Posts Tagged ‘Ebola Virus’

Why we shouldn’t panic about Ebola (yet)

October 18, 2014

I almost never watch Fox News, but I think this is a sensible and factual report.

While I as an individual am not fearful of the Ebola virus, I believe that my government and the rest of the world’s governments need to take action against the spread of this virus, and to be prepared for the emergence of new mutant diseases that are immune to our drugs and treatments.

I think we Americans need to do better in making sure our hospitals are prepared for such emergencies.  I think we should help poor countries maintain good sanitation and public health services, rather than siding with banks and international organizations who demand that public services be sacrificed so debt could be collected.

If nothing is done, someday there will be reason for Americans to panic, but that day is not here.

I’d worry less about the Ebola virus …

October 16, 2014

… … if American hospitals were run by MDs instead of MBAs.

The passing scene: Links & comments 10/14/14

October 14, 2014

 Saudis Deploy the Oil Price Weapon Against Syria, Iran, Russia and the US by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

The Saudi Arabian government says it will allow oil prices to fall to $80 a barrel, an action that will hurt oil-producing nations such as Iran, Russia and the United States.  Saudis control so much of the world’s oil that they can set prices by increasing or cutting back on production.

This will be good for American homeowners and motorists as we face another severe winter, but it makes domestic oil and gas production, and also renewable energy, less competitive in the marketplace.  To the extent that the United States is increasingly dependent on its energy industry, this hampers the economic recovery.

Yves Smith quoted sources who think the Saudis are doing this to punish the U.S. for failing to overthrow the government of Syria.

Americans Face Post-foreclosure Hell As Wages Garnished, Assets Seized by Michaelle Collins for Reuters (via Business Insider)

Thousands of Americans lost their homes to foreclosures years ago, and thought they had closed the door on this part of their lives.   Now they find debt collectors coming after them for the unpaid balance.

The most aggressive of the debt pursuers are the two government-owned mortgage companies, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac).

Whose side is the government on?

Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts by Sam Stein for Huffington Post.

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said the NIH has been working on a vaccine for the Ebola virus since 2001, and would have found one if not for cuts in the NIH research budget.

Whether a vaccine really would have been discovered is unknowable.  But funds for research on infectious diseases should be increased, not decreased.  The Ebola virus will not be the last mutant killer disease that is invulnerable to known antibiotics.


Notes on religion: Links & comments 10/5/14

October 5, 2014

The Revelations of Marilynne Robinson by Wyatt Mason for The New York Times Magazine.  (Hat tip to Anne Tanner)

The Christian essayist and novelist Marilynne Robinson deplores the American culture of fear, our failure to appreciate the wonder of life and of humanity, and our unwillingness to talk about the things that concern us most.  I like Robinson’s books and I thought there was a lot of meat in this interview.

The Myth of Religious Violence by Karen Armstrong for The Guardian.

The late Christopher Hitchens said religion spoils everything.  Karen Armstrong says religion is spoiled when it is weaponized to serve non-religious purposes.

In Medicine We Trust by Brian Palmer for Slate.

A secular humanist faces up to the fact that Christian medical missionaries are the largest group of people on the ground fighting the Ebola plague in west Africa.

The passing scene: Links & comments 8/15/14

August 15, 2014

Policing Protests Like Soldiers Makes Everyone Less Safe—Even Police by Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic.

Turning Policeman Into Soldiers: the Culmination of a Long Trend by James Fallows for The Atlantic.

People in the military, as one officer once put it, are trained to kill people and break things.  This is the opposite of the job of the civil police, which is to protect lives and property.

Troopers are supposed to kill or subdue the enemy.  That is their mission.  The mission of the civil police is to take people into custody when there is reasonable cause to believe they have committed a crime, which is very different.

The arming of the police as if they were a military force, and recruitment of police out of the military without further training, generates a police force whose mission is not to protect and serve the civil population, but to cow it into submission.  I would like to believe this is unintentional.

Why Did the Americans Get the Drugs? by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.  (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Two American doctors got a potentially life-saving drug for the Ebola virus from which hundreds of Africans already have died.   This looks bad, but Josh Marshall pointed out this is not necessarily because American lives are regarded as more valuable than African lives.   The experimental drug may not work,  it may have lethal side effects and Africans have bad memories of pharmaceutical companies testing dangerous drugs without informed consent.  Better for American physicians, who understand the risks, to use themselves as guinea pigs rather than Africans.

What Would Hamas Do If It Could Do Whatever It Wanted? by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic.  (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Lest we forget, Hamas is an anti-Semitic movement, whose exterminationist rhetoric and belief that Jews secretly control the world is an echo of European fascism of the 1930s.  But what Hamas would do to the Jewish people of Israel if it had the power is not much different from what the Israeli government is doing to the Arab people in Palestine in reality.

Here are the job descriptions for Gannett’s newsroom of the future by Jim Romenesko.  (via Naked Capitalism)

I worked for the Democrat and Chronicle, the Gannett newspaper in Rochester, NY, for 24 years.  I’m glad I was able to retire when newspaper reporters were still thought of as “journalists” rather than “content providers”, and when there was still a separation between the newsroom and the marketing department.

Getting Sucked Into Obamacare Is a Lot Like Being on Probation by “Lambert Strether” on Corrente.

I would have thought President Obama would have taken the trouble to ensure that his signature policy would work well, but evidently not.