Monday, August 31, 2015

Import Your Food, Why Grow It?

Baragan Fields
Photo: Wikipedia
Øystein Hovdkinn, Norwegian Ambassador to Romania, allegedly praised Romania’s potential in energy and agriculture during a 2013 press conference, while mentioning the following inexplicable quandary. „You can feed 80 million people, but you import two-thirds of your food. It is the biggest paradox, it’s insanity.”

How is it possible that Romanians, citizens of an agrarian society for centuries, have become doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but have neglected to farm, an important occupation for the survival of a nation? During Ceausescu’s regime the country managed to feed through its heavy export part of the west and parts of Africa but today, the vast fertile fields remain unused, full of weeds and abandoned to soil erosion by wind and rain.

Where does the food come from? Aside from small farms, industrial scale agriculture no longer produces Romania’s food. Wheat, corn, and sunflower seeds make up half of exports but most finished goods including food come from imports.

Adrian Porumboiu, who owns Racova Com Agro Pan of Vaslui, is quoted as saying that Romania imports cherries from South Africa and beans from Ethiopia.

Lucian Avramescu asked in his scathing article „why Romania imports garlic from China, leeks from Egypt, apples from Poland, and lettuce from Brazil.” I saw with my own eyes in May this year pears from Chile. I thought to myself at the time, these pears have come a long way to Ploiesti. Where are the Romanian pears? Fruit orchards were abundant when I was growing up. And locals grew fruit trees in their own back yards.

Wine grapes Photo: Ileana 2012
„Why purchase grapes abroad when you have vineyards that produce the most diverse varieties of table and wine grapes, enough to fill the most regal tables of the world?” said Avramescu. „Why buy grapes from Italy when you have vineyards in Dragasani, Pietroasele, Valea Calugareasca, or Odobesti, grapes that are just as good if not better than those purchased from Italy where they are sprayed abundantly with pesticides,” he added. I now understand why in our Italian apartment in Veneto, overlooking a vineyard, we never saw any mosquitoes or flies even though, in the absence of air conditioning, we left the windows wide open day and night.
Why would anyone import food for a population five times smaller than the actual amount of food they could grow themselves if they tried again? Instead, as Avramescu said, Romanians export wood and import wheat into a „Grain Country.” The fields of grain used to be so tall that a rider on this horse could hide nicely in the wheat blowing in the wind.

What happened? Why import garlic from China which has been fertilized „with human feces,” said Avramescu. Why import shrimp from the sewers of China when we have the Black Sea and the Danube Delta? There is a simple answer – globalism and EU control. Billions in grants and easy finance come from the EU with strings attached.

Romania is not alone when it engages in insane trade policies and agricultural practices. More and more local agricultural businesses and large farms around the world have been bought by China. Pigs and chickens are shipped to China from the U.S. to be processed and then shipped back to grocery stores in the U.S. without provenance labeling.

The Norwegian was kind, said Avramescu, he only called the importation practice „paradoxal.” What he meant to say, „it is idiotic.”

Romanian field of corn
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2011
Romanians may no longer grow enough food to feed 20 million people on some of the abandoned Baragan fields that used to be the breadbasket of the Balkans. Mini tornadoes of dust swirl in the air between the slow-turning wind turbines that dot the barren landscape in Baragan. The good news it that they’ve been incentivized to use renewable energy they can barely afford in their homes and to reduce pollution through a 306 million euro grant from Norway. Who needs to grow food to survive when becoming green saves the planet?

What if the exporter decides to reduce crop yield due to drought, unforseen natural circumstances, or increase its own domestic reserves of grain? What will the importer do?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hunger by Government Definition Is "Food Insecure"

Photo: Ileana Johnson May 2015
As liberals complain that people are going hungry and the first lady transforms the school lunch fare to “healthy” offerings nobody seems to like, the federal government is spending plenty on “domestic food assistance to provide food for the hungry and other vulnerable populations in this country.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are many agencies that offer food assistance to the needy in this country, citizens, non-citizens, and illegals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) offers many programs recently reauthorized by the 2014 farm bill called the Agricultural Act of 2014:

-          Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

-          Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

-          Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

-          Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

-          Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition program

USDA-FNS also provides programs that were not included in the farm bill:

-          Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

-          Child Nutrition Programs  such as School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

-          Summer Food Service program (SFSP)

-          Special Milk program

-          Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (HHS-ACL) offers nutrition programs which are administered by the Administration on Aging (AOA) and authorized by the 1965 Older Americans Act (OAA):

-          Congregate Nutrition Program

-          Home Delivered Nutrition Program

-          Grants to Native Americans such as Supportive and Nutrition Services

-          Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP)

Randy Alison Aussenberg and Kirsten J. Colello, the writers of the CRS report 42353 dated February 4, 2015, opine that “Some of these programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, have deep roots dating to the Depression era.” Since “hunger” is a concept that is difficult to measure, they say, the terms “food security” and “food insecurity” are used instead to “describe the ability to access adequate food.” How does one describe “adequate food” when the nation seems to be obese by some statistics and the incidence of Type II diabetes is on the rise?

