October 24, 2014
Fast and Furious: Recap and Revealations
Federal agency sold guns to Mexican drug cartels in Operation Fast and Furious - When the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) purposely allowed licensed firearm dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers who bought about 2000. presumably to track the guns to Mexican drug cartels notwithstanding strong objections by the firearms dealers and ATF field agents who were not allowed to arrest the straw buyers. Only 700 have been recovered; the rest are in the hands of the drug cartels. At least one and possibly two U.S. border agents were murdered and more than 200 Mexicans were killed with the guns that walked.
AG Holder testified to Congress that he knew nothing about the gun-walking, but the Department of Justice refused to hand over any documents.
On June 28, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives over his refusal to turn over records explaining why the Obama administration may have lied to Congress and refused for months to disclose the truth about the gun running operation. It marked the first time in U.S. history that a sitting Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress.
Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit on September 12, 2012 for a list of the documents withheld under claim of executive privilege. After 2 years of delay, Judge john Bates of the federal district court issued a "smack-down order" on September 23rd to the Department of Justice to produce the "Vaughn index" by October 23rd. Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation two days later on September 25.
With only 3 hours and 26 minutes left to comply with the court order the Department of Justice finally released the 1,307 page “Vaughn index” which is being used to hide 15,662 pages of Fast and Furious documents ……
The document details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal. Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – as well as his mother – are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The “First Lady of the Justice Department” is a physician and not a government employee.
Bringing House Calls Back with UberHEALTH
From AEI ideas, a recurring feature called Markets in Everything
Now there’s an Uber for flu shots. Today the ride-sharing service announced a one-day UberHEALTH pilot program in partnership with Harvard Medical School to deliver free flu shots on-demand. From 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. today Uber drivers delivered a registered nurse to customers anywhere within the three test cities of New York, Boston, and Washington.
This is one more reason Big Taxi is doomed — Uber is running circles around them with cutting-edge innovation and the constant introduction of new services – services that Big Taxi, which has been around for more than half a century, would never in a million years think of offering!
October 23, 2014
"Of all the questions in the liberal west, none is more forbidden to ask than why you are alive." "
Richard Fernandez in The Strong Hearse on why young teenage girls and boys are joining ISIS.
The liberal ideology is a very old and empty idea that is continuously undergoing cosmetic surgery to look young. Liberalism isn’t Western culture, but its corpse. Our institutions without the animating spirit are but a coffin containing the expiring remains of a once great civilization. The box is painted in bright colors, but the young have looked inside it and seen what it contains: a demographically dying, self-hating and ultimately amoral culture that’s ready for its ghastly closeup.
And for want of an alternative to this corpse they go to the only flag permitted to fly by the corpse itself: ISIS. Too many people are looking at the offerings of decadence and theocracy and tossing the coin . It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The left believed it would be safe from rivals. It feared Judaism and Christianity, but did not fear Islam, thinking it too hideous to compete. Maybe it should reconsider.
Alduous Huxley understood that not everyone would buy into the Brave New World of the left. For all too many, the Obamacare and Obamaphones and Kim Kardashian diet won’t be enough. History shows the young always demand to know why men live and die. Snarky answers from Lena Dunham aren’t good enough any more. And of all the questions in the liberal west, none is more forbidden to ask than why you are alive. As Huxley pointed out, in the perfect future, which is our present, God will be pornography.
When we locked up the sacred writing of our civilization in a safe labeled ‘hate speech’; when we made it shameful to fly the flag, wear the uniform, or bow your head to something greater than the Great Leader what did we think we would get? We got ISIS.
The Left believed they could abolish the transcendent without understanding that this process risked abolishing man. The Great Narrative strove to make man merely an animal, and in its stead they got a monster.
This makes me hopping mad
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) just released Wastebook 2014, his annual list of the most wasteful government projects during 2014. He calls it "What Washington Doesn't Want You to Read" -
“With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.” Dr. Coburn said. “Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects.”
Congress actually forced federal agencies to waste billions of dollars for purely parochial, political purposes.
For example, lawmakers attached a rider to a larger bill requiring NASA to build a $350 million launch pad tower, which was mothballed as soon as it was completed because the rockets it was designed to test were scrapped years ago. Similarly, when USDA attempted to close an unneeded sheep research station costing nearly $2 million every year to operate, politicians in the region stepped in to keep it open.
