Thursday, April 30, 2009
CRUNCHING SOME SWINE FLU NUMBERS
By Leva Cygnet
I've been seeing comments around the blogosphere to the effect of "it's a mild flu" and "only 150 out of a population of 110,000,000" are dead in Mexico. I thought I'd do some analysis on the reported swine flu numbers regarding what they might be showing, and what you can infer from them.
First off, Mexico is reporting that there are 157 suspected fatalities and 7 confimed. For ease of argument, I'm going to round this down 150. And yes, I know it's likely some of those suspected fatalities died of other things, and equally likely that Mexico is so disorganized and overwhelmed that they're under-reporting matters. I'm going to take the number of "150" and stick with it for this article for math purposes. You can do the same math yourself on any number you chose to play with.
We cannot calculate a case fatality ratio (CFR) from those 150 dead because we don't know how many are sick. Lots of people are, or have been, hospitalized but it's highly probable that many more people are recovering at home. Swine influenza seems to be behaving exactly like one would expect a new influenza to act, and it is not Ebola or Captain Tripps the Death Flu. This means most people will recover just fine in a few weeks on their own and no doctors need be involved.
What we can do is apply various CFRs to the number of dead to figure out how many people might be sick.
Here's some examples:
The 1918 pandemic had a CFR of around 2.5%. (Though this seemed to be highly dependent on personal genetic resistance and the capriciousness of viral mutation; it would make some people mildly ill and, elsewhere, wiped out entire communities.)
Taking a CFR of 2.5% gives us 150 dead and 6,000 total infected.
That, alone, is unstoppable. 6,000 people are way beyond the ability of any city to manage, even one as big as Mexico City. To stop the flu at that point you'd need to identify every single one of those 6,000 people, put them in isolation, and -- assuming no one was infected with a mutated Tamiflu resistant version of the flu -- shove Tamiflu down the throat of anyone who'd been in the same breathing space as the sick person during the period they were potentially infectious.
Flu is infectious for 24 hours before symptoms to as long as 7 days after. If even one of those people took a crowded subway, went to a sports game, or went to a busy night club, during a period that they were infectious ... well. Game's up. Flu is entirely contagious enough to have added scores of new victims just from one subway trip. It's airborne.
At just 6,000 sick people, my logic tells me the flu would be nigh unstoppable.
If the CFR was lower -- if the disease is less lethal -- there will be more sick, of course. A CFR of .5% gives us 30,000 sick. A CFR of .1% gives us 150,000 sick.
Note that a lower CFR is not necessarily a good thing. The way I see it, either we have a disease with a relatively high mortality rate that is spreading and probably unstoppable in the human population, or we have something that doesn't kill very many people, but is so contagious that it's infected tens or hundreds of thousands of people in several weeks. Either isn't a very good scenario.
The second scenario, a wickedly infectious flu that doesn't kill a lot of people, is problematic on several fronts. One, it will kill some, as demonstrated by the numbers coming out of Mexico. And it would really suck to be one of those people, or their friends or family.
If you take a city the size of, say, the Phoenix metro area (two million) and half are infected and .5% die, that's still 5,000 people dead. For the entire US, with roughly 304 million, if half are infected and .5% die, that is 760,000 people. Worldwide, assuming eight billion people, twenty million could die. Odds are, however, that influenza's going to tear through the Third World with a lot more savagery than it hits modern nations, so the global CFR may be worse than what we're seeing now. Mexico may have a lot of poor, but it's nothing like Congo or Somalia or Haiti.
Secondly, aside from the dead, there will be many people who are sick enough to need medical care. If a "mild" but extremely contagious flu strikes, the number of ill could overwhelm the hospitals. Even a mild flu can be devastating to someone with preexisting health problems, or who is young, healthy, and unlucky enough to have an immune system that goes into overdrive. (We're already seeing this in Mexico city -- they have armed guards at the doors of public hospitals who are turning patients away.) There could be shortages of medication, supplies, and hospital beds.
Some quick calculations, using Phoenix for an example: Two million people. 10% sick at the same time gives you 200,000 sick. If just 5% need hospitalization that is 10,000 people. (How many of those 10,000 will die if they don't get the hospital care they need?)
This affects not just flu patients, but everyone for falls ill or is injured for any reason. If all the ventilators are being used and you're in an auto accident and have a chest injury and need one, you're up a creek. You'll die. The equipment wouldn't be available to save you. Plus, anyone who goes into a hospital would potentially be exposed. It would really suck to develop, say, have a treatable heart attack and then die of influenza complicated by your heart disease.
Thirdly, "mild" flu is only mild until you're the one who's sick. Flu is miserable. A mild, uncomplicated case of influenza will knock you flat for a week and, while it might not kill you, it will make you wish you were dead. If tens or hundreds of thousands of people are sick in a city, it can bring normal life in the city to a screeching halt and disrupt things in spectacular ways. (Mexico City is currently experiencing runs on grocery stores. People are panicking and they are literally running out of food.)
Finally, flu viruses have the capability of swapping genetic material with other strains. That's how swine flu was lborn -- likely, a pig was simultaneously infected with avian, swine, and human viruses. The viruses had virus sex and swapped some genetic material and their nasty little lovechild was born. Then some unlucky person caught that new flu virus, and an epidemic began.
During a pandemic, with lots of people sick, we can assume there will be lots of particles of swine flu virus floating around out there. However, seasonal flu isn't going to go away, and seasonal flu and swine flu could swap genetic code and then swine flu could learn some nasty new tricks, like Tamiflu resistance or increased virulence. It could also meet up with something really unpleasant, like avian H5N1 flu, which isn't really adapted well to humans (yet), but which has some genetic code that kills about 60% to 70% of people who are so unfortunate as to catch it from birds.