Apparently, the terms “food security” and “food insecurity” can be “objectively measured” and refer to the “economic and access-related reasons associated with an individual’s ability to purchase or otherwise obtain enough to eat.” This is also interesting since people have varied genetic metabolic rates, nutritional needs, and appetites.

In 2006 a National Research Council panel looked at USDA’s measurements of food “adequacy” and concluded that “hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that is not feasible to measure through a household survey.”  People cannot assess “gradations” of hunger, these are non-economic and individual behaviors. People miss meals due to illness, are too busy to eat, or not hungry. (Did we pay good money to come up with this conclusion?) As a result of the panel’s findings, USDA now measures “low food security” and “very low food security.” (National Research Council, Food Insecurity and Hunger in the United States: An Assessment of the Measure, Washington, D.C., 2006, pp. 23-51)

To be more “precise,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS) asked if a household “was able to purchase or otherwise acquire enough to eat in 2013 (“food security”)” or unable to purchase or acquire enough to eat (“food insecurity”). Asking for someone’s opinion is a judgment call, it is not precise. The definition of “enough to eat” would vary widely.

ERS came up with four stages of food security. The parameters seem very subjective ways to “measure” objectively and precisely the need to eat which cannot be scientifically quantified.

-          High food security (“no problems or anxiety about consistently accessing adequate food”)

-          Marginal food security (“problems and anxiety at times about accessing adequate food but the quality, variety, and quantity of food intake were not substantially reduced”)

-          Low food security (“reduced quality, variety, and desirability of their diets, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted”)

-          Very low food security (“eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food”)

The people found in the high and marginal food security levels are “food secure.” The people found in the low and very low food security levels are “food insecure.”

Considering U.S. households, 14.3 percent were “food insecure” in 2013, with 5.6 percent of those having “very low food security,” and 85.7 percent were “food secure.” Households with children were 19.5 percent “food insecure.” Households with senior citizens were 8.7 percent “food insecure.” Of the total surveyed, 62 percent had participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), WIC, or National School Lunch programs. The rate of food insecurity rose from 11.1 percent in 2007 to 14.6 percent in 2008 and stayed in the range of 14.3-14.9 percent ever since.

The 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) enumerated 70 domestic programs that pertain to food and nutrition. The CRS report discusses 17 food programs. Programs vary by target population (pregnant women, children, older adults), by eligibility requirements, and by types of help provided (commodity foods as opposed to prepared meals).

SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program, varies from state to state. Many other programs are administered by state and local health departments. USDA “commodity foods” include “entitlement commodities” (recipients are entitled to them by law) distributed by TEFAP, CSFP, NSLP, SFSP, HHS-ACL, and CACFP. USDA also distributes “bonus commodities,” food purchases “based on requests from the agricultural producer community.” (See CRS Report RL34081)

In 1940, the first pilot Food Stamp Program, sold orange and blue food stamps to recipients. One dollar provided the recipient with $1 worth of any food and 50 cents worth of “blue stamps” which could only be used to buy surplus agricultural products. Commodity donations preceded the National School Lunch program. TEFAP receives USDA commodity foods and bonus commodities purchased by USDA from agricultural producers with surplus goods or in need of price supports. “Farm-to-schools” programs are currently promoted to convince cafeterias to buy from local and regional farms. (CRS R42353, p. 6)

With all these food and nutrition programs in place, why are American citizens falling through the cracks of hunger, nutrition, and need? Why is the nation as a whole deemed obese?





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Legal Relativism and Food Insecurity

In the new “legal relativism” and mob justice atmosphere that uses “social justice” as an excuse to loot and burn down stores in their neighborhoods, Everett Mitchell, the Director of Community Relations at the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus, stated during a discussion panel, “Best Policing Practices,” that prosecuting shoplifters from Walmart and Target is “aggressive police behavior.”

"I just don’t think they should be prosecuting cases for people who steal from Wal-Mart. I don’t think that. I don’t think that Target, and all them other places – the big boxes that have insurance – they should be using the people that steal from there as justification to start engaging in aggressive police behavior."

Perhaps it is why, for the first time in my life, I experienced yesterday at my local Walmart a person stationed at the exit, checking receipts carefully and scanning baskets of goods purchased. It wouldn't be a far stretch to start checking purses, bags, and backpacks like they did under communism.
The social justice lefty crowd wants to engage in selective policing of their choosing, overlooking most crimes, drug offenses, shootings, traffic offenses, crossing our borders illegally, robbing and shooting innocent people, the knockout “game” against white people, breaking and entering, etc.