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2014” include:
Coast guard party patrols – $100,000
Watching grass grow – $10,000
State department tweets @ terrorists – $3 million
Swedish massages for rabbits – $387,000
Paid vacations for bureaucrats gone wild – $20 million
Mountain lions on a treadmill – $856,000
Synchronized swimming for sea monkeys – $50,000
Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition -- $1 billion
Scientists hope monkey gambling unlocks secrets of free will –$171,000
Rich and famous rent out their luxury pads tax free – $10 million
Studying “hangry” spouses stabbing voodoo dolls – $331,000
Promoting U.S. culture around the globe with nose flutists – $90 million
Take a look at the table of contents of the full report . I guarantee you will be as infuriated as I am.
What makes me so made is that the federal government is incompetent at doing what it's supposed to do,
yet it spends all this money on nonsense and no one is ever held incompetent
Health Roundup: Paralysis and stem cells, pill for alcoholics, Parkinson's drugs side effects, Ketamine for depression or eat 8 a day
The pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord. The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.
Darek Fidyka, 40, from Poland, was paralyzed after being stabbed repeatedly in the back in the 2010 attack. He said walking again - with the support of a frame - was "an incredible feeling", adding: "When you can't feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it's like you were born again."
Prof Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London's Institute of Neurology, led the UK research team. He said what had been achieved was "more impressive than man walking on the moon".
The key, says Wim van den Brink,a spirited Dutch psychiatrist who co-founded the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research, is a pill to curb drinking. The drug, nalmefene, acts as an alcohol antagonist; it binds to opiate receptors in the brain and reduces the rush of pleasure associated with alcohol. (It has also been tested, with less success, to treat compulsive gambling.) In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, sponsored by Lundbeck A/S, a Danish pharmaceutical company that manufacturers nalmafene, van den Brink and his colleagues studied 604 people who took the drug.
Over six months, they found that those taking the drug reduced the number of heavy drinking days from 19 to eight per month, and effectively cut overall drinking by two-thirds. Van den Brink admits there was also a profound reduction in consumption in the placebo group, which nearly halved daily drinking—but the effects were amplified with the nalmefene tablet, to the equivalent of drinking a large glass of wine instead of an entire bottle. ….The drug, sold as Selincro, is available in Europe. In August, a clinical trial began enrolling patients for a U.S. study.
Nalmefene (Selincro) is the first drug approved anywhere for the reduction of alcohol consumption. It’s also taken “as needed,” so it puts the patient in control.
Pay close attention if someone you know and love is taking drugs for Parkinson's. Drugs for Parkinson's disease can turn patients into gamblers, sex addicts and compulsive shoppers
Parkinson’s is a degenerative condition that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die, causing a lack of the chemical dopamine. This, in turn, interferes with movement and co-ordination.
The disease is incurable - the aim of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms. There are two types of medication: ‘levodopa’ drugs, used since the Sixties, and ‘dopamine agonists’, introduced 12 years ago.
Both attempt to replace the missing dopamine, but the levodopa group restores it artificially, while dopamine agonists mimic its role by stimulating nerve cells.
The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation says in one earlier study, dopamine agonists were linked with compulsive behaviours in up to 14 percent of patients….Dopamine agonist drugs were 277 times more likely to result in a report of specific impulse control symptoms than other drugs
A study by The University of Queensland found that eight or more portions of fruit and vegetables drastically improves mental wellbeing. Dr Redzo Mujcic collected data from 12,000 Australians.
It found that eight fruits and vegetables each a day is ideal. Less than 10 per cent of Australians are eating this amount. The study found that fruit has a larger impact on mental health than vegetables and women experience the benefit more than men.
There are many faces to depression: sadness, hopelessness, trouble sleeping, lack of motivation, an inability to experience pleasure. That last one has a medical name—anhedonia—and people experiencing it often no longer enjoy activities that used to bring happiness. Anhedonia is not found just in depression; it can be an important part of other disorders, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction.
In a study published this month in Translational Psychiatry, researchers have found that a drug called ketamine can help quickly reverse anhedonia in patients with treatment-resistant bipolar depression (also known as manic-depression or bipolar disorder).
Ketamine has previously been shown to help rapidly reverse other aspects of depression in a number of studies; doctors use the drug to treat patients at several hospitals around the country, although it remains illegal to possess without a prescription and hasn’t yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for psychiatric purposes. On the party drug circuit it’s sometimes called “Special K” and is abused for its anaesthetic and hallucinogenic effects.
