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ellenrr's Journal
ellenrr's Journal
January 30, 2016

Is El Niño to Blame for the "Explosive" Zika Virus Outbreak?

What's the cause of the outbreak? According to Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, the outbreak was triggered by "a perfect storm" of biological, economic, and climatic events. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can carry Zika, has been growing in population in Latin America since first being introduced to Brazil via trans-Pacific shipping routes in the late 1980s. Brazil is also now in the middle of a severe economic downturn, while the government is in disarray as President Dilma Rousseff faces calls for impeachment for her involvement in a corruption scandal involving Petrobras, the state oil company. That has left the country with a weakened public health system that is struggling to effectively eradicate dangerous mosquitoes. This week, Brazil's health minister admitted he was "badly losing the battle" against mosquito-borne illnesses.

But the most important factor, Garrett said, is a mosquito population boom triggered by above-average rainfall, a product of this year's exceptionally strong El Niño in the Pacific. Over the last month, flooding in Brazil, Paraguay, and elsewhere has been the worst in half a century, forcing 150,000 people to evacuate their homes. Those conditions are perfect for mosquito breeding.


But while it's certainly true that global warming could lead to increases in the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes, in the case of Zika, the mosquitoes in question have been well established in the affected region for nearly two decades.

More important than changes in mosquito distribution is the change in rainfall caused by El Niño. While this El Niño wasn't caused by climate change per se, it is happening in a context of overall higher ocean and atmospheric temperatures—2015 was the world's hottest year on record—that may have helped make it stronger than usual. And there is a growing body of research finding that climate change could dramatically increase the frequency of severe El Niños, meaning that regardless of how mosquito ranges spread, places that already have mosquito problems now could see them get worse.


January 29, 2016

Zika Virus

This is not the first plague to result from climate change but it will be remembered as a turning point.
1 1/2 million people infected.
20 countries affected. so far.
4000 babies in Brazil born with microencephaly.

Those the ones we know about.
Imagine a health delivery system already on the edge, now add 4000 babies/children/adults requiring special care for their entire lives...

Meanwhile ... the band plays on... "presidential" candidates and talking-heads argue about who is afraid of Megan Kelley.
I guess we DO get the candidates we deserve.

Two articles:


January 24, 2016

Koch Brothers' fortune doubles during Obama years

Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars building a conservative network to oppose Democrats, have actually done very well for themselves since President Barack Obama took office.

The Koch brothers, who believe strongly in a market-based libertarian philosophy, each had a net worth of $19 billion in 2008, the year Obama was elected to office, according to Forbes. The fortune dipped slightly in 2009 to $16 billion amid a financial crisis that was caused, in part, by the kind of limited government oversight they believe in.

But the Kochs have rebounded nicely. According to Forbes, the brothers are now worth $41 billion each, meaning their fortune has more than doubled under Obama.
January 24, 2016

H. naledi has shaken up the way that paleoanthropology goes about the business of doing science

Four months after the announcement (of new species Homo Naledi), questions about H. naledi have crept up. Articles about the fossils were published too quickly, naysayers claim. They were published without “proper” peer review. Moreover, the fossils—and the entire Rising Star Expedition that found them—are simply a means of fueling the project’s media agenda.

If the history of paleoanthropology shows us anything, it’s that controversy over a new fossil hominin species is nothing new. In fact, most newly discovered hominin species have undergone periods of serious scrutiny, particularly because discoveries force scientists to rethink evolutionary relationships. For the past hundred years, paleoanthropologists have bandied about insults, in addition to hypotheses, as they discussed fossil hominins in academic and public circles.

The H. naledi brouhaha, however, offers a curiously new type of challenge for paleoanthropology. Instead of shaking up the hominin evolutionary tree, H. naledi has shaken up the way that paleoanthropology goes about the business of doing science.

