PEPFAR wasted $1.4 billion on abstinence

This money was spent without any assessment of its effectiveness, and with a giant opportunity cost. Can you imagine if that much money had been moved to funding for girls in school, the single factor that best reduced HIV. Or female reproductive health. Or treatment. Instead, an ideological commitment by evangelicals to abstinence caused $1.4 BILLION dollars of AIDS money to be spent without any benefit.

Over the past 15 years the U.S. has spent $1.4 billion promoting abstinence before marriage as a way of preventing HIV in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, according to the most comprehensive, independent study conducted to date of the effort, the money was pretty much wasted. A rigorous comparison of national data from countries that received abstinence funding under the 2003 U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with those that had not showed no difference in the age of first sexual experience, number of sexual partners or teenage pregnancies—all aspects of behaviors that have been linked to a higher risk of becoming infected with HIV…

So why did PEPFAR spend so much money on abstinence programs? That was Congress’s idea. Responding to pressure from religious conservatives, the legislature mandated in 2003 that at least a third of PEPFAR’s prevention budget be spent on telling people to refrain from sex before marriage. That specific requirement was dropped in the 2008 bill that reauthorized the program and PEPFAR has spent progressively less money on abstinence education over the intervening years. Still, the study’s authors point out, PEPFAR allocated $45 million to abstinence education in 2013. “There is a big opportunity cost there,” Lo says. “It’s not necessarily a benign expenditure.”

Yale students rename Calhoun College

The college will provisionally be known as “Formerly Known As Calhoun College” or “FKACC” to these students, or whichever among them is around in the fall, and whoever joins them.

I love this idea, but I don’t think it goes far enough. I know they’re waiting for a consensus to emerge, but my worry is that if they take too long the effort may falter. I’m hoping they agree quickly and offer a new name, one which doesn’t keep the “Calhoun College” in it. FKACC is a clever riff on “The artist formerly known as” but whereas Prince wanted to keep saying “formerly known as Prince” I don’t want to here Calhoun’s name ever again.

My suggestion is John Brown’s college, but I’m hoping the students find a name they like, and manage to get it to spread, soon. I want a new name before I go to my next reunion.

Marvel writes “The Black Panther has been the protector of [sic] Wokanda for generations”

Although they have since corrected this typo, last night, on my instagram feed, I saw this ad by Marvel calling the Black Panther the protector of “Wokanda” which is an unintentionally brilliant typo. In fact, I keep hoping that Ta-Nahesi Coates goes a step further and decides that the correct spelling of the country is in fact Wokekanda, and that the original Wakanda is a colonial misspelling. Next up, getting Ta-Nahesi Coates to change the name of neighboring rival country  from”Niganda.” (no really, that’s what it’s called *facepalm*)


Exercise is good for you but has little impact on weight

For one fascinating study, published in the journal Obesity Research in 1994, researchers subjected seven pairs of sedentary young identical twins to a 93-day period of intense exercise. For two hours a day, nearly every day, they’d hit a stationary bike.

The twins were also housed as in-patients in a research lab under 24-hour supervision and fed by watchful nutritionists who measured their every calorie to make sure their energy intake remained constant.

Despite going from being mostly sedentary to spending a couple of hours exercising almost every day, the participants only lost about 11 pounds on average, ranging from as little as 2 pounds to just over 17 pounds, almost all due to fat loss. The participants also burned 22 percent fewer calories through exercise than the researchers calculated prior to the study starting. [link]

Black actors, green and blue faces

Idris Elba is in four major studio films this year, but you won’t see his face in any of them. Three of those high-profile jobs are voice roles: In addition to playing Chief Bogo in Zootopia and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, Elba has a supporting part in Pixar’s upcoming Finding Dory. His only live-action role in the lot is playing the villainous Krall in Star Trek Beyond, where he’s buried under so many facial prosthetics that he’s more than unrecognizable — he’s a different color entirely…

I wish I could call all these castings a fluke. I worry they’re not. Look at Lupita Nyong’o, whose most notable roles since winning the Oscar for 12 Years a Slave have been playing the orange alien Maz Kanata in Star Wars and the white wolf Raksha in The Jungle Book. In this summer’s video-game adaptation Warcraft, Paula Patton is slathered in green paint as the half-human, half-orc Garona, which makes me wonder if she consulted Zoe Saldana for advice before taking the role: After all, Saldana has already played green in Guardians of the Galaxy and blue in Avatar. [link]

Baby diapers are noxious, but babies are not terrorists

One of the plaintiffs is a 4-year-old baby from California, listed in the lawsuit as “Baby Doe.”

“He was 7 months old when his boarding pass was first stamped with the ‘SSSS’ designation, indicating that he had been designated as a ‘known or suspected terrorist,'” said the lawsuit. “While passing through airport security, he was subjected to extensive searches, pat-downs and chemical testing.”

“Every item in his mother’s baby bag was searched, including every one of his diapers.” [link]