The researchers found that a single injection of ketamine led to a significant improvement in normal pleasure-seeking behavior in as little as 40 minutes, and this dramatic improvement lasted as long as two weeks for some of the 36 participants.
The Internet of Things Can Lower Cost of Eldercare The Silver Economy in the Financial Times:
Lively, a US-based company, sticks sensors on everything from medications to food and drink to learn an older person’s routine, sending alerts at any abnormalities to an app on the carer or child’s phone.
As the cost of care rises, Lively is being used by some care companies as a “last mile solution”, charging $40-$45 a week to wrap services and monitoring around the system, on top of the $25 a month Lively costs, he said.
“It is about a tenth of the price of full home care, “ Mr Fanlo said. “Care providers can look after many many more families than they did before by using technology. It is a smart and intelligent way to use human resources.”
And it mentions Jibo, the first family robot developed at MIT and now being crowdfunded as a device to care for the elderly.
October 22, 2014
Our Cyborg Future
1. Implantable smartphones
2. Healing chips
3. Cyber pills that talk to your doctor
4. Implantable birth control - The Gates Foundation is supporting an MIT project to create an implantable female compu-contraceptive controlled by an external remote control. The tiny chip generates small amounts of contraceptive hormone from within the woman's body for up to 16 years.
5. Smart tattoos
6. Brain-computer interface
7. Meltable bio-batteries
8. Smart dust -arrays of full computers with antennas, each much smaller than a grain of sand, that can organize themselves inside the body into as-needed networks to power a whole range of complex internal processes.
9. The verified self - could be used to ID every single human being,
In the London Telegraph, Arthur House explores The Real Cyborgs The pioneers of our “post-human” future are implanting technology in to their bodies and brains. Should we stop them or join them?
1. Brain implants augment memory and provide access to the internet
2. Wearable exoskeleton boosts strength and endurance
3. Internet-connected spinal implant stimulates genitals for long-distance sex
4. Interchangeble limbs match capabilities to tasks
5. Access-control chips replace keys and passwords
When he lost his right eye in a shotgun accident in 2005, the Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence replaced it with a wireless video camera that transmits what he’s seeing in real time to his computer.
The US military is pouring millions of dollars into projects such as Ekso Bionics’ Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), an ‘Iron Man’-style wearable exoskeleton that gives soldiers superhuman strength. Its Defense Advanced Research Projects Association (Darpa) is also working on thought-controlled killer robots, “thought helmets” to enable telepathic communication and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to give soldiers extra senses, such as night vision and the ability to “see” magnetic fields caused by landmines.
Every technological advance brings mixed blessings.
October 16, 2014
Health Roundup: Poop pills, cancer blood test, fruit juice, 5 a day, broccoli, ibuprofen
Fecal transplants made easier with A Promising Pill, Not So Hard to Swallow developed at MGH. Already called the 'poop pill'.
Their study was small and preliminary, but results were striking: 19 of 20 patients with C. difficile infections were cured of diarrhea and related symptoms. Most saw improvements after one two-day round of pills, the rest after two or three rounds, said Dr. Ilan Youngster, the lead investigator….
The patients, 11 to 89 years old, had each experienced at least two episodes of C. difficile that antibiotics had failed to control. After one round of dosing (two days, 15 capsules per day), diarrhea cleared up in 14 patients. Five others, sicker than the rest beforehand, responded after a second two-day dosing about a week later.
The Miroculus technology is based on microRNA, a class of small molecules that can act as a type of biological warning sign, appearing and disappearing based on what is happening in our bodies at that moment. As a result, they’ve become effective indicators of diseases—including cancer—ever since they were first discovered in 1993. They can reveal not just whether a person may have cancer, but what specific type of cancer that person might have.
A daily glass of fruit juice leads to people having significantly higher central blood pressure - which can increase the risk of problems such as a heart attack or angina as Australian scientists have discovered….
Study author, Dr Matthew Pase said their findings were important because 'there is a common perception that fruit juice is healthy. Although juices may have essential vitamins, they commonly contain high amounts of sugar with negligible fibre. …..An 8 oz glass of fruit juice contains 7 tsp of sugar. The WHO recommends people have no more that 6 tsp a day.
On the other hand, eating five servings of fruit and vegetables will not only enhance your mental well-being, it will enhance your creative brain power. Fruit, the thinking man's food.
