News in Brief: Income Inequality Worse in US Than Ivory Coast, Pakistan and Ethiopia, and More

Income Inequality Worse in US Than Ivory Coast, Pakistan and Ethiopia

ThinkProgress reports that income inequality in the United States equals that of Uganda, and is worse than in countries like Pakistan, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast. Statistics from the CIA Factbook show that income inequality is also higher in the US today than at any other time since the Great Depression; meanwhile, the American Human Development Index recently reported that, partially due to income inequality and the decline of unionization in America, there is now a 30-year gap in life expectancy between the deep South and New England.

Bahrain Charges Medical Workers Who Treated Injured Protesters

According to Democracy Now!, Bahrain, a key Middle East ally of the US, is charging 47 medical workers who gave treatment to pro-democracy demonstrators during the nation's recent uprising. Bahrain will try the 23 doctors and 24 nurses for crimes against the state that include “promoting efforts to bring down the government” and “harming the public by spreading false news.” The workers will be tried before a military court.

Republicans Introduce New, Less Austere Medicaid Cuts

Mother Jones writes that Republicans have reacted to the backlash against Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisconsin) Medicaid-cutting proposal, introducing a new plan to reduce the program's benefits and payments on a smaller scale. The State Flexibility Act would eliminate federal regulations known as Maintenance of Effort requirements, which prohibit states from cutting their Medicaid rolls or creating new barriers to enrollment. “Take the handcuffs of the governors,” said co-sponsor Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia), who said that current laws prevent states from “ferreting out waste, fraud, and abuse.” The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would save $2.8 billion over five years.

Fatah and Hamas Create Historical Reconciliation Pact

On Wednesday, rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas proclaimed a reconciliation pact that aims to end a four-year conflict, which has left them split between separate governments in the land meant to become a future united Palestinian state, The Associate Press reports. Since a previous unity arrangement fell apart in 2007 and began a civil war, the Palestinian people have been torn between the two opposing governments. Wednesday's pact will create a joint government prior to next year's national elections. However, the pact avoided mentioning Israel, after attempted peace talks between the two countries led to the collapse of the unity arrangement. Mideast envoy Tony Blair said the Palestinians would have to take a moderate stance toward Israel or risk being renounced by foreign governments. “Does this mean a change of heart on behalf of Hamas or not?” Blair said. “We want them in this process. Otherwise there will be no peace.”