of Providence? While planners have a certain degree of expertise and the process starts with them, planning is a very vocal sort of exercise. Every community is different. Planning almost universally happens at a local level, and it has to involve a considerable amount of community input. In order to focus the conversation, we identify some potential issues that we want to work on in a community, and we want to get feedback as to whether we’re on the right track. Basically, when we do our planning processes, we try to identify who the stakeholders are in a given area and try to be as comprehensive as we can in reaching out to them. It could include residents, neighborhood organizations, nonprofits working in the community, or property owners. Our role relates to how the city is going to develop—it could be public projects, regulating land, determining the appropriate density of building, deciding whether we want to see housing or commercial businesses, or how big buildings should be. In Rhode Island, every community is required to have a comprehensive plan that is supposed to look forward 10 or 20 years about where we think the city should be going, deliberately planning for land use, housing, transportation, public open space, and many other things.

How do you define gentrification? What’s the difference between that and redevelopment? Gentrification is a process of change where characteristics of the population change, and, in turn, some of the ways that land is used change and property gets more expensive. Commonly, people see it as wealthier people moving into an area and remaking that area in a way that suits them, potentially marginalizing or displacing people who are already there, which are typically people of lower income. Depending on how much gentrification there is, it could displace people to the point where the demographics completely shift in the area and people end up moving out. How can development happen without genrification? It’s an excellent question, and it’s one that we’ve struggled with because it’s often the case that in low-income areas, there’s been disinvestment by both the private and public sector. A neighborhood that is considered run-down—vacant buildings, unkempt property, failing public schools—can become involved in a vicious cycle where once there’s some disinvestment, people who committed to staying in the neighborhood gradually lose faith that it’s going to get better, and they move out. In order to stop that cycle of disinvestment from happening, the city will clean up the vacant lots and charge the property owners or take over properties and find someone who will renovate them. The city can put money in public

infrastructure and so forth to make sure that the neighborhood is fit for habitation. Then the question becomes, does that investment lead to gentrification? The word has become so charged and I think it’s hard to say that a little gentrification is not a bad thing. What I would say is that responsible property owners buying property and maintaining it is always a good thing. If that can happen without subsidy, that’s a good thing as well. We do subsidize affordable housing, but the problem is that we can’t subsidize every building. We need the private sector to come in and help make conditions better. There is a good chance that the rents are going to go up, but they might’ve been so artificially low because replacements were blighted. That becomes a situation in which you want private investment, but you don’t necessarily want it to the point where it’s going to displace people. Another thing to keep in mind is that cities are funded very significantly by property tax, meaning that if the rents are very low, then we don’t have the funds to make critical investments. It’s also a political reality that people who have more means can better advocate on behalf of their neighborhoods for specific investment, so we sometimes tend to see disproportionate improvements in some areas over others. I’m not saying that we do this intentionally or consciously, but it is a reality. We’re always trying to find that ideal of a stable mix of market rate housing, affordable housing, services for those with means and those without means, and outstanding public infrastructure. INTERVIEWER Cayla Kaplan ILLUSTRATOR Jonathan Muroya






OF PEACE How the Eritrean-Ethiopian détente complicates malaria control


In July 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a monumental peace treaty to reopen diplomatic relations, travel, and trade between the two nations. The end of nearly three decades of conflict was internationally heralded as a great success. As the countries reconcile, families will reunite, and the two nations will begin a new era of openness. Yet an increase in migration and travel opportunities will complicate the countries’ fight against an enemy of a different kind: malaria. To prevent the spread of the disease, Ethiopia and Eritrea must develop a coordinated approach to malaria control.

After over 30 years as an Ethiopian province, Eritrea established independence relatively peacefully in 1993. However, a minor border dispute in 1998 erupted into open conflict, and diplomatic relations and travel between the neighbors have been shut off ever since. Eritrea’s strict exit visa requirements limited legal out-migration, and the highly militarized border made fleeing the country a dangerous and potentially fatal endeavor. Ethiopia only receives up to 2,500 Eritrean refugees per month, and many of those who do make it there are en route to final destinations in North Africa and Europe.


