With the arrival of one Ebola virus case in Dallas and the sick person’s story so far, we’re about to see if the it-can’t-happen-here talk that’s been prevalent is warranted.
The United States is not exceptional. And it is particularly unexceptional in its health care, especially when the stakes are high. With regards to public health, the poor, the average, anyone not considered entitled and special, have been allowed to fend for themselves, often until it is too late.
Ebola virus infection in American may collide with that reality.
From the New York Times today:
DALLAS — Health officials in Dallas are monitoring at least five schoolchildren in North Texas who came into contact with a man found to have Ebola virus, after he became sick and infectious.
The authorities also said that an early opportunity to put the patient in isolation, limiting the risk of contagion, may have been missed because of a failure to pass along critical information about his travel history.
The story also informs of that the infected man was sent home for two days while he was showing symptoms.
More alarmingly, it makes the case that the sick man contracted the virus from contact with the sick daughter of his Liberian landlord, when he helped carry her. The woman subsequently died and two other people who had come in contact with her were also killed by the virus.
“Mr. Duncan came in contact with at least 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms,” reads the newspaper. But which is it? Is the number right?
None are showing symptoms, which — in any case — will take a little longer to emerge, reads the newspaper.
There are no hospitals like this singularly unfortunate place in Sierra Leone, where the virus is completely out of control.
But that doesn’t mean American health care can’t screw up royally, as it often has, out of neglect, passivity, indifference and greed, in well-documented ways. Indeed, it is fortunate the American health care system has not heretofore come in contact with a disease like Ebola , where it can’t quite track all of those potentially exposed and know precisely when they became symptomatic and infectious.
These are unknowns. No amount of bravado changes that.
“This is all hands on deck,” said Texas governor, Rick Perry. This alone is almost cause for alarm. And that is only because, if you are a betting man, you would take into account that Perry has a record of always being spectacularly wrong.
“[The information that the infected man had just come from Liberia] was not used in the clinical diagnosis and Mr. Duncan was sent home, with the diagnostic team believing he simply had a low-grade fever from a viral infection,” reads the Times. “He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance two days later, his condition having significantly deteriorated …”
Many in the Fair Oaks community around the hospital in Dallas where the Ebola-infected man is in isolation are “skeptical” of reassurances by the Centers for Disease Control, concluded the newspaper.
What happens when someone who is infected just doesn’t get to the hospital, even once?
Time will tell.
In 2008, an American woman on vacation in Uganda brought what appears, in retrospect, to have been a relatively mild infection due to the Marburg virus back to Colorado. She was committed to a hospital for mild fever, diarrhea and complications of initially, unspecified cause. Possible diagnoses of leptospirosis or viral hepatitis were considered and abandoned.
Marburg virus is a somewhat less lethal relative of Ebola virus.
The CDC account of the case, which she survived, is here.
Marburg virus infection was diagnosed post-convalescence.
When the American bombing campaign opened against ISetc, early news announced the destruction of “refineries.” This was said to be hitting the caliphate in its pockets, depriving it of an unstated amount of money from oil revenue.
Well, what about those refineries?
From the Los Angeles Times, six days ago:
Making the first major push to choke off financing for Islamic State, U.S. and allied Arab warplanes bombed a dozen small oil refineries in eastern Syria on Wednesday that U.S. officials said were part of a $2 million-a-day revenue stream for the Sunni Muslim extremist group …
“These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks … and an economic asset to support their future operations,” [said a leaflet from US Central Command.]
The statement said the facilities produced 300 to 500 barrels of refined petroleum per day …
Six U.S. and 10 allied Arab warplanes also bombed a dozen “small oil refineries” in eastern Syria, the Pentagon announced. The raids made headlines, but the facilities proved to be improvised stills used to produce total of only a few hundred barrels of gasoline a day.
More and more, the dilemma is how to package strikes against a group of people, an agency, an emerging country, that lacks the power to provide any opposition to bombing campaigns?
How do we always do this? By invoking the magical word — asymmetric!
As I’ve defined it previously, an asymmetric threat is a fancy term used only as a deception. It describes going to war with anyone who has less resources, money, manpower and technology than the United States.
Which is to say — everyone else — from the angry but poor rabble at home to emerging power in the Middle East.