I have personally seen judges give elderly individuals expensive court fines of $400 and community service for stealing a $4 bottle of Aspirin which they needed for pain. Yes, the law should apply equally to everyone and nobody should be shot for petty theft or for stealing food. But then Obamacare and the current economy is causing some desperation among low income individuals.

Saying that stealing is acceptable behavior is not just a further step towards a Marxist society, it is a giant leap forward.
When I lived under communism, people had to become creative in order to survive and bartering was a common way to meet a family's needs when shelves and stores were empty or rationing coupons were in short supply.

The problem was, under communism, a lot of people bartered goods and services they had stolen from work. People were so exploited that most no longer cared that they had to steal to survive. Any shred of dignity, work ethic, and honesty they had were gone, with a few notable exceptions.

We were all equally miserable and the means of production supposedly belonged to the people, so they thought it justified to take from their own “communal property.” If they were caught, they were often given lengthy community service on the job, sometimes years.

Most “comrades” made sure they were not caught, by bribing the proper individuals who staffed the checkpoints. The entire society was corrupt “out of dire need.” The survival instinct was stronger than any fear of reprisal. Bribery was king – most could be bought for the right price. The price could be a loaf of bread, a pat of butter or a monthly supply of food for the family. Toilet paper, aspirin, and “piramidon,” a type of fever-reducer, were at a premium.

The justification was that everyone stole because life was hard and the inept and corrupt communist government ran shortages of everything! The proletariat pretended to labor, hiding in plain sight at work, and the commie apparatchiks pretended to pay them a meager salary.

It was not unusual to see people trade milk for gasoline, bread for vegetables or eggs, butter for sausage, salami for a pair of shoes, soap and Kent cigarettes for medical services, an X-ray, or a lab report which were supposed to be free to begin with.

I remember the Russians buying red crystal glasses from Romania and selling them to Arabs (who collected them) for dollars at a time when nobody wanted to buy rubles or Russian goods. There was a flourishing trade of color TVs from Romania to the Soviet Union before its epic "fail" in 1989. Who could have seen that coming after decades of tyranny, across the board daily misery, and stifling of the human spirit?

In case you have not paid close attention, there are shortages here and there of food and over the counter drugs, vitamins, and other items, some temporarily and others permanently. Brands or items you bought for decades are no longer available. Regulations and the dire economy have forced manufacturers and retailers to reduce their inventories or to stop producing certain items altogether.

Food banks are being used more than ever in America and there are constant radio ads around D.C. that ask for donations so that children have something to eat. I thought our American children were obese; hence Michelle’s new and improved healthy lunch fare at our nation’s schools.

Radio ads in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties ask listeners to donate school supplies, enough for 37,000 children who need to go back to school. Where did these children come from if our birth rates are below replacement value and abortions are a lucrative business that sells baby body parts for research? They must be the illegal alien children brought here to fundamentally transform us.

As the Shangri La of socialism and equality is advanced more and more in this country by both so-called separate parties, how long will it be before we experience a situation like Venezuela, where the military had to step in to regulate the food distribution because of its scarcity?

How long will it be before we see row after row of empty shelves, just like Venezuela, requiring days and weeks of combing stores, standing in endless lines, in order to find what your family needs for survival? Most grocery stores have a three-day supply of food, after that, if supply is disrupted, it will be chaos.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Willis Eschenbach and the Myth of the "Sixth Wave of Extinction"

North Carolina parakeet (Photo: Wikipedia)
Willis Eschenbach, who takes pride in saying that he is not a trained scientist but has logged thousands of hours of research on the subject, was the first person to file a FOIA request for the infamous data from the University of East Anglia CRU. Hackers downloaded emails from said university that had shown that scientists had manipulated the data to agree with the global warming theory.

Eschenbach lectured an audience in California about the “Myth of Species Extinction,” more specifically, the legend that humans have caused the disappearance of countless birds and mammals with their existence and industrial activity.

A popular myth states that “we are in the sixth wave of extinction,” said Eschenbach.  It appears that life on Earth experienced five mass extinctions due to natural disasters but some biologists are talking about a sixth wave of extinction caused by humans. The top five extinctions are:

-          Ordovician-silurian extinction (small marine organisms disappeared)

-          Devonian extinction (tropical marine species died out)

-          Permian-triassic extinction (“largest mass extinction which included many vertebrates”)

-          Triassic-jurassic extinction (“vertebrate species on land allowed dinosaurs to flourish”)

-          Cretaceous-tertiary extinction

E.O. Wilson, a biologist from Harvard, said that there were 27,000 species going extinct each year for over twenty years at least, that’s over half a million species. If that is so, “what are the species, where are the corpses,” asked Eschenbach?