We really don't want any human-adapted flu to reassort with H5N1. The same thing that happened with the afore-mentioned pig could happen with H5N1 and if H5N1 retained its lethal nature That Would Be Bad.
On the other hand, if the CFR is higher, 150 dead gives us fewer patients. It's not spreading as fast. However, you can calculate the rate of spread of a virus by how many people each person, on average, infects. If each person infects greater than an average of one other person, the outbreak is growing and has pandemic potential. (AIDs, for example, has a very low rate of spread but it's definitely not dying out -- the rate of spread is greater than "1".)
A slow rate of growth, despite a higher CFR, may make swine flu more manageable. It would be easier to implement social controls such as quarantines of the infected, closing public places, and discouraging travel, to reduce the rate of growth even further. Slow the spread enough, and the hospitals don't become overwhelmed. While getting the rate of spread below "1" would be unlikely, it might be possible to keep it from growing in exponential leaps and bounds. Eventually, a vaccine will be created, and we can bring the pandemic to a standstill -- at least in those areas of the world where a vaccination is possible. (The toll that pandemic flu will take on certain third world countries will be appalling.)
However, slowing down the spread of the flu will require communities to accept restrictions that they will find highly unpalatable: schools, movies, restaurants, malls, ball games, parks, public pools, libraries, and more, all restricted or outright closed for business. Travel will be frowned upon and perhaps limited. All this will create massive financial strain on the people whose jobs are affected, with ripples spreading out throughout the economy.
I'm predicting that, if a large-scale pandemic does materialize, it will shake the western world's perception of itself to its core. Many people will die. Normal life will be disrupted on a large scale in ways that haven't happened in decades. The economy will be at the bottom of an outhouse before all is said and done. We will learn we are vulnerable to disasters of this scale, despite our assumptions to the contrary.
Stay tuned. The next few months will be very interesting ...
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Swine flu has been confirmed in Germany and Austria and London overnight.
Will it stay mild? Is this the first wave? Only God knows.
UPDATE: CHILD WHO DIED OF SWINE FLU IN TEXAS WAS MEXICAN WHO TRAVELED TO US FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT -HOUSTON HEALTH OFFICIAL
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The military is monitoring the outbreak, something they would naturally do since the CDC invoked the "declaration of public health emergency." Doing so can invoke the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA) which in turn (depending on which state you are in that has passed it) use the military.
Under the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, upon the declaration of a "public health emergency," governors and public health officials would be empowered to:
1. Force individuals suspected of harboring an "infectious disease" to undergo medical examinations.
2. Track and share an individual's personal health information, including genetic information.
3. Force persons to be vaccinated, treated, or quarantined for infectious diseases.
4. Mandate that all health care providers report all cases of persons who harbor any illness or health condition that may be caused by an epidemic or an infectious agent and might pose a "substantial risk" to a "significant number of people or cause a long-term disability." (Note: Neither "substantial risk" nor "significant number" are defined in the draft.)
5. Force pharmacists to report any unusual or any increased prescription rates that may be caused by epidemic diseases.
6. Preempt existing state laws, rules and regulations, including those relating to privacy, medical licensure, and--this is key--property rights.
7. Control public and private property during a public health emergency, including pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, nursing homes, other health care facilities, and communications devices.
8. Mobilize all or any part of the "organized militia into service to the state to help enforce the state's orders."
9. Ration firearms, explosives, food, fuel and alcoholic beverages, among other commodities.
10. Impose fines and penalties to enforce their orders.
Considering that Executive Order 51, signed by President Bush last May allows the President to establish an "enduring Constitutional Government" under which the Executive Branch alone has authority and powers, (martial law) and considering that Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff for President Barack Obama is on record as saying that "you should never want a serious crisis to go to waste... an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before..." and considering that CDC and Homeland Security shared the podium at yesterday's news conference (well, you connect the dots as to the next steps in this public health emergency.
The CDC reports that it has spread to six states with 64 confirmed cases. When a swab comes in for testing, they first test for Influenza-A, then go forward if positive for sub-set testing to conform the swine variation. However, that two-step process is slowing down the testing considerably, so California announced that "From now on when we are unable to sub-type Influenza-A virus, we have been directed to conclude the test has, in fact, detected swine flu," and New Zealand declared the same. At the same time, the WHO declared that containment is no longer possible and they just want to slow the spread.
CDC's list of US cases is up to
FYI, New York Times also has a world map-flu tracker here.
There are many reasons that local and national governments, the CDC, and WHO are concerned. Even though there have been no deaths in the US or elsewhere yet, there are items to consider about this particular version of the flu:
waves: pandemics occur in waves. The second wave is more fatal than the first. In the case of this 2009 outbreak, scientists fear that the first wave may have largely gone undetected, allowing wide spread virus transmission.
"In the 1918–1919 pandemic, a first or spring wave began in March 1918 and spread unevenly through the United States, Europe, and possibly Asia over the next 6 months (Figure 1). Illness rates were high, but death rates in most locales were not appreciably above normal. A second or fall wave spread globally from September to November 1918 and was highly fatal. In many nations, a third wave occurred in early 1919." source
Scientists are concerned because they are not sure if they are seeing the first or the second wave. If it is the first, this disease will seem to have died down and then in the fall it would reappear with devastating results. So...pray!
recombinant "Although the airborne virus is called swine flu, it is a recombinant mixture of DNA segments from pigs, birds and humans. The virus is a new genetic strain, which medical experts say could mutate into an even more dangerous variant of potentially pandemic proportions, since no one would have immunity to it." source. It is what makes the second wave so deadly: the virus re-adapts.
cytokine storm: As it was in the 1918 flu pandemic, it attacked adults in the demographic of 25-55 year olds, with healthy immune systems. The normal flu attacks young children and the elderly first. The difference is that in 1918 as it is now with this version of the swine flu, it causes a cytokine storm. When the immune system is fighting pathogens, cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines. Normally, this feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, the reaction becomes uncontrolled, and too many immune cells are activated in a single place." The immune system gets overswamped, and you die.
