Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Influenza Warning from World Health Organization

BANGKOK, Thailand -- The World Health Organization has issued a dramatic warning that bird flu will trigger an international pandemic that could kill up to seven million people.

The influenza pandemic could occur anywhere from next week to the coming years, WHO said.

"There is no doubt there will be another pandemic," Klaus Stohr of the WHO Global Influenza Program said on the sidelines of a regional bird flu meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

"Even with the best case scenario, the most optimistic scenario, the pandemic will cause a public health emergency with estimates which will put the number of deaths in the range of two and seven million," he said.

"The number of people affected will go beyond billions because between 25 percent and 30 percent will fall ill."

Flu Warning from World Health Organization

BANGKOK, Thailand -- The World Health Organization has issued a dramatic warning that bird flu will trigger an international pandemic that could kill up to seven million people.

The influenza pandemic could occur anywhere from next week to the coming years, WHO said.

"There is no doubt there will be another pandemic," Klaus Stohr of the WHO Global Influenza Program said on the sidelines of a regional bird flu meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

"Even with the best case scenario, the most optimistic scenario, the pandemic will cause a public health emergency with estimates which will put the number of deaths in the range of two and seven million," he said.

"The number of people affected will go beyond billions because between 25 percent and 30 percent will fall ill."

Comments on News

A couple of news articles caught my attention recently. First, I just read an article on the confusing situation with Southwest Airlines. As one might suspect, the federal government created this mess and there is now a move to correct it. When the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was built in 1979, Southwest determined that it wanted to stay at Love Field since it is close to downtown. In an effort to protect the new airport, Jim Wright who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives passed the Wright Amendment which limited the Southwest flights from Love Field to such an extent that if a flight left there, it could only land in Texas or a state which bordered Texas. This created the situation where if you want to fly between Nashville and Dallas, you have to fly American at a cost of $1,200 for a round-trip unrestricted ticket, but if you want to fly to Houston, you can fly on Southwest for no more than $356. Until now, Southwest hasn't complained much becase it has made a lot of money shuttling between Dallas and Houston. Furthermore, there was no competition for Southwest in the area they served. American Airlines was and still is happy since they could charge more for flights into Dallas from places like Nashville. Now, Delta is leaving Dallas as a hub and Southwest is seeing the possibility to expand by using DFW to other cities. For those of us who have family in Texas and a strong aversion to idiotic laws, it is time to drop the Wright Amendment.

Another commercial situation which still interests me is the Merck situation with Vioxx. I noticed in the Wall Street Journal today that the company has given the top echelon of the company golden parachutes that open lucratively when and if the company is taken over or some other situation arises which leads to them losing their jobs. Now that is a bad sign for the prognosis of the company as it faces the lawyers. Who would have thought that this bluest of the blue chip stocks would ever come face to face with virtual oblivion?

That leads to another thought about how drugs come to market. Most all drug studies prior to FDA approval now require studies that show the new drug is better than a placebo in clinical trials which could well be the wrong question. Maybe we should also require that the new drug also be better than an existing drug with known toxicity. In this case, Vioxx would probably not be shown to be better than naproxen which is often sold as Aleve and Merck would still be a viable company.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Battle of Fallujah

Most of us probably don't appreciate what our Marines and Army soldiers went through clearing out the terrorists in Fallujah. Everyone should be asked to read personal accounts such as the one from this Marine.

Opinion Column

If I had the assignment of honoring someone with the best opinion column of the year, this
would certainly be near the top of my list with serious competition only from one written by Thomas Sowell.

Monday, November 22, 2004

NBA Brawl

Everyone else seems to have an opinion on the Pacers/Pistons fiasco so I may as well give my thoughts. I lost interest in NBA basketball a long time ago. The game and players just didn't seem like basketball to me. Walking isn't called and defense isn't played. The players seemed to lack, shall we say, character. So, I mostly follow college basketball.
This latest incident finds me with nobody to root for. You have overpaid jerks going into the stands to fight idiotic, drunken fans. This seems like an inferior version of professional wrestling to me. It is time the fans wise up and quit paying outrageous sums to see the game so salaries come down to a level where the only ones left in the game are players who actually want to play basketball as it is supposed to be played without all the cultural styling. As it stands now, I suspect the lawyers are going to wind up with all the money.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Microbiologists at Risk

If someone is out there killing off Microbiologists who are getting too close to some secret government research program, let the word go out that this Microbiologist is not close to any research program any more. Read the story here .