"We're in the end game all around the world," said the Pulitzer-Prize winning biologist. E. O. Wilson, described as “one of the world's most influential and eloquent thinkers on endangered species issues,” said "’hot spots’ for biological diversity tend to be in the same parts of the developing world where poverty has created ‘oppressed, land-hungry people with no other place to go.’"

“In The Skeptical Environmentalist, statistician Bjorn Lomborg has disputed Wilson's claim that 27,000 to 100,000 species are becoming extinct every year.”

Slender-billed grackle (photo: Wikipedia)
Eschenbach said that he decided to check the causes of extinction looking at species-area relationships. An article in Nature stated that “species-area relationships always overestimate extinction rates from habitat loss” and admits that estimating extinction rates is still “highly uncertain because no proven direct methods or reliable data exist for verifying extinctions.” But somehow, “extinction from habitat loss is the signature conservation problem of the twenty-first century.”

Atitlan grebe (photo: Wikipedia)
“The most widely used indirect method is to estimate extinction rates by reversing the species-area accumulation curve, extrapolating backwards to smaller areas to calculate expected species loss. Estimates of extinction rates based on this method are almost always much higher than those actually observed.”

Eschenbach looked first at the Red List which “hypes the extinction” of birds. He then looked at the list from the American Museum of Natural History (New York) which covers mammals. The problem was to actually determine what constitutes an extinction, its taxonomy, specimens, DNA, to show that they are a species, how we look for it, and the criteria for extinction.

E. O. Wilson talked about extinctions due to habitat loss each year, more specifically, loss of forests. Eschenbach found that there were several waves of extinctions. There was a wave in the 1500s, one wave in the 1700s, and a third wave into the 1800s and 1900s. Eschenbach discovered that the number of birds and animals that had gone extinct in the last 500 years was actually 190, sixty-one mammals and 129 birds. So much for the infamous Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s book, that started the green revolution against DDT and its eventual banning. Springs are never silent in our forests; there are plenty of birds chirping year round.

He also found that, from these 190 species, many island species had gone extinct from “introduced species.” When he excluded those species, to his surprise, in the last 500 years there had been only 9 species that had disappeared, 3 mammals and 6 birds.

Eschenbach enumerated the nine species that had vanished and perhaps why they no longer exist:

1. An antelope hunted by European settlers around the 1800s

2. Labrador duck (shooting and trapping, overharvest of eggs)

3. Algerian gazelle (“extinction was assumed from a single skin purchased in a market place in North Africa in 1894 and from an adult male skull; we know nothing else about it”)

4. North Carolina parakeet (hunted to death for food, for their prized feathers worn on hats; beekeepers also hunted the parakeets because they ate bees)

5. Slender-billed grackle (lived in marshes of Mexico that were drained; total destruction of habitat, any species would go extinct from that)

6. Passenger pigeon (the most prolific birds in the U.S.; extinct from extensive hunting and disease; we hunted them on a large scale, “thousands were brought by trainloads to shoot them where they roosted”)

7. Colombian grebe (predation by introduced rainbow trout)

8. Atitlan Grebe (predation by the large-mouth bass)

9. Cotton tail rabbit (“three specimens collected in 1991 in a small area in Mexico, when they looked back, there were none; nobody knows why they were extinct”)

Based on this record, the conclusion that can be drawn is that when “European species met native species, native species usually died.” Predation by another species is the number one cause of extinction. For example, 95 percent of bird species on islands were killed by alien species. When European species met with Australian species, there was a massive die-off but it was a one-time event, said Eschenbach. Only one bird went extinct from habitat destruction that can be pinpointed to draining a marsh. “Wilson said that 39 extinctions a year occur from habitat loss,” added Eschenbach. Taking his formula into account, we should have seen during “the last century over 1,000 extinctions.”

Eschenbach continued that Wilson explained why his formula was not accurate at all – “50 years must pass before we know that a species is extinct.” His second explanation was that “species don’t go extinct immediately,” they may take up to 100 years to happen due to “exponential decay.” The problem with that theory is that “we still should have seen 600 extinctions by now and we’ve seen none,” Eschenbach concluded.




Thursday, August 20, 2015

"The Extras on Life's Stage"

As I sit at lunch across from young people in their early thirties, discussing the reasons why Americans have lost patriotism and respect for their own country, I am reminded of Dr. Savage’s monologue describing the average American in New York City who goes about his daily business as “extras on life’s stage,” not unlike the average Roman who only cared about, according to a quote from Cato the Elder, “the pebble in his shoe.”

The young thirty-somethings’ opinions were rather interesting and I have paraphrased or directly quoted their statements as closely as possible to their original thoughts.

We have reached the tipping point where there are more America-hating voters who have been brain-washed by the school system for the last five decades than there are patriotic Americans.