Traditionally, fossils have been studied and published in a very top-down way, where small teams of senior experts spend years (even decades) studying fossil hominins before publishing their discoveries in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. This means the fossils are carefully scrutinized, measured, compared, and analyzed before they reach a public audience. The peer-review process of such top-tier journals—like Science or Nature—forms a well-established social system of checks and balances, ensuring that research credibility is attached to published discoveries.

The H. naledi project has championed an opposite view of how data should be collected and distributed. Berger’s team found, excavated, studied, and published the Rising Star Cave’s cache of more than 1,550 fossils in just two years. The project has relied on the expertise of many young, early career researchers. In addition, the project published scans of the fossils themselves in eLife in September 2015, an open-access journal with a shorter peer-review process.

January 23, 2016

Woody Guthrie and Fred Trump (the idiot's father)

Guthrie once lived in a building managed by Fred Trump and penned an unpublished song in which he accuses Trump of stirring up "racial hate." The passage was found by professor Will Kaufman.

"Guthrie’s two-year tenancy in one of Fred Trump’s buildings and his relationship with the real estate mogul of New York’s outer boroughs produced some of Guthrie’s most bitter writings, which I discovered on a recent trip to the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa. These writings have never before been published; they should be, for they clearly pit America’s national balladeer against the racist foundations of the Trump real estate empire.

Recalling these foundations becomes all the more relevant in the wake of the racially charged proclamations of Donald Trump, who last year announced, “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”


January 23, 2016

could someone pls link me to the recent Tom Hartmann post? I tried the "search" but

it is not working this morning.
It was in the last couple of days, relating to extinction of humans.


January 17, 2016

Does anybody here do ebay?

what is your experience - positive, negative?


January 17, 2016

When is a candidate going to condemn the TPP - the worst legislation in the history of the world?

As far as I know - none has.
Pls correct me if I am wrong.

January 16, 2016

From Cronulla to Cologne, it’s the same rhetoric

It is the idea of sexual assault perpetrated upon German women by foreigners that has been the epicentre of the political explosion. Since 1 January, there have been calls to close the borders, end all German intake of refugees and asylum seekers, and immediately deport any non-German found guilty of sexual harassment. These calls have been echoed across the political spectrum. In fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a politician who has not made some sort of public statement on ‘Cologne’, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose portfolio does not usually include sexual assault and petty theft on the streets of Cologne.

Not even the Paris terror attacks of November last year appear to have had such a destabilising effect on Germany’s so-called ‘open door’ policy on immigration and asylum – but perhaps that is because the mass killings in Paris didn’t involve questions of moral and cultural standards around sexuality and gender relations.

By now, it is well-known how ferociously the events have been seized upon by conservatives and radical right-wing groups opposed to immigration. The language of the public debate has been predictably filled with calls to defend ‘our women’ from the ‘uncivilised’ hordes of medieval barbarians from the Middle East. Vigilante groups have formed. One announced on Facebook that it would be organising ‘patrols’ around Cologne with the intention of ‘cleaning up’.

January 16, 2016

Howard Dean, Now Employed by Health Care Lobby Firm, Opposes Bernie Sanders on Single-Payer

and another one hits the dust...

Dean, a longtime supporter of single-payer, seemed to be changing his tune, a point made by host Chris Hayes during the segment.

This evolution of Dean, known within many circles for his spirited critique of the Iraq War during the 2004 Democratic primary, comes as he has settled into a corporate lobbying career.

Dean, though he rarely discloses the title during his media appearances, now serves as senior advisor to the law firm Dentons, where he works with the firm’s Public Policy and Regulation practice, a euphemism for Dentons’ lobbying team. Dean is not a lawyer, but neither is Newt Gingrich, who is among the growing list of former government officials and politicians that work in the Public Policy and Regulation practice of Dentons.

The Dentons Public Policy and Regulation practice lobbies on behalf of a variety of corporate health care interests, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a powerful trade group for drugmakers like Pfizer and Merck.

In 2009, Dean praised single-payer while speaking on Democracy Now, calling the idea “by far the most economically efficient system.”


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