Interestingly, scientists cannot figure out why the flu is lethal in Mexico and has not been anywhere else.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Here are WHO's rules for phases of pandemic level:
Phase 1: In nature, influenza viruses circulate continuously among animals, especially birds. Even though such viruses might theoretically develop into pandemic viruses, in Phase 1 no viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.
In Phase 2 an animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat. Below: WHO regions
In Phase 3, an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Limited human-to-human transmission may occur under some circumstances, for example, when there is close contact between an infected person and an unprotected caregiver. However, limited transmission under such restricted circumstances does not indicate that the virus has gained the level of transmissibility among humans necessary to cause a pandemic.
Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic. Any country that suspects or has verified such an event should urgently consult with WHO so that the situation can be jointly assessed and a decision made by the affected country if implementation of a rapid pandemic containment operation is warranted. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.
Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.
Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5. Designation of this phase will indicate that a global pandemic is under way.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
"The emerging threat of the Asian Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern, highly mobile and technological societies to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major Asian flu outbreak, (H2N2 in 1957, which killed 69,800 people in the United States) took five months to reach the United States. With the advent of global jet travel, it is now likely that highly virulent disease strains will be transmitted to population centers around the world in a matter of just a few days."
We have seen the spread of this flu from Mexico City to Canada to New York to New Zealand to Israel in just a few days. It's out there. One iteration of the virus seems more mild, those in NYC and New Zealand are comfortably recovering. The Canadian who returned from Mexico was in hospital for 11 days, and the Mexicans are now suffering with a virulent iteration that kills.
* This new strain of influenza has shown it can spread easily from person to person.
* It has been found in several places and among people who had no known contact. This suggests there is an unseen chain of infection and that the virus has been spreading quietly.
* This can happen because respiratory illnesses are very common and doctors rarely test patients for flu. People could have had the swine virus and never known it.
* At least in the United States, it has so far only been found in people who had mild illness, another factor that would have allowed it to spread undetected.
* World Health Organization director Dr. Margaret Chan has said the new strain of H1N1 has the potential to become a pandemic strain because it does spread easily and does cause serious disease.
From the article: "Here are the key things that you need to do to protect yourself and your family, and to help restore order during a pandemic:"
A.) Raise Your Immune Resistance
B.) Be Ready to Fight the Illness
C.) Avoid Exposure.
D.) Stockpile Key Logistics.
E.) Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance
Read more at the link. The most important things are to cover your mouth when you cough and to instruct kids to cover their mouths. Coughs are weapons. Also, frequent hand-washing is a must, with warm water and anti-bacterial soap or alcohol hand sanitizer. Reducing or eliminating attendance at large-scale events is also a strongly recommended preventative.
Anyway, that is some information or you and I highly recommend reading the article!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
A nationwide search is underway for a University of Georgia professor who police say shot and killed his wife and two men early this afternoon at an Athens theater gathering. George Zinkhan, 56, is still at large, Athens-Clarke police said.
[Athens-Clarke police Capt. Clarence] Holeman raised the possibility that the shooting could be a crime of passion. “I can only speculate,” he said. “Some people are saying it could be a love triangle or something like that.” Zinkhan appeared to target Tanner, Teague and Bruce, said Rick Bedell, an actor with the Town and Gown Players, but he did not know why. "It was deliberate,” Bedell said. “He shot these three people specifically and walked out.“They were good people, and I have no idea why (Zinkhan) went nuts,” he said.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Crisis units have been activated in Brasil, France, Colombia, Chile and Nicaragua to monitor the swine flu outbreaks in the US and Mexico...
Possible Swine Flu Outbreak At NYC Prep School, New York City health officials say that about 75 students at a Queens high school have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms and testing is under way to rule out the strain of swine flu that has killed dozens in Mexico...
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's federal government has closed museums, libraries, and state-run theaters as well as schools in its overcrowded capital to stop a swine flu outbreak authorities say may have killed as many as 60 people.
The government already shut down schools across Mexico City Friday in hopes of containing the outbreak that has sickened more than 900 people. World health officials worry a global flu epidemic could spread from the city of 20 million.
Mexican officials have pushed back the deadline for filing national taxes for one week.
Also, CA has opened its joint operations center to combat the flu in California
MEXICAN and US officials have taken emergency measures to contain outbreaks of a new multi-strain swine flu blamed for scores of deaths in Mexico and seven infections in the United States. Mexican authorities confirmed the swine flu outbreak ...
The World Health Organisation in Geneva said 60 people have died from suspected swine flu in Mexico, and Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said officials are probing 45 deaths and 943 possible infections.
The US cases included five in California and two in Texas, in three clusters, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said. [ED. NOTE: with another potential cluster in Ottawa]
The WHO, which has identified swine influenza as a potential source of a human flu pandemic, activated its global epidemic operations centre.
CDC to hold press conference today at 2:30pm.
Mexico Links Sickness, Deaths to Swine Flu
"The White House is closely following the outbreak of a new strain of swine flu in the United States and President Barack Obama has been informed, an administration official said Friday."
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus in the United States was a never-before-seen mixture of viruses typical among pigs, birds and humans. All seven American patients, who came down with the illness, have recovered. But it has also broken out in Mexico, killing at least 16 people and sickening more than 800."