Politics are so corrupt that nobody has any faith left in the rigged political system and its viability as separation of powers governance.

People realized that they are being slowly outnumbered and colonized by illegal aliens, who are flooding the country, brought in by our own government to vote Democrat in perpetuity.

We are losing our Christian faith in this country while experiencing a soft communist revolution and it seems futile to fight when people are going about their daily activities, watching sports, and the bread and circuses of “reality TV.”

Americans have full bellies and there are no shortages of food and basic staples; they are not experiencing despair and hunger like people in Venezuela or North Korea.

“We are now under total surveillance and police control and the military has been reduced to a dangerous point by those in power in Washington.”

The country is run by liberals in the classroom, in universities, in the publishing empires, in Congress, Hollywood, movies, television, press, the main stream media, that is who educates Americans into mediocrity, compliance and acceptance of progressivism, stifling of free speech through political correctness.

Have the media and Hollywood perverted reality to such an extent that the pop culture voters believe everything? Can we really have a country without borders? If we give away our sovereignty we no longer have a country, we are becoming a U.N. dependent pawn.

We are giving away our manufacturing sector through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); we will be left with a service economy. In that case, the best of America will be behind us. We are no longer a force to be reckoned with; we are now a force for good, at the beck and call of the U.N.

America has been fundamentally transformed into a soft tyranny. The border control laws are not being enforced, much less other laws in the country. A nation without laws and borders is not a nation. It invites all terrorists and illiterates, the “flotsam and jetsam of the world.”

We are run by crony capitalists and a handful of oligarchs who control Congress and issue legislation to benefit their cronies to the detriment of the American people.

We have created a permanent underclass of welfare recipients who no longer want to produce, to contribute to society, they just vote or protest as rent-a-mobs for a living. They drain resources while staying home and watching reality television all day and drinking beer or smoking pot.

The economy has shrunk to such a degree due to the EPA and other government-run organizations regulations that destroyed jobs. Other jobs were outsourced overseas. The green movement failed to create the promised jobs. Entry level jobs are scarce due to Obamacare costs and demands for a living minimum wage. Americans must now compete with illegal aliens for entry-level jobs and professional IT jobs. So people are sitting idle at home, or hiring themselves as rent-a-mobs for various progressive causes that aim to create civil and racial unrest.  

Millennials see these socialist romanticized countries in Europe as functioning well; they don’t know the level of debt, welfare, and unemployment; they want America to be the same.

Millennials regurgitate “news” from Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart, two comedians, while belittling and calling Donald Trump names, a successful billionaire businessman. Wild Bill said in a recent video that “Donald Trump is America’s middle finger” to corrupt establishment politicians.

Liberal academia brainwashes Millennials that America is shamefully ethnocentric, scared of the outside world, and demonize anyone who is patriotic. They tell us that we must fundamentally change and people clap and are robotically compliant. The social media, the MSM, Hollywood, and professors tell us that we must change and Millennials don’t ask if the change is good for them or the country. We are told we are backwards, still clinging to our guns, Bibles, and the Founding Fathers, but the same liberals support Islam that still functions by 7th century theocratic rules. Hypocritical feminists say, let’s let women wear burkas because it’s their choice. We are supposed to be the savior of the world but labeled “ethnocentric” selfish people who don’t understand the rest of the world.

Why is it America’s responsibility to fix the bad economies in the tin pot dictatorships all these illegal aliens fled from? Why are we supposed to take care of them financially while they stay home and keep having “anchor babies” who immediately become Americans, claiming the extended very large families as permanent residents? Why is the American taxpayers’ responsibility to support with welfare each of the four wives of a “Muslim refugee” from Somalia in Michigan?

Liberals counter with such feigned passion that we are “lucky” to have been born in this country and who are we to deny the economic poor of the world to come here? But it was not luck; it was hard work and rejecting dictators. If other nations from whence these illegals come would fix their countries and replace tyranny with relative freedom, they could make a success in their countries. Instead, they come here to reap the fruits of our hard labor while they hate our country and make no efforts to assimilate, to make America better, adapt to our laws, or become part of its fabric.

There is an insane, senseless leftist adulation of primitive cultures that are supposed to be better than us and wonderful, yet entire tribes in Africa are being raped, enslaved, tortured, killed, wiped out off the face of the earth by the religionists of peace and the MSM is generally silent about it because it does not fit their narrative of “primitive cultures are superior to ours.” “Westboro Baptist, as bad as they are, does not behead people.”

People are ignorant as to what change means. We’ve been cultured since childhood that stagnancy is bad, you get nowhere in life without change. Same with the economy but it does not work the same way.

Certain wheels that have been set in motion by our Founding Fathers still work just fine today as long as the law applies equally to everyone.