An example of a press cheerleader, describing the asymmetric power of ISetc, last week with the headline:
Modern airpower versus tribal warriors
Someone named James Kitfield explains it for the non-participating American public:
In the annals of warfare there have been few conflicts as asymmetric as the United States against the Islamic State, which pits a global superpower at the head of an international coalition against a brutally ambitious terrorist group …
This taking and holding of territory is not textbook asymmetrical strategy for a weak combatant. To pursue it, al-Baghdadi relies on a deep connection and understanding of the disaffected Sunni militant groups and tribes who rose up to embrace his black banner. When IS fighters swept out of Syria into Iraq, it may have looked like a standard if daring military maneuver, but it was more akin to an organic uprising by viral flash mobs of locals, with Twitter the method of choice for tactical communications.
[He neglects to mention the big part about the America-trained and equipped Iraqi army running away and deserting.]
“The enemy will spread disinformation in hopes the media will achieve what they cannot, which is to put restrictions and limits on our use of airpower,” said [retired USAF General Dave Deptula, who ran the Bombing Paupers campaign -- bin Laden, notably, escaped -- over Afghanistan in 2001]. “ISIL knows it has asymmetric advantages on the ground, but we have our own asymmetric advantage: we can project power from the air, without projecting vulnerability.”
“The key is using our advantage in airpower to apply unrelenting pressure that impacts ISIL and its allies psychologically as well as physically, because in 21st century military operations the most important battle space is your adversary’s frame of mind,” said Deptula …
As Obama declared at the United Nations, such men understand only one language. And the message the United States and its allies are delivering from the air needs no translation.
Nothing has inspired minds in the Middle East more than over a decade of no-translation-needed we’ll-beat-’em-into-bench-holes bombing campaigns and special operations. The result is probably not what Deptula had in mind when being consulted at Pebble Beach, or wherever he was.
As for destroying stills that provided “a few hundred barrels of gasoline a day,” we bombed the equivalent of a couple gas stations in LA County.
That’s some real strategy. Or delusion, depending on your choice in words.
Reuters canoes deep into the swamps of
Dixie WhiteManistan to gather opinions on the yen for secession: Only 1 in 4 support it, but the dead-enders are united.
And confused, as always, somehow believing that about half of Scotland voting to leave the United Kingdom was somehow like what precipitated the Civil War and Cliven Bundy defying the Bureau of Land Management.
The Scottish National Party, of course, being so much like the 2014 neo-Confederacy in its support for the labor of the lower and middle classes.
The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away …
Ergo, interview the old white heevahava from the birthplace of sedition:
“I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference anymore which political party is running things. Nothing gets done,” said Roy Gustafson, 61, of Camden, South Carolina, who lives on disability payments. “The state would be better off handling things on its own.”
Why does nothing get done? Couldn’t be about one party and its base having a world view like ol’ Jefferson Davis’, could it?
OK, Reuters, ask another!
“Texas has everything we need. We have the manufacturing, we have the oil, and we don’t need them,” said Mark Denny, a 59-year-old retiree living outside Dallas on disability payments.
Denny, a Republican, had cheered on the Scottish independence movement.
“I have totally, completely lost faith in the federal government, the people running it, whether Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever …”
Tally: Two fed up old guys in the Old South, both on disability.
I’m one year younger than Mr. Denny. I’m not on disability or retired although one might say I was involuntarily detached from the economy.
Then, icing on the cake, a “Democrat” in Texas, also old:
“When I say secede, I’m not like … Charlton Heston with my gun up in the air, ‘my cold dead hands.’ It’s more like – we could do it if we had to,” said [Lila Guzman], 62. “But the first option is, golly, get it back on the right track. Not all is lost. But there might come a point that we say, ‘Hey, y’all, we’re dusting our hands and we’re moving on.’”
Scottish independence, just like the wish for liberty and effective government in the old states of the Confederacy.
Y’all, I do smell horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation!
With unlimited resources, money and manpower, the US can’t change its image in the Middle East. It’s worse than shit. And it’s even more laughable that it would try to do so during a bombing campaign, one that I’ve pointed out faces no real resistance.
Today, the New York Times ran a piece on State Department attempts to rally people in the Middle East against ISIS and jihadism. That means providing content for social media.
Largely, it’s been a flop as a quick look at the ugly statistics on YouTube show.
The obstacle faced, and it’s a substantial one, is simple to grasp.
How do you counter the social media and propaganda efforts of an emerging nation that relies on its image, for atrocity and blood, as a real world equivalent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Has this even occurred to those hired by the State Department to make this video?
Compared to beheadings and news exultatant mass killings — a body being tossed into a pit, dead people at the side of the road, someone strung up with razor wire, it’s all small beer.
You either go for the full live dismemberment by chainsaw or you don’t go at all, so to speak.
