May 29, 2014

Imagine giving food to the poor using the VA model

Kevin Williamson  calls it the Cloud in the Machine

Nobody wanted these veterans dead, but dead they are. How is it possible that the government of the United States of America — arguably the most powerful organization of any sort in the history of the human race, in possession of a navy, a nuclear arsenal, and a vast police apparatus — cannot ensure that its own employees and contractors do not negligently kill its other employees and former employees? Never mind providing veterans with world-class medical care — the federal government cannot even prevent bureaucratic homicide
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Ludwig von Mises was developing a complexity-based theory of his own, the famous socialist calculation problem — arguing that, without the information communicated by market prices, economic calculation is not inefficient but impossible, and that the so-called scientific socialists, looking down at their five-year plans and their model villages like an archduke playing with his orrery, could not, in fact, actually do what they purported to want to do: rationally manage industries and national economies.

Markets, the brain, and weather are among the textbook examples of complex systems, and they have something in common: Their behavior cannot be calculated beforehand.
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How confident should we be that our policies will produce the desired outcomes? That will depend in some part on how complex the system is that you are attempting to influence. Housing and mortgage markets are very complex, and politicians’ efforts to turn them to their own ends went very badly in 2008, and will go very badly again in the future. Health-insurance markets and medicine are both very complex, and we see how political efforts to manage those have been going.

Operating hospitals is a complex business, too. Consider a counterexample: Our food-stamp program has many problems, but imagine what a Hieronymus Bosch nightmare it would be if, instead of the current practice of giving poor people vouchers for food, we applied the VA model and attempted to have the government deliver the service itself rather than simply paying for it. That would mean federally operated farms, ranches, and slaughterhouses, government grocery stores, warehouses, distribution centers, transportation networks, etc., all managed with the competence and decency exhibited by the VA. Rather than trying to politically steer the extraordinarily complex system of producing and distributing food — rather than biting off way more than we can cognitively chew — we instead chose the relatively simple method, giving poor people vouchers for food. Of course that has its problems and unintended consequences, but they are milder than, say, national famine, which is probably what would come of government-run agriculture. We let the complex problem of food production meet the complex solution of the market.

Not every regulation or government program is doomed to fail. But we might consider the slightly terrifying possibility that when government does get something right, it does so by accident, temporarily, and for reasons that it cannot understand or replicate. This may be why the sheer volume of law and regulation has been climbing so rapidly: Intuiting its own inefficacy, Washington is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. The Entity with Whom politicians sometimes confuse themselves needed only ten commandments, not the ten thousand a year that Washington produces. Some of those coming down in the near future will be intended to reform the VA. The rational thing to do would be to abolish it. We’d be far better off paying veterans’ medical bills out of the Treasury than trying to operate a network of hospitals and clinics. And no matter what Washington promises to do to solve this problem, it is a good bet that the policy enacted will not produce the result intended. Reform is a random walk.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

The VA scandal is systemic and for some, horrifyingly personal

The VA's problems are systemic says its own Inspector General, Delayed care is everywhere

Late-night testimony Wednesday by a top VA official before Congress amounted to a confession that the agency had lost its focus over the years, paying more attention to meeting performance standards than treating patients.
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The Inspector General appeared to draw a direct link between delays in health care and the bonuses of about $9,000 and salary increases that hospital officials receive as a result of their performance appraisal.
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The inspector general probe released Wednesday found that 1,700 veterans who are patients at the Phoenix hospital are not on any official list awaiting appointments, even though they need to see doctors. Some 1,138 veterans in Phoenix had been waiting longer than six months just to get an appointment to see their primary doctors, investigators found.
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Investigators said they are now looking into 42 medical facilities in connection with health care delays, the number rising sharply from 26 last week and 10 the week before that.

Dr. Hal Scherz tells War Stories from VA Hospitals in the Wall St Journal including the fact that Administrators limited operating time so that work stopped by 3 pm.

The federal government runs two giant health-care programs—Medicare and the VA system. Medicare is provided by private physicians and other providers. Its finances are a mess, but the care that seniors receive is by and large outstanding. The VA health-care system is run by a centrally controlled federal bureaucracy. Ultimately, that is the source of the poor care veterans receive.
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The best solution for veterans would be to wind down the VA hospitals. The men and women who have served in our armed forces should be supplied with a federally issued insurance card allowing them to receive their care in the community where it can be delivered better and more efficiently.

Whistleblower says Texas VA is run like a 'crime syndicate' as wait times averaged 115 DAYS and Republicans push for private-care vouchers

'For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,' a Texas VA whistle-blower told the website's reporter. 'People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”
'I see it in the executives' eyes,' the whistle-blower added. 'They are worried.'
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Congressional Republicans have responded to the crisis by demanding that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki allow veterans to seek private medical care – with full reimbursement – if they wait more 30 days or more for treatment.  House Veterans Affairs Committee chair Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, said Tuesday that he would soon introduce a bill to cement that demand into policy.'We simply can't afford to wait for the results of another investigation into a problem we already know exists,' Miller said in a statement.
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The VA's health care division could have trouble explaining its failures since records show it is flush with cash it hasn't been spending.  The Daily Caller reported Tuesday that the VA will 'carry over' about $450 million in medical care funding from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2015.  Shinseki was given $54.6 billion to work with overall this year – an annual allocation $10 billion higher than in the first full-year Obama budget.

But the scandal is very personal for the families involved.

He Turned to His Local VA for Help, but They Allegedly Turned Him Away. Roughly One Week Later, He Was Dead

When Sgt. Isaac Shawn Sims, 26, an Iraq veteran, turned to the Kansas City VA Medical Center for help, he was allegedly turned away. His mother, Patricia, says her son badly needed treatment for traumas suffered in combat.  On Sunday, Sims was shot and killed by police officers following a tense standoff.

Sims had his eardrum blown out and has “80 percent disability from brain injuries,” his mother told KCTV. But his injuries are not just physical. Patricia Sims said her son suffered from severe depression, migraines and PTSD as a result of watching his friends die in combat.  “He had to pick up body parts, he had to move forward as if nothing happened,” the mother recalled.

Patricia said she knew her son badly needed help after she witnessed her son driving around in his Hummer like he was back in a war zone. He reportedly told his mom, “this is how we look for IEDs mama.”

Frightened and worried, they asked the VA for help. They didn’t expect to receive the response that they claim they did.
They said ‘we don’t have room for you.’ ‘Your problem is not big enough.’ ‘You’ll have to wait.’ ‘Get in line.’ ‘We’ll give him treatment in 30 days if a bed comes available,’” Patricia Sims said.

Family: V.A. Cops Stomped On Veteran’s Head, Killing Him

The family of a 65 year-old veteran claims that VA police stomped on the veterans head and neck, causing him to suffer a stroke and die several weeks later, a new lawsuit alleges.

On May 25, 2011, Jonathan Montano was waiting several hours to undergo dialysis treatment at the Loma Linda VA facility when he grew frustrated, reports Courthouse News Service.  With an IV still in his arm, Montano made his way towards the hospital exit, saying that he would get treatment at the Long Beach VA facility instead.

Norma Montano, the veteran’s wife of 44 years, left the hospital to retrieve the couple’s car.  But VA police wouldn’t let Montano leave, the lawsuit alleges.

“The summoned VA Police Department police officers then stopped Jonathan Montano from leaving the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, by tackling him to the floor, slamming his head on the floor, and kneeing and stomping on his neck, and otherwise brutalizing and restraining him,” reads the lawsuit, according to Courthouse News.  “This kneeing and stomping on his neck by the VA Police Department police officers caused the dissection of his carotid artery, that resulted in immediate (or very soon thereafter) blood clotting, which resulted in [his] suffering a stroke

But, she claims, hospital staff initially said Montano suffered the stroke after a fall — an “untrue statement,” the suit alleges.