We are demonizing police officers. Soon nobody is going to want to go to police academy. We’ll have that national police force, springing all the criminals out of jail as recruits.

We have a mob mentality and go after people’s jobs.  Why give so much power to mob rule? Pressuring a person into a corner without any facts is irrational. Arguments are not based on logic; they are based on ad hominem attacks and accusations of racism and bigotry, devoid of logic.

“Millennials are driving the problem, they are dumb, they are entitled, they are going to college to get a classics degree in Latin or in Social justice, or Study of…, and they are the ones on television. They are privileged and whiny, the squeakiest wheels. They do not understand the ramifications of what they are fighting for. They don’t get the power and money it takes to implement what the president proposes.”

“Taking money away from the military, why would you do that, why would you weaken our national defense? The borders need to be secured now more than ever. Every incident in America happened when we had a weak military. Look what happened after the drawdown in Iraq. If you leave a vacuum behind, someone is going to step in to fill it.”

Hollywood is now sponsoring ads that say, making a deal with Iran, giving them the power to make a nuclear bomb, is going to make us safe. On what planet and with what logic does that happen when Iran threatens constantly to wipe Israel off the map and the “Great Satan” U.S.? They’ve been chanting “death to America” in the streets for decades now. Nobody knows what is in this deal but Hollywood knows it’s good. Secretary Kerry testified that he has not read the agreement personally, he has been briefed.

We are worried about someone’s sex change operation and women want equal entry in the military even when they cannot perform physically on the same difficulty level as men; standards then must be lowered. Political correctness stifles our freedom of speech and divergent opinions are immediately labeled into silence. That is how progressives vilify and marginalize people, putting them in a corner on the defensive; the rationale of the discussion is lost.

We worry about NSA spying on all citizens but we voluntarily give up information on social sites, releasing every personal demographic and activity, giving them permission to track you every moment of the day.

“We are going to have a hippie, pot smoking, trust everybody until they screw you over generation.” Is progressivism good, or is it communism? This is not our problem, it is happening somewhere else. It is not the “pebble in my shoe.” Millennials have no memory of bad things happening. They were five years old when 9-11 happened. “

“Young people are so ignorant, technology has dumbed them down, they can’t think for themselves, they can’t function; they are tethered to a device. They are told by people like Michael Moore that government did it, or Bush did it, we bombed our own country. One chick said it was the Jews. Never mind that a large percentage of the people who worked in the World Trade Center were Jewish, it’s New York City. Academia is blaming the church as a whole for the Holocaust. Millennials rely on pseudo-facts and backing someone into a corner, typical Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals’ tactic.”

Religion is passé; atheism is in, worshipping Gaia. Communism is a religion, climate change is a religion. It is trendy to be anti-Christianity, to be a Holocaust denier, to trash your country’s treatment of slaves even though Islamic countries around the world keep slaves now and sex slaves exist.

Millennials worry about sex change in the military. They don’t see any urgency; they see social issues because they are low information voters. They do not see the big picture; they see the small picture, what is important to them such as getting abortions. They are totally in agreement with infanticide and the selling of baby body parts but organize to stop tribal whaling, or the hunting of sharks, or the tribal killing of seals, or protection of a tiny minnow to the detriment of crops and our vegetable and fruit crops failing for lack of water because the minnow must live at all costs.

Oxford, MS just voted to take down the Mississippi flag at the courthouse for fear that it would offend progressives, race baiters, and atheists. History is being revised and changed at an alarming rate.

Detrimental change is happening at such an accelerated pace that, if nobody is standing up for our country, its borders, and its history, we will soon live under a dictatorship ruled by progressive mobs funded by billionaire oligarchs. And people will be going to jail for expressing divergent opinions, sent there by the thought police.

There was a German song, “Die Gedanken sind frei,” (thoughts are free) but I am not so sure anymore this is true, given the current NSA spying technology that Americans like Jeb Bush think it does not go far enough. Somehow humans will adapt and accept their fate.  Those who refuse to apologize for being white will be demonized and punished.

Perceived or real privilege is hard work, thousands of study hours, learning, taking the opportunity given in a free market and turning it into success instead of a perennial welfare mentality.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Explaining Emerging Infectious Diseases

“2015 was a very busy year for emerging infectious diseases.”  -  Steven Hatfill, MD

Dr. Steven Hatfill
Photo: Wikipedia
Dedicating his lecture to Médecins Sans Frontières, for their heroic actions in West Africa, Dr. Steven Hatfill spoke to a captivated audience at the 33rd Annual Conference of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness in California about the 43 newly emerging infectious diseases that jumped to a larger geographic area from their wild animal hosts to human populations in the past 30 years.

