Friday, November 21, 2014

Bravo Mr. President For Acting "Presidential" on Immigration Reform

Let me see.  Is the GOP going to shock the nation by calling President Obama, a dictator? But wait a minute, elected officials have been calling him that for the past six years.  Some have even likened him to Adolf Hitler and this was when he was bending over backwards trying to work with the Republicans.  At least one elected official has even gone on record calling the President of the United States a nig---

The GOP has been stoking the lunatic fringe Clive Bundy types since our first African-American President entered the Oval Office. Barack Obama has faced more assassination attempts than all the other American presidents put together.  Republicans have already shut down the government once and tried to force the U.S. to default on its debts. What next? If sedition and insurrection is what you want, stop shilly-shallying, and get on with it.

In the meantime I hope our President uses his executive powers to pass 50 more controversial bills.  And what will the GOP call him then -- oh yeh "a dictator."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bill Cosby, Woody Allen and Israel Have Alot in Common These Days

Bill Cosby, Woody Allen and Israel seem to be suffering from the same problem.  They can no longer control and manipulate the news that the American public is receiving about them.  The emergence of the Internet and social media have devastated the reputations of all three. But in the meantime, it may have saved the freedom of the press provision in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

Until now, freedom of the press all too often translated into the liberties taken by those who owned and controlled the media to manipulate public opinion at will.  Why are we just now hearing the  news that America's Dad, Bill Cosby, is a sexual predator, who for years was drugging and raping women?  Or how about the revelations about Woody Allen having sexually abused one of Mia Farrow's daughters, then taken nude photos of the other, whom he subsequently married?

Scandals involving "well-loved celebrities" who preyed on innocent victims, while paying public relations firms, lawyers and a well-honed network of friendships in the corporate media to overlook their peccadillos is bad enough.  But our non-freedom of the press had explosive political ramifications as well.  Is it pure coincidence that American public opinion is turning against Israeli oppression of the Palestinians only now when the social media, Youtube videos and twitter feeds can bypass the pre-packaged presentations of the Arab-Israeli conflict?  Israel was at the top of their game when all the public knew came from a popular novel -- Exodus by Leon Uris.  It was the narrative of suffering, heroism and triumph.  The dropping of smart bombs on Gaza at the cost of 2200 civilian lives this year alone,  Jewish settlements consuming what was supposed to be a Palestinian state, and crazed religious fanatics threatening to blow up Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam would never even have made on the back pages of yesteryear's newspapers.  Israelis are simply not accustomed to hearing more moral outrage coming from the global community at their murder of thousands of civilians in Gaza, than an admittedly tragic incident in which six Israelis were killed in a Jerusalem synagogue.

Nowadays the corporate media plays catch-up.  The real, tough news comes out first on social media channels.  The press and news stations then have no choice but to cover issues that they wold have remained silent about, while accumulating shelves full of Pulitzer prizes, on the kinds of investigative journalism that didn't rock the owners social lives nor their bottom lines.

Monday, November 17, 2014

FDA Guidelines May Increase Rate of Prostate Cancer in Black Males

Prostate Cancer Risk for Black Males
African-American males have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world. The "why" of it may not be all that hard to fathom.  But first let me say that West Africans, the genetic ancestors of black males, have an exceedingly low incidence of this disease.  So, the problem appears to be some aspect of life in America that is altering this picture so drastically.  

Recent studies have targeted an over-consumption of calcium as increasing the risk of prostate cancer in men.  But why might this factor play a far more devastating role for black men as opposed to their white counterparts?  The answer appears to lie in the fact that blacks process calcium more efficiently than do other groups.  It is for this reason that African-Americans drink little milk, because of lactose intolerance, and yet have the strongest bone mineral density and lowest rate of osteoporosis of any ethnicity living in the United States.  What this biological factor also means is that an over-consumption of calcium will occur in most black males at a lower intake of the mineral than would be the case with men of Northern European ancestry.  But herein lies the problem.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is an Unacknowledged Eurocentric Paradigm Widening Ethnic Disparities in U.S. Health Care?

