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Kruk M.E.,Harvard University | Yamey G.,University of California at San Francisco | Yamey G.,Duke University | Angell S.Y.,Long Island City | And 6 more authors.
PLoS Biology | Year: 2016

In its report Global Health 2035, the Commission on Investing in Health proposed that health investments can reduce mortality in nearly all low- and middle-income countries to very low levels, thereby averting 10 million deaths per year from 2035 onward. Many of these gains could be achieved through scale-up of existing technologies and health services. A key instrument to close this gap is policy and implementation research (PIR) that aims to produce generalizable evidence on what works to implement successful interventions at scale. Rigorously designed PIR promotes global learning and local accountability. Much greater national and global investments in PIR capacity will be required to enable the scaling of effective approaches and to prevent the recycling of failed ideas. Sample questions for the PIR research agenda include how to close the gap in the delivery of essential services to the poor, which population interventions for non-communicable diseases are most applicable in different contexts, and how to engage non-state actors in equitable provision of health services in the context of universal health coverage. © 2016 Kruk et al.

News Article | February 5, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

The New York City mayor used part of his State of the City speech Thursday night to propose a new streetcar line, which would connect Queens and Brooklyn. The streetcar route would start in Queens' busy Astoria section and end in Brooklyn's Sunset Park, stretching 16 miles, mostly along the East River. "We see the Tale of Two Cities transforming into one New York," de Blasio said as part of his speech Thursday night, as reported by Newsday. In between Astoria and Sunset Park would be stops at popular areas such as Long Island City, Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn. So, what would be the cost behind such a lofty ambition? Well, the New York Times reports that it would be an estimated $2.5 billion, which is actually less than the cost to start a new subway line. The Times adds that the streetcars would travel at about 12 miles per hour, spelling a commute from Greenpoint and Dumbo in Brooklyn to being an estimated 27 minutes. Although the Times says that de Blasio wouldn't need the approval of the New York state-operated Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the project would still need to be thoroughly reviewed by the local communities involved with construction not likely to begin before 2019, with service to the public opening up some five-plus years after that. The streetcar isn't the only way de Blasio wants to improve the Big Apple, either. Thursday night's speech also had him announce intentions for drivers to pay for their metered parking spaces using their smartphones and also plans to add 2,500 extra Citi Bikes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

News Article | February 1, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

New York City dwellers who launched the Uber app on Friday morning received a small treat: a pop-up notification informing them of a 15 percent price cut on all UberX fares throughout the city. And while that may be good news for users looking to get around town on the cheap, Uber drivers aren’t too happy about it. “Consumers should know that Uber is not on their side,” Uber driver Mamadou Diagana told me at a Monday afternoon protest staged outside the company’s New York City headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. A police officer on the scene estimated that there were as many as 150 protesters in front of Uber’s headquarters. Uber began implementing price cuts in select cities in early January, claiming lower prices would spur demand in a traditionally slow time of the year. More demand means more fares for drivers to collect, Uber reasoned, with the increase in ridership offsetting the smaller base fares. Like other drivers at the protest, Diagana disputed Uber’s assertion that cheaper fares would lead to more rides requested on the service, and therefore more money in his pocket. “People are paying $250, $350, $350 a week for cars,” he said, referring to the weekly payments and other expenses like gas and insurance that some drivers incur for their Uber car. “So now to be able to pay $250 or $350 you need to be able to make more money and [do] more hours, which is not helping us,” he added, suggesting the price cut would make it more difficult for more drivers to earn a living driving for Uber. “I’m a college student right now,” Uber driver Lakpa Sherpa told me, “so it’s really hard on me to support my family” following the price cut. “We’re making less than taxi cabs,” he added, saying that he would instead drive for competing services Lyft and Gett. Another driver, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, complained that Uber should have taken the 15 percent price cut out of its own commission instead of taking it out of drivers’ pockets. “They say that Uber drivers are making more, but that’s a fallacy. I come from the corporate world, and when you make a plan everything looks good on paper but when you come out onto the field it’s totally the opposite.” For its part, Uber has described the results of the rate cut as “promising,” saying drivers over the weekend saw a 20 percent increase in hourly earnings compared to two weeks ago. Still, many of the drivers I spoke with at the protest weren’t merely upset with the recent rate cut, but instead were suspicious of the company’s overall motives. “Uber is the equivalent of Nazi Germany,” said a driver who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “They’re trying to take over the world using ignorant, uneducated immigrants to better their position… It’s like we’re whoring ourselves out. Uber is the pimp, and the people that ride are Johns and Janes.”