“Later on, one of the nurses at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda took Norma Montano aside, and told her that her husband didn’t fall, but was slammed to the ground by the VA Police, that Norma Montano was being lied to, and that it wasn’t right what the VA Police did to Jonathan Montano,” the suit alleges.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

When the Tudors sacked the culture of a 1000 years

How a Protestant spin machine hid the truth about the English Reformation by Dominic Selwood

The last 30 years have seen a revolution in Reformation research. Leading scholars have started looking behind the pronouncements of the religious revolution’s leaders – Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley – and beyond the parliamentary pronouncements and the great sermons. Instead, they have begun focusing on the records left by ordinary English people. This “bottom up” approach to history has undoubtedly been the most exciting development in historical research in the last 50 years. It has taken us away from what the rulers want us to know, and steered us closer towards what actually happened.
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The conclusion of this modern grassroots scholarship is that bulldozing the Catholic Church off the face of medieval England was not a “bottom up” revolution in which Henry merely acquiesced to his people’s wishes by throwing off a widely hated foreign domination. To the contrary, it looks increasingly like Henry and his circle imposed the Reformation “top down”, unleashing 100 years of deep anger and alienation that was only overcome by sustained politicking and ruthless force. Politics and economics have always fitted together snugly, and it was no different in Henry’s day. By spreading some of the lands and wealth stolen from the monasteries, Henry was able to create a firm coterie of influential landholders who had a financial interest in seeing the reforms through.
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To change a country’s religion lock, stock, and barrel was no easy task. In the end, it took Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I. ….. Cromwell’s plan only needed three steps: outlaw everything to do with Catholicism; denigrate and malign it at every opportunity in official pronouncements and sermons; and execute anyone who objects.
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Henry and his inner circle of politicians and radical clerics put to death hundreds of dissenters, pour encourager les autres. None of these people were plotting to kill him or destabilise his rule. Their “treason” was to oppose the destruction of their religion or the despoiling of their property. The brutal strangulation, emasculation, disembowelling, beheading, and quartering they endured as traitors was hideous, as was the total absence of any form of due process or justice.
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And following Edward’s reign, Elizabeth I repeated the command and finished what he had started. The result was the wholesale destruction of a millennium of irreplaceable English craftsmanship in windows, statues, frescoes, and paintings. The Tate recently estimated that over 90 per cent of all English art was trashed in the period, and scarcely a handful of books survived the burning of the great monastic and university libraries. Oxford’s vast Bodleian, for instance, was left without a single book.
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In the process of all the destruction, it was not just traditional day-to-day spiritual life, the free medical and social care provided by the monasteries, and a country full of creative thought and art that were obliterated. The reformers hacked out and discarded an entire slice of England’s history, alienating the English from an especially vibrant part of their own amazing past.
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We are the only European country to use the phrase “the Dark Ages” for the medieval period, and in large measure it is because we have retrospectively made it dark. Henry VIII started it by denigrating and destroying the intellectual, artistic, and spiritual output of ten centuries, emptying out cathedrals and library shelves, leaving them barren and devoid of any human ingenuity or beauty.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:05 AM | Permalink

When doing nothing is better than doing what we did

Investors Business Daily  Bank Bailouts, Stimulus Didn't Save Us from Second Great Depression

What is highly inconvenient for the left apologists for the Obama blitzkrieg of government programs and debt in 2009 and 2010 is that at the start of his presidency, he did lay out a counterfactual of what would have happened without the deluge of federal spending and debt.

Here's the punch line. According to the White House's own calculations, the economy would have been better off today if the government had done nothing instead of spending and borrowing $6 trillion.

The unemployment rate without the stimulus was expected to be 5% today. Instead it is 6.3% and in reality closer to 10%.

Another way to put this is that if the labor force had not declined and we had the 5% unemployment rate Obama says we would have had without the stimulus, there would be 5 million more Americans working today.
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Here is another counterfactual to ponder: How much faster would the economy be growing today if we didn't have the carrying cost of $6 trillion in debt to contend with?

U.S. GDP was supposed to grow at over 2% each year under the do-nothing scenario. In reality, 2% has been the anemic recovery pace. Why does this matter? Because with even an average recovery we would have $1.3 trillion more GDP today. And under a supply-side, Reagan-style recovery, we would have $2 trillion more of GDP and collective income.

The real story of the financial crisis of 2008 was a massive real estate bubble facilitated by easy money from the Fed, government policies through federal entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that underwrite risky mortgage loans with near 100% loan guarantees, a Congress and White House that, as Rep. Barney Frank once famously put it, "rolled the dice" on the housing market, and private banks, investors and home owners who got caught up in a speculation frenzy. Then we asked the conspirators like Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd to fix it.

Now we're repeating the same inane pre-recession mistakes, with government again guaranteeing 90% of new mortgages, financed with easy money and many low down payment loans.

Here we go again. The problem is that when we let the left write the history books, we never seem to learn from our mistakes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2014

A Wonder of Modern Medicine

From Cancer Treatment: Before and After

 Noah Cancer Beforeandafter

This inspiring photo is part of a brochure from the Children's Cancer Center of the University of Mississippi Health Care system. When he was 4 years old, Noah was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. His odds of surviving were about 50/50. As part of his treatment, he underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow treatment.

As you can see from this split photo, Noah is now a healthy, happy 7-year old.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:01 PM | Permalink

Rachel Carson - Truth will out

While Rachel Carson is  still a hero to most in the  environmentalist movement - below is today's Google home page -  more and more people are now admitting how shoddy was her science and how dangerous her legacy.  Bad science kills people. 

 Google Rachel-Carson

In Forbes, Rachel Carson's Deadly Fantasies

Carson’s proselytizing and advocacy raised substantial anxiety about DDT and led to bans in most of the world and to restrictions on other chemical pesticides.  But the fears she raised were based on gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that, if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of egregious academic misconduct.  Her observations about DDT have been condemned by many scientists.  In the words of Professor Robert H. White-Stevens, an agriculturist and biology professor at Rutgers University, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.”
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In 1992, San Jose State University entomologist J. Gordon Edwards, a long-time member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, offered a persuasive and comprehensive rebuttal of “Silent Spring.” As he explained in “The Lies of Rachel Carson,” a stunning, point by point refutation, “it simply dawned on me that that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about [pesticides] and that I was being duped along with millions of other Americans.”  He demolished Carson’s arguments and assertions, calling attention to critical omissions, faulty assumptions, and outright fabrications.
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The legacy of Rachel Carson is that tens of millions of human lives – mostly children in poor, tropical countries – have been traded for the possibility of slightly improved fertility in raptors.  This remains one of the monumental human tragedies of the last century.

Malarial Spring

Nearly lost in a sea of hagiographic links, an inconvenient truth can here and there be discerned: Banning DDT caused the avoidable death, by malaria, of at least 50 million human beings, mainly in the developing world. And the collateral damage continues today. As many as 2.7 million die each year of a disease that was on its way to obliteration prior to Carson’s profoundly unscientific campaign to ban a safe and effective insecticide.

Never one to mince words, James Delingpole calls Rachel Carson, environmentalism's answer to Pol Pot

DDT doesn't cause cancer. (Carson blamed DDT for something that was actually, later research found, caused by aflatoxin, a toxic by-product of fungi). Nor does it damage bird reproduction. In 1971-72 an EPA judge concluded after seven months and 9,000 pages of testimony:

"DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man… DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man… The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."

In 2006, the WHO tacitly acknowledged its mistake by partially rescinding the ban. "We must take a position based on the science and the data. One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT," said Arata Kochi of WHO.

Do the utterly misleading "extreme scenarios" posited by Rachel Carson remind you of anyone? Prince Charles, maybe? Al Gore? Dr James Hansen? No surprise if they do. Carson's bestselling brand of junk science and misanthropic, anti-capitalist doom-mongering has provided the model for the international green movement ever since.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2014

Shadow over Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the federal holiday to honor those service men and women who have sacrificed their lives to defend this country.  We remember that there are men and women who died so that you and I can live with greater security and peace. As Jesus Christ said ,  “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address spoke of the undying gratitude we should have for those who made the ultimate sacrifice:

We can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The motto of the Veterans Affairs is a quote from Abraham Lincoln, "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan."

The shadow over this Memorial Day are the daily revelations of appalling government behavior and treatment of the men and women who deserve the best of care.  Worse, the government deliberately falsified data to hide its scandalous behavior.  The department's inspector general says 26 VA facilities are under investigation, including the Phoenix VA hospital, where a former clinic director says as many as 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment.

The VA is an island of socialism in American health care writes Rich Lowry

It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has long been plagued by scandal. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months….. The existence of the VA isn’t politically controversial. No one is trying to repeal it, or “sabotage” it. What we’re seeing is simply unaccountable bureaucracy in action.

It's with shame that we learn that Al Qaeda terrorists at Guatanamo are treated better than our veterans.

The VA and Gitmo eligible patient-to-health care provider ratios speak volumes.  While the Gitmo ratio is 1.5 to 1, for America’s 9 million veterans receiving VA health care and 267,930 VA employees, the ratio is 35 to 1.

Illegal aliens are treated better than our veterans writes Michelle Malkin

In New York, doctors report that nearly 40 percent of their patients receiving kidney dialysis are illegal aliens. A survey of nephrologists in 44 states revealed that 65 percent of them treat illegal aliens with kidney disease.

In Memphis, a VA whistleblower reported that his hospital was using contaminated kidney dialysis machines to treat America's warriors. The same hospital previously had been investigated for chronic overcrowding at its emergency room, leading to six-hour waits or longer. Another watchdog probe found unconscionable delays in processing lab tests at the center. In addition, three patients died under negligent circumstances, and the hospital failed to enforce accountability measures.
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In 2013, the Obama Department of Homeland Security released 36,007 known, convicted criminal illegal aliens, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The catch-and-release beneficiaries include thugs convicted of homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and thousands of drunk or drugged driving crimes.