Report from Iraq

This is must reading from Iraq.

Friday, November 19, 2004

E-mail Warning

One of the more interesting stories in the news now relates to the Merck withdrawal of Vioxx due to heart problems in some persons who have taken the drug for arthritis. Any time something like this happens, the lawyers start up the class action apparatus to sue for as much as possible with as many plaintiffs as possible--even if they have had no drug related problems and never will have any. The drug company is then sent into full defensive mode and tries to explain that their activities are all proper and no legal remedy should be enforced. When the lawyers start looking into the company activities, however, one thing always seems to give them fodder. That is employee E-mails. People send these out with such little thought and with such off the cuff opinions that the company is put at an almost impossible disadvantage when preparing for legal encounters. This has been true for every company that has come under scrutiny in the last 10 years. I am immediately reminded of poor Bill Gates trying to survive an interrogation about his E-mails. If I were a CEO, I might be tempted to do away with them in my company.

Bush Can't Win

The following essay by Jonah Goldberg is pretty good. Here is an example:

When Bush was allegedly acting unilaterally (Iraq), he was denounced for not being multilateral. When he was multilateral (North Korea), he was denounced for not being unilateral. When Europeans are excluded, that's bad (again, allegedly Iraq); when Europeans are allowed to take the lead (Iran), that's bad, too. When Bush "outsourced" the war in Afghanistan by using non-American troops, that was a monumental mistake, according to Kerry and others. When we didn't outsource the war in Iraq, that was a monumental mistake as well. And so on.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Tom Sowell always says it well.

The Marine shooting incident in Fallujah is put into perfect context here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Election Humor

One sunny day in 2005, an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench.

He spoke to the Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry." The Marine replied, "Sir, Mr. Kerry is not President and doesn't reside here." The old man said, "Okay," and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry" The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Kerry is not President and doesn't reside here." The man thanked him and again walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same Marine, saying, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry." The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Kerry. I've told you already that Mr. Kerry is not the President and doesn't reside here. Don't you understand?"

The old man answered, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it." The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow."

Liberals Can't be Satisfied

In the first term, the liberals criticized the Bush administration for having too much controversy between the State Department and the Defense Department. Now, they are all in a lather because Bush is appointing White House insiders and there won't be enough diversity of opinion brought to the President. They were probably wrong originally and are wrong in their predictions.

Random Thoughts

1. What ever happened to the investigation of Sandy Burger who was last seen leaving the super tight National Archives with classified documents stuffed into his pants?

2. John McCain is very disturbed about the White House view of global warming and wants to pass legislation reducing carbon dioxide. I am constantly amazed by how easily politicians are convinced by bad science. I remember in the 70's a well known "scientist" wrote extensively about how the world would be so crowded by 2000 that everyone would be starving to death. Then the enviroment wackos convinced the politicians that we had to have laws limiting the tank size on toilets to save water. Now you have to go to Canada to buy a toilet you don't have to flush 2 or 3 times instead of the once back in the days before this problem was "fixed".

3. At the wedding in San Francisco there were a number of us visiting and enjoying the views from the hills of Tiburon when 3 of the group in about a 10 minute period got cell phone calls from various parts of the country with one message---Peterson was found guilty. Amazing.

4. Our hotel in San Franciso was the Raddison Mykoto which is located in a section called Japantown. There was a Chinese restaurant across the street from the hotel which was owned and completely staffed by a family of Koreans. For some reason, that tickled me, but the meal was great and the portions were huge.

