Thursday, March 31, 2016

Before there was Zika there was Rubella

The second "R" in the "MMR" vaccine is Rubella.

Just a reminder:

Key facts

  • Rubella is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.
  • Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
  • Worldwide, over 100 000 babies are born with CRS every year.
  • There is no specific treatment for rubella but the disease is preventable by vaccination.

attention Hollywood: Black Lives Matter

Nurses and doctors are being killed at hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, or when they go out to give children vaccines that will save life and limb.

the UKGuardian notes:

The body of Salma Farooqi, a 30-year-old who had been involved for years in Peshawar's battle against polio, was recovered from a field 4km (2.5 miles) from her home on Monday, a day after armed men stormed her house, tied up family members and took her away.
Police said the mother of five had been tortured and repeatedly shot.
Attacks on vaccination teams, many of whom are drawn from the country's 100,000 strong army of "Lady Health Workers", are common, with more than 30 killed in the last two years.

But are they made heroes? No. Hollywood spent oodles of money instead on a movie to show a hero who found (or maybe not) a problem with MMR vaccine and Autism.

Ah, but why is he a hero? Maybe because he is white, and the anti vacccine movement is one of the limbs of the anti-globalization/ anti science/ back to nature movement of the clueless elites, including celebrities.

whereas those killed trying to stop children from dying of measles, polio, whooping cough, polio etc. are "people of colour", often Muslim, and the kids whose lives were saved were also "people of colour", not rich white kids in the affluent USA/ UK.

uh, Black live matter?

the point is that this was an expensive vaccine that had to be given by someone who knew how to store it and how to give an injection (and in these post HIV days, to use a seperate disposable syringe for every injection). Other obstacles include getting into remote villages and convincing people to bring in their children (i.e. trust).

Which is where the anti vaccine idiots are killing people.

Clueless mullahs/immans/bishops often pick up these stories in the western media, believe them, and then forbid their people from getting vaccines. And if a child dies after a vaccine (usually from something else, because childhood deaths are common in these areas) it allows local anti western types to blame the doctors.

So is it any wonder that local mindless idiots are shooting the medical people who dare to cross the demands of their local  religious dictators.

When I worked in Africa, I saw many many children die of measles or post measles complications. We buried four of five children of one mother, whose polygamist husband had forbidden her to get them their vaccinations.

Some measles deaths might not be listed as "measles" (even if someone reported the case, which will not happen if the kid dies in the remote village).  The dirty little secret is that a lot of kids died one to four weeks after having measles from pneumonia, ear infections, meningitis, or croup.

because the virus caused an immune problem measles might also cause latent TB to flare up (Measles induces anergy for PPD, suggesting they lost their ability to fight TB infection).

Nor was this just in rural Africa: when I was in medical school in the 1960's, we saw many children hospitalized with measles, but who lived thanks to antibiotics. And I saw one child who suffered severe brain damage from post measles encephalitis.

But no more.

when we had a case (from Mexico) in our hospital in the 1990's, only two of us were old enough to have seen a case, so were called to diagnose it.

But thanks to vaccines, the death rate from preventable diseases, including measles has gone down dramatically all over the world.

from the WHO:

Key facts

  • Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2014, there were 114 900 measles deaths globally – about 314 deaths every day or 13 deaths every hour.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 79% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2014 worldwide.
  • In 2014, about 85% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.
  • During 2000-2014, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 17.1 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

so more vaccines lead to a lot fewer deaths among poor children.

Oh,, but the anti Vaccine types insist the death rates were either getting lower without the vaccines so we don't need vaccines, or they insist that the cut in measles deaths would have happened anyway. No I won't link to them but here is a typical misleading statistic.

[Measles deaths (from 1901/2, averaged) declined by 99.4% before vaccination in 1968! ... (Source: Twentieth Century Mortality CD, Office of National Statistics,
it essentially is cherry picked from this article that notes the same drop in measles death in the affluent USA.

reason of course: better nutrition, more antibiotics, less tuberculosis in children.

In the affluent USA, your kid might not be exposed to measles, so the risk is low for your kid...

But in Zimbabwe, where only 83 percent of kids get the vaccine, there is an added risk that these kids will spread it to those who were too young to get the vaccine (i.e. under 18 months), or might have received a suboptimal dose due to storage etc. or who might have a poor immune response because they have HIV, they have had an epidemic of 4000.

Here is an example from a country where I worked.

the article about the latest epidemic in Harare: 4000 cases.. Not that many considering the millions of kids in the country.

But the 17 percent un immunized leave a reservoir for new cases:. So enough people around to let the disease spread.

But to complicate the problem is that you don't get the vaccine until 18 months. So many of the case in this recent epidemic were in "under 2 years"

at this point, let me note that you don't just care for one problem: Health clinic outreaches try to care for several interlinked problems to stop epidemics.

Our hospital did a lot of outreach for immunzations, which we combined with family planning, nutrition counseling, and health screening for malnutrition. I date before HIV, but the docs there now have an active clinic to give out anti HIV drugs, something especially important for pregnant moms since their children can catch HIV from their moms.

The unvaccinated kids tend to be in the poorer areas of the country, sometimes in areas where local religious cults forbid vaccines, modern medical care, and sometimes education...
Black Live Matter. Even if they are poor.