The same Department of Homeland Security issued a report in 2009 that identified returning combat veterans as worrisome terrorist and criminal threats to America.

Fraud should not be “punished” with paid vacations — the criminals should go to jail. writes Deroy Murdock in VA Hospitals Are Now Crime Scenes

At this writing, the Veterans Administration scandal has engulfed 16 states and 26 hospitals. In Atlanta, widespread mismanagement caused the preventable deaths of at least three veterans. In Columbia, S.C., six vets died because of delayed colorectal-cancer screenings. And in Phoenix, some severely ill vets urinated blood and endured searing pain from cancer. At least 40 of them dropped dead before getting life-saving treatment.

Instead, hospital officials allegedly doctored appointment books to “comply” with VA scheduling rules, maintained secret wait lists that confirm this deception, and destroyed this evidence when the watchdogs barked. This ugly picture quickly devolves from lassitude into lawlessness. VA hospitals have become crime scenes.
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As much as possible, VA hospitals should be privatized and coverage voucherized. Compensation in what remains should reflect patient satisfaction. As the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon explains, this means “veterans benefits vs. veterans hospitals.”

Jim Geraghty reports in Another Day, Another Series of Horrific Stories Out of VA Facilities that Veterans Affairs

Secretary Eric Shinseki apparently is going to institute a new lengthy waiting period before action to address the problem of lengthy waiting periods.

Ace reports Networks Devote More Time to Christie's "Bridgegate" Pseudoscandal in Four Days Than They Devote to the VA Scandal In an Entire Month

The Senate Just Blocked Legislation to Speed Up VA Firings.  The bill that would have held VA officials accountable by making it easier to fire incompetent VA officials passed the House but was blocked in the Senate by Democrats.

They are not even burying the bodies.  The LA County Morgue has been holding bodies of as many as 60 veterans over the past year and a half. because they were unclaimed   They  blamed the VA while the VA claims they were never notified.  On Friday, 28 bodies were finally moved to Riverside National Cemetery for burial.

I am pro-choice when it comes to health care for veterans and i support the Call by GOP leaders and a whistle-blower join to privatize veterans' care

"Let our veterans choose the health care that they need and want the most, and not have to be bound to just going to the VA,” said Senator John McCain.

Today, the VA turns to private hospitals for help

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will let more veterans obtain health care at private hospitals, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced Saturday.

Shinseki, who faces calls to resign amid reports of lengthy waiting lists and preventable deaths in the VA’s healthcare system, said the agency is "increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care," according to the Associated Press.

The Most Important War Memorial Is One You Probably Will Never See
It wasn’t constructed by an architect or an artist. The memorial didn’t have tourists coming through it like Arlington Cemetery or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It was a closed site, built and maintained by Marines. Hundreds of rocks had been carried there. Each week, Marines would carry lawn mowers up and groom it.

Above all, treat veterans with respect, not pity. Too many Americans assume that troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan must be traumatized.  Phil Klay writes

War subjects some of its participants to more than any person can bear, and it destroys them. War makes others stronger. For most of us, it leaves a complex legacy. And though many veterans appreciate the well-meaning sentiments behind even the most misdirected pity, I can't help feeling that all of us, especially those who are struggling, deserve a little less pity and a little more respect.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2014

"10,000 Commandments"

The federal government with its ever-increasing regulations is like a hoarder, a prisoner of so much stuff that chaos rules and life spirals out of control.  Federal agencies with overlapping jurisdictions and duplicative programs issue so many regulations that no human being can keep track and the result is rising prices and a sick economy that is hurting us all.

The Federal Government Now Consumes 31 Percent Of The US Economy

The federal government now consumes 31 percent of the U.S. economy due to trillions in spending and thousands of pages of costly regulations, according to a new report.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market think tank, put out a report on Tuesday saying that the regulatory costs of federal rules amounts to $1.863 trillion per year, or 11.1 percent of the U.S. economy. Combine this with the $3.454 trillion in federal spending last year and the U.S. federal government consumes 31 percent of the economy.
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U.S. regulatory costs alone are bigger in size than the economies of Australia and Canada. Regulatory costs would be the 10th largest economy in the world, according to CEI, slightly larger than the economy of India.

Average U.S. household spends more on federal regulations than for health care, food or transportation

Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute provides a definitive answer to that question today with publication of the latest edition of his annual compilation, "10,000 Commandments: An annual snapshot of the federal regulatory state."

Crews estimates the annual cost of compliance with the record number of new federal rules and regulations issued under President Obama at $1.863 trillion.

That works out to a $14,974 "hidden tax" every year for the average U.S. household. That's 23 percent of the $65,596 annual average household income in America.

An example of government out of control and regulators gone mad is the news in the midst of  the extreme drought in California, the federal government is draining reservoirs to send huge 'pulse flows' into the Pacific to benefit fish is

One of the worst droughts in California's history has devastated more than a half-million acres of the most fertile farmland in America. In communities like Sacramento, "water police" go from door to door to enforce conservation measures. There's even a mobile "app" to report neighbors to city authorities so they can be fined for wasting water.

With the Sierra snowpack at 4% of normal as of May 20, Californians will desperately need what little water remains behind its dams this summer. Authorities have warned some towns like Folsom—home of Folsom Lake—to expect daily rationing of 50 gallons per person, a 60% cut from average household usage.

Yet last month the Bureau of Reclamation drained Folsom and other reservoirs on the American and Stanislaus rivers of more than 70,000 acre feet of water—enough to meet the annual needs of a city of half a million people—for the comfort and convenience of fish.
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Unrealistic laws like the Endangered Species Act administered by ideologically driven officials have now crossed from good intentions to dangerous policy, and the folly cries out for fundamental reforms.
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While homeowners parch their gardens and clog their showerheads with flow restrictors to save a few extra gallons of water, their government thought nothing of wasting 23 billion gallons to lower river water temperatures by a few degrees.

The frivolous and extravagant water releases from our dams last month mock the sacrifices that our citizens make every day to stretch supplies in this crisis. In turn, they undermine the government's credibility and moral authority to call for stringent conservation and hardship by the people.

The incompetence of this Administration and the federal government in general  is beyond dispute.  What's worse is there is no accountability, much less efficiency or customer-centered care.  Yet there is hope.  In the UK, a failing NHS hospital, once called a basketcase was turned around by a private firm in 2 years

"Two years ago, Hinchingbrooke suffered from a series of problems so severe it faced imminent closure. Now, thanks to the incredible efforts of our leading doctors and nurses, we are the top-ranking hospital for quality of care in the whole of England.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 PM | Permalink

Long and interesting reads for a rainy and cold weekend

Political Correctness makes race and genetics taboo in the West which is why China is winning

Most scientists will tell you that race has no biological basis—it is, in academic-speak, a “social construct.” But a new book by distinguished journalist Nicholas Wade challenges that assumption, concluding that race is real and human social behavior is subject to natural selection just like everything else.

Everything Is Broken

It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire. Computers, and computing, are broken.
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For a bunch of us, especially those who had followed security and the warrantless wiretapping cases, the revelations weren’t big surprises. We didn’t know the specifics, but people who keep an eye on software knew computer technology was sick and broken. We’ve known for years that those who want to take advantage of that fact tend to circle like buzzards. The NSA wasn’t, and isn’t, the great predator of the internet, it’s just the biggest scavenger around. It isn’t doing so well because they are all powerful math wizards of doom……The NSA is doing so well because software is bullshit.
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In theory, the reason we’re so nice to soldiers, that we have customs around honoring and thanking them, is that they’re supposed to be sacrificing themselves for the good of the people. In the case of the NSA, this has been reversed. Our wellbeing is sacrificed to make their job of monitoring the world easier. When this is part of the culture of power, it is well on its way to being capable of any abuse.

Precision agriculture becomes mainstream in Minnesota

The techniques, known as precision agriculture, incorporate global positioning systems and digital mapping software linked to machines that apply just the right number of seeds and just the right concentrations of fertilizers and herbicide to get the most out of the fields.

“The technology’s been figured out, and now the guys are saving money doing it,” Amundson said. “Ninety percent of the guys I know are using it.”

The Serious and the Smirk: The Smile in Portraiture

Today when someone points a camera at us, we smile. This is the cultural and social reflex of our time, and such are our expectations of a picture portrait. But in the long history of portraiture the open smile has been largely, as it were, frowned upon.

Chasing Pulitzers has ruined American journalists. That’s why they're edited by Brits  US journalists think they're public servants. We know we're hacks – and we're good at it

Yes, yes, we’re ghastly knuckle-dragging troglodytes and, when it comes to man’s inhumanity to man, about as sentimental as a bog brush. The foreign correspondent Edward Behr once overheard a colleague ask the following question at a scene of carnage and devastation in some far-flung hell hole: ‘Anyone here been raped and speak English?’ (Christopher Hitchens described that as ‘the standby slogan of the Express foreign desk’.) As we in the trade can testify, Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop is probably the most accurate work of reportage a British journalist has ever produced.