Note that other sources put the death toll at nearly 60.
Now MSNBC reports the flu strains in Mexico and US are linked:
The unique strain of swine flu found in seven people in California in Texas has been connected to the deadly flu that has broken out in Mexico, killing as many as 60 people, NBC News has confirmed.
The strain, identical in both countries, has never been seen before and is raising fears of a possible pandemic.
The World Health Organization said it was concerned at what it called hundreds of "influenza-like" cases in Mexico, and also about the confirmed outbreak of the new strain of swine flu in the United States.
Mexico canceled classes for millions of children in its sprawling capital city and surrounding area on Friday after authorities noticed a higher number of flu-like deaths than normal in recent weeks.
"It is a virus that mutated from pigs and then at some point was transmitted to humans," Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told the Televisa network.
Luke 21:11--And great earthquakes will be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences: and fearful sights, and great signs will there be from heaven.
I have been watching the news on blogs and such about flu and swine flu these last 48 hours. Wednesday it popped on a few Canadian news outlets that Canadians returning from Mexico were coming down with flu and dying. That got my attention:
Alert Issued After Serious Mystery Ailment Affects Canadians Returning From Mexico
"The mystery malady has puzzled experts both here and in Mexico, who have yet to identify exactly what it is. The ailment seems to primarily affect young adults who went on their trips healthy but failed to return in the same condition. The symptoms begin as a flu-like illness and rapidly deteriorate to respiratory distress and breathing difficulties. Doctors in Mexico are well aware of its presence. At least 20 people have died there so far - mostly patients between the ages of 25 and 44."
Then the next day, (Thursday) outbreaks of a new swine flu were affecting people in CA and TX, and the swine flu strain was genetically new and unfamiliar to scientists. Scientists were visibly concerned that none of the affected had been near a pig, meaning the strain had mutated into human-to-human contact...
CDC confirms 7 cases of swine flu in humans
"A total of seven cases of a previously undetected strain of swine flu have been confirmed in humans in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. None of the patients has had direct contact with pigs. Five of the cases have been found in California, and two have been found in Texas, near San Antonio..."
Then mainstream news outlets Thursday afternoon started reporting that scientists were 'stymied', 'puzzled' and 'scrambling' about this new swine flu:
- Swine Flu Infects Seven; Genetic Make-Up Has Scientists Stymied
- Swine flu cases in US, mystery ailment in Mexico have experts scrambling
@RodrigoMx: WHO says 800 cases on influenza in Mexico, 60 killed... thats pretty serious... they don't know what kind of influenza is...
@BreakingNews The World Health Organization says there are near 800 cases of influenza en Mexico; 7 in the United States.
@RodrigoMx: Mexico City is in a virtual state of siege today. No schools, govt says public may star indoors...
@BreakingNews: World Health Organization says it had activated its Strategic Health Operations Centre because new swine flu in US, flu in Mexico.
Friday morning World Health Organization admitted there were flu cases in Mex City but downplayed the seriousness in the Main Stream News article:
Mexico shuts schools in flu scare
"Mexico is canceling classes for millions of children in the heart of the country on Friday after influenza killed around 20 people in recent weeks. About 79 people, possibly ill with the flu, are being treated in Mexico and that number has not increased in recent days, the Health Ministry said."
But we now know different. Not having to rely on 'Main Stream News,' people on the ground are reporting the situation is much more serious. They are going to use the army in Mexico City to attempt to close down exits, they closed all schools, and WHO is setting up a command post, and, just to make things interesting, by 8am Friday,
"The Public Health Agency of Canada has raised the pandemic surveillance alert from a Level 1 to a Level 2. Grondin said this was "not common" but stressed the move was to signify their increased level of vigilance..."
Now, US 'very concerned' about swine flu outbreak
"WASHINGTON (AFP) — US medical authorities expressed strong concern Friday about an unprecedented multi-strain swine flu outbreak that has killed at least 60 people in Mexico and infected seven people in the United States. "It's very obvious that we are very concerned. We've stood up emergency operation centers," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesman Dave Daigle told AFP. One major source of concern was that the virus included strains from different types of flu."
"This is the first time that we've seen an avian strain, two swine strains and a human strain," said Daigle, adding that the virus had influenza strains from European and Asian swine, but not from North American swine."
So you can see how fast this all unfolded!
Go to SickCity to track twitter mentions of flu in any city in any nation
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I grew up in a fairly secular home and I had no formal or consistent training or exposure to God. People often ask me, now that I am a Christian, "What about the people who have never heard about Jesus? Isn't it vindictive for God to judge them?" There are many answers to that, but the answer I want to focus on involves God's creation and the scripture following:
Romans 1:20: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities; his eternal power and divine nature; have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
I wrote a series of essays at The End Time called "Consider Beauty" which deals with people who has open eyes and an open heart can find God in the creation He made, because His glory is not only in the Son as written in the Scriptures. God reveals His glory in the world and in the heavens, too. So in this travel journal I discovered last night in my photos bin, I had written:
"Plane, 2:00 am. Sunrise...beautiful. I'm watching one side of the world wake up while the other side is still sleeping. It is all pink and blue, and the clouds are like cotton. The stewardess just asked us to lower our shades, because the sun will be up soon and some would like to sleep. I'm not going to miss this for all the gold on earth! This is God's handiwork. I'm not turning down an offering from God."
Later: "I've decided this is heaven. When I die, I want to spend eternity here. Nothing but God could have made this. This is another world."
