Monday, March 19, 2018

Attack of the Twit

Humpty Trumpty is attempting to push back against the Russian Connection investigation.  The twitter-in-chief uses social media for his modus operandi for deriding Special Counsel Mueller and his office as overtly partisan, once again referring to his investigation as a "political witch hunt" by "hardened Democrats" and "crooked Hillary supporters".  His personal lawyer, John Dowd, urged the Justice Department to end an investigation "manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey".  The unprecedented media offensive comes on the heels of the dismissal of the second in command at the FBI and a Mueller witness, one day before he was eligible to retire with twenty years service. Hair Further campaigned for months against Andrew McCabe for his role in allowing FBI agents to talk to the press about the on-going investigation.Trump was fully aware of McCabe's eligibility and even counted the days to his eligibility in a twit.  When the Attorney General finally approved the firing recommended by the agency's inspectator generalDer Leader wrote it was a "a great day for democracy".  If that is not partisan vindictiveness, US Person is confused as well as obscure.

Trump's pushback against the FBI and the Special Counsel's Office is receiving its flack from congressional Republicans.  Trump was warned today by Senator Lindsey Graham (R) that attempting to fire Mueller, a Republican, "would be the beginning of the end of his presidency."  A spokesperson for the Speaker of the House said Speaker Paul Ryan has always believed that Mueller and his team should be allowed to do their job.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

COTW: The Everything Bubble

The US fiance capitalist economy is being buoyed on an Everest of debt.  Every commodity it seems is a bubble now, not just stocks, bonds, and finance markets, but real estate, oil, cyrpto-currencies, you name it, and its goosed with debt to grow.  The inevitable downside will not be pretty.

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Toontime: Excusegate

'Crooked' Hillary waited until she reached India before she laid more blame for her embarrassing lost to Hair Further in 2016.  This time it was "deplorables" (racists) in the fly-over zone, and backward men (husbands) to blame.  With politicians like Hillary periodically spouting off about why they loose the Electoral College vote (Trump had the smallest share of popular votes since 1828), the Democrats need a miracle-worker for their next presidential candidate.

credit: Rick McKee. Augusta Chronicle

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ticks Causing Lyme Disease Reach Canada

More biological evidence of climate change: deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, have gained a foothold in Canada according to health officials.  Normally, the ticks transported by migrating birds die out in Canada's cold winters.  Global warming has changed that, and significant numbers of Canadian are becoming seriously ill from infected tick bites.

According to Canada's monitoring, the number of confirmed lyme cases has jumped six fold from 144 in 2009 to 987 in 2016.  Lyme in not easy to diagnose.  The protocol requires two tests, one to confirm the production of relevant antibodies by the body, and the second to confirm the presence of proteins unique to the bacterium.  The tests are imperfect too, leading false negatives.  To further complicate the testing the bacteria carry a number of pathogens such as anaplasma and the parasite, babesia.  These produce co-infections not detected by standard testing.  Biologists in Manitoba estimate that 65% of deer ticks there are carrying lyme disease bacteria and/or one of the two other pathogens.  Unfamiliar with the disease, some practitioners are turning to profit-making US labs where lyme is common in the northeast. [map below] That is potentially a mistake, too. A review of studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2015 showed that some analyses of U.S. specialty labs had false-positive rates ranging from 2.5 percent to as high as 25 percent. One lab showed false-positives in 57 percent of samples taken from a control group known to be Lyme-free.

Surrounding the problematic diagnosis, are issues with insurance coverage.  Disability insurance companies in Canada often claim that chronic Lyme disease does not exist, for example, so that they don’t have to pay disability claims. At the same time, many insurance companies deny life insurance to potential clients who have had a Lyme disease diagnosis, says a Lyme disease researcher at University of Alberta.

A French pharmaceutical firm is working on a vacine for lyme.  A vaccine existed in the US, but it was withdrawn from the market in 2002 midst lawsuits over its side effects.  Canada is going through what people in the northeast went through in the 1980's when chronic lymne disease was first being diagnosed. People who were asymptomatic when for years without treatment.  Now, thanks to global warming the disease has spread to Canada.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Trophy Horror Show Continues

Cecil (L) was killed by a trophy hunter, credit: NatGeo
Despite calling trophy hunting a "horror show" in one his infamous tweets, Hair Further's administration said it will end the ban on importation of lion and elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Conservationists derided the memorandum from US Fish & Wildlife, which said trophy importation would be decided on a "case by case" basis, as lacking transparency, confusing and promoting corruption.  It said its decision making would be based on the consideration of the Endangered Species Act, but it could not say how many permits would be issued for either specie, nor could it offer any further clarification of the new rule.  One if the reasons offered for the lack of guidance was on-going litigation over trophy importation.  A Zimbabwe conservationist called the entire muddle, a debate over “butchering the last survivors for entertainment.”  The trophy business is already highly opaque and the relaxation of the ban provides an another mechanism for corrupting a system that benefits a few highly-placed safari outfitters and wealthy foreign hunters.