            African-Americans consume substantially less than the recommended daily intake of calcium and yet have the densest bone mass of any American ethnic group, and are at the lowest risk of osteoporosis, fragile bone disease and other calcium deficiency disorders. Studies have shown that this occurs because blacks have higher rates of calcium retention and greater calcium utilization efficiency than other ethnicities. So what public health message is given to black parents?  It is that their children suffer from calcium deficiency and should therefore be fed more dairy products in order to prevent osteoporosis. But what might the implications be of pushing high sodium, high fat dairy products on a population that is not in need of supplemental calcium but that is suffering from skyrocketing rates of juvenile obesity and salt-sensitive hypertension?  The medical response is that those ailments are probably caused by a calcium-deficiency as well. 

Sub-Clinical Gluten Sensitivity May Trigger Addictive Cravings, Obesity and Diabetes II in African-Americans

A plethora of theories have emerged in recent years in an effort to account for the dramatic rise in obesity and Type II Diabetes among African-Americans.  The dominant arguments are socio-economic, looking at the limited food choices available in impoverished communities.[0] However, two recent studies refute the “food desert” premise, in which the growing obesity problem among minorities is blamed on the preponderance of fast food establishments and convenience stores in predominantly black and poor neighborhoods.  Research findings published by Roland Sturm, Ph.D. and Ruopeng An, MPP, in a February 2012 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine resonated with an independent study carried out by Dr. Helen Lee of the Public Policy Institute of California, which drew similar conclusions.  These researchers found no evidence that fresh vegetables at reasonable prices were unavailable to residents of impoverished neighbors.[1]  But neither did these studies offer persuasive alternative theories. Thus, public health researchers continue to flounder for answers to the  skyrocketing weight-gain crippling the lives of many blacks.  However, it might be the historical record itself, which promises to offer the most penetrating insights into the nature and etiology of the obesity problem in the African-American community.    

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Returning Ebola Workers Making Crisis Worse

Ebola Nurse with Fever Fights Quarantine
Maybe American doctors and nurses have too grandiose a sense of entitlement to be sent to treat  Ebola patients in Africa.  This is a painful admission for me to make. I have friends in West Africa and find it hard to sleep some nights worrying about their welfare and recognizing the urgency with which health care workers are needed to control the epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.   

But the behavior of the first two American health care workers to return from treating patients in West Africa has left me with an uneasy feeling.  Is there something endemic to our culture that brings out the narcissism and self-absorption in our doctors and nurses?  I hope such speculation is premature, and that the behavior of Dr. Craig Spencer and Nurse Kaci Hickox are aberrations.   

Fryberg School Shooting and a Community's Misappropriation of "Forgiveness"

I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something troubling and just plain "off" in the way the latest school shooter's community has expropriated one of the English language's most sacred moral imperatives, "forgiveness."  This is not a term we fling around to stop a ghastly crime from being investigated, or to divert a nation from emotionally processing a nightmare. And yet, less than forty eight hours after fifteen year old Jaylen Fryberg shot 5 friends and relatives, killing 3, including himself, news headlines have the surviving victim, Nate Hatcher, lying in a hospital bed with a bullet hole in his jaw, tweeting (at least according to the grandfather) "I love you and I forgive you Jaylen rest in peace." In fact, even more gruesome details of the crime have now been revealed.  The shooter sent text messages asking the victims to meet him at a table in the cafeteria, where he subsequently marched in with a .40 caliber Beretta handgun and proceeded to shoot each one of them with a bullet to the head.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When School Shooters Kill the Kids of NRA Members


How many parents of school shooting victims belong to the 5 million member National Rifle Association (NRA)? How many did before the tragic loss of a child?   I don't ask these questions to be callous, knowing with every fiber of my being that such a loss is an abyss with no bottom. I do so out of a genuine yearning to understand the culture of gun ownership and the hold that the NRA maintains over so large a segment of America.

New Ebola Death Proves Nurse Kaci Hickox Wrong

Ebola Nurse Kaci Hickox                

Two weeks ago  Nurse Kaci Hickox was prancing around Maine, giving interviews to the national media in which she decried quarantining herself as a violation of her civil rights. Fortunately this woman who had just returned from West Africa where she was treating Ebola patients did not have the disease.

