Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Russian Trolls

Let's have a day without Trump

Wouldn't it be nice to read today's paper, watch television news, explore the web without being inundated with articles about Trump? I assume the media loves having him around as it doesn't have to work as hard trying to inform us of the news we should be learning. June 14, which is not that far away, is the birthday of Donald Trump. Why doesn't the media dedicate that day to "No Trump Stories Today"? It would be a present for most of us.

The Changing Presidency

A woman boxer

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hell on earth

I've been writing about Gaza since 2007.   It's basically hell on earth. Now it's back in the news once more. The Gazans have been staging protests for the past month and will do so for another couple of weeks. Thus far, thirty people have been killed and hundreds injured.

While the main organizers of the protest have called for a peaceful protest, this has not been the case. Tires have been burned, rocks thrown, shots fired, kites with gas cans have been sent over the border. Israel has responded with teargas and live ammunition.

Why the protest?  Gaza has been blockaded since 2007 by Israel and Egypt, which means severely restricted access for goods and people, debilitating power outages, a sewage crisis and shortages of medical equipment. It really is hell on earth.

Friday, April 20, 2018

“Seattle real estate is so expensive, even the houses are moving out!”

The perfectly good house shown above is being moved from Seattle to British Columbia as the land on which it resided has been sold for an astronomical sum.

Older Workers Experience at one company

Do they love turtles?

Authorities in Madagascar recently found - in one house - 9,888 live radiated tortoises, a rare species found only in Madagascar—and 180 dead ones.  A week after their discovery, 574 tortoises had died from either dehydration or infection.

Why was someone keeping so many turtles? It’s illegal to take these critically endangered animals from the forest in Madagascar or to sell them, but some people do still illegally eat them or smuggle them out of the country as pets.

Where the money is

Thoughts on the Iran nuclear deal

The BBC has a series on the future of medicine wherein it looks at some of our current practices and evaluates their efficacy. Here are its views on some common situations: 

MYTH 1: Put butter on a burn
MYTH 2: Giving chest compressions to someone who doesn’t need them can cause more harm than good
MYTH 3: To do CPR properly, you need to give mouth-to-mouth as well as doing chest compressions
MYTH 4: You shouldn’t shock someone with a defibrillator unless you are certain their heart has stopped
MYTH 5: Tilt the head backwards to stop a nosebleed

You might want to attend this master class

Three hundred attended the last class, which has been held in Rome annually for the last thirteen years. The formal name of the class is “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation”. Tuition is only $372 for a week's master class on Exorcism. You'll learn how to yell at the devil, rid Muslims of black magic and purge Satan on your cellphone. 

Some of the lectures: “The Prayer of Liberation, a Theological and Pastoral Approach”, “The Auxiliary Exorcist: Skills and Duties”, “Magical, Esoteric and Occult Links to Some Alternative and Energy-giving Therapies”, “The Exorcist: Life, Choices and Mistake”, “Witchcraft in Africa.”

Perhaps if you pass the course, you can join the International Association of Exorcists in 2014, which is recognized by the Vatican.

I've been interested in the subject since I saw an exorcism in Assisi when I was 11.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ignoring the rules

Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, is having a hard time working for the government. He is not exactly open nor fiscally conservative. Now, the GAO has ruled that his construction of a secret phone booth had to be authorized by Congress because it cost more than $5,000. Furthermore, the need for such a booth is questionable as the EPA already has a sensitive compartmented information facility to handle classified information on a different floor of its headquarters.

Government Surprise

I filed my tax returns two weeks ago. I got my state tax return last week and the federal today. Was it a miracle or e-filing?

Another problem for African-Americans

Black infants in America are more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data. This is not a new phenomenon.  We first began keeping records of infant deaths by race in 1850. That year, the reported black infant-mortality rate was 340 per 1,000; the white rate was 217 per 1,000.  The overall rate has plummeted since then, but it's still bad for black babies; 11.3 deaths per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies.

Our overall rate is getting worse when compared with other developed countries. In 1960, we were ranked 12th among developed countries in infant mortality. Since then, with its rate largely driven by the deaths of black babies, the United States has fallen behind and now ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations. Low birth weight is a key factor in infant death, and a new report released in March by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin suggests that the number of low-birth-weight babies born in the United States — also driven by the data for black babies — has inched up for the first time in a decade. Mothers also die. We are one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago. The CDC has found that black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts.

The question is why black women are more affected. Medical studies have led experts to believe that the cause is an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism that creates a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death. And that societal racism is further expressed in a pervasive, longstanding racial bias in health care — including the dismissal of legitimate concerns and symptoms — that can help explain poor birth outcomes even in the case of black women with the most advantages.

The National Academy of Sciences found that people of color were less likely to be given appropriate medications for heart disease, or to undergo coronary bypass surgery, and received kidney dialysis and transplants less frequently than white people, which resulted in higher death rates. Black people were 3.6 times as likely as white people to have their legs and feet amputated as a result of diabetes, even when all other factors were equal. One study analyzed in the report found that cesarean sections were 40 percent more likely among black women compared with white women.