The chemical - suforaphane- that gives broccoli its distinctive bitter taste made teenagers and young men with autism calmer and more sociable, a study found.
‘Remarkable’ improvements were seen in as little as four weeks and by the end of the study, some of those given a capsule a day felt able to look the researchers in the eye and shake their hand. The finding suggests it may be possible to create a pill that gets to the root of autism for the first time.
Existing drugs simply control symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity or sleep problems, but do not address the underlying cause of the condition. Researcher Dr Paul Talalay, a professor of pharmacology in the US who has spent the last 25 years researching nature’s medicine cabinet, said: ‘It was a small study but the effects were very, very large.
We believe that this may be preliminary evidence for the first treatment for autism that improves symptoms by apparently correcting some underlying cellular mechanisms.’British experts described the research as ‘intriguing’ but said it is simply too early to say if broccoli is beneficial in autism.
The research, from the respected MassGen Hospital for Children and Johns Hopkins University, both in Boston, comes amid concern about rising rates of autism.
Research has already established that the inevitable inflammation that comes with aging is linked to such conditions as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Researchers found lungs become more inflammatory with age and that Ibuprofen can lower that inflammation.Old mice on ibuprofen were able to fight the disease like young mice
October 15, 2014
The Unpreparedness of the CDC and NIH and Ebola Czar
Where is WHO Africa? Where is the African Union?" said Ekambaram who worked in Sierra Leone from August to September. "We've all heard their promises in the media but have seen very little on the ground."
Ebola cases could hit 10,000 a week by December, WHO states, fatality rate now estimated at 70 per cent
Ebola Preparation ‘Will bankrupt my hospital!’ Director Reacts to CDC Prep Call
“Treating one Ebola patient requires, full time, 20 medical staff. Mostly ICU (intensive care unit) people. So that would wipe out an ICU in an average-sized hospital….doctors and nurses are not ready for the challenge of using this personal protective equipment even if you see them with the helmet, the respirator, the full suits, as the CDC said on the call today, even all that equipment is not enough to guarantee the safety of health care workers because it is so perilous to put it on and particularly to remove it once it’s become contaminated.”
Embattled Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director, Dr. Tom Frieden, laid out a new game plan to counter further contamination of health care workers dealing with Ebola patients – including sending rapid response teams to any hospital where a new case is confirmed. >
the federal government not ten years ago created and funded a brand new office in the Health and Human Services Department specifically to coordinate preparation for and response to public health threats like Ebola. The woman who heads that office, and reports directly to the HHS secretary, has been mysteriously invisible from the public handling of this threat. And she’s still on the job even though three years ago she was embroiled in a huge scandal of funneling a major stream of funding to a company with ties to a Democratic donor—and away from a company that was developing a treatment now being used on Ebola patients.
In Wired, What Would Keep Ebola from Spreading in the US? Investing in Simple Research Years Ago Instead.The CDC's emergency preparedness budget has fallen by half since 2006 from $1091 million in 2007 to $585 million in 2013. None of the money spent for pandemic preparedness involved investing in health systems at the front line of epidemics: hospitals.
Dr Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health decried the budget 'cuts' over the past 10 years ' which he said prevented the development of an Ebola vaccine. But that's not true.
According to data compiled by the Cato Institute from the non-partisan Office of Management and Budget, the NIH’s inflation-adjusted outlays skyrocketed between 1996 and 2005, more than doubling from $14.8 to $32.4 billion while the CDC's budget " catapulting from $3.1 billion in 1996 to $5.8 billion in 2003. From there the budget kept rising, soaring to $7.5 billion in 2010 before gently declining to $6.8 billion in 2014."
So what did they spend all this money on?
Well, first a fancy new headquarters and fitness center for their employees at a cost of $110 million, including $10 million for new furniture (about $12,000 per employee).
• $517.3 million on "community transformation" -better sidewalks, more bike lanes and farmers' markets.
* $1.7 million on a Hollywood liaison to make sure medical portrayals in TV shows were accurate
• $386,000 to study the appropriate length of massage sessions for rabbits,
• $2.4 million for a new origami condom design whose inventor is now being investigated for fraud
• $592,000 to determine that chimpanzees with the best poop-flinging skills are also the best communicators, and another $117,000 to learn that most chimps are right-handed
• $257,000 went to create a companion website for first lady Michelle Obama's White House garden
• $939,000 to find out that male fruit flies prefer to romance younger females because the girl-flies' hormone levels drop over time.
