Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 25 February 2016

'Super Lice' Hits 25 states, Including South Carolina - only known treatment costs $170 -

'Super Lice' Hits 25 states, Including South Carolina - only known treatment costs $170 -

So-called super lice have taken over half the country and are resistant to over-the-counter treatments.

Last year, Shannon Lesnevich received the call from her son's school. Four-year-old Soren had gotten lice from one of his classmates.

"I was like, 'Oh no.' I knew it would take some work to get rid of it," said Lesnevich.

For millions of parents like Lesnevich, the news gets worse. In 25 states, including Georgia, scientists are finding super lice that can't be killed with the chemical used in most over-the-counter treatments. Pyrethroids used to work 100 percent of the time back in 2000, but by 2013, it only worked in 25 percent of cases.

But even super lice are no match for a new weapon used by the Lice Clinics of America. It's called AirAllé.

It's FDA approved, costs about $170 and may be covered by insurance. Prescription medication or nit-picking and combing can still get rid of these nasty creatures, but both options take time and multiple treatments. However the best treatment is prevention. Lice experts say parents should teach their kids a few basics.

"Don't share hats, don't share hairbrushes," Roberts said. "Try to avoid the actual contact with hair or another head. That's how the lice are transferred."

If your child does get lice, experts say you don't have to go crazy sanitizing your house. Just vacuum, especially anywhere hair might have fallen. Wash bedding in hot water and throw stuffed animals and clothing in a hot dryer for 20 to 30 minutes. Lice can't live without a blood supply after 24 hours.

Read more -

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Gaza TV offers up proper wife-beating tips - No hitting that will bring the police, break her hand, cause bleeding -

Gaza TV offers up proper wife-beating tips - No hitting that will bring the police, break her hand, cause bleeding - 

A top spiritual leader in the Palestinian territory of Gaza told a television audience last week how and when men can beat their wives, advising not to hit them in a way that “makes the face ugly.”

The shocking interview with Hassan Al-Laham, who holds the title “mufti of Gaza,” came during a weekly Palestinian Authority TV program on social issues. Explaining that divorce must be a last resort in Islam, Al-Laham laid out the four steps that should come first.

"Allah said: Warn them [the wives], and separate from them, and hit them, and bring an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family," he said.

Al-Laham, whose title makes him the top spiritual leader appointed by the Palestinian Authority, then went into detail about how a husband should hit a wife.

"Not hitting that will bring the police, and break her hand and cause bleeding, or hitting that makes the face ugly," he said.


Saturday, 13 February 2016

New 10 minute test for cancer developed by scientists - can be taken at home with just a drop of saliva -

New 10 minute test for cancer developed by scientists -  can be taken at home with just a drop of saliva - 

A 10 minute cancer test which can be taken at home using just a drop of saliva is being developed by scientists.
David Wong, a professor of oncology at California State University says it is possible to detect tumour DNA when is it circulating in bodily fluids – an approach known as a liquid biopsy.
The saliva test is 100 per cent accurate and is so simple that it could be carried out at a pharmacist, the dentist or even in the privacy of someone's own home if they were concerned, he said.
Currently scientists can only use blood tests to detect cancer if they have already taken a biopsy and sequenced a tumour, so they know which genetic signature to look for. Although this can be used to monitor cancer spread it cannot be used for an initial test. And it can throw up false positive.
Professor Wong's tests have shown that just a single drop of saliva contains enough data to give a definitive diagnosis as soon as a tumour develops, he said.
The test is non-invasive and cheap, costing around just 15 pounds.
It is due to enter full clinical trials in lung cancer patients later this year, and is expecting approval within two years from the Food and Drug Administration in America. He is hoping it will be available in Britain by the end of the decade, and believes it could be useful for many other cancers, such as oral cancer.
“If there is circulating signature of a tumour in a person blood or saliva, this test will find it,” Professor Wong told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington.
“We need less than one drop of saliva and we can turn the test around in 10 minutes. It can be done in a doctor’s office while you wait.
“Early detection is crucial. Any time you gain in finding out that someone has a life-threatening cancer, the sooner the better.
“With this capability, it can be implemented by the patient themselves in a home check, or dentist or pharmacy.”
The test looks for genetic mutations in blood plasma which are consistent with a tumour.
“I would love to do it in the U.K…..by the end of this decade. I would hope sooner than that,” he added.
“Down the road it might be possible to test for multiple cancers at the same time.
“The advantages of our technology is that it is non-invasive. If you have a credible early screening risk assessment technology that people can use on their own or at dentists’ office or pharmacists - that’s the key, early detection.”

Read more -

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday Tricks - DNC rolls back a ban on contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees -

Friday Tricks - DNC rolls back a ban on contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees - 

The Democratic National Committee has rolled back restrictions introduced by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees.

The decision, which may provide an advantage to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, was viewed with disappointment Friday morning by good government activists who saw it as a step backward in the effort to limit special interest influence in Washington.

“It is a major step in the wrong direction,” said longtime reform advocate Fred Wertheimer. “And it is completely out of touch with the clear public rejection of the role of political money in Washington,” expressed during the 2016 campaign.

The change in the rules, already apparent to leading Washington lobbyists, was quietly introduced at some point during the past couple of months.

The ban was both a symbolic and substantive way for Obama to put his stamp on the party in 2008 when he promised voters “we are going to change how Washington works.”

Since it was introduced, lobbyists and corporate advocates in Washington have complained about the ban and other limitations imposed by Obama. The only portion of the old rules now remaining in place is that lobbyists and PAC representatives will still not be able to attend events that feature Obama, Vice President Biden or their spouses, according to Mark Paustenbach, deputy communications director for the DNC.

“The DNC’s recent change in guidelines will ensure that we continue to have the resources and infrastructure in place to best support whoever emerges as our eventual nominee,” Paustenbach said in an email. “Electing a Democrat to the White House is vital to building on the progress we’ve made over the last seven years, which has resulted in a record 71 straight months of private-sector job growth and nearly 14 million new jobs.”

Last summer the DNC announced it was lifting a ban on lobbyist contributions to convention-related expenses. At the time, DNC officials said the move was necessary because Congress had eliminated about $20 million in federal funding for the quadrennial party gatherings.

The DNC’s recent, sweeping reversal of the previous ban on donations from lobbyists and political action committees was confirmed by three Democratic lobbyists who said they have already received solicitations from the committee. The lobbyists requested anonymity to speak freely about the committee’s decision, which has been otherwise kept quiet.

For the most part, they said, the DNC is back to pre-2008 business as usual. The DNC has even hired a finance director specifically for PAC donations who has recently emailed prospective donors to let them know that they can now contribute again, according to an email that was reviewed by The Washington Post.

The decision is the latest move likely to inflame tensions between the DNC and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who has railed against lobbyist influence, particularly those representing Wall Street.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC and the new rules are likely to provide her with an advantage.

The new rules have already opened up opportunities for influence-buying “by Washington lobbyists with six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund,” said Wertheimer, suggesting that lobbyists could also face “political extortion” from those raising the money.

Sanders has made his small-dollar-infused campaign a hallmark of his stump speech, boasting that he is the candidate of the little guy, to the point where supporters in Iowa could finish the portion of his stump speech in which he crowed that the average donation was $27.

In recent months Sanders’s supporters have accused the DNC of trying to prevent more primary debates, trying to tilt the race in Clinton’s direction. Just this week his backers were enraged that the DNC allowed the senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus to use the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters to announce that their PAC had endorsed Clinton over Sanders.

Sanders backers have also expressed concern that the DNC is not playing a more vigorous role in checking out disputes over voting in the recent Iowa caucuses, which Clinton narrowly won.


Hillary Clinton’s top six campaign officials are all White Guys -

Hillary Clinton’s top six campaign officials are all White Guys - 

As Hillary Clinton’s campaign looks to the black vote in South Carolina to fend off Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)16%
’ momentum, a look at her staff list reveals an exclusively white leadership team mostly comprised of white males. In fact, her top six campaign officials are all white guys.

Perhaps black leaders in South Carolina should take a look at the Clinton 2016 team before making endorsements in the coming days ahead of the February 27 primary. Let’s break it down:

Chairman:  John Podesta

Podesta served as chief of staff in the Bill Clinton White House during the impeachment crisis, and went on to found the left-wing propaganda organ The Center for American Progress. He also started up the lobbying firm The Podesta Group with his brother Tony. Podesta, 67, also happens to be a white male who went to law school at Georgetown.

Campaign manager:  Robby Mook

Mook, like Podesta, is a man of Caucasian descent. Mother Jones recently called Mook “Clinton’s Secret Weapon in Nevada” who “could launch her comeback.” Mook headed Clinton’s 2008 effort in Nevada against Barack Obama. Mook, 36, grew up in Vermont, the son of a Dartmouth professor, and went to college at Columbia.

Chief Strategist:  Joel Benenson

Benenson, 63, serves as Clinton’s chief strategist despite being a white male from New York City. He’s mostly been a corporate consultant and also served as a strategist for Obama in 2008. The impending Clinton staff changes will actually give Benenson more power over the strategy team.

Media Advisor:  Jim Margolis

Another former Obama adviser, Margolis joined Team Clinton last year and is now one of her most senior advisers. He previously worked for fellow white people Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)2%
, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)2%
, John Kerry and Walter Mondale. White-haired Margolis’ blue eyes are now focused on helping Clinton to overcome the Sanders Surge. When the campaign is over, maybe he’ll finally have some time to help out with Oberlin College alumni events.

Pollsters:  John Anzalone and David Binder

Anzalone is a white man who used to work for Obama in 2008 and has worked with James Carville and Paul Begala. His Clinton campaign teammate David Binder is also a white man.

In addition to these senior staffers, Clinton’s communications team is stunningly white. When reporters need to get in contact with the Clinton campaign, they have to go through travelling press secretary Nick Merrill, a white man who also worked for her in 2008. White male Brian Fallon also serves as a spokesman, and Jen Palmieri, a Caucasian woman, is the communications director.

Clinton lost big to Sanders with white voters and young women in New Hampshire, where she still ended up with more delegates despite her staggering vote loss. Though she leads Sanders with black voters in South Carolina, Al Sharpton’s decision to campaign with Sanders and Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders’ concerted effort to appeal to the “Black Lives Matter” contingent could still swing the race.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Adult Diaper Market Is About to Take Off - could equal those of baby diapers in a decade -

The Adult Diaper Market Is About to Take Off - could equal those of baby diapers in a decade - 

Thanks to the endless determination of parents to keep baby bottoms dry, Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies diapers brand has become a global powerhouse, with billions of dollars in annual sales. But the target consumers for one of the company’s latest diaper lines aren’t infants—or even their aged grandparents. Instead, ads for its Depend Silhouette line of disposable incontinence briefs feature laughing, long-legged models who look barely over 40. The personal-care giant has been aggressively running the fashion-style marketing pitches in mainstream magazines and on television, because adult incontinence is a market that’s recently become too big—and lucrative—to remain in the shadows.
“We’re trying to make the product more normal, and even fun, with real people in our ads saying, ‘Hey, I have bladder leakage, and it’s no big deal,’ ” says Jay Gottleib, head of Kimberly-Clark’s adult and feminine-care business in North America.

Growth in the adult-diaper market is outpacing that of every other paper-based household staple in the U.S. Euromonitor International forecasts a 48 percent increase in sales in the category, to $2.7 billion in 2020 from $1.8 billion last year. That compares with expected growth of 2.6 percent, to $6.3 billion, during that period for baby diapers. And in only a decade, sales of diapers for adults could surpass those for babies at Kimberly-Clark and rival Procter & Gamble. As birthrates fall and life spans lengthen, the companies figure there’s plenty of room for expansion, because babies grow out of diapers, but incontinent adults usually don’t.
As many as 1 in 3 adults—more than 80 percent of them women—have bladder control issues, the Urology Care Foundation says. Causes include pregnancy and childbirth, health conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and changes that accompany aging, according to the Mayo Clinic.
To tap that market, manufacturers have rolled out marketing campaigns to make a leaky bladder seem if not fashionable, then at least not humiliating. Kimberly-Clark sponsored a free concert in New York featuring the Grammy-nominated indie pop band Capital Cities to promote its adult products. It even produced a rap video featuring Kimberly-Clark employees strutting their stuff around one of the company’s factories while wearing nothing below the waist except its adult briefs. The rap lyrics explain that incontinence hits people of all ages and encourage listeners to “drop their pants for underwareness.” The company also introduced a social media campaign to raise money for an incontinence-awareness charity.
“They’re driving home the point that attractive people in their 40s and 50s or even younger, not just nursing-home residents, can be wearing this under their clothing,” says Marlene Morris Towns, a teaching professor of marketing at Georgetown University.
Incontinence briefs, available in different styles for men and women, look a lot like regular underwear and come in a range of colors. Instead of being stacked on shelves like baby diapers, some of Kimberly-Clark’s latest adult incontinence gear comes in packaging that hangs on hooks in store displays and has transparent windows that show the absorbent disposables folded like cotton underpants. A box of 10 Depend Silhouette Active Fit briefs sells for $11.97, or about $1.20 each, at Walmart.com. A 44-count box of the company’s Huggies Snug & Dry diapers for infants costs $7.97, or about 18¢ each.
When casting the ads for its active-fit Silhouette briefs, the company hired models and brand ambassadors a generation younger than its former white-haired spokeswoman, the late actress June Allyson. Among them: comedian and television star Sheryl Underwood, 52, and slam poet “Mighty” Mike McGee, 40.
Svetlana Uduslivaia, a head of tissue and hygiene research at Euromonitor, says newer goods such as Depend Silhouette and P&G’s Always Discreet are thinner and less discernible under clothing, and in general are designed for more physically active consumers. They “wouldn’t be very suitable for those with more serious forms of adult incontinence usually associated with older seniors,” she says. So the products’ strong sales growth might suggest that younger people are drawn to them. A Kimberly-Clark spokesman says the company doesn’t yet have numbers to show its more youthful push is working. It suggests many younger incontinence sufferers still use products not intended to handle the problem (such as sanitary pads) because of a reluctance to buy goods designed for seniors—a stigma that its media campaign hopes to end.
Kimberly-Clark has more than half the U.S. incontinence-garment business, with 56 percent of sales last year, compared with 9 percent for P&G and 7 percent for Sweden’s Svenska Cellulosa, maker of the Tena brand of incontinence goods, Euromonitor estimates. Unlike Kimberly-Clark, P&G targets only women with one of its product lines—Always Discreet, introduced in 2014. Women already are familiar with the company’s Always brand, which includes such female personal-care products as menstrual pads and liners. “Always Discreet has been very successful in bringing along a lot of the younger women, because it’s a brand that they trust,” says Yuri Hermida, vice president of North American baby and feminine care at P&G.
Hoping to grab an even bigger slice of the incontinence market, Kimberly-Clark last year introduced Poise Impressa bladder supports for women, one of the first incontinence products to be worn internally. It’s designed to help prevent urinary leaks rather than simply absorb them. Inserted into the vagina like a tampon, it lifts and gives support to the nearby urethra, which in turn helps stop urine from leaking out. The target audience includes women who suffer so-called stress urinary incontinence, often triggered by coughing, sneezing, or even dancing. Ads for the product feature a smiling middle-aged woman and a marketing pitch that promises to “let you laugh without leaks.” More than laughter, for Kimberly-Clark the products may bring in serious profits.

Read more -

Monday, 8 February 2016

Bananas May Help Detect, Cure Skin Cancer -

Bananas May Help Detect, Cure Skin Cancer - 

The black spots on old banana peels may unlock a faster, easier diagnosis of human skin cancer, boosting survival chances, scientists said Monday.

When bananas ripen, their skin is covered in small, round black spots caused by an enzyme known as tyrosinase.

The same enzyme is present in human skin, and in greater quantities in people suffering from melanoma — a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

A fungus called Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 is threatening to eliminate all the Cavendish bananas! Why is this a big deal, and are we able save this delicious fruit?
A team of scientists used this observed commonality to build a cancer scanner, which they then refined and tested at length on banana peels before moving on to human tissue.

First, researchers at the Laboratory of Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry in Switzerland concluded that the enzyme is a reliable marker of melanoma growth.

In the earliest stage 1 of cancer, the enzyme is not very apparent, becoming widespread and evenly distributed in stage 2, and unevenly distributed in stage 3 — by when the cancer has started spreading to other parts of the body.

The earlier the cancer is detected, the greater the chances of survival.

According to the American Cancer Society, people have a 10-year survival rate of 95 percent if the melanoma is detected in stage 1 — falling to 43 percent by mid-stage 3.

The team developed a scanner and tested it on banana peel spots — which are roughly the same size as melanoma spots on human skin.

“By working with fruit, we were able to develop and test a diagnostic method before trying it on human biopsies,” team leader Hubert Girault said in a statement.

The scanner has eight flexible microelectrodes, spaced like comb teeth, that pass over the skin to measure the quantity and distribution of tyrosinase.

“This system could obviate the need for invasive tests like biopsies,” the team said.

Girault believes the scanner could be used one day to destroy tumors, hopefully rendering biopsies and even chemotherapy unnecessary.

“Our initial laboratory tests showed us that our device could be used to destroy the cells,” he said.

The research was published in the German science journal Angewandte Chemie.

Read more -

Meteorite strike kills man - the first person ever to have died in a meteorite strike -

Meteorite strike kills man - the first person ever to have died in a meteorite strike - 

eteorite crashed into an engineering college in Vellore district on Saturday , causing an explosion that killed one man and injured three others, the Tamil Nadu government said on Sunday.
Scientists, however, said it wasn't clear how the government concluded that a meteorite strike caused the blast. There has been no established death due to a meteorite hit in recorded history, they said.
If a meteorite indeed caused the death, bus driver Kamaraj will be the first person ever to have died in a meteorite strike. Saturday's blast also injured two gardeners and a student.
"You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time," is how astronomer and author of the book, Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors & Meteorites Michael Reynolds describes the likelihood of such an event in a National Geographic report.
Regardless of the scepticism of experts, chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday said the government would pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Kamaraj's family .The three people injured in the explosion will receive Rs 25,000 each, she said.
Witnesses said the blast left a crater 5ft deep and 2ft wide. Policemen recovered a black, pockmarked stone weighing 11g from the blast site.
A police officer said the department would consult experts from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bengaluru and ask them for a detailed analysis of the stone to ascertain whether it is debris from a meteorite. A team of experts from the institute will visit the site on February 8.
A bomb squad from Chennai took debris samples on Sunday for analysis at Regional Forensic Science Laboratory in Mylapore. Police said preliminary investigation by police forensics experts ruled out the possibility that explosives caused the blast.
"We did not find any trace of explosive substances, so we ruled out the possibility that explosives caused the blast," an investigating officer said. "We will wait for a final autopsy report on the body of driver Kamaraj and the report from the forensic lab to confirm what triggered the explosion."
The blast, which took place during class hours on Saturday when students, teachers and other staff were within the college's main building, shattered several windowpanes and damaged the windscreens of buses parked nearby . Police said Kamaraj went to wash his face at a tap near a water tank in the parking lot of the college when the explosion occurred around noon on Saturday . Thick smoke engulfed the area, witnesses said. A student, Santhosh, and two gardeners, Sasi and Murali, were injured. The blast deafened Santhosh, although doctors could not immediately say if the condition would be permanent.

The first person in history that a meteorite is confirmed to have hit was American Ann Hodges, 'National Geographic' reported. A softball-size hunk of black rock broke through the ceiling of her house in Sylacauga, Alabama, in November 1954 and hit her in the thigh, leaving a pineapple-shaped bruise. Scientists closely watch space bodies that come to earth and predict in advance when a meteor large enough to stay intact after burning up in the atmosphere is going to hit the planet.
"Organizations like International Meteor Organization have already put out the calendar for 2016 -for the days we can expect meteor showers and if there are any chances of them hitting earth. These occurrences are catalogued for the benefit of stargazers," said Isro Mars Orbiter Mission project director V Adimurthy.
"They even predict the time of the meteor showers and are almost never wrong," he said. "The last meteor shower was on January 3 and the next one is between April 22 and 23. There is nothing for February."


Sunday, 7 February 2016

10 Things They Won't Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy -

10 Things They Won't Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy - 

News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: The Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River.

When the governor's office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint's residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Here are 10 things that you probably don't know about this crisis because the media, having come to the story so late, can only process so much. But if you live in Flint or the state of Michigan as I do, you know all to well that what the greater public has been told only scratches the surface.

1. While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water.

A few months after Gov. Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water.

Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one -- and only one -- address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.

2. For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could've Been Prevented.

Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water. Someone at the beginning suggested to the governor that they add this anti-corrosive element to the water coming out of the Flint River.

"How much would that cost?" came the question. "$100 a day for three months," was the answer.

I guess that was too much, so, in order to save $9,000, the state government said f*** it -- and as a result the state may now end up having to pay upwards of $1.5 billion to fix the mess.

3. There's More Than the Lead in Flint's Water.

In addition to exposing every child in the city of Flint to lead poisoning on a daily basis, there appears to be a number of other diseases we may be hearing about in the months ahead. The number of cases in Flint of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfold since the switch to the river water.

Eighty-seven people have come down with it, and at least 10 have died. In the five years before the river water, not a single person in Flint had died of Legionnaires Disease. Doctors are now discovering that another half-dozen toxins are being found in the blood of Flint's citizens, causing concern that there are other health catastrophes which may soon come to light.

4. People's Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold.

Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would? So every homeowner in Flint is stuck with a house that's now worth nothing. That's a total home value of $2.4 billion down the economic drain. People in Flint, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., don't have much to their name, and for many their only asset is their home.

So, in addition to being poisoned, they have now a net worth of zero. (And as for employment, who is going to move jobs or start a company in Flint under these conditions? No one.) Has Flint's future just been flushed down that river?

5. While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed.

Here's a story which has received little or no coverage outside of Flint. During these two years of water contamination, residents in Flint have had to contend with a decision made by the Pentagon to use Flint for target practice. Literally. Actual unannounced military exercises- - complete with live ammo and explosives -- were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on.

Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them. For weeks, an undisclosed number of army troops pretended Flint was Baghdad or Damascus and basically had at it. It sounded as if the city was under attack from an invading army or from terrorists. People were shocked this could be going on in their neighborhoods.

Wait -- did I say "people?" I meant, Flint people. As with the governor, it was OK to abuse a community that held no political power or money to fight back. BOOM!

6. The Wife of the Governor's Chief of Staff Is a Spokeswoman for Nestle, Michigan's Largest Owner of Private Water Reserves.

As Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: "Follow the money." Snyder's chief of staff throughout the two years of Flint's poisoning, Dennis Muchmore, was intimately involved in all the decisions regarding Flint. His wife is Deb Muchmore, who just happens to be the spokesperson in Michigan for the Nestle Company -- the largest owner of private water sources in the State of Michigan.

Nestle has been repeatedly sued in northern Michigan for the 200 gallons of fresh water per minute it sucks from out of the ground and bottles for sale as their Ice Mountain brand of bottled spring water. The Muchmores have a personal interest in seeing to it that Nestles grabs as much of Michigan's clean water was possible -- especially when cities like Flint in the future are going to need that Ice Mountain.

7. In Michigan, from Flint water, to Crime and Murder, to GM Ignition Switches, It's a Culture of Death.

It's not just the water that was recklessly used to put people's lives in jeopardy. There are many things that happen in Flint that would give one the impression that there is a low value placed on human life. Flint has one of the worst murder and crime rates in the country. Just for context, if New York City had the same murder rate as Flint, Michigan, the number of people murdered last year in New York would have been almost 4,000 people -- instead of the actual 340 who were killed in NYC in 2015. But it's not just street crime that makes one wonder about what is going on in Michigan.

Last year, it was revealed that, once again, one of Detroit's automakers had put profit ahead of people's lives. General Motors learned that it had installed faulty ignition switches in many of its cars. Instead of simply fixing the problem, mid-management staff covered it up from the public.

The auto industry has a history of weighing the costs of whether it's cheaper to spend the money to fix the defect in millions of cars or to simply pay off a bunch of lawsuits filed by the victims surviving family members. Does a cynical, arrogant culture like this make it easy for a former corporate CEO, now Governor, turn a blind eye to the lead that is discovered in a municipality's drinking water?

8. Don't Call It "Detroit Water" -- It's the Largest Source of Fresh Drinking Water in the World.

The media keeps saying Flint was using "Detroit's water." It is only filtered and treated at the Detroit Water Plant. The water itself comes from Lake Huron, the third largest body of fresh water in the world. It is a glacial lake formed over 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age and it is still fed by pure underground springs. Flint is geographically the last place on Earth where one should be drinking poisoned water.

9. ALL the Children Have Been Exposed, As Have All the Adults, Including Me.

That's just a fact. If you have been in Flint anytime from April 2014 to today, and you've drank the water, eaten food cooked with it, washed your clothes in it, taken a shower, brushed your teeth or eaten vegetables from someone's garden, you've been exposed to and ingested its toxins. When the media says "9,000 children under 6 have been exposed," that means ALL the children have been exposed because the total number of people under the age of 6 in Flint is... 9,000!

The media should just say, "all." When they say "47 children have tested positive", that's just those who've drank the water in the last week or so. Lead enters the body and does it's damage to the brain immediately. It doesn't stay in the blood stream for longer than a few days and you can't detect it after a month. So when you hear "47 children", that's just those with an exposure in the last 48 hours. It's really everyone.

10. This Was Done, Like So Many Things These Days, So the Rich Could Get a Big Tax Break.

When Governor Snyder took office in 2011, one of the first things he did was to get a multi-billion dollar tax break passed by the Republican legislature for the wealthy and for corporations. But with less tax revenues, that meant he had to start cutting costs.

So, many things -- schools, pensions, welfare, safe drinking water -- were slashed. Then he invoked an executive privilege to take over cities (all of them majority black) by firing the mayors and city councils whom the local people had elected, and installing his cronies to act as "dictators" over these cities.

Their mission? Cut services to save money so he could give the rich even more breaks. That's where the idea of switching Flint to river water came from. To save $15 million! It was easy. Suspend democracy. Cut taxes for the rich. Make the poor drink toxic river water. And everybody's happy.

Except those who were poisoned in the process. All 102,000 of them. In the richest country in the world.

Read more -

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

So crime DOES pay: Washington D.C. passes proposal to give residents up to $9,000 in cash not to commit crime -

So crime DOES pay: Washington D.C. passes proposal to give residents up to $9,000 in cash not to commit crime - 

They say crime doesn't pay, but that might not be entirely true in the U.S. capital as lawmakers look for ways to discourage people from becoming repeat offenders.
The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill that includes a proposal to pay residents a stipend if they don't commit any crimes.
It's based on a program in Richmond, California, that advocates say has contributed to reductions in crime there.

Under the bill, city officials would identify up to 200 people a year who are considered at risk of either committing or becoming victims of violent crime. 
Those people would be directed to participate in behavioral therapy and other programs. If they fulfill those obligations and stay out of trouble, they would be paid.
The bill doesn't specify the value of the stipends, but participants in the California program receive up to $9,000 per year.
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, a Democrat who wrote the legislation, said it was part of a comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime in the city, which experienced a 54 per cent increase in homicides last year. 
Homicides and violent crime are still down significantly since the 2000s, and even more so since the early 1990s when the District was dubbed the nation's 'murder capital.'
McDuffie argued that spending $9,000 a year in stipends 'pales in comparison' to the cost of someone being victimized, along with the costs of incarcerating the offender.

'I want to prevent violent crime — particularly gun violence — by addressing the root causes and creating opportunities for people, particularly those individuals who are at the highest risks of offending,' McDuffie, a former prosecutor, said in a letter to constituents last week.
Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has not committed to funding the program, which would cost $4.9 million over four years, including $460,000 a year in stipend payments, according to the District's independent chief financial officer. Without the mayor's support, it would be up to the Council to find money for it through new taxes or cuts to existing programs.
The program would be run independently of the police department, and participants would remain anonymous. Its goal would be to recruit people who are at risk of violence but don't have criminal cases pending.
In Richmond, 79 per cent of 'fellows' participating in the program have not been suspected of involvement in any gun crimes since joining the program, and 84 per cent have not been injured by gunfire, the program's executive director, DeVone Boggan, said in a report to the Council.
Richmond experienced a 77 per cent drop in homicides between 2007, when the program was launched, and 2014, although how much can be specifically attributed to the stipends is unclear.
The proposal in Washington has generated scant debate as lawmakers have focused on other crime-fighting tools included in the bill. Longtime civic activist Dorothy Brizill was the only person to testify against the stipend program at a lengthy hearing last fall, saying it would waste taxpayer dollars.
'These incentive programs don't work,' Brizill said Tuesday. 

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