Yet we also have an unerring nose for what will pique a reader’s interest, what we call ‘news sense’, and it’s this that makes us the best journalists in the world. Not ‘the best’ as in the most worthy of praise — we leave that to our American cousins — but ‘the best’ when it comes to spotting stories. That’s why, wherever you look in the American media, whether it’s editing a New York tabloid, running a prime-time talk show or sitting at the top of Vogue, you’ll always find a Brit. We might not be much good at winning prizes, but we know what’s going to capture the public’s imagination.

Toward a Universal Theory of 'Cool' The concept of "cool" seems to resist definition. In a paper published this week, two business and psychology professors just defined it.

Cool means departing from norms that we consider unnecessary, illegitimate, or repressive—but also doing so in ways that are bounded.

They Had a Dream by Noemie Emery  Rule by experts comes a cropper

They had a dream. For almost a hundred years now, the famed academic-artistic-and-punditry industrial complex has dreamed of a government run by their kind of people (i.e., nature’s noblemen), whose intelligence, wit, and refined sensibilities would bring us a heaven on earth. Their keen intellects would cut through the clutter as mere mortals’ couldn’t. They would lift up the wretched, oppressed by cruel forces. Above all, they would counter the greed of the merchants, the limited views of the business community, and the ignorance of the conformist and dim middle class.
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“It is actually harder to do some of these things in reality than we thought when we put it down on paper,” a book review in the Washington Post quoted a former Obama health care adviser as saying. This can stand as the last word for the great aspiration, and the people who held it. They wanted their chance, and they got it. They had it. They blew it. They’re done.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 PM | Permalink

The Surveillance State and Society

You would think that, after the exposure of the NSA spying on American citizens, federal agencies would hesitate before collecting even more data, but you would be wrong.

Look at what the Department of Education wants to do.  New technology pushed by the feds allows for data collection on every child

A new study released by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute finds that new technology development that has been encouraged through the use of federal grants has served to threaten children’s privacy by allowing the collection of data on every child.
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Pioneer Institute notes the connections between the Common Core standards and the student data collection.
“Any information from the data initiatives mentioned above that is given to the two federally funded national assessment consortia aligned with the Common Core State Standards will be made available to the USED,” Pioneer observes.
The national standards will also create a unified “taxonomy” that facilitates creation of common instructional materials and data-collection technology. Because Common Core focuses not on academic knowledge but rather on “skills” that involve attitudes and dispositions, it paves the way for national assessments and digital platforms that measure such attributes.
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The U.S. Department of Education (USED), however, in its report published last year and titled "Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance," expressed a strong interest in monitoring students’ “beliefs, attitudes, dispositions, values and ways of perceiving oneself” and to measure non-cognitive attributes such as their “psychological resources.

And HHS wants access to all your medical records. Federal ‘Biosurveillance’ Plan Seeking Direct Access to Americans’ Private Medical Records

The federal government is piecing together a sweeping national “biosurveillance” system that will give bureaucrats near real-time access to Americans’ private medical information in the name of national security, according to Twila Brase, a public health nurse and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom.
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“Health situational awareness includes biosurveillance and other health and non-health inputs (e.g., lab/diagnostics, health service utilization, active intelligence, and supply chain information), as well as systems and processes for effective communication among responders and critical health resource monitoring and allocation,” the draft states.

But Brase warns that the NHSS proposal would allow the federal government to monitor an individual’s behavior before, during and after any government-defined health “incident” – which could be anything from a local outbreak of the flu to a terrorist anthrax attack…..

It’s very clear to us that really the government is moving toward real-time access, toward close collaboration of government and doctors for ready access to the electronic medical record and then to conduct research and analysis.”

Soon, the federal government will want to implant computer chips and cameras in our bodies just to keep tabs on what we're doing.    Wait, they've already started.  'Smart pills' with chips, cameras and robotic parts raise legal, ethical questions. 

But it's not just the government.  Facebook Launches NSA-Style Auto-Eavesdropping Feature

As The WSJ reports, starting Wednesday, the app has the ability to recognize music and television shows playing in the vicinity of users. Read that again… 'in the vicinity of users'. In other words, Facebook is unveiling its own NSA-style eavesdropping feature (on you and all your friends).
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The feature is designed to make it easier for users to share. When users begin to write a post, the Facebook app will offer to include information about music or shows playing in the background.
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Don't worry though… even if users decide not to share what they’re hearing or watching, Facebook will hold onto the data in anonymous form, keeping tabs on how many users watched particular shows. Sound familiar?
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We are sure this will not be abused or hacked by the NSA… and we are sure there will be plenty of small digital print that users will understand… One wonders though, is there any way for non-Facebook users to know that they are being eavesdropped upon?

Even your TV will be spying on you.  Cameras in the cable box to monitor TV viewers

The technology includes cameras and microphones that are installed on DVRs or cable boxes and analyzes viewers’ responses, behaviors and statements to various ads — and then provides advertisements that are targeted to the particular household. Specifically, the technology can monitor sleeping, eating, exercising, reading and more, AdWeek reported.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:16 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2014

Beware of doing online banking on your mobile phone.

Beware of doing online banking on your mobile phone.   Security expert reveals that ANYONE can hack a bank's app using free internet tools

Mobile security expert Wilson Bond, a technical manager at mobile security firm Arxan Technologies has demonstrated how a banking app can be hacked.

He built a dummy app and used reverse engineering to connect to a server. When sending money, the server was able to obtain the user’s password

It was then programmed to piggyback onto the payment and transfer money to the hacker’s account.  There are also tools and online tutorials to teach hackers the process.  He did point out that iOS apps and software are more secure and closely monitored than Android, for example - except on jailbroken devices.

'Jailbreaking' is the process of removing certain restrictions Apple places on apps and downloads, for example, and makes it easier for developers to adjust settings.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:35 PM | Permalink

Quote of the Day on America's Budding Tyrants

"From the Nazis to the Stalinists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, and why is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. Basic to their agenda are the tools of indoctrination, propagandizing, proselytization. Once they gain power, as leftists have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.
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Western values of liberty are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement. As such, they pose a far greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist organization or rogue nation. Multiculturalism and diversity are a cancer on our society. Ironically, we not only are timid in response but feed those ideas with our tax dollars and charitable donations."

George Mason University economist Walter E. Williams in his weekly column “America’s Budding Tyrants“ via Mark Perry at AEI

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:16 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2014

What Will the Post-Antibiotics Future Look Like?

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future

After 85 years, antibiotics are growing impotent. So what will medicine, agriculture and everyday life look like if we lose these drugs entirely?

Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, warned in 1945 as he accepted the Nobel Prize in Medicine,
“It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them… There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily under dose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.” ….
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What worried him was the possibility that misuse would speed the process up. Every inappropriate prescription and insufficient dose given in medicine would kill weak bacteria but let the strong survive. ... Bacteria can produce another generation in as little as twenty minutes; with tens of thousands of generations a year working out survival strategies, the organisms would soon overwhelm the potent new drugs.
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With antibiotics losing usefulness so quickly — and thus not making back the estimated $1 billion per drug it costs to create them — the pharmaceutical industry lost enthusiasm for making more. In 2004, there were only five new antibiotics in development, compared to more than 500 chronic-disease drugs for which resistance is not an issue — and which, unlike antibiotics, are taken for years, not days.
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So what would a post-antibiotic era look like?  It isn't hard to imagine what would happen first.  Infected patients would die.  In fact, they already do.

What else?    Well, getting a tattoo, botox or liposuction would be far more fraught with danger.

Those calculations of risk extend far beyond admitting possibly contaminated patients from a nursing home. Without the protection offered by antibiotics, entire categories of medical practice would be rethought.
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"A post-antibiotic world means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it.  Things as common as a strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill." Dr Margaret Chan, World Health Organization.
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Dr. Louis Rice, chair of the department of medicine at Brown University’s medical school. “Plus, right now healthcare is a reasonably free-market, fee-for-service system; people are interested in doing procedures because they make money. But five or ten years from now, we’ll probably be in an environment where we get a flat sum of money to take care of patients. And we may decide that some of these procedures aren’t worth the risk.”
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Out of all the antibiotics sold in the United States each year, 80 percent by weight are used in agriculture, primarily to fatten animals and protect them from the conditions in which they are raised…..

A growing body of scientific research links antibiotic use in animals to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: in the animals’ own guts, in the manure that farmers use on crops or store on their land, and in human illnesses as well. Resistant bacteria move from animals to humans in groundwater and dust, on flies, and via the meat those animals get turned into.

In the Kenyon Review, Jacob Appel writes in Sudden Death: A Eulogy, "Sudden death is a conclusion. Too often, I fear, the long goodbye devolves into a negation." 

The lingering long goodbye is how death is experienced today when every effort is made to prolong life using all the medical technology and modern medicines at the doctor's command.