And, of course, it seems to also not occurred to anyone at State that having a video where one has to sign in to see it because it contains material that’s objectionable was self-defeating.
So State uploaded the above video twice and apparently gained a dispensation from YouTube to let the second one alone. (Hint to state: Delete the earlier version, it makes you look dumb.)
Here’s a link to the State Department channel, ThinkAgain Turn Away.
The only video with significant views is the one embedded here. And a lot of its views are now due to domestic media publicity.
What do you think?
It’s about what one might expect from a country where the State Department is, in function, nothing more than an appendix.
The nation’s foreign policy is little more than tactical bombing, special ops black bag jobs, sale of arms to human rights abuser/allies in the region and financial sanctions. Of what use could be any media operation posting brief videos featuring slightly menacing music on YouTube?
Writes the New York Times:
The “Think Again, Turn Away” video mocks the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, even briefly showing some of its beheaded victims. But some critics have questioned its deeply sarcastic tone: “You can learn useful new skills for the Ummah! Blowing up mosques. Crucifying and executing Muslims. Plundering public resources.”
Yes, a video of oil spilling out of a barrel, taken from Vice online, will surely do it.
“About 50 people” work for the State Department’s counterterror social media effort, informs the newspaper.
By contrast, the ISIS capitol in Syria currently being bombed by the US military has “scores” of young men posting pro-ISIS news from Internet cafes in the city every day.
Hot off the wires, a gigantic American arms sale to South Korea, to counter what Reuters calls its “restive neighbor,” North Korea.
We only do the best, most expensive and modern arms packages:
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will sign a deal this month to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets for about 7.34 trillion won ($7.06 billion) for delivery in 2018-2021, two
Lockheed flunkies people with knowledge of the transaction told Reuters on Wednesday …
The company said the agreement includes a substantial “offset” package, including a military communications satellite that will be launched into orbit and then operated by South Korea, as well as significant technical support for South Korea’s K-X program to develop its own domestic fighter jet.
One of the sources said South Korea would sign a follow-up contract with the United States to allow basic maintenance of the jets within South Korea.
The F-35 could not have been developed, built, tested and advertised without the deep pockets of the American people.
In keeping with the theme of considering arms sales as national group-owned goods that ought to contribute to resource wealth fund, a 30 percent value added tax on the sale would potentially reap the following benefit for Americans:
$7, 000, 000, 000 x .30 = $2, 100, 000, 000
And why should we not have that? Americans have devoted their lives earnings to the nurture of the best environment for arms manufacturing in the world.
From Monday: Give Americans a royalty on arms sales.
It’s another great day in the United States of Security.
Where else in the world can you wake up to a press conference announcing the success of two or three military strikes on enemies capable of posing an existential threat to the digestion of Americans who don’t have to fight remote control war? One against a terrorist group you never heard of previously, but threatening to our homeland?
The President, quite naturally, thanked the troops for their duty, there being a slight hazard of repetitive stress injury when pushing the launch keys for 40 Tomahawks and a higher degree of risk in flying over a country in a new jet where no one has a hope of shooting back because, you know, a bird could fly into an intake or a part could malfunction. It could force an ejection into a territory where they would not be glad to see you.
In this great country, combat mission is now redefined as dropping bombs and missiles on territory against no opposition or as aptly described in the news: “the Syrian radar defenses were passive.”
Quote of the day, from a Syrian Twitter tweeting (we invented that!) near a target: “The sky is full of drones…”
Welcome to the United States of Security, we’ll check you now for purity. If you have gold and your ass don’t smell, we won’t bomb you straight to Hell.
We’ve got predator loans, iPhones and drones!
– The National Anthem, from Loud Folk Live
In the distant past I wrote that Americans ought to get something for contributing to this country’s position as the leading arms dealer to the world. The American people, out of their generous pockets, have underwritten everything that’s made our war machine the biggest in world history. We’ve paid for the development, purchase, maintenance and distribution of the world’s biggest, most expensive and most scary weapons. We have created through direct action, avarice, fear, voting patterns and general indifference the perfect business environment for the development of the globe’s most advanced and coveted killing technology. We continue to support, enhance and advertise it through the prosecution of continuous globe-spanning war. Our toadies and proxies look on with envy, just waiting for great deals on big fancy arms packages, bulk allotments of riot control chemicals, and anything related for use on neighboring failed states, their own people or both.
I wrote about it at GlobalSecurity.Org back in 2011 (gee, look at all those ‘likes’, how did that happen?):
Record numbers of Americans apply for food stamps and unemployment. Every job not in finance or arms manufacturing gets beggared or threatened with shipment to China. Saudi Arabia and Iraq get tanks. More and more tanks. There are never enough.
