Friday, January 25, 2008

In China, The Government Recommends Drinking One Glass of Concentrated Sulfuric Acid Every Day

This sad story illustrates the state of industry and public health in central China. If this were your home, would you consider moving to Africa?
"We have 70-80 patients at our hospital at the moment, but during the day, we get about 700 to 800 people a day arriving with the symptoms," a staffer at the Chenxi People's Hospital, who gave only his surname Zhang, told AFP by phone.

"This is due to sulfuric acid poisoning from the local factory."

.....The problem first came to light in early December, when a retired coal miner discovered that his tap water had turned yellow, the report said, quoting an unnamed victim of the poisoning.

The local government later in the month pronounced the area's water safe to drink. But about 10 days ago, growing numbers of local villagers began to fall ill with what hospital staff initially described as flu-like or leukaemia symptoms.

Others had inflamed throats or paralysis.

As more people began arriving at hospitals the local government began to investigate and found the water contaminated with arsenic, tantalum and other dangerous chemicals, it said.

....Chemical spills with serious health consequences are not uncommon in China.

In one of the worst recent examples, a massive chemical plant spill into northeastern China's Songhua River resulted in drinking supplies for millions of residents of Heilongjiang province being cut.

This is the country that expects to lead the world by the second half of the 21st century! The entire nation is becoming a gigantic wasteland, due to government sanctioned abuse of the air, water, and land. Soon, China will need to invade its neighbors for lebensraum--and clean drinking water. Africa sounds nice....

Chinese Africans: Neo-Colonists?

A new wave of Chinese immigrants are coming to Africa, up to 750,000 of them so far. Many of the new wave immigrants are poor farmers looking for better land and more opportunity. Others are shopkeepers and traders, sensing a chance to fill a neglected niche.
They are settling all over the continent, in rural and urban areas, and are involved in agriculture, construction and trade.

This latest wave of Chinese migrants - thought to total up to 750, the last 10 years are going for economic, not political reasons....They are part of China's bid to secure raw materials and markets for its manufactured goods, but they are also carving out their own opportunities.

Chinese farmers have already started moving to Africa, according to Liu Jianjun of the China-Africa Business Council, which helps Chinese firms find business opportunities in Africa....Mr Liu has personally sent several thousand Chinese people to Africa over the last few years from his home city of Baoding in Hebei Province.

His organisation mainly focuses on setting up agricultural companies, which he calls "Baoding Villages"...These Baoding farmers are working in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Senegal, growing crops with African partners and then turning them into food products.

"Chinese migrants or former labourers on construction sites are opening shops, using their contacts to get cheap goods from China," he says...As an example, he cites the provincial town of Huambo in central Angola, which had no Chinese shops seven years ago...Five years ago there were five and now there are more than 20, says Mr Alden, who has just written a book called China in Africa.

Unsurprisingly, many Chinese migrants themselves say the chance to earn more money is the main motive for leaving their country...Chinese worker Lu Shaoqing, who is helping to build sports stadiums in Angola, says he left his wife and seven-year-old daughter in Beijing for a number of reasons..."I came here because I wanted to see Africa, and Angola is under reconstruction at the moment so I came to help with that," he says.

But he admits the 700-odd Chinese workers in his company have the chance to earn up to three times as much as back home in China.___BBC

Most Chinese immigrants are actually migrants--in Africa for a few years to earn a cash bundle, then back to China. Some sense a longer opportunity, and will likely settle for a longer time. Tropical disease, tribal warfare, and other hazards abound on the dark continent.

In the 19th century, the British imported workers from colonial India. Those Indian workers who settled in Uganda were driven off by Idi Amin in the 1970s. Over time, the same thing may happen to Chinese who settle permanently in troubled multi-tribal sub Saharan nations.

The blatantly obvious need for experienced and disciplined market leadership in most African countries suggests that if a country can find prolonged peace, prosperity is possible with the proper cadre of market savvy traders in place.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Epidemic of Violence by Media Veterans

Normal citizens are becoming alarmed at the flurry of violence by media veterans:
A Denver newspaper columnist is arrested for stalking a story subject. In Cincinnati, a television reporter is arrested on charges of child molestation. A North Carolina newspaper reporter is arrested for harassing a local woman. A drunken Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member is arrested for wife beating. A Baltimore newspaper editor is arrested for threatening neighbors with a shotgun. In Florida, one TV reporter is arrested for DUI, while another is charged with carrying a gun into a high school. A Philadelphia news anchorwoman goes on a violent drunken rampage, assaulting a police officer. In England, a newspaper columnist is arrested for killing her elderly aunt.

..."These people could snap at any minute," says James Treacher of the Treacher Institute for Journalist Studies. "We need to get them the help and medication they need before it's too late."...Accounts of media psychopathy, while widespread, have until now been largely anecdotal. In order to provide a more focused and systematic study of the crisis, Iowahawk researchers set out to identify and tabulate criminal arrests and convictions of current and former journalists. While by no means comprehensive, this 10-minute project yielded a grim picture of a once-proud profession now in the grips of tragic, drunk, violent, child-raping rage.