The bible says that the Holy Spirit draws a person before they even understand the Word. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). Rev. Stanley L. Derickson said, "Since God revealed Himself to man in the creation and man is held accountable for that revelation, then there must be some possibility of the man responding to that creation, else God is holding him responsible for something which he cannot act upon." source. God's general revelation of Himself in the heavens and in the world communicates enough truth about God to make a man responsible to seek God further, with the goal hopefully ending in salvation.
James 4:8 "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." Do you see God in this short video? It is astounding to see God's handiwork through the perspective of deep space peeks from Hubble. I don't agree with the narrator when he says that it's almost absurd that upon seeing this picture that we are alone in the universe." But I do pray that if you glimpse God's glory in the heavens or here on earth that you will allow the Holy Spirit to draw you ever closer to God and your own eternity with Him.
Senate Proposal Could Put Heavy Restrictions on Internet Freedoms
A bill making its way through Congress proposes to give the U.S. government authority over all networks considered part of the nation's critical infrastructure. Under the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2009, the president would have the authority to shut down Internet traffic to protect national security.Here is the one proposed for Europe:
Safeguarding the open internet
Under the proposed new rules, broadband providers will be legally able to limit the number of websites you can look at, and to tell you whether or not you are allowed to use particular services. It will be dressed up as ‘new consumer options' which people can choose from. People will be offered TV-like packages - with a limited number of options for you to access.There are people in Europe mobilising for action:
Activists rally troops against proposed EU 'Net regulations
So, for example, the group Blackout Europe is organizing an e-mail campaign to urge EU Parliament members to reject the package, saying, "under the proposed new rules, broadband providers will be legally able to limit the number of websites you can look at, and to tell you whether or not you are allowed to use particular services." It suggests that one possible result is Internet service that resembles cable TV in terms of providing different packages of sites and services. The group European Digital Rights has expressed similar concerns, as has the UK's Open Rights Group.Speak up! (While you still can)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
In the most complex scientific experiment ever undertaken, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be switched on Wednesday, accelerating sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light before smashing them together.
The LHC was started up in September 2008 but shut down after only a week due to a helium leak that followed an electrical problem.
Critics have contended that the machine could produce a black hole that could eat the Earth or something equally catastrophic.
Supporters have said that the experiment mega-experiment this week is the holy grail of cosmic science to finding an elusive particle known as the God Particle.
"Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves..." All I can say to those attempting a search for the divine in all the wrong places at the potential expense of the earth is, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it:
And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.' Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:1-9)
According to the leaked report:
1) Of the top nineteen (19) banks in the nation, sixteen (16) are already technically insolvent. (Based upon the “alternative more adverse” scenario which had a 3.3 percent contraction of the U.S. Economy in 2009, accompanied by 8.9 percent unemployment, followed by 0.5 percent growth of the U.S. Economy but a 10.3 percent jobless in 2010.)
2) Of the 16 banks that are already technically insolvent, not even one can withstand any disruption of cash flow at all or any further deterioration in non-paying loans. (Without further government injections of cash)
3) If any two of the 16 insolvent banks go under, they will totally wipe out all remaining FDIC insurance funding.
4) Of the top 19 banks in the nation, the top five (5) largest banks are under capitalized so dangerously, there is serious doubt about their ability to continue as ongoing businesses.
5) Five large U.S. banks have credit exposure related to their derivatives trading that exceeds their capital, with four in particular - JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, HSBC Bank America and Citibank - taking especially large risks.
6) Bank of America's total credit exposure to derivatives was 179 percent of its risk-based capital; Citibank's was 278 percent; JPMorgan Chase's, 382 percent; and HSBC America's, 550 percent. It gets even worse: Goldman Sachs began reporting as a commercial bank, revealing an alarming total credit exposure of 1,056 percent, or more than ten times its capital! (HSBC is NOT in the top 19 banks undergoing a stress test, but is mentioned in the report as an aside because of its risk capital exposure to derivatives)
7) Not only are there serious questions about whether or not JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs,Citibank, Wells Fargo, Sun Trust Bank, HSBC Bank USA, can continue in business, more than 1,800 regional and smaller institutions are at risk of failure despite government bailouts!
The debt crisis is much greater than the government has reported. The FDIC's "Problem List" of troubled banks includes 252 institutions with assets of $159 billion. 1,816 banks and thrifts are at risk of failure, with total assets of $4.67 trillion, compared to 1,568 institutions, with $2.32 trillion in total assets in prior quarter.
Put bluntly, the entire US Banking System is in complete and total collapse.
"Have you ever wondered why the CPI, GDP and employment numbers run counter to your personal and business experiences? The problem lies in biased and often-manipulated government reporting." Williams offers solid information on "things you've suspected but were afraid to ask."
What's the real, pre-Clinton unemployment rate? over 20%. With penury and poverty comes crime.
As a Budget Gets Tighter, Police Battle Rising Crime
Some Link Economy With Spate Of Killings:
In One Month, 57 Die In Eight Mass Murders
With higher crime comes a shift in how police are trained to respond. It is no longer serve and protect, it is us vs. them.
Riot police taught to treat the public 'as their enemy', former chief claims
Riot police are taught to treat the public as their "enemy" and regard every situation as a "threat", former police chiefs will tell a top-level inquiry into the G20 protests. David Gilbertson, a retired Scotland Yard commander and assistant inspector of constabulary, said that the "defensive" approach once central to British policing has "morphed into a faux US-style operation" where officers wear military-looking uniforms and used batons and Taser stun guns to clamp down on perceived dissent.
Former police officer Cas Gadomski wrote a good essay about his on-the-ground observations of the "Us vs. Them" syndrome.
In the days when London riot police bludgeon a man to death, in the days when a benign pastor is beaten up for standing on his 4th Amendment right, in the days when Operation Torch Team has police in riot gear and killer dogs patrolling NYC subways...it is indeed us vs. them.