In a post-antibiotic world, death will come much earlier and more quickly.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:00 PM | Permalink

National Report Card

The abysmal state of education today cheats our children and imperils our future. 
DC Schools spend $29,349 per pupil:  Result 83 % of eighth graders are not proficient in reading and 81% are not proficient in math.

Our National Report Card: No Education Progress Since 2009

According to the NAEP — a standardized test often referred to as the nation’s “report card” — just 26 percent of the country’s 12th graders are proficient in math. Only 38 percent are proficient in reading. Those numbers are entirely unchanged since 2009, when the NAEP was last administered.

Notably, reading achievement was significantly higher overall in 1992 when the NAEP exam was first administered in reading.
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If academic achievement on the NAEP is any measure, the policies of the past half century just aren’t working.

Since the 1970s alone, inflation-adjusted federal per-pupil spending (part of the goal of which was to narrow achievement gaps) has nearly tripled. The behemoth federal Department of Education filters all of this taxpayer money through more than 100 federal education programs, many of which are duplicative, most of which are ineffective. It’s no surprise then that this administration’s policies, which seem designed to increase program count and spending, haven’t moved the needle on achievement either.
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But at a minimum, policymakers should infuse a little flexibility into how the roughly $38 billion federal K-12 education budget is spent.

The conservative alternative to No Child Left Behind — the APLUS Act — would go a long way toward achieving that goal, by allowing states to put federal education funds toward any lawful education purpose under state law, instead of filtering funding through the labyrinth of federal programs.

States have demonstrated that they are far more effective at catalyzing innovation in education than the bureaucrats who brought you No Child Left Behind and now Common Core. Let’s allow states to totally opt out of No Child Left Behind, rather than have to navigate the quid pro quo waiver process the Obama administration has established, and direct dollars to their most pressing education needs.

Such an approach could also help to limit the number of non-teaching administrative staff in schools, whose primary purpose is complying with the paperwork burden handed down from the Department of Education.

The chart at the link shows that non-teaching staff has increased 138%  since 1970 while student enrollment has only increased 8%

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:54 PM | Permalink

Are you one of the 128 million who ever bought anything on Ebay?

Change your password now

eBay hit by major cyber attack: 128 million are urged to change their password NOW after hackers access personal details

What personal details were stolen?
Hackers gained access to eBay customers' names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.
It is unclear whether all, or any, of the details were taken but security experts are warning people to assume the worst.

Are my credit cards details safe?
The firm said that the infiltrated part of the network did not contain any financial details, so in theory, yes.

Will changing my password solve the problem?
Changing passwords will stop hackers from being able to use any login details that were stolen.
However, they could still use names, addresses and birth dates to commit identity fraud.
It’s a good idea to change passwords following any attack such as this. It’s also important to update login details on any sites that use the same password.
If a hacker has your password and email address they could use it to attempt to access other sites that use the same combination.
As a rule, the same password should never be used across different sites.

Should I change my PayPal password as well?
PayPal, which owns eBay, has confirmed its accounts and customers have not been affected by this cyber attack.
However, as a matter of course, it’s good practice to change all related passwords across different sites, including PayPal.

Which countries are affected?
At the moment, we can assume that all eBay customers worldwide will be affected by this breach, until eBay says otherwise.

Is this hack a result of the Heartbleed bug?
When Heartbleed was exposed, eBay announced its customer’s account were secure and had not been affected. This suggests the latest hack is a separate attack.

How did hackers steal the information?
It is unclear how the hackers got hold of the information but eBay said it is working with forensic teams to get an answer to this question.

Why did it take so long for eBay to inform customers of the breach?
MailOnline has contacted eBay for an answer to this question. It is unclear what caused the delay.
Typically, following cyber attacks, a firm will investigate the breach to try and determine how many people are affected, and the severity of the attack, before issuing advice.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:12 PM | Permalink

"Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives"

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

William Martin via Mme Scherzo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2014

The Evolution of Marriage and Having Kids Makes Parents Happier

The Evolution of Marriage

‘A girl for every boy, a boy for every girl”: That’s the main thesis of William Tucker’s engaging new book. With polygamy, you see, there isn’t a girl for every boy, and the leftover boys must find some other — usually disruptive and frequently violent — way to pass their time. But the “unique social contract of monogamy — a male for every female, a female for every male — lowers the temperature of sexual competition and frees its members to work together in cooperation. It is at this juncture that human societies — even human civilizations — are born.”

Tucker is not himself an academic, but he is a smart journalist, and Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human is the result of some 20 years of reading through the scholarly literature on marriage and thinking through the implications. It’s written for “the average reader,” and covers some “subjects that many scholars and academics in the field seem to find uncomfortable.” Indeed, Tucker comes to some rather politically incorrect views. His work is a clear-headed presentation of a “biological, anthropological, and historic understanding of the role that monogamy has played in the evolution of human society” — and by monogamy Tucker doesn’t simply mean any old union of two people, but an exclusive and more or less permanent union of a man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother.
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Monogamy so understood doesn’t happen by chance. In a certain sense, “human monogamy — the pair-bonding of couples within the framework of a larger social group — is not entirely a natural institution.” After all, “monogamy does not sustain itself ‘naturally.’” And yet, when monogamy is lived out, human civilization flourishes. As Tucker puts it, “The rule is: those who form traditional families succeed; those who don’t fail.”

Because monogamy doesn’t grow on trees, “it requires rules — rules that must be continuously enforced by the members practicing it.” So, while “monogamy is manifestly a more equitable and successful way to organize a society, it is always under siege and forever fragile.” And if a society “becomes lax or indifferent about upholding its norms, the advantages will quickly unravel — as we are plainly witnessing in the America of today.”
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In 1965, when the Moynihan Report was issued, the concern was that the out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks was 25 percent. Today 40 percent of all children, 50 percent of Hispanics, and 70 percent of African Americans are born outside of marriage.

And this breakdown of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent. The reason is simple: Marriage attaches a child’s father to his mother, and then attaches that committed pair to the child. As Tucker notes: “Children without fathers are more at risk for drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of school, depression, delinquent behavior, crime, early sexual activity, and having illegitimate children in the next generation. They are more at risk for abuse, molestation, and incest.”

The art of fatherhood,” however, “does not come naturally but is a skill that must be passed on from generation to generation.”


In the Atlantic, Having Kids Makes Parents Happy After All.  New research overturns the decades-old belief that having children is a downer.

“What we believe is going on is that there is a general negative trend in happiness among adults—[but] that negative trend is not happening for parents.” Adults seem to be getting grumpier as a whole, but parents are bucking that general trend.
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Herbst and Ifcher offer three theories why parents are becoming happier—and what that means for American society.

First, there’s the phenomenon that Robert Putnam identified in his 2000 book Bowling Alone—that Americans were becoming increasingly isolated from community and family. Herbst and Ifcher argue that families are the “last vestige of community life in American society.”

“Parents are more likely to spend time with friends, get the news, be interested in politics, think people are honest, have faith in the economy, be trusting,” Herbst said. “We think that parents remain better attached to society, and we think the linchpin of that attachment is kids.”

Second, the financial hardship brought on by children has lessened over time. The U.S. now has a more generous earned income tax credit and childcare tax credits, which means parents have more of a financial cushion than they used to.

“The social safety net has begun to favor parents more over time than non-parents,”….

Finally, who is having a kid these days is different than who had children in previous decades…parents are probably becoming parents because they want to be parents, and less because of societal pressure. These adults are more likely to be a self-selected group, desire their children, and therefore derive more happiness from having the children they wanted.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

The IRS investigation is not a partisan scandal but a moral challenge to the government itself

Your Tax Dollar Collectors at Work:  The IRS Targeting Scandal

New documents obtained by Judicial Watch demonstrate conclusively that the IRS policy of targeting tea party and conservative groups came directly from Washington D.C., not a rogue office in Cincinnati. They also show that Sen. Carl Levin was working with the IRS to make sure tea party and conservative groups were targeted for harassment.
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a new email from Lois Lerner confirms that BOLO lists (“be on the look out”) were created specifically for tea party and other groups that focused on issues related to government spending, debt, taxes and “how the country is being run.”

Krauthammer: IRS Covered Up Emails For Two Years And Now They Say, "Dude, That Was Two Years Ago"

Kevin D. Williamson on The Emerging Junta   The IRS’s illegal actions — and its efforts at cover-up — undermine the foundations of our government.

Organizations also were targeted based on the identity of their donors. Their applications were delayed, their managements harassed, and the IRS demanded that they answer wildly inappropriate questions, such as the content of their prayers.