In the USA, malnutrition is rare (although HIV and immune problems remain a problem). So are you safe? Why are there still cases?

Well, most of the new cases can be traced to cases imported from overseas, where vaccinations might not have been done or the vaccine given wrong (too early an age, or maybe because the vaccine defrosted and got weakened: See earlier article about the unlicensed Chinese vaccine distributors who let their vaccines defrost but sold them anyway).

the 2014 epidemic in the US was traced back to an epidemic here in the Philippines, where almost 60 thousand people got measles and 180 of them died.

and the story cited below about poorly stored vaccines ight have contributed to the recent cases in China (but of course, the anti vaccine crazies use those mere 700 cases as proof the vaccine doesn't work. No I won't link. If the vaccine didn't work at all the actual number would have been thousands, not a few hundred).


But it is alas more trendy for intellectuals to be anti science. Nor is this a new problem:
Cherry picking by people who seek attention or who need to feel self righteous is nothing new, but what they do is take a problem out of context, manipulate it, make the small problem seem the entire story, and then use the lie to manipulate public opinion.

a good review article about the history of measles, descriptions of the disease, of how the disease kills, and other factors including immunizations can be found HERE> including how HIV has increased the death/complication rate in measles in Africa.

So fewer deaths, thanks to good nutrition and antibiotics etc. albeit complications remain high if you catch it.

Finally, when I worked in Africa, quite a few medical personnel were killed or hurt during a civil war. If you want to help publicize this, try checking out this site: LINK

Because not everything is political

The Cherry Blossom festival in Washington

more HERE.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Casino heist

update: they were doing questioning on TV yesterday...

Local Inquirer story suggests charges will be filed

and they ask: Where is the CCTV footage from the bank?

guess what? It wasn't working...duh.

Macau paper suggests a link with main land China“

Two foreigners facilitated the entry of the funds to the Philippines,” Wong said... Wong was referring to the man he identified as a junket operator from Beijing, whom he has known for about eight years. Through that business associate, Wong met the other man, a Macau junket operator who had promised Wong that he would bring casino players to Manila.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council would seek a meeting with the Chinese Embassy in Manila for information about the Chinese nationals, council member and Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc said, responding to a query on seeking China’s help at the hearing.

Sue the protesters?

Worshippers at St Patrick's cathedral in NYC were terrified when loud protesters interrupted mass and left worshippers in fear of their lives since one had an item strapped to him that resembled a bomb

it's okay: They were "animal rights" protesters, not terrorists..

So maybe someone should sue them and the organization behind them.

if the main protester is really a "teacher", maybe someone should fire him for hate speech? Oops. I forgot. Anti Catholicism is not hate speech.

But they are from a "hate for anyone and anything who isn't following our PC agenda" group, but give me time... all these groups are linked, and often professional activists protest for several groups.


Rabies is around in the Philippines, so anyone bitten by a strange dog gets a series of shots.

Our dogs get their rabies shots, so usually we just reassured those bitten by George, the Killer Lab, but once tiny PuffPuff bit the massage therapist treating Joy, and his shots were out of date, so we had to pay for treatment.

No, I never saw a case in Africa: The protocol there was to go to an area, give all the dogs their rabies shots and paint their rumps, and then put out fresh meat and have a sniper shoot any dog without a paint jobs. After independence, alas, when bullets and snipers got expensive, some countries ended up with epidemics.

Here in the Philippines, the vets go to rural area to give the dogs the shots, and locals kill stray dogs. The local clinic will arrange for you to get the shots at a minimum cost, or you can pay 20 dollars  to buy the vaccine at the pharmacy and give the shots yourself.

In the USA, however, bat bites are a major cause of rabies. I once blew the budget of a small local township where I worked after a young girl got bitten by a bat when she opened a pantry door. Since bats don't usually attack, we had to assume it was rabid.

Nowadays, the regimine is anti globulin and three shots of the vaccine. Back then, it was 24 shots of the shot 12 she was getting local reactions and we started running out of places to give the shots. Ouch.

Cats also can carry rabies, as can racoons.
I remember when we had an outbreak and had to get the cats rabies shots: we took three cats in our cat carrier, and they got lose. Catfight!

Rabies is fatal. Usually you keep them comfortable with deep sedation until they die. So if you are traveling to a high risk area, or might be in contact with rabid animals, you are advised to get the shot.

But a few cases of people who had never been vaccinated beforehand have lived. LINK LINK

treatment is inducing a coma and using a breathing machine, while giving rabies globulin and anti virals. Even with this very expensive treatment, few live.


Headsup AnneAlthouse

Yes, Virginia, Unicorns once existed

Heinrich Harder/Wikimedia

Scientists assumed they died out 300 thousand years ago but a skull suggests at least one was around in Kazakhstan 29,000 years ago.

According to early descriptions, the Siberian unicorn stood at roughly 2 metres tall, was 4.5 metres long, and weighed about 4 tonnes. That’s closer to woolly mammoth-sized than horse-sized. Despite its very impressive stature, the unicorn probably was a grazer that ate mostly grass. So, if you want a correct image in your head, think of a fuzzy rhinoceros with one long, slender horn protruding from its face instead of a short, stubby one like today’s rhinos. The newly found skull, which was remarkably well-preserved, was found in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan. Researchers from Tomsk State University were able to date it to around 29,000 years ago via radiocarbon dating techniques. Based on the size and condition of the skull, it was likely a very old male, they suggest, but how it actually died remains unknown

Modern man was around then, making one wonder if there was a folk memory of the creature (or maybe an actual creature) that inspired this seal, found in Mahenjo Daro.

headsup GGGForum on FreeRepublic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chinese money laundering is big business

So is there a Chinese connection to the 81 million dollar heist of Bangldeshi money via the Chinoy casinos here in the Philippines?