The question is, will it become us vs. us?
Monday, April 20, 2009
My heart breaks for how broken these little kids are. Needless to say it took a lot of patience and I was so tired each night. Not a good kind of tired, but a stressed, comatose, glassy eyed kind of tired. Mostly I sat on the couch and looked out the window, I could not think at all never mind keep up with my online ministries.
The teacher in the room I subbed in was laughing as we were talking...I remember being tired when I taught in Lewiston Maine but I was younger then with no kids. I told her I don't know how she does it (she is my age, with two teenagers, plus going to school for her PhD). That's what made her laugh. "You just stay tired all the time," she said. Please pray for our teachers. They are saints.
Church was really good yesterday. The pastor spoke on the bread of life section in John, because it was the Lord's Supper day, (we take the bread and wine/grapejuice on the last Sunday of each quarter). He told about how important bread was to the Israelites back then. Poor folk made barley bread but the richer people used wheat flour. It was actually barley bread the boy had which Jesus used to feed the 5000. Bread was the central part of the meal, the meat was not because it also had the burden of representing friendship and fellowship. Literally, if you broke bread at the table with a family it meant you were part of the family now too with all the Hebrew obligations that entailed.
In addition, the pastor brought us back to Leviticus 24 to show how important bread was in the Old Testament days as a symbol of life. It was a good lesson, and then the preacher went on to talk about the spiritual importance of why Jesus used the metaphor of bread of life.
The music is so good too, a huge choir and a huge congregation, all singing. I was moved to tears and hung my head for a minute in the middle of it. This older lady who has taken me under her wing and sits with me in the pew put her arm around my shoulder and patted my arm. It was nice to be taken care of for a minute. I like my new church more and more.
I did not get a call to work today and I am figuring I'll be called to sub less and less as the last week of school approaches, May 19-22. But I have Good News Club later and that means I can go in early and help the ladies set up. I am telling you, aside from one man on the team who is in his 50s, all the other workers are in their 70s and 80s. Man oh, man they work hard. There's a lot of stuff to carry in to the school and there they were last week, carrying out all their bags and coolers and jugs of sodas for snack, humped over and shuffling along but smiling and getting it done. My, they are an inspiration. I feel lucky to be working alongside with them.
I see that Maine is going to vote on gay marriage...I will be interested to see how Rep. Sue Austin votes. I am definitely watching this vote. The Gray Independent newspaper shut down so that is a good thing. It is sad when newspapers fold but the bad ones remaining open do much worse for the industry than the loss of a good one folding, so... My most fervent hope is that the town of Gray does not have enough money to fix Pennell. That is an evil building. Can buildings be evil? Yes!
Here at home I'm thrilled that Georgia is one of only three states whose unemployment stats did not increase but stayed flat. So many people are hurting around here and there is stress on the churches and food pantries to help the increasing wave of destitute or imminently hungry.
Have you seen the Susan Boyle video everyone is talking about? She made history in being the most watched video on internet history. She has had 85 million views! The moving and inspiring clip is here if you have not seen it yet. You really must!
On the plus side, my basil is coming up quickly, my tomatoes are not dead yet (I have a penchant for killing plants), and the azaleas are in full bloom. And it is a warm day. Ah, the library beckons and so does the day...till next time!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Georgetown Says It Covered Over Name of Jesus to Comply With White House Request
"Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”--symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there."
Apostle Paul the Christian says:
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation--to every one that believeth."--Rom. 1:16.
Obama had the audacity to deny Jesus but then turned around and used his words from the Sermon on the Mount to illustrate a political point.
Hebrews 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Any Christian would be delighted to draw attention to the name of Jesus and the symbol of the Cross in any setting, but especially a highly public one. To go to lengths to deliberately cover it up reminds me of this verse: "1 John 2. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (v. 22).
A response by the Catholic League: "When President Barack Obama spoke at Georgetown University on April 14, the White House requested that all religious symbols and signage that might appear as a backdrop to where the president was to speak be covered up. Georgetown acceded to the request and made sure that the symbol “IHM,” a monogram of the name Jesus Christ, was not in sight."
Catholic League president Bill Donohue spoke to this issue... “The cowardice of Georgetown to stand fast on principle tells us more than we need to know about what is going on there, but the bigger story is the audacity of the Obama administration to ask a religious school to neuter itself before the president speaks there. No bishop who might speak at the White House would ever request that a crucifix be displayed behind him. Moreover, the same church and state fanatics who go nuts every time a polling place is set up in the basement of a Catholic school have been noticeably silent over this incident."
Signs of the times ... time of the signs.
Friday, April 17, 2009
"I told them I was a US citizen."
"I told them I was on a business trip."
"I told them I had no drugs or humans in the car."
"That wasn't enough. They wanted to search the car, and I invoked my 4th amendment rights."
"I DID NOT RESIST OR FIGHT BACK. YET I WAS TAZERED REPEATEDLY AND SHOVED IN BROKEN GLASS REPEATEDLY!"
"I was IN the United States!!! I had crossed no international border!!!"
"This occurred on the night of April 14/15, 2009"
"Here's info on the officers:
"Ernesto Gomez, CBP Border Patrol Agent Phone: (928) 785-9364 Email: Ernesto.Gomez@DHS.GOV Address: 29820 Frontage Road Wellton, AZ 85356, Cesar Y Diaz 1207 S Arena Dr Yuma, AZ 85364-4425 (928) 343-0849 cesar.diaz@DHS.gov"
This beating occurred the day after Homeland Security published a report that targets segments of the population as extremists and terrorists in a shocking display of ideological profiling. The targeted individuals would be veterans, opponents of a single issue such as immigration or abortion, and end time prophecy teachers. "The report also mentions "'end times' prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as the violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement."
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The Athens Banner Herald took three photos and put them on the front page of the hard copy and also put it online! They devoted almost the entire top half of the front page to show what our youth was doing! I am so thrilled. More than thrilled.
Thank you ABH!!
Matt 28:5-6 "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. Matt 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
Easter Sunday marks the epicenter of the Christian's faith. Many people around the world would acknowledge that Jesus was a fine teacher or a prophet and therefore may celebrate His birth day in December with no qualm. Resurrection Sunday though, that is the final line over which many will not cross. To believe that this man (who was Divine) came to us on earth, preached, loved, rebuked, and died...then rose again, is the difference in where one will spend their eternity.
Don't wait any longer. If you have questions about what this day means., who Jesus was, why the sound of the nails being hammered into the hands and feet upon the cross rings down to this day! Please find a bible believing Christian to ask and discuss, and pray with. Today may be the day: the day your eternity begins...or the day your death comes. Do not delay!
In His precious name.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I watched the storms' progress on the television through the afternoon, tracking them from TN and AL as they moved toward the east. It is no small comfort that I can see super-cells as they form and storm and raze their way across several states, knowing they will hit me at some point. It's even worse when you know they'll strike after dark. I don't know why, but there is a small comfort in being able to look out the window and see if there are lowering clouds or even a funnel. Not knowing make the imagination go wild.
As sunset approached, the skies darkened and the first rumbles of thunder rolled across Madison County at about 7pm. We were issued the first Tornado Watch, meaning conditions were such that a tornado could form. I activated my NOAA weather radio and watched the weather on local tv. At about 8:30 we were issued a tornado warning, meaning that tornadoes had been spotted in the vicinity, so I grabbed the cats and threw them into the bathroom.
Upon moving to this apartment I determined that the best place for storm hideout would be the bathroom. It's only a two-room studio and each wall is an outside wall with a window. There isn't a basement crawl space. The bathroom is the central part of the apartment, as most central as a person can get in two rooms, lol. Though there is an outside wall, the window on it is small and the tub wall is a half wall, so with the advice to "put as many walls as you can between you and the outside," and to stay on ground level, the tub is the spot.
When the loudest crack of thunder I've ever heard shook the house and the hail begin, It was time to hide. I brought a flashlight in with me along with the weather radio and a huge pillow to cover my head.
My poor cat Bert was petrified. He's the sensitive one, needing time to adjust to every change in the apartment, whether it's a new throw on the bed or a new picture on the wall. Nothing escapes him and he needs time to decide whether this little change is or good or for ill. You can imagine the fear in his tiny kitty heart when he heard howling winds, hail beating against the window, and thunder so loud it rang in my ears. He was shaking and quivering and nestled into a tight ball next to my belly as I lay sideways in the tub, the pillow over both of us. Luke? He wanted to play.
We all stayed there for about half an hour. At times the hail was so heavy against the window that I dared get up to drape a towel over the it, hoping that if it cracked or blew out that at least the towel would catch some of the glass. I did wear shoes into the tub, knowing that if there was debris later that I could walk out (hopefully).
So you just lay there, waiting. Will the wind pick up in intensity and make that "roaring sound" everyone talks about as the signature sound for imminent destruction? Will a tree fall on the house? Will lightning strike and start a fire?
There's nothing to do except pray and wait.
After half an hour the winds eased I emerged from the bathroom, leaving the cats in there a while longer (I knew I'd never find Bert again if we had to ditch), but still kept the tv and weather radio on alert because the cells were still stampeding. The lightning kept up for a while longer and the winds were heavy too. By 9:30 the worst seemed to be over and the last tornado watch for our county expired at 10pm. I called my two elderly friends and they were OK as well. We never lost power, thank goodness.
Phew, that was en experience I am loathe to repeat! At least today dawned sunny and clear. Things are back to normal. All except for the unfortunate towns that were hit and I am sad to read that there were deaths. The roulette of life...only God knows when it's a person's appointed time. Apparently, mine was not yet.
And away we go!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Tea Parties Will Bring America’s Outrage to a Full Boil
"As tax day approaches there is a crescendo growing across America in the form of organized protests, also known as tea parties, and the noise is on a path to becoming deafening. Thousands of rallies are planned across the country; one in every single congressional district and larger gatherings slated for cities like New York, Sacramento and Atlanta which hope to boast an upwards of 20,000 participants."
"Though many on the far left continue to ignore or downplay the rage claiming that these gatherings are only for conservatives, all evidence is to the contrary. A recent FOX News poll found that 47 percent of respondents were willing to participate in a Tax Day Tea Party, along with 29 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents. By April 15th, organizers hope to have a database filled with a quarter of a million names representing a broad spectrum of political affiliations."
"The message is simple: repeal the pork, cut taxes and cut spending."
Author Andrea Tantaros has a lot more to his essay, click headline link to read
over 450 events listed. Georgia has parties in Gainesville, Atlanta, Macon, Augusta, Savannah, Albany. A news article below outlines the issues pretty well I think and puts it all in context. As to the question in the post title: my opinion is the parties are patriotic. You?
Modern-Day Tea Parties Give Taxpayers Chance to Scream for Better Representation
We're fed up and we're not gonna take it anymore.
Such is the rallying cry building across the country as taxpayers take a stand against what they see as reckless spending in Washington -- all part of a peculiar and rather sudden movement called "tea parties."
Some small, some large, locals converge at the parties to voice their frustration over the federal government's economic policies. The protests have sprouted up from coast-to-coast and city-to-city since late February.
The biggest one so far is scheduled for April 15, tax day, when hundreds of cities will play host to a coordinated, nationwide tea-party protest.
"People are getting killed -- they're getting hammered with taxes and it's not the way this country is supposed to be run. ... We want to fight back," said Kristina Mancini, who's helping organize the April 15 rally in Fishkill, N.Y.
"Sitting back and being quiet never helps."
The grassroots phenomenon, while largely ignored in the mainstream press, has caught fire on the Internet, where platforms like Facebook and Twitter have served as launching pads for demonstrations.
Though nobody -- so far -- is dressing up like a Mohawk Indian and throwing barrels of Darjeeling into Boston Harbor, organizers draw their inspiration from the original Boston Tea Party of 1773.
Whereas colonists back then were revolting against, among other things, unfair tax policies, the impetus now lies in federal spending and intervention that many fear will lead to a crushing tax burden.
"It's not exactly taxation without representation. It's more taxation with inadequate representation," said Michael DePrimo, with the American Family Association, which is helping promote the events. "People are really getting riled up ... people want to get involved, they want to help and they want to attend. I'm not so sure this'll be a one-time thing."
The historical parallels may seem sparse. America is no longer a colony. It is not ruled by a king.
But just as the 18th century decrees of the King of England drew outrage from American colonists, several acts of modern U.S. government intervention have stirred similar upheaval.
The Stamp Act? Now it's the Wall Street bailout.
The Tea Act? Now it's the $787 billion stimulus package.
The Quartering Act? Now it's the pork-filled omnibus spending bill.
The Boston Massacre? That would have to be the proposed $3.55 trillion 2010 budget, seen by tea partiers as a fiscal massacre.
The Sons of Liberty of today is led by people like Rick Santelli, the CNBC reporter widely credited with helping spark the tea-party fever nationwide (though tea parties were being held before Santelli plugged them).
During an infamous on-air rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in February, Santelli called for modern-day tea parties to protest the economic trends in government.
He stirred up traders by shouting that the government was promoting "bad behavior" with its mortgage rescue plan. "This is America," he said. "How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?"
Though he was mocked by the White House, Santelli might as well have yelled, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
Jenny Beth Martin, a Republican activist who's helping organize one of the higher-profile tea parties in Atlanta, said Santelli's rant led shortly afterward to a conference call of 22 activists, including herself.
From there, she said, organizers put together 48 tea parties -- from St. Louis to San Antonio to Chicago -- on Feb. 27.
There have been scattered tea parties since then, but the next nationally coordinated event is on tax day.
She said 360 events are on the books for April 15, with "dozens more" scheduled every day -- she anticipates more than 2,000 participants in Atlanta.
In the Boston spirit, Martin said they might even toss some tea bags, "maybe into a barrel."
The movement, while nonpartisan, has largely involved conservatives -- who are testing out a role long reserved for the other side of the political spectrum.
"Conservatives aren't known for their protest abilities, and protests in business suits and umbrellas, it was kind of a funny sight," Martin said, recalling the rainy-day event in Atlanta on Feb 27.
But the protesters have forged their own cheeky, anti-spending brand. In videos of the rallies on the Pajamas TV Web site, one protester sported an arm band that said "POOP -- Prisoners of Obama's Policies." Another held a poster that read "Let Them Eat Pork!"
The tea party movement has generated a host of unique Web sites dedicated to promoting upcoming protests and covering those that have already happened. The Pajamas TV site is even recruiting "citizen reporters" to cover the April 15 protests.
"This is about the people. This is about what we have to say," said Nancy Armstrong, who's organizing the tea party in Wichita, Kan. Armstrong, who attended one of the parties in northern Kansas in late February, said she's expecting at least 1,000 people at the local post office in Wichita on April 15.
Margaret Hyland, who's helping organize the rally in Astoria, Ore., said the parties are just gatherings for "regular people."
"We just feel that the government is not listening to the people," she said, adding that the stimulus package was a big factor in her decision to get involved.
"I do not understand how we can throw money at this problem and solve it," Hyland said. "If I was doing my personal budget and discovered I was deeply in debt, I don't think I would go out and borrow a lot of money to throw at it."
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Good News: White House Flooded with Red Envelopes
An estimated 2 million red envelopes were mailed to the White House last week, according to the project's Web site.
The empty red envelopes read: "This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception."
"I really hope it sends a very clear message to the Obama administration that their agenda regarding abortion is really out of step with mainstream America," said Christ Otto, who launched the project.
A White House mailroom staffer has confirmed that nearly 2.5 million red envelopes have made their way to President Barack Obama to protest his pro-abortion record. The staff member says the campaign is one of the largest efforts he can recall in his 35 years working at the White House. "Quite frankly, there was definitely a deluge of mail coming through," he laughed. "I had to handle them all." "I've been here 35 years, so I've seen presidents come and go," he told WND. "This campaign ranks up there with the big ones."
One of the biggest campaigns in 35 years? 2 million envelopes? And not a peep from CNN.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Way cool google tea party map. Click on a pin to find date, address, and time of a Tea Party near you!
Atlanta: Sean Hannity and Dick Arley are attending! Go if you can! Brought to you by the good folks at www.freedomworks.org
The Library will host three fun-filled Friday evenings right at the library. Friday, May 8th Marion Montgomery will sing the blues. On May 15th the Garnet River Gals will have you swinging as they strum the strings playing a variety of folk music. Last, but not least, on May 30th Pat Shields and the Georgia Mudcats will get everyone on their feet with homegrown Bluegrass tunes. All of these shows will be in the evening. There may be additional artists performing, as well as food to purchase. Stay tuned for more details!