As a thought experiment, I am going to propose a war-profiteering dividend/tax on US arms sales.
Since the core markets for all these businesses are essentially guaranteed by the US taxpayer and government, it seems only fair Americans ought to be regarded as shareholders. And as shareholders, they ought to be in for some rewards. It’s the American way.
Let’s make the war-profiteering tax significant because, although even though I haven’t researched it yet, the US arms industry is probably quite adept at tax avoidance already. So I make it twenty percent of all profits in overseas arms sales — weapons, tanks, aircraft, ships, guns, ammo, bombs, missiles, rockets, chemicals, computer systems, engineering, construction, software, consulting services and support staff — everything.
Here’s the calculation, using SIPRI’s latest data:
20 percent of 247 billion in sales = 49 400 000 000
Further, I will propose a yearly war-profiteering dividend check for everyone in the United States on food stamps. According to Reuters: “For fiscal 2011, average enrollment is forecast for 43.3 million people.”
Here is the calculation:
49.4 billion divided by 43.3 million = 1 140.8776
Everyone on food stamps, no exceptions, gets a check from the protected US arms industry, for roughly $1,140.88. That would certainly be a help.
One could also extend the dividend to all tax-filers for a given fiscal year although it would probably cut the size of each check by at least two thirds.
The only people who wouldn’t be entitled to checks would be employees of the US arms manufacturing base. They’re already getting dividends as well as security. Of course, none of this has any chance of consideration. It’s all in the imagination, delusional. The protected industry of American weapons production is a third rail. No one will seriously discuss taking any big whacks at it.
Over the weekend, from the wire, a big sale of MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to our famous ally and functional dictatorship in the war on terror, Pakistan:
WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Saturday approved the sale of 160 mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles to Pakistan at an estimated cost of $198 million.
Islamabad had requested 160 Navistar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles with spare parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel and equipment training, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and programme support.
Following the State Department’s determination approving the sale, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.
“The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia,” DSCA said.
In 2011, I proposed a 20 percent tax to be collected on American bulk arms sales, to be paid back to the American people as a royalty.
Because times are worse for many Americans I now propose raising our theoretical value added tax to 30 percent.
30 percent of $198 million is $59,400,000
In essence, it would be a way of giving a small basic income to every American on a national resource we have been responsible for husbanding and making available to the world.
You could consider it as the the citizens of Alaska feel about their oil checks:
(Reuters) – Nearly every Alaska resident will soon be $1,884 richer, thanks to an annual payout from an oil wealth trust fund that has been credited with keeping many low-income families out of poverty, state officials said on Wednesday.
More than 640,000 Alaska residents will receive the payment from The Alaska Permanent Fund next month, which Department of Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell says is the third largest since the state began paying such sums in 1982 with a $1,000 check.
The sum is more than twice the $900 paid to each Alaska resident last year and more than the collective payments from each of the last two years. But it is still off from a high of $2,069 paid in 2008.
Alaska’s Permanent Fund was established by a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1976 requiring a portion of state oil revenues be put into a savings account to be available for the distant future …
A value added tax on the sale of arms could easily be thought of as a way of collecting money for a resource wealth fund, to be paid back to the citizenry as a royalty for its long and continuing support of the resource.
In this specific case, the block sale of 160 MRAPs to Pakistan.
It’s a perfect idea. Can you come up with a good argument against declaration of American-made Department of Defense-approved and battle-tested weapons of war as a national resource we’ve all made possible? Didn’t think so. Slap a value added tax on the damn thing and use it to pay back Americans. We made it possible. We’re the makers, not the takers. We want our share.
It worked for the city of Davis in Orange County. And a host of bad publicity notices from around the country have moved San Diego Unified’s police force to schedule the disposal of its newly acquired Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.
From the wire:
The San Diego Unified School District has decided to return a military-grade armored vehicle donated by the Department of Defense that was intended to be used by city schools police for emergencies such as campus shootings …
“Public sentiment regarding the use of excess military equipment by law enforcement agencies since the civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., has pointed to the need to be more sensitive to perception,” [San Diego Unified police chief Rueben Littlejohn] said. “The value that this defensive tool would bring cannot exceed the value of retaining the public’s trust, confidence and perceptions of how we will protect our students.”
Even loaded with teddy-bears, still not a friendly sight. Unfortunately, the Pentagon will quickly pawn it off on someone else.