Increased transmission frequency can increase the genetic diversity of the parasite, potentially introducing drugresistant forms of malaria.

The recent détente has dramatically shifted this situation by increasing bidirectional travel volume. Ethiopia and Eritrea have now resumed intercountry flights and have officially reopened the border, allowing both trade and personal travel. Eritrea has also removed troops from its border, erasing the primary obstacle to international movement facing both Eritrean refugees and Ethiopian pastoralists. In fact, the Eritrean refugee inflow into Ethiopia has grown to seven times its pre-rapprochement level. But with the movement of people comes the movement of disease: In this case, it’s malaria, a potentially fatal illness that claimed 445,000 lives worldwide in 2016. Malaria is caused primarily by two parasite species, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Though P. falciparum poses the greatest health burden across Sub-Saharan Africa, a genetic trait required for P. vivax infection that is common among the Eritrean and Ethiopian populations has allowed P. vivax to constitute a relatively greater share of the malaria burden than in other areas. Malaria is often transmitted by mosquitoes, but the movement of people exacerbates the disease’s spread. When an infected individual travels to a mostly malaria-free community, local mosquitoes can pick up the parasite and pass it along to unaffected residents. Conversely, an uninfected person moving to a highly-endemic area can contract the illness and add to the local disease burden. Increased transmission frequency can increase the genetic diversity of the parasite, potentially introducing drug-resistant forms of malaria that can spread globally and complicate international efforts to tackle the disease. While Ethiopia and Eritrea have substantially reduced the prevalence of malaria-induced mortality within their own countries over the last two decades, the disease is still a significant concern. Eritrea, a country of five million, sees about 31,000 new cases each year, and Ethiopia, with 102 million

inhabitants, suffers roughly 2.1 million cases annually. Moreover, 71 percent of Eritreans and 27 percent of Ethiopians live in high-transmission areas. Increased migration presents a new obstacle in reducing these numbers. Ethiopia has already contended with P. falciparum entering the country from its other neighbors, but P. vivax from Eritrean migration will present a novel challenge. With a lower incidence of P. vivax malaria and no history of dealing with in-migration, Eritrea will be hit hard as new infectious cases cross the border. Since Eritreans have less exposure and poorer immunity to P. vivax, Ethiopia’s own vivax malaria incidence will rise as it takes in at-risk individuals. Both countries must now also contend with the threat of drug-resistant strains associated with migration and the difficulty of extending control measures to transitory populations. Ethiopia and Eritrea must build a stronger approach to control in order to address migration’s challenges. Since research on malaria has heavily focused on P. falciparum, Ethiopia and Eritrea must address the P. vivax issue with policies and control methods that reflect the boundary-defying nature of the parasite. To do so, they should follow the example of the Elimination 8 Initiative (E8)—a regional development initiative among eight southern African countries designed in part to fight malaria. The E8 program has a strong surveillance component and shares data between countries to identify outbreaks and allocate resources appropriately. Ethiopia and Eritrea should build their own surveillance practices by exchanging genetic sequences of parasites found in malaria infections, incidence and prevalence data, and population census data. This information would assist control experts in both countries with tracking the emergence of drug resistance, the origins of cases, and the locations of susceptible populations.



Recognizing migration’s impact on the spread of the disease, the E8 program established 50 border malaria clinics, each equipped for diagnosis and basic treatment. Ethiopia and Eritrea should establish similar clinics at border checkpoints to diagnose and treat people who may otherwise spread the disease. The E8 program has also facilitated the movement of materials to alleviate supply shortages. Following E8’s model, Ethiopia and Eritrea should transfer anti-malarial drugs, tools, and personnel where appropriate. With Ethiopia and Eritrea both relying on the Global Fund—a multilateral health aid agency—to finance malaria control, a policy of sharing would stabilize control efforts in times of economic uncertainty.

worked with other Gulf nations to combat malaria in Yemen. Using their newfound peace to broker similar investments will only bolster the two countries’ control efforts. The new status quo in the Ethiopian– Eritrean relationship complicates efforts to control vivax malaria in the two countries. However, with diplomatic ties restored, interstate malaria control is well within the realm of possibility. To effectively cope with the side effects of reconciliation, Ethiopia and Eritrea must seize this opportunity together and move toward a cooperative approach to malaria eradication.

