Wednesday, September 28, 2011

People tell me that "Greece is dead", like Hollywood (in Buble's song).

The New York Times ran a story about the extreme hardships in Greece with the new property taxes, delayed or even rescinded or at least reduced public employee salaries, all presumably to retain the integrity of the global “capitalist” system. There are many perspectives, such as this

Financial planners tell me that Greece is gone. A default is expected. The Left will demand repudiation.

But the underlying problem is partly demographic. Governments cannot forever expand their welfare states without new workers to pay for people who are retired longer and expect infinite medical care. The same thing will happen here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Media reports appear again on HTLV-1 in developing world, a cancer-causing retrovirus distantly related to HIV

In the last few days, there have appeared some scattered media reports about the HTLV-I (or HTLV-1) virus, which is a retrovirus distantly related to HIV, which causes AIDS.  Remember that in the 1980s HIV was called HTLV-III for a time.

The virus causes nervous system damage and sometime causes lymphomas or leukemias of the T-cells. These had been documented in the developing world (especially Japan, in the aborigine sections of Australia, in Peru and Andean areas, and the Caribbean) in the early 80s before HIV was discovered. The disease seems to put the immune system into temporary overdrive, leading to autoimmunity and then eventual immune dysfunction, leading to some of the same opportunistic infections seen in AIDS.

The disease seems to be spread by blood contact, much like HIV, with emphasis on mother to child, needles, and sexual contact, usually heterosexual.

What would be interesting to wonder is if the rampant HIV epidemic in Africa could be partly related to this virus, too.  Also, would similar medications (protease inhibitors) work?

The only really recent article that turned up in the search engines was on Wise Geek, here. (MSN-Bing showed this reference.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fattal and Bauer slam Iran's motives in first public appearance in US

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer spoke on CNN from a location near JFK airport in New York yesterday.

They insisted they were held for only one reason: they were Americans, and Iran wanted to use them as hostage in carrying out their political battles with the United States.

They also say that, ironically, both of them opposed US policy in the Middle East.

They still insist that they never crossed the border into Iran, or that if they did, they have no idea where.

Their first appearance in the United States is well worth watching.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saudi Arabia to allow women to vote, hold office, and more

The changes in Saudi Arabia certainly sound worthy of note. Women will get to vote and run for office. Saudi Arabia will hold its first election in a half century.

CNN’s link is here

Is this a sensible reaction to the Arab Spring, to keep a grip on things?

(I didn’t think Facebook was available in Saudi Arabia, but my site has always had some hits.)

In the tribalistic Arab and Muslim (not necessarily synonymous) culture, the dependency of women  (including the modesty of the veil and even not driving a car, although the latter is not specifically forbidden by law) has been an important part of “heterosexual culture”.  It wouldn’t make sense to me. It won't be easy for some men to adjust to.

I wonder if a "self-promoted" person  (via Internet) from the West could safely travel in Saudi Arabia. Does anyone know?  It would be like going to another planet. 

Note (Sept. 27): today there were media reports of an arrest of a female in Saudi Arabia for driving anyway. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

American hikers freed by Iran, finally

Hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have finally been released from Iran, and are on their way to Oman. At least, that is what Iran has announced. The young men had been imprisoned in Iran for two years. $1 million in bail was paid. 

CNN has a live blog with continuous coverage, here

The media has had to be careful about covering the delays in their release, out of fear of causing even more issues.

The hikers had been walking, they though, in Iraq, and say they were lured a few feet over the border.

The whole incident underlies the risks that Americans take on when traveling in countries that are hostile to the west, or even in friendlier countries with different judicial systems (as with Amanda Knox). 

Charities could be formed to raise bail for other Americans caught in such circusmtances. 

I have been thinking of visiting Finland and then St. Petersburg and Moscow, but I know I have to think carefully about Russia.  Could American bloggers be in trouble if picked up in countries hostile to western freedom of speech?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Italian court takes child away from couple that is "too old"; filial piety mentiond

There is a case in Italy where a married couple, 70 and 57, had a child by insemination; but a judge took the child away from them and placed it in social services. The judge claimed the couple was selfish and narcissistic, and may have intended to have a child to be indentured to care for them when they got old. This sounds bizarre, since European countries generally don’t have filial responsibility laws, given their welfare states
Still, the story sounds like a distant reflection of the “demographic winter” problem in Europe and especially Italy.

The London Telegraph has the story, by Nick Squires, here

Wikipedia attribution link for Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ABC News reports on specific danger reported by FBI (developing story)

ABC News reported, right after president Obama’s speech, that the FBI is watching three individuals who entered the country in mid August and have reportedly rented a truck or vehicle, which may not have GPS.  I’ll put the link as soon as it’s here.

The obvious concern would be disruption of 9/11 commemorations in New York and Washington.  The NFL has teams from both cities playing on that day in Washington. 

Various theories about unconventional weapons have been discussed on this blog before based on research and various lesser known media reports. 

Here's the ABC News story just in, by Brian Ross and others, link

Here is an interview on AC360:

At 9:40 PM, CNN started airing a live broadcast of a press conference at a police task force in New York City.

The Huffington Post has a story Friday morning with more details this morning, about what the FBI sees as the danger.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Libya's future on the balance as Gadhafi melts away, like a lesion

It looks like Gadhafi is going down in slow motion, with radio broadcast whimpers coming out from desert hideouts, and there is no Sunday night announcement. Instead, the Washington Post reports that the U.S. should become grateful, because the rebels’ new military commander in Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Bekhaj, promises that the new revolutionary government will not support Al Qaeda or other forms of radical Islamist extremism.  The Washington Post reprinted the AP story here

It isn’t clear that there is much of any kind of government there at all, just control by force.  It remains to be seen if the Arab Spring here moves into a legitimate summer, or just an oven. Hope for the best.  Obama needs for this to turn out well.