When you’ve been tossed in the garbage by the dictatorship of American capitalism you have much free time. Plenty to ruminate on how unfit the country is, time to come up with strong stories and opinions. And one expression of this is Loud Folk Live, made over the summer during live recording sessions in Pasadena with my friend, DDB drummer Mark Smollin.
Loud Folk Live was done as a you-are-there performance, straight to a two-track recorder, dressed up only to the extent of what you’d hear coming through the sound system at a show.
Welcome to the United States of Penitentiary, we all get here eventually; we lock up the poor for all the rich & we do it right, without no hitch. We have predator loans, iPhones and drones! Plus lots of crazy people! — from “The National Anthem”
The pic is the CD cover and it’s ready. Yes, there will be compact discs! CD-Rs for now, but still — something you can hold with higher fidelity than mp3s. (Which you can also have.)
One place you probably won’t see it will be the iTunes store or offered on streaming music services. I’m not particularly fond of the business model of paying a
bribe service fee to get thrown into a cloud Oblivion of tags, meta information and lists compiled by “curators” who work for zip. (Quote: “Now you get to give 99 dollars to Tunecore for the privilege of being buried in the world’s digital landfill of streamed music.”)
If you still read the blog or believed at all in what was done for the last two decades you’ll want this.
It’s a statement, sometimes laugh out loud funny, always pointed, and loaded with the contempt and anger richly earned by the Culture of Lickspittle in the superpower of predatory business.
Wanna buy me some guitar strings, picks and other sundries used up in the Loud Folk Live sessions and score yourself a CD at the same time? Wanna review copy? Have an opinion or a promotional scheme?
Share or hit the donate button at the bottom of the “about” page.
Much more to come.
Have a listen to The National Anthem, one of the many great tunes on Loud Folk Live.
Famous line by Dennis Hopper, playing the maniac Frank Booth, in the movie Blue Velvet, made decades ago. You know, before all the big American beer companies sold themselves to foreigners out of greed.
Today, from the wire, news that Pabst has been sold to a Russian beverage company for a few hundred million.
About a decade ago Pabst was considered a hipster beer in the Williamsburg neighborhoods of NYC and in LA’s west side. It was a good marketing trick.
But today Pabst is only three percent of the American market. Remarkably, it also makes Colt 45, much mentioned here.
And the arrival of Pabst in 24 oz. cans at Baja Ranch a couple weeks ago probably explains why Colt 45 has disappeared from the shelves. Colt 45, much stronger beer, sold for $1.39 for 24 ounces; the same size can of Pabst now goes for $1.75.
The company is so pathetic it’s even afraid of underselling one of its own products. And I’m saying this as someone who always liked Pabst and Colt 45!
Unintentionally hilarious quote, from the wire (no link):
In a statement, Oasis Chairman Eugene Kashper called Pabst Blue Ribbon the “quintessential American brand — it represents individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression — all the things that make this country great.”
Kashper will serve as CEO of Pabst Brewing, which will keep its headquarters in Los Angeles.
America in 2014, individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression. Haw.
Just like Los Angeles is a birthplace of beer.
Made by Pabst, probably not proudly. Endorsed by me!
Because big corporate beer in America is just as cheap and villainous as everything else, I’m reaching into the archives today for a story on Miller beer.
The setting, a Christmas party in which a man who once lived by me and worked in management for the Miller plant in Irwindale, could think of nothing to talk about but firing people.
This, in the holiday season. Because that’s what everyone talks about in America when it’s time for good cheer!
Layoffs, so the wealthy get more:
I was at a late afternoon Christmas party in Pasadena yesterday when I was told a classically 2010 American tale.
The fellow to the left of me was talking about his job. He worked at the big Miller brewery in southern California, west on the superhighway out of Pasadena to Irwindale. It’s a classic joint. Like all breweries, you can smell the fermentation when you drive by.
He informed the room that Miller’s development plan was to downsize/fire 50 percent of the employees at the place.
I was astonished. Beer, like pizza, one would think to be virtually recession proof. Only if you kill off a population do you cut overall consumption of alcohol.
And the biology and thermodynamics of fermentation has not been changed by innovation in hundreds of years. It can’t be done. Beer-making is immutable. You cannot make it more efficient through the application of technology aimed at efficiency and downsizing.
So I asked the man what was the reasoning behind this, since beer-making can’t be revolutionized.
He said that management had figured out that if you had two people who did jobs with overlap, you could fire one of them, award half their salary to the retained worker, and make the person still employed do twice the work. And the leftovers would jump at that.
He added that this made more profit for the shareholders and company heads.
They shipped him to Texas where he probably got fired, too.
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