He described the contributing factors:

-          The expanding global human population (doubled in southern Africa in the last 20 years)

-          Breakup and destruction of animal habitat

-          Scarcer food sources forcing animals to move closer to human populations

-          Intensive domesticated animal breeding causing viral mixing from “wild cousins”

-          Changes in animal migration and viral reservoirs (Ebola has 3-4 mutated virus strains)

-          New contact with humans

Dr. Hatfill spoke of the 2014-2015 Ebola virus outbreaks in West Africa, as a “complete mismanagement of a disease at the national and international level,” with no vaccine or definitive treatment yet.  He cited numerous risks that contributed to this large Ebola outbreak across three countries:

-          Consumption of bush meat since protein is scarce; contact with wild animals exposes human microscopic skin abrasions to fresh animal blood

-          Funeral attendance of victims

-          Contact with patients

-          Laboratory accidents with infected animals or tissue

-          Infected paper money (“lab experiments have shown that Ebola virus can remain viable for hours on currency”)

-          Contact with three species of fruit bats, possibly several species of insectivorous bats

-          Bat guano (it is suspected that viruses in aerosols decay quickly with the exception of “Marburg virus that can last hours in the air;” guano can act as a protective surface; it is likely that bat droppings contained the live virus)

-          Pigs as possible reservoirs that could carry Ebola Zaire  

-          Antelopes have been found to carry Ebola virus

-          Monkeys

-          Dogs with serum-positivity

Dr. Hatfill explained that the epidemic is likely to continue or resurface if three safety steps are not followed:

-          identify and isolate confirmed and suspected cases

-          contact tracing – who came in contact with whom and isolate the cases

-          safe burial practices (burials are highly infectious due to tribal washing and handling of the dead body)

The start of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was traced in December 2013 in a village in Guinea. Children found some bats, a treat for locals, brought them home on Christmas Day. The epidemic started when a two-year old died after consuming the meat. His sister died nine days later, then the mother who was seven-months pregnant. “We’ve never had a case of a pregnant woman survive the Ebola infection,” said Dr. Hatfill. The grandmother who cleaned the hut became ill and sought treatment in another village, spreading the virus.

The disease spread silently over three months and killed 50 people. It was recognized and announced in March 2014 as an Ebola outbreak.  The Guinea Ministry of Health informed the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Hatfill opined that, because “Guinea had no idea how to respond,” Doctors without Borders came to the rescue and set up a field hospital in the middle of the 15-village outbreak area.

Sunlight inactivates the virus rather quickly in an open air field hospital, naturally ventilated, with high air flow exchange and high ambient humidity.  Viruses do not like high ambient humidity. Trees surrounding an Ebola field hospital/treatment center must be cut down so that bats cannot nest in them.  

“WHO had no idea what to do.” Doctors without Borders informed WHO that “this epidemic is unprecedented,” but the Ministry of Health said that the “doctors were overreacting and intentionally underreported the death count for political reasons,”  Dr. Hatfill added.

He described how, when the epidemic spread to a city of 2 million inhabitants, family members panicked and left their loved ones in the streets. Cases appeared in Sierra Leone by March 2014. A witch doctor died on April 8. A traditional burial was held for this highly respected healer. In the process, hundreds touched her, and this triggered a chain reaction of Ebola. “WHO was nowhere to be seen.” When nurses and doctors started to die in the hospital, MSF was called in. They found no list of patients, of villages, no contact tracing system, no surveillance system.”

By July 2014 the virus reached Monrovia, Liberia, with a total death toll of 800. When rumor spread that doctors were killing patients, a riot ensued on Day 83 of the outbreak, but no emergency was declared for fear of mass panic.

Two infected American missionaries were brought back to the U.S. via an isolator. “The transport team did not appear that they wore positive-pressured suits…  The CDC response was unsafe,” Dr. Hatfill added. The special unit at Fort Detrick, that could have evacuated sick people from anywhere in the world in case of an infectious outbreak such as Ebola, had been dissolved as part of the Obama budget cuts, he said.

“When I heard Anthony Fauci say that a single layer of gloves is sufficient for protection, it was clear to me that Ebola had become political.” Public statements about fever, thermal scanners placed at airport were not realistic, Hatfill said, because a study of the outbreak showed that 12.9% of cases never ran a fever.

He asked rhetorically, what if someone coughs into your eyes. You are going to get infected. How much Ebola virus is actually shed by an infected person via tears, sneezing, coughing, saliva, body secretions, and blood?  Skin contact with an Ebola patient is enough to infect someone else. Skin cells in the lab document infection, but “the time of infection is not well documented, we are not really sure when the virus is shed from skin.”

“As little as ten Ebola viruses can cause an infection, in some cases I think it’s down to one or two.” Dr. Hatfill added that “a year later, the doctor who recovered, still has Ebola virus in the humor of his eye.”