Enquiring minds want to know.

LiveMint (a business newsletter in India) has this article on Chinese money laudering.

Scam artists, drug cartels and gangs from around the world have found a new haven for laundering money: China. The country’s well-developed underground financial networks have caught the attention of foreign criminals who are using China to clean their dirty money and pump it back into the global financial system—largely beyond the reach of Western law enforcement, an Associated Press investigation has found.

the article goes into details on how they launder money via fake accounts and hiding it as legal orders of good. This is not a Chinese only scam: Gangsters, drug lords and other criminals from all over are using Chinese criminals to launder money because the Chinese government doesn't cooperate with outside investigators.

and one criminal interviewed by the AP notes:

“China has become a universal passageway for all these scams,” said Chikli. “Because China today is a world power, because it doesn’t care about neighbouring countries, and because, overall, China is flipping off other countries in a big way.”
So what does the Chinese government say about all of this?

In a regular briefing with reporters Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said “is not, has not been, nor will be in the future a center of global money laundering.”

Tolkien lecture of the week

At Wheaton college so it probably has a Christian theme. On the other hand, Tolkien was a Christian who took the advice of Gregory the Great and incorporated the good in paganism into the myths to explain reality.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mother Angelica (take two)

If you wonder why some Catholics remain catholic, blame Mother Angelica, who drew a line in the sand against the PC types trying to change the church.

update: NYTimes has an only slightly biased obit.

Some of us love her for her enemies:

“I am so tired of you, liberal church in America,” she said. “I resent you pushing your anti-Catholic, ungodly ways upon the masses of this country.”
Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, a prelate identified at the time with the church’s progressive wing, called her remarks “disgraceful, un-Christian, offensive and divisive.” The administrative body of American bishops, then known as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked that the segment be pulled from the network’s lineup of reruns. Mother Angelica refused.
A more significant clash occurred in 1997, when Mother Angelica criticized Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles for proposing changes in the sacrament of holy communion that she viewed as a breach of core church doctrine.
“I’m afraid my obedience in that diocese would be absolutely zero,” she said. “And I hope everybody else’s in that diocese is zero.”
Cardinal Mahoney demanded an apology and a retraction of her call for disobedience. He received a grudging apology, which Mother Angelica then obscured with a long on-air explication of her complaint. At the cardinal’s request, the Vatican began an inquiry into her work. No disciplinary action was taken.
Weakland, of course, was removed after it was revealed he had paid off a male paramour, (and more: LINK) and the liturgical abuses of Mahoney are still with us while his pedophile coverups  are finally are getting some press coverage after years of being known to locals and reported in conservative Catholic blogs/papers.

Alas, a few speakers on her network also were found to be less than honest (to say the least) but when problems arose, they were promptly removed and their talks removed from the network's website.

Mother Angelica RIP

Casino heist: Part 2

The Catholic bishops here came out against casinos.

here is an article from a Pampanga blog in 2010 about local fishemen opposing the casino in names names and links.

The Pamalakaya leader said Enrique Razon Jr., head of multinational port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and a known crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has bought a gaming company that will build a casino at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino project....
Hicap learned last week that Razon had acquired a controlling stake in Bloombury investment Holdings Inc from Jose Ch. Alvarez, owner of Columbian Motors Corp. .. 
The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau

The Catholic bishops have been opposing Casinos for years, but some are more vocal than others LINK...

.This Phil Inquirer article Dec 2012 quotes old leftie activist Archbishop Cruz (whose blog I often link to) about the problem and the Solaire casino which was promoted by the present administration:

The 78-year-old leader of the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng said the casinos would invite “goons and gangsters” who would engage in money laundering and prostitution, thus threatening Filipino values.
 Imagine: Money laundering via Casinos. Who wudda thot?

There is a connection between the casinos and Chinese money. But I won't go into that. But if this is true, the question is: are the hackers Chinese?

PhilRem was involved: they help send home remittances from our overseas workers.

March 18 article Phil Star says they were involved in converting the stolen cash into pesos. They said they would return the P10 million fee they collected for doing the transaction. (about 200 thousand dollars)

and today's PhilInq reports:

MANILA — Senatorial candidate Susan “Toots” Ople is asking the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) why the Philippine Remittance Co. (Philrem) and its owners led by Salud Bautista were not charged in the laundering of $81 million stolen by cyber thieves from the Bangladesh central bank.

Notice how the article is worded? The problem is that we have a libel law in the Philippines, so if a reporter (and maybe if a blogger) accuses someone they can be sued for libel. So the reporters find a big shot to quote instead, and you read between the lines.

also in today's Inquirer: there are rumors that they will start naming names. The article has a lot of hints and winks in it, and notes that the upcoming elections are part of the back story (the politicians with links to the thieves don't want the story to get out).