The stories cited in the opening paragraph, while instructive, are by no means isolated. Google searches return hundreds of crimes attributable to workers in America's media industry, and millions of pages containing the terms "journalist" and "murder." They are as shocking in their detail as they are in their number.

....How many unsuspecting American motorists and pedestrians remain at risk from alcoholic media professionals is still a matter of scientific conjecture, but one thing is certain: journalists can be even more deadly outside their cars. Often the journalistic gateway to violent behavior begins with stalking and trespassing -- such as has been alleged of People magazine reporters Jeffrey Neal Weiss, and, in an unrelated incident, Don Sider. But sometimes, as in the case of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, serial stalking behavior goes unpunished and the perpetrators go on to seek more serious thrill-crimes. Journalists recently charged with violent offenses include New York Times reporter and alleged batterer Michael Katz, British reporter Ben Stubbings, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Margaret Gillerman, charged with striking a police officer.

... A shocking number of journalism-related crimes involve child molestation, child pornography, and internet stalking of minors. Journalists recently charged with sickening crimes in this category include Arizona newspaper editor Lindsey Stockton, Arkansas radio reporter Charles "David" Ballard, New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter William Kalec, Former KTTV-TV Los Angeles reporter Rod Bernsen, Washington DC TV weatherman Bill Kamal, and Noel Neff, former editor of the children's magazine Weekly Reader.

In recent times, the national journalist crime spree has taken an increasingly deadly turn. A typical case in point is former Savannah newspaper reporter Donald Lowery, charged with robbing a bank with a sawed-off shotgun. Sometimes arrests are made before bloodshed, such as in the case of Oak Ridge (TN) newspaper reporter and alleged murder plotter Michael Frazier, and former San Francisco AsianWeek columnist Kenneth Eng, arrested for threatening a Virginia Tech-style massacre at a New York University commencement. All too often, though, the warning signs come too late. Recent years witnessed several journalists arrested on murder charges, including longtime Hartford Courant reporter Gregory Robertson and Missouri radio host and reporter James Keown, charged with fatally poisoning his wife by spiking her Gatorade with antifreeze.

...Among the defenders is University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds.

"I think it's unfair to single out journalists as thieves, or violent, or drunks, or child abusers," says Reynolds. "Sometimes they're all of the above."...He cites the case of Kevin Lee Pettiford, a Knoxville journalist charged with abducting and threatening to kill three minor girls during a drunken high speed chase to an attempted bank robbery.

Truly, the North American public is at serious risk from violent media veterans--the scummiest of the scummy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Barack Obama: A Brief Bio Part I

Barack Obama is an extremely articulate US Senator from Illinois, who happens to be running for US President in 2008. He is currently in his first Senate term, so Obama is not well known to most US voters. In order that abu al-fin readers can get a better grasp of Senator Obama's background, this brief bio is presented:
Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii to Stanley Ann Dunham from Kansas who moved to Hawaii and there married Muslim, Barack Obama, Sr. a black student from Kenya...Obama’s dad...left his wife and two-year-old Obama to work on a Ph.D. at Harvard. He returned to Kenya to take a lucrative government job and another wife. He ended up fathering eight children by four different women, not all could be counted as wives.

...Obama’s white mother then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian Muslim student at the University of Hawaii who moved the family to Indonesia when Obama was six. After his drinking and womanizing stepfather died, the family moved back to Hawaii when Obama was in the fifth grade. During those years, Obama lived in nice neighborhoods and attended the best schools until he was graduated from high school.

...Barack Obama is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ....The pastor is Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. who baptized Obama into the church 20 years ago. The United Church of Christ was formed by the 1957 merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church;

...Dr. Wright...preaches that Zionism is racism and has compared Israel with South Africa of 20 years ago. On the Sunday following the attack on America, Wright said the attacks were a consequence of American policies. He also said, “In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01,” as quoted in the Oct., 2003 issue of The Trumpet Newsmagazine, edited by Wright’s daughter....

Wright....said of Israel, “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now.” ...
Canada Free Press

Obviously, Senator Obama had an interesting childhood, and currently associates with some rather colourful characters. In a later post, we will go into some of Obama's public statements and actions in more detail.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

MIT / Johns Hopkins / Lancet Corruption Scandal Update: George Soros Moneybags

The most recent news concerning the corruption scandal involving Johns Hopkins University and The Lancet, a UK medical journal, leads us directly to George Soros.
Soros, 77, provided almost half the £50,000 cost of the research, which appeared in The Lancet, the medical journal. Its claim was 10 times higher than consensus estimates of the number of war dead.