The IRS is not just a revenue agency — it is a law-enforcement agency, a police agency with far greater powers of investigation and coercion that any normal police force. Its actions in this matter are not only inappropriate — they are illegal. Using government resources for political ends is a serious crime, as is conspiring to mislead investigators about those crimes. But so far, other than holding Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to comply with the demands of congressional investigators, almost nothing has happened. The characteristic feature of a police state is that those who are entrusted with the power to enforce the law are not themselves bound by it.
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The question here is nothing less than the legitimacy of the United States government. When law-enforcement agencies and federal regulators with extraordinary coercive powers are subordinated to political interests rather than their official obligations — to the Party rather than to the law — then the law itself becomes meaningless, and the delicate constitutional order we have enjoyed for more than two centuries is reduced to a brutal might-makes-right proposition.
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The IRS investigation is no mere partisan scandal, but a moral challenge for the men and women who compose the government of this country. Whether they are sufficient to meet that challenge is far from obvious, but the evidence so far is not encouraging.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: New pills for lung cancer, Alzheimer's, drinkable sunscreen, killer pimple, no link between autism and vaccines

A cure for lung cancer? Doctors hail incredible breakthrough with new drugs

Next week ‘stellar’ trial results for the antibody drug will be presented at the world’s biggest cancer conference, for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in Chicago.

Doctors will reveal that a quarter of 129 US patients with advanced lung cancer have survived at least two years after starting nivolumab. ...Nivolumab is one of a new class of drug, called anti-PD1s and anti-PDL1s, which help the immune system ‘see’ that tumors are deadly foes. Explaining how the drugs work Dr Peake said: ‘Tumors develop a ‘cloak’, like a Star Wars force field, around themselves. This stops the immune system attacking them.  These drugs take that force field away and allow the body’s immune response to fight the tumor. The beauty is we do not have the adverse side effects of conventional treatment.’

Professor Dean Fennell, who has been treating British patients with a similar drug, MK3475, said: ‘This is an enormous deal. There are patients on treatment who’ve been going an incredibly long time.’ He added it was ‘not inconceivable’ that they could be an ‘effective cure’ for some – allowing patients to live virtually disease-free for years.

Happy pill 'wards off Alzheimer's': Widely used anti-depressant can help reduce formation of plaque on the brain
A widely-used antidepressant could help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have found.

Scientists say citalopram can significantly reduce the formation of plaques in the brain, which could go some way to warding off the disease.The U.S. academics admit it is too early to recommend the drug to Alzheimer’s patients, but dementia charities last night welcomed the ‘promising’ findings as providing ‘vital new clues’ about the disease.

Plaque deposits are closely associated with declining memory and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s, so anything that can stop their build-up in the brain is likely to help ward off the condition.  The research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, found that a single dose of the antidepressant citalopram lowered production of the plaque protein amyloid beta by 37 per cent.

Statins are safe as research claiming adverse side effects proved wrong

Oxford academic says patients may have been at risk after they stopped taking statins because they believed flawed research published in the British Medical Journal, which he had warned months before was wrong

The killer pimple: Doctors warn of aggressive form of skin cancer which is six times more likely to kill if it is not removed within two months

Nodular melanomas usually appear on the skin as a red nodule rather than an ugly dark mole, leading doctors to mistake them for relatively harmless forms of skin cancer or even pimples.  But the key difference is that these melanomas are firm to touch, and will not feel soft like a pimple or a mole.
 Nodular Melanoma

World's first DRINKABLE sun cream goes on sale - and just a teaspoon will offer three hours' protection

Harmonised H20 UV claims to provide holiday makers with up to factor 30 protection, meaning sunbathers could be able to soak up the rays for longer without fear of getting burned.
Once ingested, the product's liquid molecules vibrate on the skin, cancelling out 97 per cent of UVA and UVB rays, according to US company Osmosis Skincare.

Dr Ben Johnson, who founded the company, adds in his blog: 'If 2 mls are ingested an hour before sun exposure, the frequencies that have been imprinted on water will vibrate on your skin in such a way as to cancel approximately 97% of the UVA and UVB rays before they even hit your skin. This results in coverage for approximately three hours. 

There is NO link between autism and childhood vaccines, a major new study finds

There is no connection between the development of autism with childhood vaccinations, University of Sydney researchers recently found. The first systematic international review was conducted for the research involved more than 1.25 million children for five cohort studies and a further 9920 for five case-controlled studies.
Results from both showed that there was no statistical data to support a link between commonly-used vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and the development of autism or autism spectrum disorders.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2014

Most Commonly Spoken Language in Each State Besides English and Spanish

A fascinating map of the Most Commonly Spoken Language Other than English or Spanish from Ben Blatte in Slate

Commonly-Spoken-Languages-Besides-Spanish

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

Why we should investigate Benghazi

Just listen to this 3 minute clip  of Trey Gowdy  in January.  He is the right man to head the special investigation into Benghazi.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:40 PM | Permalink

The VA scandal is a national disgrace

Will anyone be held accountable?  Will anyone go to jail?  I doubt it.

The VA's own Office of Medical Inspector finds that VA treatment records were falsified and clerks were instructed on how to do so.  They gamed the system to deliberately obscure how long veterans had to wait to get medical care. 

The VA is our best example of government-run health care and it's riddled with corruption and coverups.  The NYT reports that the House Committee has issued a subpoena demanding all email records after the chairman said the VA had been stonewalling requests to provide more information about claims that the off-the books wait list had been destroyed.

A single, secret wait list contributed to the deaths of dozens of veterans at the Phoenix VA hospital. Insiders say there could be many, many more such lists.

A new whistleblower report claims that as many as 15,000 patients treated at the Harlingen, Texas, VA health center were either reportedly denied care or forced to undergo extended delays for cancer treatments in an attempt to cut costs. Plus, about 1,800 records were reportedly purged at the one VA center alone to give the appearance of eliminating a backlog.

Obama has increased the VA budget each year but an analysis shows VA Spends Close to $500 Million on Conference Room, Office Makeovers Under Obama

Amid calls to resign which have so far been resisted by the Administration, Secretary Shineski will testify at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today

Kay Daly tells us what her brother went through The Veterans Administration Scandal Hits Home.

For anyone laboring under the assumption that the scandal that plagues the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona must be anomalous, think again.  Without even delving into the medical malpractice testimonials of my three relatives who work at a VA Medical Center on the East coast, the recent near-death experience of my brother confirms our worst fears: the culture of corruption and indifference that afflicts the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is systemic.
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When Richard walked into the VA in Big Spring, Texas three years ago, he complained of a sore foot and minor pain in one hip.  After three years of never-ending delays, lost files, stunning incompetence, bureaucratic bumbling, self-wrapping red tape, countless broken promises, and blatant cruelty (that would have formed the basis for a meritorious medical malpractice lawsuit in the private sector), this veteran became a completely disabled invalid.  He was unable to walk or care for himself and grew concerned he might not wake up some morning.  Only the calendar-based happenstance of turning 65 years old saved his life.
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He finally qualified for Medicare and purchased supplemental insurance and we immediately got him to a private doctor who was shocked at his condition.

What the Big Spring, Texas VA couldn't do in three years, a private doctor did in five days.  Put another way, the duration of VA indifference was as long as the period Richard's grandfather was held captive in a Japanese POW camp!

Richard had the first of two hip transplants at a Lubbock hospital and is now recovering in a nursing facility.  The doctor said the hips were in such bad shape that he was essentially walking on two very badly broken hips for three years.  The doctor also said Richard would not have survived through the summer.

VA Health Scandals Foreshadow Life Under ObamaCare

Rationing: Government-run VA health clinics have been caught falsifying records to hide obscenely long and sometimes deadly delays in treating veterans. Welcome to the future of health care under ObamaCare.

The VA recently decided to investigate one of its Colorado outpatient clinics to see how it handled patient delays. What it found was shocking, but not surprising.

While delays for many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the clinic stretched out for months, clerks there were told to falsify dates so it appeared that everyone was being seen in a timely fashion. Those who didn't play along ended up on a "bad boy list," according to USA Today, which obtained a copy of the report.

This follows a report that 23 veterans relying on the VA died due to delayed cancer screenings. At least 40 others died waiting for appointments at a VA system in Phoenix. A retired VA doctor said many were on a "secret waiting list" designed to hide treatment delays.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2014

The medical treatments experts refuse to have for themselves and why

From the psychiatrist who'd never take anti-depressants, to the heart doctor who steers clear of statins,  Revealed the medical treatments the experts REFUSE to have themselves

Psychiatrist who'd never take anti-depressants
Weight-loss GP who wouldn't go on a diet
Heart doctor who refuses to have statins
Prostate expert who won't have PSA test
Orthopedic surgeon who'd avoid X-rays
Hip specialist who says forget mid-life marathons
Dietitian who won't eat reduced-fat food
Asthma professor who wants to cut inhaler use
Obstetrician who would not give birth at home
Sport scientist who thinks long workouts are pointless
Sleep specialist who won't take sleeping pills
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

De Tocqueville as Prophet

Michael Barone who has read far more of deTocqueville than I have writes  Tocqueville Said This Would Happen

The eminent political scientist Harvey Mansfield has called Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835) “the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America.” And with good reason. Tocqueville was eerily prescient. He foresaw the possibility of civil war. He mused about the possibility that the world in the twentieth century would be dominated by two great powers, one democratic and one despotic, America and Russia: the Cold War. He also foresaw that a democratic nation could descend into what he called a “soft” despotism. In that respect he anticipated the conservative critique of the growth of the federal government and many of the public policy initiatives of the past hundred years.
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Tocqueville’s vivid picture of soft despotism appears almost abruptly, at the end of the second volume of Democracy in America (1840). Up to that point, his depiction of democratic America is mostly (though not entirely) positive.
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"I do not fear that in their chiefs [Americans] will find tyrants, but rather schoolmasters. . . . I think therefore that the kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that has preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I cannot name it.