AUTHOR Sean Joyce ’19 is a Biology concentrator and a World Section Manager at BPR. ILLUSTRATOR Michael Liam Archibald

But sharing drugs will only be effective if both countries treat the disease in the same way. Currently, Ethiopia treats P. vivax with chloroquine and treats P. falciparum with an artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). When the strain is misdiagnosed, the effectiveness of treatment suffers and the parasite can become resistant to the drug. Eritrea, however, uses one ACT that is effective against both malaria species. Ethiopia should adopt Eritrea’s treatment protocol to make sharing antimalarial drugs easier and allow medical professionals to focus on administering treatment. A comprehensive malaria program would be an expensive endeavor, but fortunately, Eritrea and Ethiopia should be able to leverage their new relationship to attract foreign donors. In June, for example, the United Arab Emirates pledged $3 billion in aid and investment to Ethiopia and Eritrea in a bid to solidify its influence. Ethiopia and Eritrea may be able to channel this aid toward malaria control, as the UAE donated $5 million to a global malaria program in 2017 and has previously



Interview with

Kettia Dorsec Kettia is a mother of two who has personal experience with the eviction process, and is currently working three jobs to afford her rent. She is determined to help others struggling with eviction and the housing system by sharing her story.

Can you tell me a bit about your experience with eviction and eviction court? It was a nightmare, to say the least. I didn’t stop paying my rent because I wanted to—I stopped paying my rent because I wasn’t making enough. After this eviction I had to end up working three jobs. I don’t know how with two kids and as a divorced mom, but that’s what I have to do now. I always give my landlord credit because she worked with me for so long until one day she came to me and said “if I keep giving you half passes for rent I’m going to lose my job.” So it was either me or her. That was the reason I stopped going to my mailbox. I was getting all these threats about being evicted, so I would pay half my rent in hopes that the next month I’d catch up. But there were also late fees, so there was no catching up once I lost track. Next, I had to go to court—right after Christmas, on the 27th. That was kind of crazy to me because you weren’t even given that option to not have to stress over the holidays. The time was inappropriate. The other thing was not having proper representation readily available. I should have at least had someone there to represent me in court and to tell me what my rights were. You can always Google things, but how much are you going to find when you’re petrified and most likely already know the outcome based on everyone else’s experience, and what you’ve seen?

How do you think that gentrification in Providence has affected the city’s residents and the culture of the city as a whole? People are coming into the city and renting all the affordable housing. Recently I was driving in Providence and I saw this street of houses that were all boarded up. Then I turned the corner and there were 50 to 60 homeless people on the street. Later on, I was told those houses were going to be revamped and sold to the highest bidder. That’s great for the people willing to pay high rent, but for those who couldn’t afford it before, they definitely couldn’t afford it now. I grew up here. I remember that when I was 17, a one-bedroom home was $400. Now I’m paying $1,100 for an apartment, and to pay that rent, I’m killing myself working three jobs. I still have to say to myself now, “If I don’t eat in the beginning of the month that’s okay because I know my rent is paid.” I just can’t be in that situation again.

have not known where I was going to sleep at night. Not everyone you see on the street has chosen to be there. Some people choose to be homeless, but I didn’t choose to be that way. I didn’t want to, after New Year’s, not know where I was going to go with my children. I was literally taken out of my home and told I had 11 days to leave and had to just figure out what I was going to do next. I could have given up and just stopped looking for a place and looking for a job, but I didn’t. And I hope others have the strength to do that. Everyone has a story, and there are plenty of people who maybe went through what I did but just couldn’t keep going. They deserve to be helped.