Having spent $120 billion on domestic preparedness, we could not even handle three Ebola patients without major drama, Hatfill said. “Respirators are now necessary to handle Ebola cases. Why do you need respirators if the CDC says that it is not spread by aerosol?” The three patient cases in the U.S. resulted in 10,000 contact tracings.

By the time the West Point slums of Monrovia were affected, the new Director of WHO, Margaret Chan, declared an emergency but the response was the typical “unprepared bureaucracy.”

U.S. Army was deployed to Liberia 10 months after the outbreak. The goal was to train local burial teams, control infection, and build multiple treatment centers. By October 2014 cases began to drop in Monrovia. “The disease started to plateau off.”

A Brand Acyclovir by Gilead was given to the three American patients, a drug that Dr. Hatfill said he took himself for monkey pox and has suffered no ill effects from it.

He reported that the death toll status as of July 2015 was around 12,000, with more than 20,700 people infected since the outbreak began. “We are still seeing new cases weekly in Sierra Leone and Guinea and six out of ten of these cases will die.” A promising vaccine seems to work.

There were many other emerging disease outbreaks that took place but were overshadowed by the Ebola outbreak:

-          Influenza A, transmitted by birds and pigs (China is the center for new influenza strain production, he said, because of their dense agriculture in which they raise pigs with ducks and chicken, causing wild virus mixing and recombinations between human, avian, and swine; CDC gets samples each year and tries to predict which strain will go pandemic; “sometimes they get it right, sometimes they miss it; this is where your annual flu vaccine comes from and it takes six months to make enough vaccine for everyone;” treatment with Tamiflu and Relenza can help but there are drug resistant strains)

-          Migrating birds from the south pole to the north pole help spread emerging viruses

-          2014 saw two new strains of pathogenic Avian flu, H7 and H9

-          2015 a large outbreak of Avian flu in the U.S., H5 and H2,  in Oregon  killed 40 million turkeys and chickens, affecting 10% of the U.S. supply

-          The flu pandemic of 1918 killed 50-100 million people worldwide, about 3-5% of the world’s population; the world’s population is now 5 times what it was in 1918 - a virus with that virulence could kill today  over 300 million people

-          19 Megacities in the world; 2 billion people live in shanty towns yet most cities have 72 hours of fuel, water, and food for inhabitants totally dependent on agriculture, transport, and delivery; fuel supply is also made through a very complex delivery system; based on calculations of chaos theory, a catastrophic collapse resulting from 30% loss of the workforce from disease could result in catastrophic failure of everything;

-          Animal die-offs , i.e., West Nile virus outbreaks in the 1990s (dead crows), avian cholera (birds drop from the sky during migration), antelopes in Kazakhstan died at the rate of 40% in two weeks, 100% mortality among infected flocks

-          2015 outbreak of the Bourbon virus

-          Enterovirus D68 with 691 cases of polio-like disorder, coincides with the illegal children bussed into the U.S.

-          Vibrio vulnificus from raw oysters in the Gulf of Mexico

-          Tick born virus infections

-          Chikungunya fever  in the Philippines (the virus comes from Africa via mosquitoes)

-          Porto Rico virus from mosquito bite

-          Corona virus in South Korea outbreak

-          Legionnaires disease outbreak in the South Bronx in 2015 from contaminated air conditioners

-          2015 amoeba in New Orleans water supply in St. Bernard Parish  

-          353 Orangutans in Philippines were serum-positive for Ebola Zaire and six of those were serum-positive for Marburg virus; bats from Bangladesh were carrying the same African strain of Ebola virus

Why is the Ebola virus more widespread than we thought before? Possible causes include:

-          Population has doubled in the last 27 years in Africa but the infrastructure has not matched the growth, causing extreme overcrowding in African cities

-          poor public health

-          dysfunctional government at all levels and chaos (doctors ran away)

-          slow and improper response to a crisis

-          WHO was training their own small staff, not local doctors in hospitals

-          Problems with body disposal, hut decontamination, surveillance alert, patient identification, patient isolation, patient swabbing, bagging dead bodies correctly, safe burial procedures

-          Village contact protocol (waiting at the edge of the village to be noticed and for a tribal rep; “you can’t just walk into the village, they will kill you”)

Dr. Hatfill asked rhetorically if we are prepared for a biological attack if we can hardly handle emerging disease outbreaks. Do we have the facilities and the necessary personnel to handle mass casualties? Sequestration under the Obama administration, he said, scaled back work that would have involved hot spots of emerging diseases and epidemiologists with gun training to be inserted rapidly into infected areas.

Hospital trains were used in time of war with operating rooms on board but have been discontinued. We could have one on the west coast and one on the east coast.  He concluded, for $25 million we can handle 10,000 patients and severe ICU cases for multi-purpose disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and emerging infectious disease outbreaks.