Archive for December, 2009

Virtuous Circles

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

If you remove the harvests from a farm, year after year and decade after decade, the soil will degenerate to the point that your harvest is nonexistent. The fruits must return to the soil, else you will create a desert. This point is nicely explained in the article below.

From the Soil and Back

Drug-resistant TB Found In US

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The first case of contagious, aggressive, especially drug-resistant form of tuberculosis was fond in the United States. It is called “extremely drug-resistant (XXDR) TB”.

“Drug resistance is starting to be a very big problem. In the past, people stopped worrying about TB and it came roaring back. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are all connected by the air we breathe, and that is why this must be everyone’s problem.”

In 2007, the CDC put out this report:

U.S. Tuberculosis Cases at All-Time Low; Drug Resistance Remains a Threat
Tuberculosis rates in the United States reached an all-time low in 2006, though progress to eliminate TB continued to slow. Drug-resistant TB, including extensively drug-resistant TB, presents significant challenges to treatment and control of the disease in the United States and abroad, according to articles in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

“Tuberculosis continues to have a significant and unacceptable impact on minorities and immigrant communities in the United States,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention. “Blacks and Hispanics have tuberculosis rates that are about eight times higher than that of whites, and the rate for Asians is more than 21 times that of whites. Foreign-born individuals living in the United States have nearly 10 times the rate of TB as those born in the United States.”

A total of 13,767 TB cases were reported in the United States in 2006, down from 14,085 cases in 2005. The 2006 national TB case rate – 4.6 cases per 100,000 persons – was the lowest since reporting began in 1953. However, the decline of 3.2 percent in the national TB case rate from 2005 to 2006 was one of the smallest in more than a decade. Overall the average annual decline in the national TB rate slowed from 7.3 percent per year in the period 1993-2000 to 3.8 percent per year in the period 2000-2006.

Persons living with TB also continue to be severely impacted by HIV. Among TB cases with a documented HIV test result, 12.4 percent were HIV-infected.

Multidrug resistant TB (MDR TB) is TB that is resistant to at least two first line therapies – isoniazid and rifampin. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) is TB resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin among the first-line anti-TB drugs and among second-line drugs, is resistant to any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable drugs. Drug-resistant TB is difficult and costly to treat and can be fatal.

“Tuberculosis that is resistant to many of the standard drugs used to treat the disease challenges our ability to treat and control TB,” Dr. Fenton said. “In the United States, we have made great progress since the early 1990s against TB that is resistant to multiple first line treatments and had seen declines in these cases. Recently however, our success against MDR TB has slowed.”

XDR TB renders patients virtually untreatable with available drugs, particularly those in areas with less access to the full range of effective drugs. CDC’s new analysis, which includes provisional data for 2006, found that between 1993 and 2006, there were 49 XDR TB cases in the United States reported to the CDC.

XDR TB continues to be widely distributed geographically in the United States and abroad, causing public health concern. The risk of XDR TB appears to be low in the United States. However, due to the ease with which TB can spread, XDR TB will continue to pose a serious risk to the United States as long as it exists anywhere else in the world.

“CDC and its domestic and international partners are taking many steps to prevent further spread of drug-resistant TB and to reduce the overall burden of the disease,” said Dr. Ken Castro, director of CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. “These efforts include developing new treatment regimens, increasing the capacity of health professionals to provide effective treatment, and issuing new recommendations for improved screening and treatment for U.S. immigrants.”

For more information about the reports in today’s MMWR, visit For information about tuberculosis, visit



Tracks toward Tomorrow

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

A six hundred mile (100km) high speed railway threatens airlines, cuts airline pollution, with trains zooming at 200mph (350kph). China shows how it’s done.

“The link, on which trains will reach a top speed of 350 km/h, is expected to pose a real threat to airlines running flights linking the cities.”

“China plans to have high-speed rail services running between 70 percent of key cities by 2020″

Rails to the Future

Elections or Bombs ?

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

This world is not painted in black and white. Are imperfect elections better than no elections ? Either is better than bombing villagers.

“There is nobody, I mean nobody, stepping up to the plate to fund elections without root and branch reform of the electoral system. Our public back home simply won’t accept it,”

Money and Politics in a Forsaken Land

Hope for the Hopeless

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

People like these two women reinforce my hopes for society.