And to figure out what is going on, you have to know who is linked with whom (by family, by marriage, by business links, or maybe they studied together in college).

Or you could just shrug like my husband and say "they are all thieves".

And say a prayer for local reporters: the usual way to stop a story being reported is to kill the messenger, and reporters have been shot for less.

What if they stole 81 million dollars and no body noticed?

I just checked for an update on the hack job involving Bengladesh, the Philippines, and the US Federal Bank. The money belonged to Bengladesh, and was hacked and sent to the Philippines, laundered via Chinese owned (or Chinoy owned) casinos, and poof, disappeared.

But my point is that the money was in a US Bank located in NYCity.

Lots of stories when it was discovered, up to March 15, and then...nothing?

no follow up stories? What, they took off ten days for Easter holiday? (here in the Philippines, the country shuts down for a week, but that is no excuse for the US reporters).

so I checked Google news on the story there. Yes, ONE. Dated March 25th, updated March 28th, from a Bengladesh newspaper: Saying they want their money back.

Googling Bangladesh on google news shows ten articles.Nine about the heist and most in local papers saying they want to get their money back.

This report from 3/24 summarizes the heist. And it reports that the heist didn't happen in March, but in February, and the first report that these billions of dollars were stolen was in...the Philippine Inquirer.

And the transfer happened during the Chinese New Year (a time when Philippines has a bank holiday...we have lots of holidays: Catholic, Muslim, local patriotic days, Chinese new time off for Nowruz yet, but give us time)

and I would say this is corruption in the Philippines as usual, which was sniffed out and reported by our excellent reporters in the Philippines.

But where are the reporters in the USA? Several big companies were involved:

Bangladesh Bank officials said the funds were sent to those countries through banking and financial services company Wells Fargo, the Bank of New York Mellon and Citibank of New York.
and it used the SWIFT transfer system to move the funding.They say they weren't hacked, but it was an insider job.

Wikipedia page here (caution: Who knows if it is accurate).

Reuters article March 21 from a Japanese newspaper has a summary and notes the casino industry pressure to keep the casinos out of money laudering laws, and also notes the Chinese links.

we have corruption here but I suspect the Philippines will be made the fall guy for people who actually did the heist.

the Wikipedia article links to this Pakistani article  (dated March 11) says hackers installed malware into the Bangaladesh bank's software, collected information and then self destructed.

They have a timeline: apparently the plan started in May 2015...

  more HERE.

Security week report March 16 claims that no one noticed the problem for 4 days because the printer wasn't working properly.

The Atlantic has an article summarizing mostly old news, but naming names. published on March 25:

Go has denied owning the accounts through which the money was consolidated, or to playing any role in the heist. A representative of Philrem told the Senate panel that Deguito instructed the company to transfer the money to two casinos, as well as to an account owned by a businessman named Weikang Xu.
Xu reportedly received $30 million; $29 million passed to a casino resort called Solarie. The rest landed in yet another casino, this one owned by Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited. The president of that company, a man named Kam Sin Wong, who also goes by Kim Wong, was described by Filipino Senator Sergio Osmeña III as “a missing link” in the story.“There is an orchestrator here, a mastermind, and right now, it looks like it’s Kim Wong,” Osmeña told reporters.Go has denied owning the accounts through which the money was consolidated, or to playing any role in the heist. A representative of Philrem told the Senate panel that Deguito instructed the company to transfer the money to two casinos, as well as to an account owned by a businessman named Weikang Xu.Xu reportedly received $30 million; $29 million passed to a casino resort called Solarie. The rest landed in yet another casino, this one owned by Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited. The president of that company, a man named Kam Sin Wong, who also goes by Kim Wong, was described by Filipino Senator Sergio Osmeña III as “a missing link” in the story.“There is an orchestrator here, a mastermind, and right now, it looks like it’s Kim Wong,” Osmeña told reporters.
the casinos are at the center of the scam. Follow the money and you might really open a can of worms.

and the casinos have links to drug money, maybe by laundering the money via bets etc. in casinos.(Dec 2013 article).

A highly reliable source at the said resort and casino, however, clarified that the management of the casino does not have any knowledge about the transactions between the players and the drug lords cum gambling financiers.
The source said that millions and millions of cash change hands between some bigitme VIP baccarat players and these financiers every night inside the VIP rooms of the said casino.
Each financier or drug lord has his or her own territory or VIP room to operate. In short, there is an agreement of assigned areas among the financiers.

In the meanwhile Global research (anti globalist conspiracy) site has a headsup on what this means to ordinary people, and links it to all sorts of shennanigans (some real, some paranoid) that have gone on.

they note what is reported elsewhere: a larger heist was stopped by misspelling. So a German bank that caught and questioned the transfer.