5. The liberals are going to try to make much of the Marine who shot the insurgent in Fallujah. Let's count the number of front page articles it generates in the New York Times.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Blue State

This is my first visit to a blue state since the election and I am deep into one here in San Francisco for a wedding. The first clue that this is not exactly Bush territory came last night on the way from the airport to our hotel. Several examples of graffiti expressed such sentiments as "Stop Bush". There is a Bush Street down here and each sign I saw indicating that fact had been attacked by something abrasive. Norma saw a woman sitting at a table in Tiburon with her Kerry/Edwards proudly on her chest. One gets the idea they aren't taking it well here in California.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Electoral Bullet Was Dodged

An article in the Wall Street Journal points out that if Kerry had gotten about 75,000 more votes in Ohio, he would have been elected even though Bush got 51% of the vote to his 48%. Bush would have carried 30 states, picked up seats in the House and Senate, and the question of who has a "mandate" would have really been up in the air. This was caused by heavy Bush support in the states he carried coupled with narrow Kerry wins in such states as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. What a mess that would have been.

Democrat Woes

After the 2000 election the Florida results brought forth a call from the Democrats to "count every vote". So, in 2004, we did that and they still aren't satisfied.

Democrats Soul Search

The most popular sport since the election is to give the dems suggestions on how to improve their fortunes in coming elections. One idea I have not seen is for the party or someone who wants to lead the party to come out with a call for African Americans to heed the advice of Bill Cosby and insist that their young people apply themselves in school, quit making babies in adolescence with no marriage commitment, form two parent families to raise the children, and get rap and its filthy language out of the home. This message is widely resisted even when advanced by Bill Cosby, but it could be strengthened immeasureably if it was reinforced by the political party to which blacks give 90% of their votes. The party would be rewarded by getting a measure of admiration from those of us who see Democrats as shameless panderers to a collection of special interest groups which are more and more at odds with the majority of Americans. A similar approach could then be taken with the gays, the pro-abortion extremists, the unions (especially the teachers), and the trial lawyers.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Random Thoughts

Bush should ask Bill Clinton to be his personal representative to the Mid-East negotiations which should follow Arafat's death. The guy knows a lot about the situation and would love the stage it would put him on. It is also better to have him in the tent as the saying goes.

Senator Spector should not be denied his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee even though my first instinct was to call Senator Chambliss and ask him to vote against him. The denial would just antagonize him and other liberals in the senate and if he chairs the committee, he will be under such a bright light during the hearings and subsequently that he will probably be an asset in any difficult confirmation hearing. If not, we can mount a coup.

If state taxes were no longer tax deductible on federal returns, it would serve the dual purpose of freeing up $70 billion for other tax adjustments and also put pressure on states not to raise taxes. An added attraction for me would be it would hurt blue states more than the rest of us.

We are going to have a very nice run in the stock market for the rest of the year. You need to be fully invested now.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Social Security

President Bush has promised to address the fact that Social Security can not survive for our young people unless some changes are made. His widely stated view is that our younger workers should have the OPTION to put a small portion (usually projected to be 2%) of their "contribution" into personal accounts which could be invested in stocks or bonds and thereby grow over the next decades to levels which would not otherwise be available when these workers retire. Current recipients, contrary to the demogoguery advanced by the liberals, would not be affected in any way.
The main drawback to the personal accounts proposals is that we have become dependant on current social security payments to pay current recipients since Johnson put these monies into the current accounts budget. A decrease resulting from young workers diversion of money into personal retirement accounts would in essence increase the budget deficit. Any revision to the current situation must address this fact. I am not sure how much of an effect it would have on the total budget, but I wonder how many current social security recipients would voluntarily permit the contributions of their children to be deducted from their current social security checks. Few of us would just give the government money, but if we knew it was going directly into a retirement account of our children, participation might be significant. In addition, with some PR encouragement, senior citizens who do not have children but do have other retirement funds might be willing to "adopt" a specific young worker and let a portion of their current social security funds be directed into his or her retirement account. Just a thought.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Greedy Drug Companies

It has recently been found that trachoma, a disease largely unknown in the the U.S. , causes blindness in societies where hygiene is not up to our standards. In Africa, where trachoma is a serious disease, it has been found that an antibiotic called azithromycin can cure trachoma even with only one dose. Furthermore, if everyone in a village is given the drug, the incidence of the disease drops to almost negligable levels. Azithromycin is a fairly popular drug in the U.S. since it is highly effective against ear and other infections in children. One of its greatest advantages is one pill a day is taken for only 5 days rather than multiple doses a day for 2 weeks for other antibiotics. So, the next time you hear liberals like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton complain about the greedy drug companies extorting our money and forcing poor people to choose between drugs and food, keep in mind that Pfizer is giving 143 million doses to 19 African countries to treat trachoma and prevent blindness.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Blog Recommendation

This is a pretty interesting blog.