• Part of a $666,000 NIH grant supported a University of Buffalo researcher who determined that watching sitcom reruns like 'Seinfeld' or re-watching old movies helps older people feel re-connected with pseudo-friends from their past.
• $181,000 went to University of Kentucky researchers who studied how cocaine use 'enhanced' the sex drive of the Japanese quail
• $548,000 to a University of Missouri team to find out if 30-something partiers feel immature after they binge drink while people in their mid-20s don't.
• $832,000 went to learn if it was possible to get uncircumcised South African tribesmen into the habit of washing their genitals after having sex.
• $1.1 million funded research into how athletes perceive their in-game surroundings,
• $484,000 for a study to determine if hypnosis can reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women
• a $702,558 grant for the study of the impact of televisions and gas generators on villages in Vietnam.
• $55,382 to study hookah smoking in Jordan.
• $509,840 to pay for a study that will send text messages in “gay lingo” to meth-heads.
• NIH has spent about $3 million to date to study why lesbians are fatter than straight women or gay men
* $385,005 to survey what bus riders thought of HIV videos
Apparently, there is a $12.5 billion slush fund created by the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is used to fight the privatization of liquor stores. Surely, that could be used to better effect.
WHO director Margaret Chan said yesterday that the current ebola epidemic is “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.”….But if Chan actually considers “modern times” to include the WWI era, and is ignorant of the scope and course of the great flu pandemic towards the end of that war, it would be exceptionally troubling, since she is speaking in her role as director of one of the most influential worldwide institutions tasked with dealing with epidemics.
Dr. Alfred Crosby, author, America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The epidemic killed, at a very, very conservative estimate, 550,000 Americans in 10 months, that’s more Americans than died in combat in all the wars of this century, and the epidemic killed at least 30 million in the world and infected the majority of the human species.
Controversial new research suggests that contrary to the history books, the "Black Death" that devastated medieval Europe was not the bubonic plague, but rather an Ebola-like virus.
History books have long taught the Black Death, which wiped out a quarter of Europe's population in the Middle Ages, was caused by bubonic plague, spread by infected fleas that lived on black rats. But new research in England suggests the killer was actually an Ebola-like virus transmitted directly from person to person.
October 11, 2014
Once a corn field is planted and herbicide applied, many farmers don’t return to a given field until harvest time. The biotechnological and labor-saving innovations that have reduced costs for corn farmers mean that literally no one walks into the average corn field during the growing season. Which presents a major opportunity for marijuana growers.
Piggybacking on the incredible technological investments required to create so much corn, marijuana growers reap orders of magnitude more revenue per acre. This fact is not lost on individual farmers, but is virtually undetectable in national conversations about the profits and pitfalls of industrial corn agriculture.
"I love John the Baptist’s definition of the word politics – “poly means many, tics are bloodsucking parasites.” from Tim Walker's 5 star review of The Man Jesus by Simon Callow now on the London stage. "Funny, knowing and profoundly sad".
Michael J Totten on The Walking Dead in an Age of Anxiety
The Walking Dead is a morality tale that disdains easy answers. How does a civilized person behave in a world where civilization has collapsed? Decency is still possible, the show instructs us, but ruthlessness is needed as well. “It’s ugly,” Carol says when explaining this to a child, “and it’s scary and it does change you, but that’s how we get to be here.”
The fascination with the zombie apocalypse, I believe, is a cultural reflection of the new age of anxiety that opened on 9/11, with its fear of social collapse. As Penn State professor Peter Dendle puts it, the zombie is a “barometer of social anxiety”—and we’re plenty anxious.
A zombie invasion is simply a metaphor for any situation in which the government cannot protect its citizens.”
The Gaelic Stars of YouTube Irish-language covers of popular English songs. All by students of Coláiste Lurgan, an Irish-Gaelic-immersion summer school, with a musical, energetic, social approach to learning Irish, an endangered language, but now a mandatory part of a school's curriculum.
What a beautiful language Irish is. Here Stiofán Ó Fearail sings "Wake Me Up"
Have you ever seen students so engaged or having so much fun learning language?
Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, "We're Going to End Up Breaking the Internet" unless governments reform their surveillance practices.
October 10, 2014
"Good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created"
From Notable and Quotable and philosopher Roger Scruton’s new book “How to Be a Conservative”:
Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation is slow, laborious and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason why conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false.