INTERVIEWER Maya Fitzpatrick ILLUSTRATOR Jonathan Muroya

What do you think supporters of gentrification are getting wrong? There’s a dark side to gentrification. It ignores the human experience. Downtown, there are nice areas right next to cities of homeless people. What is the city doing about that? It breaks my heart seeing someone in that situation now because I could have been in that place. I could





IDEOLOGY Data-driven philosophical scales Legislating at the national level can involve grand flourishes and exhaustive analysis, but the mechanics of state governments are often opaque. In Rhode Island, this lack of transparency does not result from a scarcity of information: state legislators frequently update their websites with the latest outcomes from the state’s Senate floor. Rather, difficulty arises when trying to interpret political meaning from this massive paper trail. Given that there were over 600 Senate votes in 2017, casual observers are limited to analysis of the few legislative talking points that make the local newspapers. State-level political coverage is largely ignored by the public, too; Rhode Island ranks 30th in the nation in public political engagement and fifth to last among typically blue states. Some of this may result from the Democratic Party’s dominance—it controlled 33 Senate seats to the Republicans’ five in 2017—which makes for relatively few front-page political scuffles. However, domination by one political party reveals little about individual actors in the legislature and the nuances of their respective platforms. Democratic control in Rhode Island has long been the norm—the party has held a majority since 1959.


Rhode Island State


Fortunately, considering features of Senate voting beyond party affiliation or decisions on a few key bills is well within our reach. In our analysis, we ran principal component analysis (PCA) on the 365 bills that originated in the Senate in 2017. PCA helps identify the factors that contribute most to the differentiation between senators’ voting behavior and maps senators in space based on those metrics. The algorithm chooses the optimal combination of bills that distinguishes the 38 legislators along two dimensions. Using this technique, we distill hundreds of variables representing each senator’s voting behavior into two main axes: voting attendance and political ideology. This approach creates three distinct clusters. The upper left group comprises Teresa Paiva Weed (D), Dawn Euer (D), and Jamie Doyle (D). These senators all missed significantly more votes than the rest of the legislature. As we move down the vertical axis, the voting rate of senators increases. Thus, our model captures voting attendance along this dimension. The horizontal axis showcases differences in political ideology: The Senate’s Democrats are concentrated to the left, and the five Republican senators create a spread to the right. The Senate’s most contentious bills contribute to the variation displayed on the horizontal axis. In spite of this, we see substantial distances between members of the same party. Elaine J. Morgan, an ardent Republican from District 34, is the legislature’s conservative standard bearer; she accounts for a plurality of ‘no’ votes across the contentious bills.

Senate vote breakdown

Dennis L. Algiere (R) of District 38 provides a marked contrast. Surprisingly, Algiere’s voting record is more closely aligned with the Democratic Party than with his own. While Algiere voted with his fellow Republicans against bills providing health insurance protection and the Healthy and Safe Families and


party on laws relating to labor, the environment, gender-based insurance premiums, and criminal justice. Indeed, Algiere’s position along the horizontal axis quantifies his position as a moderate. Within the Democratic Party, Leonidas Raptakis and Marc Cote are two strong outliers. Raptakis was one of two Democrats to side with Republicans against Bill 1029, a bill that allows for the investigation of employers who improperly inquired about candidates’ criminal history. Cote, for his part, was the only Democrat to side with Republicans against an extension of the Affordable Care Act in Rhode Island. These senators may caucus with the Democrats, but their position on the ideological axis is a far better indicator of their true political leanings.


The cacophonous political landscape of the US often crowds out coverage of local legislation. Datadriven methods have the potential to counteract this lack of transparency and help the electorate understand the people who represent them. Using PCA to cluster senators provides both a concise summary of the senate’s composition and an incisive window into the critical issues that divide its members. Further data-driven approaches have the potential to illuminate the ideologies of representatives and engage their constituents through well-informed discourse.

AUTHOR Zachary Horvitz ’19 is a Computer Science and Anthropology concentrator and an Associate Data Director at BPR. INFOGRAPHICS Julia Gilman & Klara Auerbach


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