Election Post-mortem

O.K., I was wrong and seldom have I been more pleased. The night was indeed a sweet one and having Daschle lose in tandem with Kerry was just delightful. A few things about this election stand out. First, as long as the Dems think that having P.Diddy holler "Vote or die" will help them in any way, they are doomed to minority status. Same with all the other left coast wierdos which have latched onto the Democrats and funded them so generously. Real people in the red states are turned off by their attempts to advance liberalism in a manner which suggests those of us who don't agree are imbeciles.

One of the most important events during the election went largely uncommented upon. If the Australian election had resulted in a withdrawal of their troops from Iraq, Kerry would have had a very large club to beat the President with. It could have been pivotal.

Men preferred Bush to Kerry by about 10 percentage points. I think the phoney goose hunt in newly bought camo was a big part of it. Women may not see that as a pathetic sham and if they do, it must not bother them as much. as it does men.

It will be interesting to watch the party of Rev. Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Michael Moore, Dan Rather, and the New York Times as it searches in vain for the answers which it doesn't want to recognize.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Political Break

I will be glad to get away from election politics for a while. It has become tedious to listen to the usual blather from all politicians and especially those who spout the usual democrat talking points. The following are especially grating:

1. "I want to protect the tax breaks for the "working man". This implies the surgeon, for example, who goes to the hospital at 5:00am and sometimes doesn't leave until 8:00 or 9:00pm after rounds doesn't work. The small business owner who opens his store at 8:00am and works into the night trying to make it better and grow does not work. Their problem is they work too well to get a tax break.

2. War on terrorism. As I have said before, we are in no such war. Our war is with Islamic terrorists and we should say so.

3. "45 million Americans are without health care. "This is nonsense. There may be that many without health insurance, but if they get sick, they get health care if they are intelligent enough to ask for it.

4. "Bush has lost more jobs than any President since Hoover." Of course, Bush didn't lose any jobs. He is not in charge of hiring and firing workers who lost their jobs following the attacks of 9/11/01. He did not burst the internet bubble or close the ridiculous dot.com outfits which closed when the market crashed before he was elected. Furthermore, we don't want to live in a country where the government can come in and tell an international company residing in the U.S. that it must do business in a certain way or hire certain workers at a given salary. Shear demogoguery.

I need a respite from all this nonsense.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Today's Quote

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
-- Ronald Reagan

Bush's Problem

Sometimes I read an article or in this case an editorial which really hits the core of something I am interested in and just haven't managed to articulate. A prime example explains Bush's basic problem as he enters an election he should be leading by at least 10 points and 50-60 electoral votes. Today's Wall Street Journal makes the point that Bush met a number of challenges and despite his small electoral and Supreme Court- assisted election tackled some of them head-on without undue worry about spending political capital. He made the right moves to get us out of a recession he inherited and the Afghan response and success were great positives. When he continued on into Iraq, however, he was severely handicapped by his almost pathetic inability to communicate. He avoided press conferences which could have steeled him and afforded needed practice in making his case for such things as the decision regarding Fallujah and the happenings at Abu Ghraib. All of this was most evident during the first debate and really throughout Bush's presidency. When you can't take the American public along with you, your leadership suffers tremendously. I think Bush recognized this as a liability and for this reason he avoided a number of situations where contentious defending of a position would have been required. This resulted in a disastrous farm bill, McCain-Feingold, steel tariffs, Medicare prescription drugs, and a recent caving on intelligence reform. He just accepted them rather than try to defend the superior alternative. I am afraid this great failing will give us an especially glib explainer of bad decisions. Hope I am wrong.

Kerry's Discharge Problems

It is probably too late, but Kerry's discharge problems can be found here. http://www.nysun.com/article/4040

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