I want to imagine with what new features despotism could be produced in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

"Coercion dolled up as civil rights"

Brendan O'Neill, the editor of Spiked , who describes himself as "an atheistic libertarian" writes

Same-sex marriage: coercion dolled up as civil rights


This is the thing no one in the gay-marriage lobby, or in political and media circles more broadly, seems to want to talk about - the fact that in every jurisdiction in which it has been introduced, gay marriage has been heavily attended by authoritarianism and coercion.
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As the National Review said, ‘refusal [to celebrate gay marriage] is now considered tantamount to a crime’. Eich’s treatment only made more explicit this creeping criminalisation of opponents of gay marriage. In Britain, too, one of the first things secularist supporters of gay marriage did when it became clear that their new institution was going to come into being was to agitate against Catholic schools for failing to promote it. They accused Catholic schools of ‘politically indoctrinating’ their students by teaching them only about traditional marriage, and said such ‘encouragement to bigotry’ shouldn’t be allowed.
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Anyone who over the past few years has paid attention to the moral delegitimation of critics of gay marriage, to the state attacks on anti-gay marriage protesters, to the social ostracism of those who favour traditional marriage, to the attempt to force religious schools to teach about gay marriage, and to the Orwellian airbrushing from history of the words and identities cleaved to by the already married, cannot have been surprised by what happened to Eich. His fate wasn’t the product of a handful of zealous campaigners going too far on Twitter - it was the end result of an intolerant culture, sometimes mob-like, sometimes state-enforced, that has been gaining ground for years, and which showed long before the elbowing aside of Eich that it was more than happy to ostracise, punish, criminalise and censor anyone who dared raise a peep of opposition to gay marriage. Coercion is built into gay marriage. They used to say love and marriage went together - in the gay-marriage movement, it’s authoritarianism and marriage that are bedfellows.
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The sacralisation of homosexuality corresponds precisely with the growing denigration by the state and others of the sphere of the family and the ideals of lifelong commitment, because celebrating gayness has become the main and most PC means through which traditional values might be dented and traditional identities called into question, even thrown open to heightened official scrutiny.

This is what explains both the peculiarly speedy and strikingly authoritarian way in which gay marriage has been adopted by governments across the West who otherwise care little for freedom and choice - because officials recognise in it the opportunity to push further their instinctive hostility towards traditional communal and familial ideals that to a large extent exist outside of the purview of the state. ….
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

Quotes of Note

Just as I was never told as a child that Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist stooge who defected to the USSR, the next generation won’t know that the 9/11 hijackers were hot for Jihad unless someone tells them ……… Never did I imagine that it would be controversial to say that Muslims attacked us on 9/11. How did we arrive here?
No Pasaran
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2014

Vampire Therapy

'Vampire therapy' could reverse aging, scientists find

It may seem the stuff of gothic horror novels, but transfusions of young blood could reverse the aging process and even cure Alzheimer’s Disease, scientists believe.

Throughout history, cultures across the globe have extolled the properties of youthful blood, with children sacrificed and the blood of young warriors drunk by the victors.

It was even rumored that the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il injected himself with blood from healthy young virgins to slow the aging process.

Now scientists have found that young blood actually ‘recharges’ the brain, forms new blood vessels and improves memory and learning.

In parallel research, scientists at Harvard University also discovered that a ‘youth protein’ which circulates in the blood is responsible for keeping the brain and muscles young and strong.

The protein, known as ‘GDF11’, is present in the bloodstream in large quantities when we are young but peters out as we age.
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“There seems to be little question that, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function.”

Last year the team discovered that the protein could repair damaged hearts. But the new study showed that that raising the levels of the GDF11 protein in older mice improved the function of every organ in the body. Harvard stem cell biologist Prof Lee Rubin added: “We do think that, at least in principal, there will be a way to reverse some of the decline of aging with a single protein.

"It isn't out of question that GDF11, or a drug developed from it, might be worthwhile in Alzheimer's Disease.”

It is likely that the protein is at least partly responsible for the parallel finding by Stanford University that young blood can reverse the signs of aging.

Let's hope that this is not a way that the old can feed on the young

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2014

The Shame of Benghazi

Andrew McCarthy makes a devastating summary of what we now know about Benghazi in The AWOL Commander-in-Chief

Outnumbered and fighting off wave after jihadist wave, Americans were left to die in Benghazi while administration officials huddled, not to devise a rescue strategy, but to spin the election-year politics. The most powerful and capable armed forces in the history of the world idled, looking not to their commander-in-chief but to a State Department that busied itself writing press releases about phantom Islamophobia. The president of the United States, the only constitutional official responsible for responding, was nowhere to be found.

We are left with four dead Americans, an emerging paper trail of dereliction stretching from Benghazi to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The following was published in the U.K.  I have seen nothing in any American papers that has even mentioned  this damning report.  Benghazi attack could have been prevented if US hadn't 'switched sides in the War on Terror' and allowed $500 MILLION of weapons to reach al-Qaeda militants, reveals damning report

The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented – if the U.S. hadn't been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.

'The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,' Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.  She blamed the Obama administration for tacitly approving the diversion of half of a $1 billion Qatari arms shipment to al-Qaeda-linked militants.

'Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,' Lopez claimed. 'They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed..

'The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.'

The weapons were intended for Gaddafi but allowed by the U.S. to flow to his Islamist opposition.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:21 PM | Permalink

May 2, 2014

Health Roundup: Apples, almonds, second opinion, sleep, exercise and glucosamine

APPLESApples Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths Nearly as Well as Statins Do—Without the Drugs' Dangerous Side Effects

Apples (and other fruits) contain heart-healthy antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Apples also are rich in pectin, a dietary fiber that reduces cholesterol.

SNACK ON ALMONDSSeveral studies hail health benefits of almonds

IF IT'S SERIOUS, GET A SECOND OPINION. TWELVE MILLION Americans receive the wrong medical diagnosis every year

About five per cent of all medical diagnoses in the U.S. are erroneous, the study found and these errors kill as many as 98,000 people per year.

EXERCISE WARDS OFF DEMENTIA Regular exercise can keep dementia at bay - even if it's in your genes: Being active three times a week stops the brain from shrinking

A study of men and women in their 60s, 70s and 80s found that being active at least three times a week stopped the brain from shrinking. Strikingly, even those with a common gene called APOE-e4 were protected by brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling. Strenuous household chores also helped.
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Kirk Erickson, an expert in the ageing brain, said: ‘This is the first study look at how physical activity might impact the loss of hippocampal volume in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

‘There are no other treatments shown to preserve hippocampal volume in those that may develop Alzheimer’s disease. This study has tremendous implications for how we might intervene, prior to the development of any dementia symptoms, in older adults who are at increased genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
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The APOE-e4 gene is carried by up to 30 per cent of the population. It increases the risk of Alzheimer’s in old age but not everyone with the suspect DNA will develop the disease.The latest finding suggests the exercise may be one of the factors that decides if a brain is able to overcome its genetic inheritance.

IF YOU'RE SICK, SLEEP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.  A good night's sleep really CAN make you feel better: Researchers say long naps can boost immune system and help fight infection

It has long been said that a good night's sleep can make you feel better, and researchers have finally found it to be true. They say sleep gives our immune systems a major boost, particularly if we are fighting off an infection.  Experiments in flies found that in the case of major infection, sleep can even save lives.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that in fruitflies sleep enhances immune system response and recovery to infection.

'It's an intuitive response to want to sleep when you get sick,' said Julie Williams, who led the study.
'These studies provide new evidence of the direct and functional effects of sleep on immune response and of the underlying mechanisms at work.
'The take-home message from these papers is that when you get sick, you should sleep as much as you can -- we now have the data that supports this idea.'