Today, the Centers for Disease Control have just announced the tragic death of Dr.Martin Salia at a hospital in Nebraska.  He was a surgeon who had been treating patients in Sierra Leone.  Because his first two tests for Ebola came back negative, he was already in critical condition and suffering from kidney failure by the time he was admitted to the U.S. hospital. What would have happened had this surgeon launched the same kind of media blitz as Ms. Hickox, refusing to be quarantined, insisting that he did not have the fatal disease because of negative test results?  America might now be juggling dozens of new cases with people having been infected  by this man.
Surgeon Martin Salia Ebola Victim

It is apparent that Ms Hickox lacks an understanding of epidemiology, the centrality of quarantines  in epidemic control  and a concern for others, prerequisites for those in the health care profession.   Had she not been suffering from a fever upon arriving in the U.S., the issue of involuntarily quarantining her never would have come up. Her nursing license should be revoked and maybe she can find a job at  Disney World playing the role of a nobly entitled but aggrieved fairy tale princess. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Let's Stop Pretending to be Clueless about Latest School Shooter Who Killed Classmates

Why, oh why, oh why, would a popular 14 year old go on a shooting spree, killing classmates, including his presumed favorite cousins?   The answer folks as to "why" is . . . Let's just dispense with all the handwringing and pretense of utter confusion. This situation is just too heartbreaking for the media to persist in its sham, elusive search for answers.  Jay Fryberg killed three classmates and left two in critical condition with bullet wounds to the head because his folks gave him a gun as a present.

Actually we now know details so gruesome, that I almost wish we didn't. This kid  sent the victims text messages to meet at a table in the cafeteria so that he could mow them down in cold blood.  The brain of a  normal fourteen year old is not fully formed. I don't know what the professionals will say about the brain of this one.  Here again, I find the need to repeat myself. Had the parents not had an arsenal of weapons lying around the house and found it necessary to buy a special one with their fourteen year old son's name witten all over it, this nightmare would not have happened.

But this is America and folks have a right to bear arms.  If they insist on leaving them around for their emotionally unstable children to pick up and murder their classmates with, then so be it.

I wonder what Mr. and Mrs. Fryberg think now of their precious 2nd Amendment Rights.

RELATED POST:  When School Shooters Kill the Kids of NRA Members

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola Nurse Should Stop Acting Like Petulant Child

Nurse Kaci Hickox Hires Lawyer to Get Her out of Ebola Quarantine
I'm sure being in quarantine is an inconvenience for Kaci Hickox, the American nurse who arrived from Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone.  She now finds herself under a mandatory quarantine, is indignant and has hired a civil rights lawyer to spring her loose.

But this woman really needs to calm down.  For, all this hollering about the infringement of her civil rights is doing is confirming the low opinion that Americans had already begun to form (perhaps unfairly) about this new generation of American health care workers.  It is regrettable that what we've seen since this Ebola crisis erupted in our midst has been the self-absorbed, irresponsible behavior of teenagers.   They have, no doubt, the requisite empirical skills needed to have obtained medical licenses, but as for maturity, or concern for others, now that's another matter altogether.

Friday, October 24, 2014

UNC Pimping Illiterate Student Athletes for 20 Years

Administrators at the University of North Carolina have become caught up in a jaw-dropping scandal involving a set up where illiterate student-athletes took sham courses for 20 years.  And  we the public are supposed to believe that the only culprits were two sleazy characters running the school's African American Studies Program.   According to NPR:
 The 131-page report centers on two people in the school's Department of African and Afro-American Studies: former Student Services Manager Deborah Crowder and Dr. Julius Nyang'oro, who became chairman of curriculum for the department known as AFAM in 1992.

Nurse with Ebola Excoriated for Taking Flight, While Infected Doctor Riding Subways all over NY City Being Called "Humanitarian"

Nurse Amber Vinson Excoriated for Ebola
I was pleased and relieved to hear that nurse Amber Vinson has now been declared free of the Ebola virus. But that was not before the woman was attacked so viciously for returning to Dallas on a commercial flight and even going to a bridal salon in Ohio, that her family had to hire an expensive lawyer to protect her from being litigated to death.

