Saturday, June 25, 2016

Assad does not like doctors or hospitals

In the past five years, he has assassinated, bombed, and tortured to death almost seven hundred medical personnel. A United Nations commission concluded that “government forces deliberately target medical personnel to gain military advantage,” denying treatment to wounded fighters and civilians “as a matter of policy.” The health ministry routinely prevents U.N. convoys from delivering medicines and surgical supplies to besieged areas.

Aleppo was the largest city in Syria, with thousands of physicians. Only 5% of them are still there, the others have fled the country.

The Joys of Travel

The Marijuana Church

It's in Lansing, Michigan, which allows the use, possession or transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana on private property by a person who is at least 21. The First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason was founded by Jeremy Hall, a state-licensed medical marijuana patient and caregiver. The church, which has forty members, will be meeting inside the Lansing Farmers Herbal Market. The 'communion' will consist of a roach collection jar for marijuana patients in need.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Jungle, 21st century style

A message for the U.S.?

You have to wonder whether Britain's leaving the European Union is a precursor to Trump becoming our president. It seems as though those really upset with the political order won the day. Clearly, a considerable number of Americans are equally upset. Is there a way of reducing the anger in an intelligent way?

Solar Impulse 2 reaches Europe

Here it is above Seville.

It uses only solar power. It landed in Spain Thursday after completing a 71-hour flight from New York. There was only one pilot. He survived by taking the occasional catnap. This was the 15th leg of a round-the-world trip which began on March 9, 2015, in Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


In our efforts in Afghanistan we got a lot of help from a lot of Afghans, particularly as interpreters. Sure, many of them did it for the money, but all of them put themselves and their families at risk to help us. Even now they are in trouble. They and their families are being hunted down by the Taliban. Some have been killed and wounded while waiting for an American visa. Many are scared to leave their homes, shop in open markets or take their children to school. 

We did establish the Special Immigrant Visa program to allow Afghans to seek refuge here. These visas are given to those who undergo rigorous screening and can demonstrate at least two years of faithful and valuable service to the United States. More than 9,000 Afghans have taken advantage of the program.

But now legislation is on track to stop this program while there are still 10,000 or so Afghans currently trying to come here. If the legislation is not changed, why 
would anyone agree to help the United States if we have a record of breaking our promises and abandoning those who assist us? Petraeus and McChrystal realize this and have urged that the legislation by changed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An alternative social order?

Employee training at one bank in China

Does Trump have enough money for his campaign?

And does he spend it wisely? Here are some facts gleaned from Trump's latest filing with the Federal Elections Commission:

1.) Trump only has $1.3 million in cash on hand. Hillary has $42 mil.
2.) Trump’s campaign raised only $3.1 million in May.Hillary raised $4,500,000 in one day.
3.) Trump’s campaign paid Trump’s own companies more than $1 million in May.
4.) Trump’s campaign spent more money on ‘Make America Great Again’ hats than on web advertising.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A good investment for drug companies

A study in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at payments to 279,669 doctors who prescribed specific drugs in four categories: cholesterol lowering statins, two types of blood pressure drugs and antidepressants. These doctors received 63,524 payments, 95 percent of which were for meals sponsored by drug companies, worth about $12 to $18 each. 

Doctors who were treated to a single meal, where drug companies present information about their medications, were 18 percent more likely to prescribe, a brand-name cholesterol-lowering medicine. They were 70 percent more likely to prescribe Bystolic, a brand-name beta blocker for high blood pressure, and 52 percent more likely to prescribe Benicar, also for hypertension. And they were more than twice as likely to prescribe Pristiq instead of a generic antidepressant.

Why would The Atlantic post this video?

I can't see where there is any point made beyond advertising the woman's 'art'.

You can't manage without measuring

The U.S. Army War College publishes the Quarterly, Parameters. Although I know nothing about military matters, I find the publication interesting. For example, the Spring issue has an article entitled "Measuring the Effectiveness of America’s War". It seeks to evaluate just how well the war on terror is doing. The author's conclusion: not very well.

By and large our leaders make statements, such as the killing of Osama, which they point to as indicating that we are doing well. Yet, there is very little quantitative data that shows this even though the Government Performance and Results Act mandates all agencies establish performance objectives and measure progress in meeting those objectives.

The author of the article, Erik W. Goepner, has done his own calculations using available data. His basic conclusion is that the war on terror has made matter worse. 

"Statistical modeling indicates for every additional billion dollars spent and 1,000 American troops sent to fight the war on terror, the number of terror attacks worldwide increased by 19. The data show countries the US invaded had 143 more terror attacks per year than countries the US did not invade. Similarly, countries in which the US conducted drone strikes were home to 395 more terror attacks per year than those where the US did not. In 2001, some 1,880 terror attacks occurred. By 2014, the number had risen to 16,818. Fatalities caused by terror attacks have increased to unprecedented levels. The average number of deaths rose 72 percent for the 13 year period after 9/11 as compared to the 13 years prior. In 2014, a record 43,512 people were killed by terrorism, a staggering 297 percent increase from the worst year in the pre-9/11 period which was 1997."

A less free press?

Buy a car, get a gun

That's what a used car dealer in New Hampshire is promoting. The gun is an AR-15. The deal has been available since May and will end August 31. So far, he has given away four AR-15s.

The Dickey Amendment

Friday, June 17, 2016

A surprise proponent of gun control

General Stanley McChrystal has a strong article in today's NY Times. It is entitled "Home Should Not Be a War Zone". He properly labels it a national crisis. 

"From 2001 to 2010, 119,246 Americans were murdered with guns, 18 times all American combat deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.... I believe we need a national response to the gun violence that threatens so many of our communities." 

He wants the loopholes closed and this can only be done on a national basis. "In my life as a soldier and citizen, I have seen time and time again that inaction has dire consequences. In this case, one consequence of our leaders’ inaction is that felons, domestic abusers and suspected terrorists have easy access to firearms. Some opponents of closing these gaps in our laws will continue to argue that dangerous people will obtain guns in our country no matter what, and therefore that taking steps to make it harder for them is fruitless. That is both poor logic and poor leadership."

A different summer camp

It's only two days and it is in Arizona in the middle of summer.  The curriculum reads as follows,  “The campers will follow jail regulations, wear inmate clothing, work as an inmate laborer, eat jail food, sleep in jail tents/bunks, and attend education programs”. The purpose of the camp is to show youngsters the miseries that await them if they commit crimes and wind up in prison.

Did you guess that the camp is offered by Maricopa County, whose sheriff is the estimable Joe Arpaio?