The study, published in 2006, was hailed by antiwar campaigners as evidence of the scale of the disaster caused by the invasion, but Downing Street and President George Bush challenged its methodology.

New research published by The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 151,000 people - less than a quarter of The Lancet estimate - have died since the invasion in 2003.

“The authors should have disclosed the [Soros] donation and for many people that would have been a disqualifying factor in terms of publishing the research,” said Michael Spagat, economics professor at Royal Holloway, University of London.

So this is how much MIT, Johns Hopkins, and The Lancet can be bought for--to influence a US election? Pathetic.

Can George Soros buy your vote? No, a better way to put it: could George Soros have already bought your vote--and you did not even know it?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Politics and the Corruption of a Formerly Prestigious Medical Journal

As a trained epidemiologist, I regret being forced by the Lancet to reveal the underlying sleaziness of a sub-layer of the epidemiologic profession, as well as medical journalism. When the Lancet published its reports on Iraqi civilian casualties[pdf]--immediately before the US 2006 mid-term elections--it was clear to me that the authors had taken some unwarranted shortcuts in methodology. What was even clearer, was that the Lancet editorial staff was willing to overlook the methodologic deficiencies of the report, and publish anyway--just in time to influence the US elections. Since then, I have had no respect for the Lancet.
How to explain the enormous discrepancy between The Lancet's estimation of Iraqi war deaths and those from studies that used other methodologies? For starters, the authors of the Lancet study followed a model that ensured that even minor components of the data, when extrapolated over the whole population, would yield huge differences in the death toll. Skeptical commentators have highlighted questionable assumptions, implausible data, and ideological leanings among the authors, Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, and Les Roberts.

...Lafta had been a child-health official in Saddam Hussein's ministry of health when the ministry was trying to end the international sanctions against Iraq by asserting that many Iraqis were dying from hunger, disease, or cancer caused by spent U.S. depleted-uranium shells remaining from the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In 2000, Lafta authored at least two brief articles contending that U.N. sanctions had caused many deaths by starvation among Iraqi children.

...Little is known about Lafta's decision-making in amassing the data for the Lancet surveys....Even though the second study was even further out of line with other sources' estimates than the first, it got tremendous attention -- probably because its findings fit an emerging narrative: Iraq was a horrific mess....Democrats who had opposed Bush's Iraq campaign embraced the report. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., for example, issued a statement saying that the "new study is a chilling and somber reminder of the unacceptably high human cost of this war.... We must not stay on the same failed course any longer." Such remarks, amplified by myriad articles, broadcasts, and blogs, helped to cement Americans' increasingly negative perceptions of the war. "For those who wanted to believe it, it gave them a new number to circulate, [and] it was a defining moment" in attitudes toward the war, said pollster John Zogby, who commended the report in a CNN interview.

...In the Middle East, both Sunni and Shiite Islamist groups have used the study to bolster their claims that the West is waging a war against Islam. In an October 30, 2007, debate on Al Jazeera, for example, an Egyptian cleric, Sheik Ibrahim al-Khouli, slammed a Syrian author's criticism of fundamentalist Islam. The United States and Europe had "fought in Iraq and destroyed it," he said. They "killed one and a half million people ... [and] killed a million Iraqi children during the [1990s sanctions] siege; left traces of enriched uranium from the weapons that were used [in 1991]; and destroyed the environment for the next 35 billion years, according to American estimates."

...the authors have declined to provide the surveyors' reports and forms that might bolster confidence in their findings. Customary scientific practice holds that an experiment must be transparent -- and repeatable -- to win credence. Submitting to that scientific method, the authors would make the unvarnished data available for inspection by other researchers. Because they did not do this, citing concerns about the security of the questioners and respondents, critics have raised the most basic question about this research: Was it verifiably undertaken as described in the two Lancet articles?

"The authors refuse to provide anyone with the underlying data," said David Kane, a statistician and a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Statistics at Harvard University. Some critics have wondered whether the Iraqi researchers engaged in a practice known as "curb-stoning," sitting on a curb and filling out the forms to reach a desired result. Another possibility is that the teams went primarily into neighborhoods controlled by anti-American militias and were steered to homes that would provide information about the "crimes" committed by the Americans.
National Journal

This Lance/Johns Hopkins article has become a cluster fuck--damning politically interested medical journalism, the Lancet, epidemiology, Johns Hopkins, and specifically damning the authors of the study.

It seems likely that Lafta--a former Saddam Hussein official--has been faking his research ever since the first Gulf War in 1991. Lafta's co-authors allowed their political leanings to influence their judgment. The Lancet's editors allowed their anti-Americanism to bring them to the precipice of journalistic integrity--and they stepped over the brink.

It is a sad story of corruption, sleaze, failed ethics, and lost journalistic integrity and reputation. It will be instructive to see how the mainstream media covers the aftermath of a journalistic catastrophe that they themselves elevated to monumental proportions when they believed the story to be true.