And now we hear that a doctor returning from Guinea, rather than bothering to quarantine himself for 21 days rode several New York subways, went bowling with friends as well as jogging and now has tested positive for Ebola.   News headlines are even calling Dr. Craig Spencer a "dedicated humanitarian." He may be deserving of that label, but this doctor's poor judgment has set back the Ebola cause far more than whatever good he might have done in Guinea.

Was he truthful when screened at the airport in Guinea  (apparently not) after filling out the questionnaire claiming that he had not had contact with any Ebola-infected person for the past 21 days?  Did his pencil check off the wrong box once again upon filling out a screening form when he entered the United States?

I can say for certain that already reluctant American hospitals will find even more reasons not to release their doctors to travel to West Africa in order to treat Ebola victims when the possibility has become real of their bringing the disease back to their hospitals. Or at the very least the hospitals will lose revenue with potential patients staying away
Dr. Craig Spencer called "humanitarian"
in fear that they might have. 

One thing is becoming distressingly clear from events of the past several weeks.  Many, possibly most humans when exposed to Ebola, however well trained medically,  are mentally-emotionally-physically-morally incapable of exercising the minimum caution required to protect the public from this virulent disease.  What is asked of them is to self-quarantine for twenty-one days, while taking their temperatures.  But even this minimal step is going to need to be monitored by public health authorities.  

I hope Dr. Spencer makes a speedy recovery.  But, I do not know how American efforts to get hospitals to release doctors willing to work in Ebola regions of Africa can be repaired because of his humanitarian's lack of common sense. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Racist Feminist (?) Catcall Video Edits out White Males

Black and Latino males are owed an apology from the makers of a popular catcall video, which has gone viral on the Internet.  In order to create the necessary drama and psychological tension the video producers, Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization, and the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative, edited out the white males. And why would they do that?  It makes for a more psychologically engaging viewing experience, because it exploits sexual stereotypes that whites have about men of color.   

Monday, October 20, 2014

GOP Leaders Should Travel to Nigeria to Study How African Nation Eradicated Ebola

Nigerian Slums Saved from Ebola Pandemic

The GOP's efforts to protect Americans from Ebola thus far have involved demanding that all flights to and from Africa be stopped; pretending that Republicans in Congress did not cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control; and stoking hysteria among low information voters.  

I would suggest that a select team of GOP leaders get on a plane to Nigeria, in order to receive the education of their lives. They will learn how a proud but far from wealthy nation handles a potential crisis beyond anything Americans could ever imagine in their worst nightmare.  Maybe these entitled, whining politicians will see life through a different lens or maybe not.

Nigeria is a West African nation of 173 million people. Its largest city, Lagos, has a population of 20 million. Because of the recent population boom, many people live in slums, without running water, or indoor toilets.  But the World Health Organization has just announced that Nigeria has succeeded in eradicating Ebola from its borders.

An article in Time Magazine, "Nigeria Is Ebola-Free: Here’s What They Did Right," laid out  the vital steps taken by this West African country to quell what could have become a catastrophe beyond description:

Nigeria had 20 cases of Ebola after a Liberian-American man named Patrick Sawyer flew into Lagos and collapsed at the airport. Health care workers treating Sawyer were infected, and as it spread it ultimately killed eight people, a low number next to the thousands of cases and deaths in other countries. Nigeria’s health system is considered more robust, but there was significant concern from experts that a case would pop up in one of the country’s dense-populated slums and catch fire.
So what did Nigeria do right? Chukwu and Dr. Faisal Shuaib of the country’s Ebola Emergency Operation Center, broke it down for TIME.

Preparing early. Nigeria knew it was possible a case of Ebola would make it into the country, so officials got to work early by training health care workers on how to manage the disease, and disseminating information so the country knew what to expect.

Declaring an emergency—right away. When Nigeria had its first confirmed case of Ebola, the government declared a national public health emergency immediately. This allowed the Ministry of Health to form its Ebola Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC is an assembly of public health experts within Nigeria as well as the WHO, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and groups like Doctors Without Borders. “

The EOC was in charge of contact tracing (the process of identifying and monitoring people who may have had direct or indirect contact with Ebola patients), implementing strict procedures for handling and treating patients, screening all individuals arriving or departing the country by land, air and sea, and communicating with the community. Some workers went door-to-door to offer Ebola-related education, and others involved religious and professional leaders. Social media was a central part of the education response.