GLUCOSAMINE BOOSTS AUTOPHAGY FOR A LONGER LIFE  Is a pill made from lobsters the secret to a longer life? Glucosamine can make mice live nearly 10  per cent longer

Last week, in the highly respected journal Nature Communications, scientists reported how the food supplement glucosamine, often made from shellfish, can make mice live nearly 10  per cent longer. That would add an average eight years to human lifespans

The researcher, Dr Michael Ristow, a biochemist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, gave the supplement to ageing mice in addition to their usual diet and compared them with similar mice not given the supplement. He believes the benefits are down to glucosamine making the body think it's on a low-carb, high-protein diet. It does this by creating amino acids that the body mistakes for proteins.  In response, our bodies start burning more protein. This can keep weight down and, as a result, may also fend off problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes…The body itself produces glucosamine but the amount starts to dwindle after the age of 45.
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There may, however, be another explanation. Glucosamine has been found to boost a process in the human body called autophagy, according to a 2013 report in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.Autophagy is a system in which cells get rid of their toxic waste. If this process fails, the cell dies,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

W.H.O: Antibiotic resistance a 'major threat to public health', a bigger crisis than the AIDS epidemic

'Antibiotic resistance is now a bigger crisis than the AIDS epidemic': Impact of superbugs means you could die from a simple scratch

Antibiotic resistance is now a bigger crisis than the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, a landmark report warned today. The spread of deadly superbugs that evade even the most powerful antibiotics is happening across the world, United Nations officials have confirmed. The effects will be devastating - meaning a simple scratch or urinary tract infection could kill

Antibiotic resistance has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country, the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report.
It is now a major threat to public health, of which 'the implications will be devastating'.

'The world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,' said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's assistant director-general for health security.

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Drug resistance is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages bacteria to develop new ways of overcoming them.  Only a handful of new antibiotics have been developed and brought to market in the past few decades, and it is a race against time to find more as bacterial infections increasingly evolve into superbugs resistant to even the most powerful last-resort medicines reserved for extreme cases.

One of the best known superbugs, MRSA, is alone estimated to kill around 19,000 people every year in the U.S. - far more than HIV and AIDS - and a similar number in Europe.

What can an individual do about all this?  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends

  • Ask if tests will be done to make sure the right antibiotic is prescribed.
  • Take antibiotics exactly as the doctor prescribes. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment, even when you start feeling better.
  • Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
  • Do not save antibiotics for the next illness. Discard any leftover medication once the prescribed course of treatment is completed.
  • Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them. Remember antibiotics have side effects.
  • Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene and getting recommended vaccines.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2014

Quotes of Note

David Bently Hart in Gods and Gopniks

"We have reached a moment in Western history when, despite all appearances, no meaningful public debate over belief and unbelief is possible. Not only do convinced secularists no longer understand what the issue is; they are incapable of even suspecting that they do not understand, or of caring whether they do. The logical and imaginative grammars of belief, which still informed the thinking of earlier generations of atheists and skeptics, are no longer there. In their place, there is now—where questions of the divine, the supernatural, or the religious are concerned—only a kind of habitual intellectual listlessness.
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We live in an age of idle chatter. Lay the blame where you will: the internet, 940 television channels, social media, the ubiquity of high-fructose corn syrup, whatever you like. Almost all public discourse is now instantaneous, fluently aimless, deeply uninformed, and immune to logical rigor. What I find so dismal about Gopnik’s article is the thought that it represents not the worst of popular secularist thinking, but the best. Principled unbelief was once a philosophical passion and moral adventure, with which it was worthwhile to contend. Now, perhaps, it is only so much bad intellectual journalism, which is to say, gossip, fashion, theatrics, trifling prejudice. Perhaps this really is the way the argument ends—not with a bang but a whimper.   
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

The saddest words I read this month

LIZ JONES: Hooray for sexual liberation! Now I can die lonely and poor

I am a feminist, I really am (I’ve never let a man pay for anything), but feel the current generation of women in their 60s, the first to abandon the way of life of their mothers, which meant they pursued careers, married and had children late, had affairs then got divorced, all in the name of liberation, are now imprisoned in debt, alcohol abuse and loneliness, wishing they could die, and do it soon.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:11 PM | Permalink

May 1 Victims of Communism Day

Ilya Somin on Victims of Communism Day

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their regimes. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

Natural Remedies for skin wounds, insect bites, sunburn, hangover, sore eyes and travel sickness

Honey for Minor Wounds

For centuries honey has been used to treat skin wounds and burns and is now used in hospitals around the globe to deal with skin infections.

Honey helps kill the bacteria that may cause infection. When honey comes into contact with damaged skin, it triggers the production of antibacterial hydrogen peroxide.Furthermore, the sugars in honey mean there is little space for water molecules (bacteria need water to survive, so reducing the amount available makes it hard for them to thrive). Dabbing on honey or a sprinkling of sugar can deprive the bacteria of water, which ultimately destroys them.

Teabags for Insect Bites

Steep a few teabags in boiling water for ten minutes, allow to cool and then apply the liquid to the sting site using a cloth. This helps to relieve inflammation as tannins in the tea are astringent, so reduce the swelling.

Cucumber for Sunburn

Cucumber, a well-known soothing remedy for tired and sore eyes, can also help bring relief to sore, sunburned skin. This is because it contains vitamin C and caffeic acid (an antioxidant also found in coffee) which both have anti-inflammatory effects that help reduce the irritation of sunburn.

Bananas for Hangover

Drinking won’t just dehydrate you (because alcohol is a diuretic), many people also feel light-headed and woozy the morning after.  This is because normally the liver releases glucose into the bloodstream. But when the liver is busy processing alcohol, this doesn’t happen, which can lead to low blood sugar levels.
While drinking plenty of water can rehydrate you, a banana helps raise depleted sugar levels — the reason being that it has a low glycaemic index. This means the sugar it contains is released slowly.


Camomile Tea for Sore Eyes

Camomile contains anti-irritant compounds such as terpenoids, and flavonoids, a form of antioxidant that soothes inflammation. Brew a cup of camomile tea. Remove the teabag and allow it to cool then place against closed eyes.

Ginger for Travel Sickness

It’s believed that compounds called gingerols and shogaols — which give ginger its spiciness — are what provide the benefits, possibly by blocking chemical messages in the brain, so helping to relax muscles in the stomach and gut.How you take it is up to you, but popular ways include ginger tea, ginger biscuits and dried ginger
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

Medical breakthroughs roundup: paralysis, obesity, cholesterol, cancer, anorexia and editing DNA

Stimulation restores some function for 4 paralyzed men

Paralysis may not last forever anymore. In an experiment hailed as "staggering," a team of researchers at the University of Louisville and the University of California-Los Angeles restored some voluntary movement to four men who were told they would never move their legs again.
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By coursing an electrical current through the four men's spines, the research team, which included scientists from the Pavlov Institute of Physiology in Russia, appears to have "dialed up" signals between the brain and legs that were believed to have been completely lost.

Researchers at Beth Israel claim  a major breakthrough in the fight against obesity - and say they have found a genetic switch that controls our metabolism.

Researchers have identified a protein that controls metabolism - and used it to dramatically reduce the development of obesity and diabetes in mice.  Investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) published their research in the April 10 issue of the journal Nature.

The new findings show that reducing the amount of nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) protein in fat and liver dramatically reduces the development of obesity and diabetes in mice.
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NNMT is an enzyme that processes vitamin B3 and has been linked to certain types of cancer, as well as Alzheimer's disease, said co-corresponding author Qin Yang, MD, PhD, a Klarman Scholar in the Kahn laboratory at BIDMC and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.Now we have identified an entirely new role for this enzyme in fat tissue, and that is to regulate energy metabolism,' he said.

Groundbreaking experiment stops the buildup of cholesterol inside blood vessels

Scientists successfully prevented the development of atherosclerosis. Team identified and halted the action of a single molecular culprit responsible for excess cholesterol forming.
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The offender, the researchers say, is a fat-and-sugar molecule called glycosphingolipid, or GSL, which resides in the membranes of all cells, and is mostly known for regulating cell growth.
Results of the experiments, the scientists say, reveal that this very same molecule also regulates the way the body handles cholesterol.
The Johns Hopkins team used an existing man-made compound called D-PDMP to block the synthesis of the GSL molecule, and by doing so, prevented the development of heart disease in mice and rabbits fed a high-fat, cholesterol-laden diet.

Cancer breakthrough as scientists successfully target cells resistant to chemotherapy

Findings could pave way for drugs to target these 'resilient' cells
Scientists made the discovery while investigating why certain drugs, such as those often used to treat breast and colon cancer, hindered chemo

Could these 'smart scales' cure anorexia? 75% of patients who used device were free of symptoms a year later
Swedish invention used to re-train the brain on how to eat normally

The Mandometer is a scale for your plate, connected to a computer.  It registers how much food is on the plate and how fast you eat.  It also asks you to register how full you feel, to encourage normal satiation

DNA is 'edited' to cure liver disease for first time - and the technique could someday be used to prevent Down's Syndrome

Named Crispr, technique can correct a single ‘letter’ of the genetic alphabet. It does this by using enzymes to target specific parts of the DNA database.

It could treat disorders like sickle-cell anaemia and Huntington’s disease Crispr might also be used to correct gene defects in human IVF embryos, allowing disorders to be ‘ironed out’ before a baby is born
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink