Saint Fabiola was a nurse (physician) and Roman matron of rank of the company of noble Roman women who, under the influence of the Church father St. Jerome gave up all earthly pleasures and devoted themselves to the practice of Christian asceticism andcharitable work.
Fabiola belonged to the patrician Roman family of the gens Fabia. She had been married to a man who led so vicious a life that to live with him was impossible. She obtained a divorce from him according to Roman law and, contrary to the ordinances of the Church, she entered upon a second union before the death of her first husband.
At the time of St. Jerome’s stay at Rome (382-84), Fabiola was not one of the ascetic circle which gathered around him. It was only later that, upon the death of her second consort, she decided to enter upon a life of renunciation and labour for others. On the day before Easter, following the death of her second consort, she appeared before the gates of the Lateran basilica, dressed in penitential garb, and did public penance for her sin, which made a great impression upon the Christian population of Rome. The popereceived her formally again into full communion with the Church.
Conversion to Christianity and later life
Fabiola now renounced all that the world had to offer her, and devoted her immense wealth to the needs of the poor and the sick. She erected a fine hospital at Rome, and waited on the inmates herself, and treated citizens rejected from society due to their “loathsome diseases”. Besides this she gave large sums to the churches and religious communities at Rome and other places in Italy. All her interests were centered on the needs of the Church and the care of the poor and suffering.
In 395 she went to Bethlehem, where she lived in the hospice of the convent directed by Saint Paula and applied herself, under the direction of St. Jerome, with the greatest zeal to the study and contemplation of the Scriptures and to ascetic exercises. An incursion of the Huns into the eastern provinces of the empire and the quarrel which broke out between Jerome and John II, Bishop of Jerusalem respecting the teachings of Origen made residence in Bethlehem unpleasant for her and she returned to Rome.
She remained, however, in correspondence with St. Jerome, who at her request wrote a treatise on the priesthood of Aaron and the priestly dress. At Rome, Fabiola united with the former senator Saint Pammachius in carrying out a great charitable undertaking; together they erected at Portus a large hospice for pilgrims coming to Rome. Fabiola also continued her usual personal labours in aid of the poor and sick until her death on 27 December of 399 or 400. Although Fabiola’s practice of medicine was pragmatic in application, her legacy illustrates the involvement of early Christian women in the field of medicine.
Veneration and Legacy
Her funeral was a wonderful manifestation of the gratitude and veneration with which she was regarded by the Roman populace.
Jean-Jacques Henner painted his portrait of Fabiola (in a classical Roman profile) in 1885; this idealized rendition of the saint was lost in 1912. The image was copied by artists around the globe over the last century, in 2009 Francis Alÿs composed a traveling exhibition of over 300 of these copies. The exhibit first ran at the Hispanic Society of America inNew York City, then the LACMA in Los Angeles, with the exhibition going to London at the National Portrait Gallery from May to September 2009. The collection, grown to include 514 copies of the portrait, is on exhibit at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel of the Menil Collection in Houston from May 21, 2016 – May 13, 2018.
What is vaccine-derived polio?
Q: What is vaccine-derived polio?
A: Oral polio vaccine (OPV) contains an attenuated (weakened) vaccine-virus, activating an immune response in the body. When a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened vaccine-virus replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies. During this time, the vaccine-virus is also excreted. In areas of inadequate sanitation, this excreted vaccine-virus can spread in the immediate community (and this can offer protection to other children through ‘passive’ immunization), before eventually dying out.
On rare occasions, if a population is seriously under-immunized, an excreted vaccine-virus can continue to circulate for an extended period of time. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more genetic changes it undergoes. In very rare instances, the vaccine-virus can genetically change into a form that can paralyse – this is what is known as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).
It takes a long time for a cVDPV to occur. Generally, the strain will have been allowed to circulate in an un- or under-immunized population for a period of at least 12 months. Circulating VDPVs occur when routine or supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) are poorly conducted and a population is left susceptible to poliovirus, whether from vaccine-derived or wild poliovirus. Hence, the problem is not with the vaccine itself, but low vaccination coverage. If a population is fully immunized, they will be protected against both vaccine-derived and wild polioviruses.
Since 2000, more than 10 billion doses of OPV have been administered to nearly 3 billion children worldwide. As a result, more than 13 million cases of polio have been prevented, and the disease has been reduced by more than 99%. During that time, 24 cVDPV outbreaks occurred in 21 countries, resulting in fewer than 760 VDPV cases.
The small risk of cVDPVs pales in significance to the tremendous public health benefits associated with OPV. Every year, hundreds of thousands of cases due to wild polio virus are prevented. Well over 10 million cases have been averted since large-scale administration of OPV began 20 years ago.
Circulating VDPVs in the past have been rapidly stopped with 2–3 rounds of high-quality immunization campaigns. The solution is the same for all polio outbreaks: immunize every child several times with the oral vaccine to stop polio transmission, regardless of the origin of the virus.
Oct. 25, 2016
Here’s when powerful people have trouble making a decision
When faced with ambivalence, they are less decisive than others
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Although powerful people often tend to decide and act quickly, they become more indecisive than others when the decisions are toughest to make, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that when people who feel powerful also feel ambivalent about a decision – torn between two equally good or bad choices – they actually have a harder time taking action than people who feel less powerful.
That’s different than when powerful people are confronted by a simpler decision in which most evidence favors a clear choice. In those cases, they are more decisive and act more quickly than others.
“We found that ambivalence made everyone slower in making a decision, but it particularly affected people who felt powerful. They took the longest to act,” said Geoff Durso, lead author of the study and doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University.
The study was published online in the journal Psychological Science.
Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State, said other research he and his colleagues have done suggests that feeling powerful gives people more confidence in their own thoughts.
That’s fine when you have a clear idea about the decision you want to make. But if you feel powerful and also ambivalent about a decision you face, that can make you feel even more conflicted than others would be, he said.
“If you think both your positive thoughts and your negative thoughts are right, you’re going to become frozen and take longer to make a decision,” Petty said.
The study involved two separate experiments that recruited college students as participants. They were told the goal of the experiments was to understand how people make decisions about employees based on limited information.
Each participant was given 10 behaviors attributed to an employee named Bob. Some were given a list of behaviors that were entirely positive or entirely negative, while others were given a list of five behaviors of Bob that were positive and five that were negative.
One of the negative behaviors was that Bob was caught stealing the mug of a co-worker when it was left in the company kitchen. A positive behavior was that Bob had met or beaten all but one of his earnings goals since he was hired.
After learning about Bob, participants were asked to write about a time in their lives when they had a lot of power or very little power over others. This writing exercise has been shown in other studies to induce momentary feelings of power or powerlessness among those who complete the task.
At this point, the researchers were able to start measuring how feelings of power interacted with feelings of ambivalence toward the employee.
Participants were asked to rate the extent to which they felt conflicted, undecided or mixed about their attitudes toward Bob – all measures of ambivalence. As expected, those who were told Bob showed a mixture of positive and negative behaviors felt much more ambivalent toward him than those who were told his behaviors were all positive or all negative.
They were then asked how likely it would be that they would delay making any decisions about Bob’s future with the company, if they were given such an opportunity.
When presented with an ambivalent profile for Bob, participants who felt powerful were more likely than others to want to delay the decision. But when the employee was presented as all-positive or all-negative, those who felt powerful were less likely than others to want to delay action.
After answering how much they wanted to delay the decision, the moment of truth came for the participants. In one study, they had to decide whether to promote Bob by clicking a key on a computer keyboard. In a second study, they decided whether to fire him the same way.
Without their knowledge, the researchers measured how long it took participants to click the key to promote or fire Bob.
Findings showed that, across the board, people took more time to decide when faced with the employee profile that mixed positive and negative behaviors. But those who were feeling powerful still took significantly longer to make their decision than did those who were feeling relatively powerless.
“Powerful people feel more confident than others in their own thoughts, they think their thoughts are more useful and more true. But that can be a problem if your thought is that you’re not really sure the best way to proceed,” Durso said.
“Meanwhile, people who feel less powerful are less sure about the validity of their thoughts anyway, so they think they might as well just make a decision.”
Durso and Petty believe this interaction between power and ambivalence can affect leaders in any role, including those in business and government.
One example is President George W. Bush, who after his election in 2004 proclaimed that he was ready to take action: “I really didn’t come here [just] to hold the office…I came here to get some things done.”
But when determining whether to withdraw or bolster American forces in Iraq, President Bush — famously self-described as “the decider” — stated that he would “not be rushed into making a decision.” He then delayed his decision twice over two months.
This study suggests that Bush’s indecision was not surprising given his power as president and the complex, ambivalent issue he faced.
“People in power are given the most difficult decisions. They have a lot of conflicting information they have to process and synthesize to make their judgment,” Durso said.
“It is ironic that their feelings of power may actually make it more difficult for them to arrive at an answer than if they felt less powerful.”
The study was also co-authored by Pablo Briñol of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. The National Science Foundation provided support for the research.
Contact: Geoff Durso, Durso.email@example.com
Richard Petty, 614-292-1640; Petty.firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457; Grabmeier.email@example.com
Governor says island’s debt is “not payable.” But a hedge fund-backed report says education cuts will do the trick
Earlier this summer, I spoke with UC Berkeley professor Wendy Brown about “Undoing the Demos,” her recent book on neoliberalism. Much like her book, I thought the whole conversation with Brown was edifying. But there’s one idea of Brown’s in particular that I’ve found myself returning to frequently in the time since we spoke. It’s the concept of neoliberalism as not only an economic and political system, but also as a kind of mindset — or, as she called it, “a whole form of reason.”
Because Brown ultimately describes this “form of reason” as the cause of the inherently unstable relationship between democracy and neoliberalism, I think it’s worth quoting her description at length. According to Brown, neoliberalism as a form of reason “is an understanding of the world and of the human beings within it as nothing but markets — and an understanding of human beings as fully reducible to market actors.” Brown notes that the idea of humans-as-market-actors is not new. But neoliberalism holds that every aspect of society should be thought of as a market. That’s what makes it unique.
Ours is a neoliberal era; so it’s not particularly hard to find examples of the markets über alles! approach in our society if you’re bothering to look. What got me thinking about Brown’s ideas more recently, however, is the news from Puerto Rico, which remains terrible. For those who aren’t following the story already, here’s a nifty Vox explainer. But for our purposes all you absolutely need to understand is that Puerto Rico has $72 billion in debts; that its governor recently described these debts as “not payable”; and that U.S. law does not explicitly allow states or territories to declare bankruptcy.
Now, if you were to examine Puerto Rico’s crisis from a perspective other than that of neoliberalism, you’d probably think the solution was relatively self-evident. Puerto Rico’s creditors took a chance; and in retrospect it’s clear that they made a bad bet. In order for the people of Puerto Rico to pull themselves out of a nearly decade-long economic tailspin, the territory’s creditors will have to “take a haircut.” That’s a raw deal for them, no doubt; but the chance that an investment might lose you money is pretty baked-in to the whole capitalism thing (or at least it’s supposed to be) so it’s reasonable for policymakers to remember that making creditors happy is not their ultimate mandate.
But that’s assuming you’re not ensconced in what Brown calls the neoliberal “form of reason.” If you are locked in such a mindset, Puerto Rico’s situation looks different. For example, take a look at “For Puerto Rico, There is a Better Way,” a new reportwritten by three former International Monetary Fund economists on behalf of “a group of hedge funds and other firms with major investments in Puerto Rican bonds,” according to the New York Times. Rather than working with creditors to “restructure” its debt, what Puerto Rico should do, the report says, is implement an intense program of austerity and use the money saved to pay these hedge funds and other investors back.
To a significant degree, this is not a consequence of neoliberal ideology so much as run-of-the-mill human greed. But when you look at the recommendations offered by these IMF economists and their 1 percent backers, it’s difficult not to conclude that neoliberalism has at least warped their sense of what other people will consider decent. For example, arguing, as the report does, that Puerto Rico’s debt is sustainable so long as its government cuts spending on education will not sound decent to those who know that Puerto Rico’s already closed 100 schools this year. It’ll sound even worse to those who know that the U.S. national per-student spending average is $10,667 and that Puerto Rico’s is only $8,400.
This isn’t the report’s only recommendation, of course. IMF veterans that they are, the economists also recommended Puerto Rico raise taxes, cut health benefits and privatize some of its public works. In their statements to the press, the authors seemed to be aware that their proposals would not be looked upon kindly by a general public that is increasingly skeptical of austerity. One assured the Times that he and his colleagues were not recommending Puerto Rico offload its valuable public assets in a “firesale” to the private sector. Another said that much of the needed tax revenue could come not from new levies but from simply forcing people to pay what they already owe. These talking points aside, though, the authors clearly privileged a sustainable debt-load above all else.
In fairness, they were probably just following orders. The authors of the report are not heroes, to be sure, but they’re not the primary villains, either. In fact, you could argue that, with this report, they’ve provided the rest of us with a needed service. Through recommending Puerto Rico cut an already-impoverished society’s access to quality education in order to satisfy financial markets, the report shows how neoliberalism’s “form of reason” ends up applying an intellectual gloss to what would otherwise be recognized as base avarice. If even education — the neoliberal’s solution to all social ills — is not worth preserving despite capital’s wishes, then, clearly, nothing is.
In 2015, for the first time, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were at 400 parts per million (ppm) on average across the year as a whole, the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) annual greenhouse gas bulletin reveals.
The longest established greenhouse gas monitoring station in the world, at Mauna Loa in Hawaii, predicts carbon dioxide concentrations will stay above the symbolic 400ppm for the whole of 2016 and reach new highs.
It will not dip below the 400ppm mark again for many generations, the experts said.
The growth spurt in carbon dioxide levels, which saw a bigger-than-average increase in the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere between 2014 and 2015, was fuelled by the El Niño weather phenomenon in the Pacific.
The strong El Niño, which started in 2015 and continued into this year, triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the ability of forests, vegetation and oceans to absorb carbon dioxide, leaving more in the atmosphere.
But over the longer term it is the increase of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from human activity including industry and agriculture which caused a 37% increase in the warming effect on the planet between 1990 and 2015.
Around two-thirds of the warming effect, known as radiative forcing, by long-lived greenhouse gases comes from carbon dioxide.
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stood at around 278ppm before the industrial revolution, a concentration which the WMO said represented a natural balance on Earth.
Human activities have altered the natural balance and in 2015 global average levels of carbon dioxide were 44% above pre-industrial levels.
The greenhouse gas bulletin was released ahead of the next round of climate talks, which will mark the early entry into force of the Paris agreement, the world’s first comprehensive deal to tackle climate change agreed in the French capital last year.
WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas, said: “The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement.
“But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations.”
He added: “The El Niño event has disappeared. Climate change has not.”
And he said: “Without tackling carbon dioxide emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2C above the pre-industrial era.
“It is therefore of the utmost importance that the that the Paris agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on 4 November and that we fast-track its implementation.”
The Paris agreement commits countries to keeping temperature rises to “well below” 2C and to pursue efforts to limit increases to 1.5C, by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in the second half of the century.