Training local doctors. Nigerian doctors were trained by Doctors Without Borders and WHO, and treated patients in shifts with their oversight.

Managing fear. “Expectedly, people were scared of contracting the disease,” Shuaib said. “In the beginning, there was also some misinformation about available cures, so fear and inaccurate rumors had to be actively managed.” Nigeria used social media to to ramp up awareness efforts, and publicized patients who were successfully treated and discharged.

Keeping borders open. Nigeria has not closed its borders to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying the move would be counterproductive. “Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness,” Shuaib said. “When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem.” Shuaib said that if public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries whose economies are already struggling due to Ebola. . .

Friday, October 17, 2014

How Can Health Worker Exposed to Ebola Self-Monitor on Cruise Ship?

Ebola Scare on Cruise Ship
These spoiled American health care workers getting on and off commercial airliners and cruise ships may have chosen the wrong profession.  Maybe before being licensed in the State of Texas, they should be forced to spend six months in places where doctors, nurses and health care aides have truly  been putting their lives on the line to fight Ebola and other serious diseases.   Or perhaps we're just now learning valuable lessons in human nature and the epidemiology of how pandemics happen even in developed countries, with highly-educated populations.

The health care worker, who it now seems, traveled to Ohio already showing early signs of Ebola and then returned to Dallas in worse shape to plan for her wedding, has caused several Texas schools to be closed down, forced public health trackers to locate passengers on two commercial flights, made it necessary to close a bridal shop and the tracking of its customers.  We're all praying that this woman makes a speedy recovery. But when she does, nursing should not be in her future. There had been earlier news reports that the Centers for Disease Control had given her permission to get on the plane to return to Dallas. But now it appears that she had called someone who had called someone, who had called someone at the CDC. And who had she called to get on the flight to Ohio in the first place?

And now we have several thousand passengers on a cruise ship stranded somewhere off the coast of Belize because another health care worker, who handled specimens from the Liberian Ebola patient who died, took a cruise.   This level of irresponsibility to public health concerns is unacceptable in licensed professional health care workers.

But let us also remember that health care workers are not overpaid.  They probably had their tickets paid for before this terrible episode unfolded. And we all know how "understanding" the travel industry is about refunds unless we're the ones in the coffin.  But this is why I'm so pleased that President Obama has just named Ron Klain, the new Ebola czar.  This kind of problem is far more difficult than it may first appear. The Liberian family who hosted the man who died of the disease was stuck in a contaminated apartment for 5 days, with no way to get food. They were forced to use the same bathroom as the sick man, and health officials had problems getting the right permits to have the dirty linen and towels removed.  There are logistical matters that can turn into nightmares for the people that we the public are asking to voluntarily quarantine or monitor themselves.

So while it isn't too much to ask of health professionals that they behave like health professionals, it is also the new Ebola Czar's responsibility to see that people caught up in the current nightmare are not just kicked to the curb in our anxiety to gain control of this pandemic.   

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why is GOP Acting Like Obama Is GOD in This Ebola Crisis?

Dear God! How could you unleash this lethal Ebola virus on your faithful servants?  We implore you. Please STOP IT THIS INSTANT!

I understand there are members of the Republican Party who believe that the earth is 5,000 years old, and that science is satanic, but I wouldn't have thought anyone in his or her right mind believed the President of the United States could shut down a lethal African virus with the wave of a hand or a White House decree.  But that is all I'm hearing from Republicans these days.  The Ebola virus is a global crisis. It is not the fault of the President of the United States.

Of course our nation can either assume a leadership position and do something about it, which I'm pleased to say is what the President has done.  The virus needs to be isolated and contained within the three West African countries through which it has spread.  Or, we can sink into a fear-mongering panic about closing all the borders around Africa, a continent the size of the U.S., China, Europe and SE Asia, all rolled up in one.  Of course the latter move would do nothing to stop the virus. Not only would it spread. But since we cannot monitor our southern border anyway, the global spread of the virus, would fling it across the United States within weeks once it had entered the U.S. illegally.

The solution to this crisis is to stop it in West Africa.  The epidemiological goal for this particular disease is 70%.  After that percentage of infected people are isolated from the general population (whether or not they are cured) the disease will peter out and disappear.

The disease is not easy to catch unless you are caring for a dying person or handling a dead body.  So Americans worrying about airborne transmission, coughing and sneezing are putting themselves in an unnecessary panic.  The only reason so many people have died in the three African countries is because they lack an infrastructure.  Patients need to be isolated from the general public. But without hospitals, their families are trying to care for them at home. In many cases, the family has no running water, no indoor plumbing and no means of protecting themselves, other than covering themselves in plastic garbage bags, if they can find them.

It is regrettable that those with nothing constructive to offer, turn to stoking public fear and launching nonsensical campaigns about closing borders, that will not stop the spread of the disease but probably make it worse.  And I find the President's critics all the more puzzling, in that they're denouncing him for being incompetent in leading the country through this crisis, as though he can control microbes. But the public is beginning to see through this charade. Who would you rather have leading us through this pandemic?  Would it be a President who sent troops amidst criticism to stop the epidemic at its source even before the public got wind of what a global threat this virus could pose.  Or would you prefer a bunch of anti-science rabble rousers shouting about closing borders after they already closed down the government last year including the Centers for Disease Control?


  • Ebola Patient Died Three Days Ago -- Why the Cover-up?
  • Monday, October 13, 2014

    Hubris Prevents Americans from Understanding Meaning of "Ebola Protocol Breach"


    The tragedy of Eric Thomas Duncan's death has now been compounded by the fact that a nurse caring for him has come down with Ebola.  But rather than attack the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  for bringing us the news, let's try to understand what "protocol breach" means in this context.

    The CDC was not blaming the nurse for this accident, but listen up, folks.  We all know that surgeons and nurses in the operating room have to follow careful protocols of hand washing and so forth. The purpose is so as not to contaminate the open wound of the surgical patient with bacteria and not to contaminate themselves with the patient's infection. However, if a protocol has been breached in some itty bitty way, like the nurse rubs an itch on the side of her nose with a gloved hand, or perhaps at the end of the operation the surgeon removes a glove before his face mask, or whatever the protocol is, no one is the wiser. Chances are slim that there will be medical repercussions. That is, in the course of doing medicine in America protocol breaches have never been lethal at an almost immediate, microbial level.  As a consequence, in the practice of medicine, doctors and other healthcare workers go through the protocols, but have no experience in handling them as though their lives depended on every step in some rigid, almost fanatical way. This is why in Ebola clinics in West Africa, while the conditions may be primitive by our standards, the protocols are followed so rigorously that two people are required in the changing rooms when a person removes the protective gear and so forth. The tiniest, most seemingly inconsequential mistake is lethal with this disease.  American health care workers do need to be retrained to handle Ebola because they must now learn techniques or protocols that have been developed in the Ebola-zones of Africa through trial and error.

    In fact, the big difference between Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and the three U.S. hospitals that treated Ebola patients without mishaps is the fact that the latter had bio decontamination units, that the Texas hospital did not have.   After all, no one was really expecting a man with Ebola to walk into the waiting room of that Texas hospital.  An article in Vox, entitled: 3 US hospitals stopped Ebola from spreading. Why didn't Texas? explains the complexity of a situation that was not  the Texas hospital's fault:
    There's something unique about the three hospitals that have so far successfully treated Ebola patients — something that's different from Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where a patient died and one worker treating him became infected.
    Emory, the University of Nebraska, and the National Institutes of Health have all received and successfully discharged Ebola patients. These three hospitals are among just four in the nation with specialized biocontamination units. These are units that have existed for years, with the sole purpose of handling patients with deadly, infectious dieases like SARS or Ebola.
    While biocontamination units look similar to a standard hospital room, they usually have specialized air circulation systems to remove disease particles from the facility. And, perhaps more importantly, they're staffed by doctors who have spent years training, preparing and thinking about how to stop dangerous infections from spreading. 
    Rather than denounce the CDC, Americans should stand back and recognize that we don't always get everything right the first time. Sometimes help is a two-way street.   Sometimes we might even need to learn from the experiences of people in the place that we think is most in need of help itself.


  • Ebola Patient Died Three Days Ago -- Why the Cover-up?

  • Sunday, October 12, 2014

    Ebola Crisis: Forget Africa, Let's Quarantine All of Texas Instead

    Should Texas be Quarantined?
    Crises bring out the noblest in human character and the most weasly.  Africa is a continent so huge that it could hold the United States, China and Europe within its boundaries.  Only three sparsely populated countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- are struggling with the Ebola epidemic.  And yet we have conservative commentators rabble rousing the public to quarantine the entire continent of Africa.   This is not leadership in the face of a crisis. It is pitchforking.

    The only way to stop the epidemic is to send as much assistance and as many health workers as possible to the affected countries to end the epidemic there, now. It can be done.  It should have been done months ago. And it cannot be done at all if the continent, or even those countries are quarantined, making it impossible for the desperately needed supplies to reach their destinations.

    Instead, the GOP has decided that this is a glorious opportunity to denounce President Obama. Those with nothing of value to offer have been handed shouting points about imposing a quarantine on Africa that rather than stopping the virus, would increase its growth exponentially.  So, I have a better idea.

    Americans did not care about Ebola until a Texas hospital racially profiled the African who arrived at its ER with all the symptoms and yet still sent him home with a temperature of 103.  Texas's governor with the rip-roaring support of conservatives in the state refused the federal Medicaid expansion package, which would have relieved the burden on hospitals for dealing with patients such as this one, who didn't have insurance.  Now one of the hospital's staff has come down with the disease, and public health officials have to quickly see who else may have been infected by this person. With all the screw-ups, who knows who else might have it because of the hospital's mistakes.

    So, why don't we just quarantine Texas?  Let's close the borders, stop all traffic, including automobiles, trucks, planes and commerce.  Let's station the National Guard at the borders and make sure no one enters or leaves the state until all the problems caused by what claimed to be a world class hospital are fixed.

    I imagine that those Texans calling for quarantining Africa might wish to come after me with a pitchfork. I'm just curious. Does the thought of quarantining Texas rather than Africa make some of you a bit queasy, like. . . oh my goodness. . . our economy as wealthy as it is could collapse. . . everything would come to a standstill.  What a preposterous idea, some might even say.  But then again, there are many in this state calling for secession or stationing the military on the border anyway. 

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Was Ebola Patient Already Dead When Texas Hospital Announced It Was Giving Him Experimental Drug?

    Texas Presbyterian Hospital made a series of mistakes, which ended in the death of Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. But none of these mistakes were malicious or purposeful.  And I hope that all of us can reflect and learn from this tragic devolution of events.  Some of what I am about to say may sound hard to believe, but reality sometimes is.

    1. Duncan was given a perfunctory exam in the Presbyterian Hospital ER and sent home because no one differentiated him from the mass of minorities who show up at that ER sick, but without insurance or any other means of paying for treatment.  Yes, the hospital staff was on the look-out for Ebola. But they assumed at a subconscious level that they would receive forewarning and the patient would be a healthcare worker flown in from Liberia, rather than a native of the country.

    2.  When Duncan was finally brought back to the hospital by ambulance, the hospital staff assumed that the only reason people were dying from Ebola in Africa was because the few doctors and clinics that were functioning in the affected countries  probably didn't know what they were doing.  In short, Americans and Europeans often see African professionals or those working in Africa as not only lacking the same quality of facilities as we have here, but probably lacking the same medical skills. But on the latter score, they are wrong.  So. . . the doctors at Presbyterian assumed that they could get in the boxing ring with Ebola and whip it's ass with their eyes closed, but Ebola tko'd every last one of them. When they regained metaphorical consciousness, they were faced with the horrifying realization that Ebola had claimed their patient. He was dead. 

    3.  This happened so fast, that the Hospital had a new public relations nightmare. The doctors either hadn't asked the CDC for experimental drugs because they thought they had the situation under control, or perhaps they had asked, but it took time to arrive.  Duncan died Sunday morning, but the Hospital covered-up the actual event, claimng that his situation had deteriorated from serious to critical (but that he was still alive).

    4. Over the course of the next two days they back pedaled, claiming to give him one of the experimental drugs, even though they also announced that he was on a ventilator and dialysis.  

    5.  Having filled in the obvious PR holes in the man's care, the Hospital could then announce to the public that he passed away on Wednesday morning.