A rather sobering and even scary realization is had the hacker(s) properly spelled the word foundation, perhaps a billion dollars would have been stolen before anyone in the central banking system would have even caught on that they were duped by some mysterious anonymous cyber-criminal(s) who fortunately for them flunked English spelling class.
and they note that this wasn't the only bank hack:

This business of online hackers cracking cyber security systems is anything but new. In 2015 the Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab disclosed that an estimated total of $1 billion has already been stolen by multinational hacking gangsters from up to 100 banking institutions around the globe just within the last two years. 
That of course doesn't include hackers who get your money via identity theft, like the Hackers who got my Federal personnel file when the gov't computers were hacked last year.

update: more on how the hackers did it here.

they claimed the hackers stalked the bank for two weeks, but the time line goes back much further, since it took more time than that to set up the bank accounts. And it probably aimed at doing it during the Chinese new year to slow down discovery.

no, this wasn't a fast hack job: It was professional inside job at many levels.

update two: Well, one congresslady is questioning the NYCity bank connection (Seattle times March 23).
“This brazen heist … threatens to undermine the confidence that foreign central banks have in the Federal Reserve, and in the safety and soundness of international monetary transactions,” Maloney said in her letter Tuesday to New York Fed President William Dudley.
“We need a thorough investigation to determine how these criminals were able to manipulate the system” to prevent it from happening again, she said.
Maloney also is asking why the New York Fed requested that Bangladesh Bank reconfirm all 35 transfer orders, but failed to wait until it received reconfirmation before executing the first five orders.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Gender neutral bathroom?

moved to my medical blog for being R Rated (in a medical way, not a political way).

It's something that goes against the modesty of women.

Already women avoid using a strange restroom. This will make them avoid it more.

(If you wonder why women avoid restrooms, and will really worry if men start using them: it's the toilet seat problem. If you don't know what I mean, ask your wife)

All your DNA is belong to us

A couple days ago I warned about a study about "post partum depression" that collected your DNA (but claimed your name would be kept private by the researchers).

Well, now (AP LINK) I read the USGov't is pressuring genetic databases to get your DNA. These are data bases that find your ancestral background, not medical ones.

And the gov't already has a database of millions of folks who got DNA taken when arrested or were in the armed forces etc.

most of the cases cited in the article were released by court order, but you can see the potential for abuse...

Ms Goldman Sachs?

M.Hemingway has a summary of the press' coverage of the battle of the (Republican) wives.

But the real problem can be found with a quick google:

From Wikipedia:

Heidi Suzanne Cruz (néeNelson; August 7, 1972) is an American investment manager at Goldman Sachs
before that, she served in the Bush White House, again showing the revolving door between lucrative jobs and the gov't.

The incestuous ties between big business, lobbyists, and the government is one reason for the rise of the Trumpettes and the Berniettes.

and yes, I am ignoring Cruz' bimbo eruption.  A wife holding a high power job requiring 60+ hour weeks plus two small kids is probably too busy to keep him happy.

When I see his photo, it reminds me of Alice Roosevelt Longworth's quip that Thomas Dewey reminded her of "the little man on the wedding cake"

Beware of Millions of Dangerous Immigrants

Germanophobia: Those dang immigrants were simply different, and some, like Catholics, refused to assimilate with the culture.

More HERE at Authentic History:

 Some Germans assimilated quickly.  Others, like German Catholics and Lutherans, believed that the preservation of their faith depended on maintaining German language and culture.  They also believed that German culture could be infused to American culture and improve it. To that end, the churches operated their own schools, and German-American communities published newspapers in German...

Anglo-Saxons had their own definition of what was “American”, and anything that did not conform was an undesirable deviation, perhaps even dangerous.  And they were having trouble understanding why German-Americans would not willingly give up their German culture.  After all, had they not deserted Germany for a better land? To them, German-Americans were naturally clannish and arrogant.  Especially troublesome were the numerous German-American festivals; where dancing and beer-drinking was commonplace, even on the Sabbath. 

Native-born Americans invented a term to describe this deviation—“hyphenism.” Whereas the term “German-American” (or “Irish-American”) had for decades referred simply to specific ethnic identities in American society, under Anglo-Saxon nativism they became insults, implying that these ethnic groups were not “100% Americans”. The implication was that if you were a hyphenated American, you were not a true American. In keeping with the pseudo-science of the times, nativists even came to believe that these social characteristics were hereditary—passed down through genetics.
and things got worse when World War I started:

    • Many Americans were fearful of German-American citizens' loyalties to the German Empire. Theodore Roosevelt, in particular, denounced "hyphenated Americanism" in wartime.
    • Many German-named food and streets were renamed. For example, Berlin, Michigan became Marne, Michigan, frankfurters became hot dogs, and sauerkraut became liberty cabbage.
    • The German language was restricted in the midst of anti-German fears. Nebraska and Iowa both passed laws limiting the speaking of German in schools and other public places.
    • In 1917, President Wilson passed two pieces of legislation that imposed restriction on German-born Americans. The U.S. government attempted to keep a list of all German-born aliens or citizens, and imprisoned more than 4,000 from 1917-1918 for allegedly assisting the German war effort.

    Source: Boundless. “The Anti-German Crusade.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 27 Mar. 2016 from

 Family legends tell of cops coming to the house after a neighbor complained there was a meeting of enemy Germans going was my grandfather and his friends singing German songs from the old country, something they did often in those days before Radio and TV.

and if you wonder why the British Monarchs are called the House of Windsor, it was to save the monarchy:

The House of Windsor came into being in 1917, when the name was adopted as the British Royal Family's official name by a proclamation of King George V, replacing the historic name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
So you see, it didn't start with the Trumpettes...

the history of vaccination

Below I wrote about a scandal in China where some illegal businesses were distributing various vaccines, but not keeping them cool, meaning the vaccines might not work any more.

So how did they keep vaccines "viable" in the days before refrigeration?

Preventig smallpox by variolation (giving people a small dose of smallpox from a known case) goes back to antiquity, and was practiced in China and in Africa and some Muslim lands in the Middle East, but was introduced into England from the Ottoman empire partly thanks to Lady Montague (and into America by preacher Cotton Mather).

 Dr. Emmanuel Timoni of Constantinople promoted the practice that variolation began its spread through Western Europe. After coming across the practice in Constantinople, Timoni wrote a letter describing the method in detail which was later published in thePhilosophical Transactions in early 1714.[5]:77 His account would become the first medical account of variolation to appear in Europe. Although the article did not gain widespread notoriety, it caught the attention of two important figures in the variolation movement, Bostonian preacher Cotton Mather and wife of the British Ambassador to theOttoman EmpireLady Mary Wortley Montagu.

there were various regimens on how to do this: A chapter in the book The Hemmings Family describes the regimen and how Jefferson paid to have his slaves in Paris get variolated.

There were many smaller epidemics in the Americas,  but a lot of rural people were vulnerable, and this included those joining armies during the revolutionary war.

For example, black slaves who joined the British loyalists on the promise of freedom had a terribly high mortality rate when they got accidentally exposed.

In contrast, Washington, who had almost died of small pox as a youth and knew about variolation, recognized the threat and tried to protect his solders, first by quarantine and then by imposing variolation to any recruit who never had the disease (i.e. most of the recruits).

More HERE.

Weighing the risks, on February 5th of 1777, Washington finally committed to the unpopular policy of mass inoculation by writing to inform Congress of his plan. Throughout February, Washington, with no precedent for the operation he was about to undertake, covertly communicated to his commanding officers orders to oversee mass inoculations of their troops in the model of Morristown and Philadelphia (Dr. Shippen's Hospital). At least eleven hospitals had been constructed by the year's end.
Variola raged throughout the war, devastating the Native American population and slaves who had chosen to fight for the British in exchange for freedom. Yet the isolated infections that sprung up among Continental regulars during the southern campaign failed to incapacitate a single regiment. With few surgeons, fewer medical supplies, and no experience, Washington conducted the first mass inoculation of an army at the height of a war that immeasurably transformed the international system. Defeating the British was impressive, but simultaneously taking on Variola was a risky stroke of genius.
So Washington's controversial decision was one reason why the USA became an independent state: But ironically smallpox is also one reason why Canada never became part of this independent nation: The rebel forces sent to conquer Canada were essentially wiped out by smallpox.

in the days when small pox was rampant, finding a case to use for variolation was not a problem, especially since the dried sores from recovering cases could still spread the disease.

Enter Jenner, whose observation that dairy maids had beautiful complexions, and linked that observation to the fact they often contracted cowpox from milking, began the modern era of vaccines. Cowpox (which eventually evolved into the vaccinia virus) was essentially an "attenuated" vaccine, where giving a mild case of the disease gave you immunity, albeit sometimes only temporary immunity. Measles vaccine is another version of the attenuated virus being used.

Since the virus is live, it has to be kept in a controlled environment (i.e. refrigeration or freezing).

So how did they do that in the good old days before refrigeration? Vaccination would give you a small pustule for a short time only: In the days when it took weeks to travel across oceans or between cities, it would not persist long enough in a person to use by the time you arrived.

Key word: A person.

From Listverse:

(via a headsup from Presurfer)

Francisco Balmis’s Smallpox Mission.
Photo credit: Ecelan

The solution involved passing it arm to arm between orphans. Twenty-two orphan boys between eight and 10 were brought along and given the vaccine successively.
It reached Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico. Based on its success, Charles IV ordered the campaign to continue in the Philippines

this article includes a section on the Spanish and later the American attempts to vaccinate people in the Philippines. One major problem was that often the vaccination was not "successful": either the vaccine was of poor quality (i.e. not enough live virus, often from poor storage) or the vaccination was not done properly and no infection resulted.

another problem was that people didn't cooperate and get the vaccine, resulting in essentially the militarization or big brother government enforcing it on the unwilling.

Immunization produces "herd immunity", so that epidemics don't spread: Lower the herd immunity, and the unvaccinated are at risk. (the vulnerable include those who refused the vaccine by choice or where the vaccine didn't work: i.e. bad vaccine, or sometimes health problems so your body didn't produce antibodies).

One result was a lot of small pox cases continued so a lot of anti vaccine folk back then insisted the vaccine was evil: like today, the anti vaccine crowd was lead by celebrities, e.g. George Bernard Shaw.

the problem was complicated because now the disease was reported in government statistics, whereas in past days often cases died without being reported or were misdiagnosed: e.g. cases of chickenpox, impetigo. Also, mild cases of small pox where the vaccination was out of date  or "didn't take", but the person naively didn't get a booster vaccination, are reported.

Typical screed about manipulation by public health authorities such as this one ignores the simple fact: We don't see small pox nowadays, so if the vaccine programs didn't work, where are the cases now?

We had the small pox "headsup" after 9-11, where worries about bioterrorism included an attack with smallpox.

The problem was that if we saw a case, there were only two physicians in our small town who might recognize it. No, I was not one of them: even though I had worked in rural Africa, the disease had been eliminated from our area. But my husband saw it in Sulu (Philippines) in the early 1950's (the Moros didn't like vaccination) and one elderly psychiatrist saw it in the 1940's....the last US outbreak was in the late 1940's. Like other outbreaks, that last one was stopped by giving everyone in the area vaccinations (50 thousand people).

That is why a real problem is quality control. (again I refer to the Chinese story of a previous post of not storing vaccines correctly: The authorities know from experience that giving bad vaccines is worse than no vaccines: this could allow epidemics to arise while lowering the public trust that vaccines work, leading to fewer getting the vaccines, which could result in a death spiral to huge epidemics.)

Finally: The elimination of smallpox from the modern world is one of the unsung successes of the United Nations.

but even before the disease was eliminated, they stopped giving it to people in the USA because the "side effect profile" was high.


The traditional vaccination had problems: Including spreading the pustule into open scratches in kids with ecsema, and in people with weak immune systems actually giving them a severe infection that could kill you. This includes spreading to caretakers with cancers, on chemo, or who had HIV: not just those who were vaccinated, but sometimes in those who accidentally touched the lesion.

The military however still gets the vaccine. That is because there is a worry about biowarfare by nut cases who might steal the few remaining small pox viruses from storage and release it.

So there is now a new vaccine used whose advantage is that it doesn't replicate in the body. PDF...

In other words, it doesn't give you a mini disease to make antibodies: It just gives you the virus that sits there and the body will make antibodies.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

He is risen

Russian Easter is next month, but most Christian churches celebrate it tomorrow. And although in the materialistic USA, the emphasis is Chistmas, with it's feel good celebrations and fancy gifts, for many, especially Eastern Christians, the big feast is Easter: because the secret joy of Christians  is that death and evil are not the winners in the long run.

 At a mall in Beruit Lebanon:

in Budapest Hungary ...


..and the Philippines:

Nah, just ignore the 2 billion Christians who still are dumb enough to believe in the resurrection, say the press, who usually makes sure the debunkers are in the news and TV shows.

But I'm old enough to remember this, at the time when communism still was the law of the land in Russia:

It was a stunning drama played out on the cobblestones of Red Square -- the Soviet Union's most resonant political stage. As Kremlin loudspeakers boomed out government slogans and marching music, the demonstrators shouted their discontent for the first time to Gorbachev's face. A bearded Russian Orthodox priest in the parade carried a seven-foot-high crucifix and shouted, "Mikhail Sergeyevich, Christ Has Risen!"
The phrase "Christ has risen" is a traditional Easter greeting in Russia, and the correct answer is: He is risen indeed.

Hmmm.. can you imagine a certain Catholic Cardinal carrying a cross and shouting Christ is risen at a public parade?

Factoid of the day


Radar scan of his grave says there is no skull inside.

An old rumor says someone stole it over a bet, and it ended up in another church LINK

According to local folklore, the skull, in a vault beneath Sheldon chapel at St Leonard's Church in Beoley, Redditch, was stolen from the playwright’s tomb in Stratford as part of a wager set by the art historian Horace Walpolein the 1700s.
But the local church authorities there refuse to disturb the grave for DNA testing based on a vague rumor.

and while checking the story, I learned that Shakespeare's sonnets have been encoded in DNA:  from Nature...

The project, led by Nick Goldman of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) at Hinxton, UK, marks another step towards using nucleic acids as a practical way of storing information — one that is more compact and durable than current media such as hard disks or magnetic tape...
 DNA packs information into much less space than other media. For example, CERN, the European particle-physics lab near Geneva, currently stores around 90 petabytes of data on some 100 tape drives. 

huh? They still use tape drives?

Friday, March 25, 2016

What Good Friday is about

Family news

The (second season) rice harvest is going on so everyone is busy at the farm. Rural roads and parking lots are used to dry rice so you have to watch where you are driving.

Every few blocks, there is a temporary chapel in the street to sing the "pasyon"...ended last night. No, our area doen't do the bloody "crucifixions": That is nearby Pampanga. And no, I never saw one. It is a medieval custom that has persisted in this remote and very poor area.

The temperatures have been in the 90s so I am staying inside with the aircon on. No brownouts so far this week, but it has been dry so the hydroelectric power will soon go slow. We have two generators: A large one for our compound and a small backup one.

The fish are gasping a lot: lots of black algae and dead leaves. I cleaned out some of the fish pond and the pump filter, but I suspect we will have to change half the water or we will have a fish die off (something that happens in the hot season).

Joy and Ruby are at a church conference/retreat/whatever and should be back today.

One year anniversary for Lolo's death....Sigh.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The money laundering scandal

Latest summary at the Manila Bulletin

some of the money was laundered via a Chinese immigrant who runs a casino.

Unknown hackers breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank in early February and attempted to steal $951 million from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which it uses for international settlements.
Some attempted transfers were blocked, but $81 million wound up in the Philippines.
more at the Phil Star
 most of the money has disappeared/ been withdrawn and only 2 million left in the account.

The background of this is that the local Catholic bishops are unanimous about opposing the building of casinos, partly because they are often associated with crime/drugs and prostitution.

update: The scandal has even hit the Economist (behind a pay wall).

more HERE.

Do you know, dear reader, that the AMLC’s is authorized to investigate a transaction amounting to just P500,000, with its computer systems designed to alert its staff to such amount of transactions? Yet $81 million  entered a single bank—in a single branch, in a single day—equivalent to P4 billion, deposited to dormant accounts, and then withdrawn,   yet the AMLC didn’t notice it. I don’t think even  P1 billion had ever entered a bank’s branch ever. It had to take a person-to-person call from the Bangladesh Bank governor to BSP Gov. Tetangco, the AMLC chairman, to alert him that such a huge stolen amount was entering the Philippine banking system. Yet the  AMLC started to work on the Bangladesh Bank governor’s alert on Feb. 3, according to its executive director, Julia Abad in her testimony in the Senate. It issued the freeze order a week later on Feb. 11. The criminals obviously had the time to withdraw the proceeds, and these have vanished into thin air.
Contrast that to Sri Lanka’s successful interception of the $21 million from the same heist that entered its banking system. Sri Lanka has more efficient regulatory bodies than ours?Aargh. - See more at:
not in the news: Where were the original hackers? This had a New York bank connection: What bank and what type of security did they have?

The NYTimes says the Philippines is to blame because our confidentiality laws are sooo strict.

MANILA — It is a financial whodunit for the digital era: More than $80 million of Bangladesh’s money vanished last month after it was electronically transferred out of that country’s account at theFederal Reserve Bank of New York.
Oh that makes me feel a lot better: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York missed the headsup that someone was moving a lot of money around.

But of course, it's the USA, so no one was bribed to look the other way, unlike the Philippines, where corruption is normal.

Again the NYT:
Specifically, they point to the country’s increasingly flush casino industry, which is exempt from many of the anti-money-laundering requirements in the Philippines. 

So why aren't casinos included in the anti money laundering requirments? Politics. Oodles of gifts to the politicians who arrange for casinos to be built. and Binay has shrugged over vote buying:

Take the cash because it is government money, but vote for the candidates of your choice anyway.
This was the advice Vice President Jejomar Binay gave his supporters in Barangay San Andres, Cainta, and Angono, Rizal, on Sunday.
“My appeal to you is, do not embarrass them. Take it, that’s money from the country’s coffers. As we say in Makati, take the money, put it in your pocket, but vote for whom you want,” said Binay, who is facing multiple corruption allegations from his time as Makati City mayor.

Ebola and Zika and...yellow fever?

In case you were too busy reading about the hysteria over Zika, maybe you should know that not only are occassional cases of Ebola popping up in west Africa, but there has been a yellow fever epidemic that killed over 100 people in Angola.

More HERE.

international travelers are supposed to get yellow fever vaccine shots, but so far at least four cases have been imported into China from returning travelers.
but since there is a good vaccine, it probably won't go epidemic anywhere else soon.

Dengue, Zika and Yellow fever are all from the same virus family...

Vaccine conspiracy theory?

If you want to see me rant, bring up vaccine conspiracy theories.
I'm old enough to remember most of these diseases, and now we no longer see them, so obviously the vaccines work.

But all vaccines have minor side effects and often have to be stored correctly or they don't work well.
We had to keep ours in a special refrigerator that had an alarm to tell us if the temperature went low during the night or during a brownout.

Did you read about China's huge vaccine scandal? Millions were given vaccines that were useless because they hadn't been stored correctly...and it had been going on since 2010.

Read the full report from Wiebo which is the Chinese equivalent to twitter etc: 


first comment says it all:

They both should get the death penalty. They gravely harm China' image, both local and abroad.

well, comment three notes that if someone died, maybe they should be tried for murder. Bu t the point is that millions of children probably at risk for getting disease because their shots were worthless. The shot wouldn't kill them: But they wouldn't be protected from the disease, which could kill them.

The vaccines were for 25 diseases including meningitis, poliomyelitis and rabies, according to the Paper

20 thousand doses were found in the investigation...making one wonder how many more vaccines were involved in the past. I'm sure licensed dealers are inspected, but these two were not licensed. Again, one wonders how many more unlicensed dealers are out there.

Long rant of Asia's problem with corruption and how it might affect the health of millions on my medical blog.

most of the scandal involves only China, but since they are underpricing companies in the first world, they essentially might corner the market.

Like the nuances of the "illegal aliens" who can be hired under the table for less wages than Americans, and these shady companies can underprice ethical companies with union workers, similarly, shoddy counterfiet medicines etc. are the down side of globalization.

Shoddy auto parts anyone? Cadmium in children's jewelry? Melamine not just in Chinese baby formula but in local milk tea? Dogs and cats dead because fake "protein" was put in their food?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Infectious disease update

The Good news: There is a new Dengue vaccine

local news says we will start a different less efficient version here soon. One problem with Dengue (and maybe the vaccine) is that second cases can be worse than the first bout.

Bad News: Zika is coming, and spread not just via mosquitos but sex...and now, the CDC has a "headsup" on how to protect personnel in the delivery room, just in case.

 Most persons infected with Zika virus have a mild illness or are asymptomatic. However, increasing evidence supports a link between Zika virus infection during pregnancy and adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes (1), and a possible association between recent Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported (2). Although Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of Aedes species of mosquitoes, sexual transmission also has been documented (3). Zika virus RNA has been detected in a number of body fluids, including blood, urine, saliva, and amniotic fluid (35), and whereas transmission associated with occupational exposure to these body fluids is theoretically possible, it has not been documented