“The Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) was founded 30 years ago by Valerie Taylor, a physiotherapist.

Sreepur Village, a shelter for abandoned women and children, established by a former British Airways stewardess Pat Kerr, has just celebrated its 20th birthday. ”

Of Valerie Taylor:
“After discovering that nowhere in the entire country was able to provide proper care to people with spinal injuries, and that many died in bed from their sores, she moved to the capital and set up her centre.”

And Pat Kerr:
“What began life as a traditional orphanage, soon morphed into a much more ambitious endeavour, helping not just children, but their mothers as well, who were living on the streets of Dhaka, abandoned by the husbands.”

These women light up the world. Help them if you can, for they help the helpless.

Helping Bangladesh

All Your Crops Belong to Us

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Monsanto strikes again. And again. And again.

From the article:
“the corn flakes you had for breakfast, soda you drank at lunch and beef stew you ate for dinner likely were produced from crops grown with Monsanto’s patented genes.”

But that’s not all. The piece continues:

“one contract provision bans independent companies from breeding plants that contain both Monsanto’s genes and the genes of any of its competitors”

“We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,”

So now they got hold of the farmer’s testicles, they squeeze harder.

“Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010,”

And they seem to have borrowed a technique from Microsoft:

“One contract gave an independent seed company deep discounts if the company ensured that Monsanto’s products would make up 70 percent of its total corn seed inventory.”

Using Monsanto seeds is doing a deal with the devil. How long before open pollinated non GMO comes back ? Too long, we fear. The monocultures of Monsanto raise the risk that a single blight could wipe out a huge fraction of crops. Betcha they won’t accept the blame for that bit when it happens.

Seeds of Destruction

Stuff Kids With Junk

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Great. Encourage kids to eat junk food, make ‘em obese as early as possible, predisposed to heard disease and adult onset diabetes and …

Agribusiness don’t care. What have kids done for them lately ?

Dear God, have they no shame ? (Never mind, that was a rhetorical question)

“advertising of low-nutrient high-density foods continues to be a significant preventable variable in the childhood obesity epidemic,”

“nearly three out of four, 72.5 percent, of the foods advertised on television to children are for products in the poorest nutritional category”

“it would require watching 10 hours of children’s programs to find one healthy food ad. ”

“49 percent, of all food ads with licensed characters, such as Spongebob Squarepants, promote foods in the poorest nutritional category.”

Fattening the Kids

Monica Lewinsky: Clinton Lied Under Oath

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

In a new book due out Friday, “The Death of American Virtue,” author Ken Gormley reveals insights into the Clinton presidency. He writes Clinton had another extramarital affair, with Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame. Also, Monica Lewinsky believes the president lied under oath when describing their encounters.

The Long Goodbye

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Will China decouple their currency peg? And stop buying Treasuries? Just as soon as they see that the US consumer is completely tapped out. For now, they use their dollars to acquire natural resources. to fill their own malls for their own people.

“inevitable that the dollar would continue to fall in value because Washington continued to issue more Treasuries to finance its deficit spending.”

“The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries,”

“trade turnover is falling, which means the U.S. is supplying fewer dollars to the rest of the world,” he added.

“The world does not have so much money to buy more U.S. Treasuries.”

So long, suckers

Putting the ‘Hell’ in Health Care

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Wonder why there’s no public option anymore ? Wonder why everybody is going to rake it in, except patients ? Actually, we ought to expect this because the politicians are in bed with the care providers. More, in too many cases, they are one and the same.

Spend a few million to make a few trillion. Hell with the patients.

“At least 166 former aides from the nine congressional leadership offices and five committees involved in shaping health overhaul legislation — along with at least 13 former lawmakers — registered to represent at least 338 health care clients since the beginning of last year, according to the analysis.

Their health care clients spent $635 million on lobbying over the past two years, the study shows.”

“The largest insider lobbying cadre belongs to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which employs at least 26 former congressional members and staffers, according to Medill/CRP research.

Two other drug interests, biotech firm Amgen Inc. and the Biotechnology Industry Organization trade group, with at least 24 and 16 insiders respectively”

“Health industry contributions to congressional candidates have more than doubled so far this decade, rising to $127 million in the 2008 election cycle from $56 million in the 2000 election, with disproportionate sums going to the party in power and to members of committees that oversee health care”

Your Health for Sale

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