News Article | December 10, 2015
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Just up a long flight of stairs on Roosevelt Avenue, a dim room echoed with computer keyboard clicks. Inside, several customers gazed at the live stream of a Colombian football match on computer screens—images of the game reflecting on their eyeglasses. Others, sipping hot beverages, scrolled through their daily Facebook news. This might sound like a typical day at your local coffee shop, but it's not. Instead, the scene is a part of a regular weekday afternoon at Cyber 88, a local internet cafe chain in Jackson Heights. Today, the idea of an internet cafe in New York City may seem as anachronistic as traveling by horse and buggy. Public spaces like restaurants and coffee shops cram the city with storefronts prominently proclaiming "free Wi-Fi." Yet, against this backdrop of unrestricted internet access, old-fashioned pay-by-the hour cyber cafes—typically around $1 for an hour, $2 for three hours—persist, predominantly in immigrant neighborhoods of Queens. "I just came here from Mexico, and I don't have a cell phone," said Alvaro Velasquez, who was leaving Cyber 88's branch on 88th Street. He had just arrived in the United States the day before with no means of accessing the internet. “I'm shipping everything from Mexico.” As soon as Velasquez receives his phone from Mexico, he will join the subpopulation of Latin American immigrants in Jackson Heights who rely on internet cafes to access the internet through a computer. In a 2015 study on US smartphone use conducted by the Pew Research Center, researchers found "15 percent of Americans own a smartphone but say that they have a limited number of ways to get online other than their cell phone." Giselle Diyah, a Venezuelan immigrant and the owner of the local internet cafe chain La Casa de Internet, claims only a select few immigrants enjoy Wi-Fi access in their homes. A number of the locals at La Casa de Internet and Cyber 88 say that they cannot afford the $30 monthly cost of internet service along with the accompanying hardware. Others, Diyah explained, claim their lack of documentation impedes their attempts to sign up for service. To get internet access, these technologically disadvantaged individuals flock to any of the neighborhood's half a dozen internet cafes situated on the Roosevelt and 37th Avenue drags. There, they spend hours surfing the web and talking to fellow immigrants. Ruen Rojas, a 30-year-old immigrant from Mexico, frequents the cafe twice a week, largely because his aged computer consistently shutdowns. "Paying for the computer to be fixed is expensive," he said.Admittedly, residents without laptops can go online for free at nearby establishments like the Jackson Heights Library. However, experts like Ricardo Gomez, an associate Professor at the University of Washington Information School, claim the preference for using internet cafes over libraries stems from inertia. "If you look at Latin America—and many parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other places, cyber cafes are super common," said Gomez. Latin America is the opposite of the United States, he said, because libraries came after cyber cafes as a public venue where people could access the internet. This has instilled an association with cyber cafes and public internet access that followed immigrants stateside, he said. "That makes a huge difference in the role of cyber cafes," he said. Internet cafes like Telepronto and the various branches of hyperlocal franchise La Casa de Internet also function as social meeting points, an import of Latin American culture. "In my house, I'm closed off," said Fernando Cardona, a local resident, while watching Back to the Future II inside Telepronto. Despite being financially secure, Cardona streams movies and talks to his sister in England via Skype at internet cafes. "Here, I can hang out," Cardona continued. "I can chat with friends." In addition to chatting up neighbors or using glass-walled phone booths to call home long-distance, cafe patrons—varying from children doing schoolwork to the elderly playing Solitaire—constantly occupy the computers nested in cubicles. According to Diyah, the owner of La Casa de Internet, this is what one would see at cyber cafes in her patrons' home countries. For the newly arrived immigrants, these familiar venues dotting Jackson Heights also serve as way stations for acclimating to a new country. "Many large cities have large shares of individuals at the margins—for example tourists, recent immigrants, etc.—who may have no other means of accessing data given the difficulties and relative expense of getting cellular devices in the US," said William Riggs, a professor of City & Planning at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, via email. Newcomers often arrive without computers, smartphones, and internet access. Cafes offer immigrants space to begin situating themselves in their new community by initiating apartment hunts and meeting local residents who know their way around. Anecdotally, the cafes also attract undocumented locals who struggle to obtain in-house internet access. "Several people of this international community have no papers," said Nancy Ramirez, who frequents the Broadway Internet Café to prep for her GRE Exam. She explained, like Diyah, that this is problematic because in her building and several others, undocumented immigrants pay rent to their landlords under the table. To avoid opening themselves even further to charges of fraud and incrimination, the owners impede illegal tenants from signing internet contracts. As a result, several cafe patrons like Cardona and Rojas said they frequent the cafes two to three times a week and spend an average of around $20 to $25 per month for their internet access. Internet cafes have survived an explosion in cheap computers, smartphones, and free internet access across the city, and many cafe operators in Jackson Heights say business has been good. Still, a few concede the existence of an imminent threat: rapidly rising rent. As noted in the recent 2010 Census, Jackson Heights continues to attract non-Latin-immigrant newcomers. Many are fleeing the skyrocketing rents in gentrified neighborhoods like Bushwick or Long Island City, finding refuge in cheaper yet popular neighborhoods like Jackson Heights. But by setting up shop in these new communities, these newcomers are causing local commercial real estate costs to soar. And that is bad news for those like Jose Ramos, a Mexican immigrant living in Queens. "At home, I don't have an internet or a computer," said Ramos, 35. "It's difficult to pay for the internet." As internet access becomes increasingly crucial to daily life, the existence of these cafes helps level the playing field for poor and undocumented immigrants while also serving as a source of entertainment and fun. Against all odds, in 2015, the seemingly-outdated internet cafe has become a cornerstone of the community.

News Article | February 1, 2016
Site: www.fastcompany.com

In response to Uber's recent decision to slash fare prices in New York City by 15%, hundreds of Uber drivers are participating in a daylong strike on Monday. Coupled with the strike is an ongoing protest in Long Island City, where Uber's NYC division is headquartered. The price reduction, which was put into effect on Friday, was proposed to stir up demand, which has slowed in the winter months; Uber argued that the move would ultimately increase revenue for drivers. (The company also claimed it would reverse the change if revenue didn't go up.) But many drivers have not found that to be true in the past three days—and the strike is their way of showing their disdain for Uber's policies. The irony, of course, is that by taking a slew of drivers off the road, the strike actually serves as a good opportunity for other drivers to profit from surge pricing, the fare increase that Uber imposes when demand is high: In a statement to Gawker, an Uber spokesperson said the following: Every city has busy months and slow times. In New York things tend to be quieter after the holidays. So we lowered prices to get more people using Uber, which is good for drivers because it means less time waiting around for trips. Since the price cut, drivers have spent spent 39% less time between trips, which has increased average hourly earnings by 20% compared to two weekends before. This is similar to what happened the last time we cut prices. As we have always said, price cuts need to work for drivers. if for any reason they are not, we will roll them back, as we have done in other cities before.

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