IS and James Foley – Why War Journalism has gotten more unsafe

I noticed general upswings in the number of readers due to the new front page format, so I need to do this from the beginning!

I am a big fan of photography. I got my first SLR from my dad, his old one. I learnt to shoot on film as a kid. I loved war photographers for what they did in telling the story of those who suffered. [TW – About the murder of James Foley and the transcript of his execution] [Read more…]

Not the Ducks! – eBola

One of our greatest fears, especially in the USA is a deadly disease. Mainly because with a privatised medical system you end up with people “toughing it out”. You would be surprised (since India’s universal medical system is so overworked most people have to turn to private) what people can tough out.

Things like “my child has swollen to twice his normal size. I am sure he will get better”. And indeed, there will be someone who thinks his symptoms of ebola aren’t that deadly and stay at home. Or go to work. Typhoid Marys are things that do exist.

This is the deadliest outbreak of Ebola so far. Medicin Sans Frontier report more than 1,400 infections and a fatality rate of 57%. To many  people, the isolation tents are places to die rather than places where you are saved. And these people are incredibly brave.

I have told you guys I work with Tuberculosis patients who hold a similar fear. But TB doesn’t spread as easily as Ebola nor is it as fatal. Doctors tend to bear the brunt of such illness because we don’t wear masks when we see patients and can fall ill from what they have. So far 800 people have died.

There are brave men and women out in Africa fighting to save lives and stem this disease. And the fact the case rate is so low is testament to their efforts. Our capacity to control population movement via quarantines has helped stop the spread. I have often said that you don’t know who you are until you are in the dark. That what we consider ourselves is a careful construct. That until we are pushed to the very edge we will never realise what sort of people we are. These people who are out there fighting this disease in Africa are incredibly brave and doing a vital service to the rest of humanity.

Ebola was discovered in 1976. Africa has a long history of deadly diseases coming out of it. It is a zoonotic disease that used to have deadly outbreaks in isolated villages.

It is a severe acute viral illness. The symptoms are fever, weakness, pain, headache and sore throat. Followed by vomitting, diarrhoea, rashes, reduced kidney and liver function. Haemorrhage occurs. People are highly infectious as in the haemorrhagic stage blood is often sprayed via coughing. Ebola has a long period of infectivity with some people testing positive 60 days after infection. The incubation is also rapid with some patients showing symptoms in as little as 2 days.

The lethality of the disease was what helped keep it from spreading. It literally spread so fast and so lethally that it never left anyone to carry the disease. This outbreak is unusual in that it has hit a major city.

You are at your best in the dark, you are also capable of your worst. And the vultures from the quack brigade have come crawling out of the woodwork.

If you guys send Donald Trump to Africa then you will have fewer problems

We must suffer the consequences of helping others! If we were all selfish like Trump, we would all be Millionaires. Arseholes… but millionaires.

Or you know. Our world class medical facilities will help us formulate new ways of treating a deadly disease and help protect real live people (not just real live millionaires) from dying pointlessly of something we could fight.

 How dare we help. Save us from Libertarian’s champions. I cannot even parody Trump’s casual villainy here.

If the mere shade of ebola turns Donald Trump into a gibbering idiot and all round douchebag then I truly fear what sort of man he at the darkest of times. Remember all those anti-vaccination stances Mr. Trump held? I wonder will he stand behind them if we do invent the ebola vaccine.

Probably this guy

And he isn’t the only one.  This site makes a rather interesting claim.

Thieves oil can be diffused to kill airborne microbes, applied topically on the skin to help the body fight off infection, and also used internally in homemade capsules. If Ebola was going around in my area, I would diffuse Thieves oil daily for 15 minutes every few hours. I would apply it to my feet and armpits 2x/day or more and take it in capsules at least 2x/day for preventive purposes.

Apart from the subtle irony in calling your snake oil “Thieves Oil”. This simply doesn’t get how Ebola works or how it spreads.

Ebola is magically killed by this random plant as long as you spray it around your house like air freshner for 15 minutes a day (Ebola is a very polite pathogen and makes appointments). I don’t even know why you would apply it to your armpits and feet. The only pathogens I know that like feet and armpits are fungal infections and the elusive armpit to armpit transmission has since eluded scientific discovery.

And the homeopaths have got in on the action too. This to my knowledge would simply not work.

1. Crolatus horridus (rattlesnake venom) 2. Bothrops (yellow viper) 3. Lachesis (bushmaster snake) 4. Phosphorus 5. Merc. cor.

Like cures like and I know 3 of these toxins can cause haemorrhagic issues. By that logic you should infect yourself with dengue fever under the “Ninjas can’t catch you if you are already on fire” principle. And the site posits the old “we are about to swept aside by this foreign disease”.

Another site reassures its readers that while the disease is far away there is always the chance of terrorists using it.

In order for the con to work, you need the ignorance of what Ebola and indeed what Africa is. To many people it’s grass huts and lions. Just as India is all Aladdin Architecture and Temples. Mumbai would probably blow their minds.

Fortunately, for your fears there is a panacea. Water that’s been smacked against this special leather board. Because water learns if you beat it hard enough with a leather paddle.

I may hate this man’s capacity to prey on the weak but I have to admit? The guy’s got brass monkeys for not only creating a fear but then selling magic water to people who really aren’t at risk to “cure” it. It’s making a profit with water!

Pseudoscience and CAM or “quackery” as I prefer calling it demonstrates the real potential harm it can do. All that Echinacea and St. John’s Wort are  provide you with a sense of well being and positive thinking that you are protected in the same way that a lucky sock does. As we begin to take the quack industry seriously we realise one important thing. That these people are replacing medicine with quackery and while it won’t kill you if you are healthy, I am sure the care of doctors has more survivors than the quacks.

The lack of a specific protocol makes Ebola a prime target for charlatans. Unable to find any official regimen, the made up ones of charlatans seems more planned and thought out than the “intensive care” of medicine.

Prevention is about avoiding exposure, properly dealing with those already infected and disposing of the dead and any infected fluids, not deodorising your room with magical febreeze.

And conspiracy theories about ebola are out there too. Because why explain something in a simple manner when you can involve reptilian overlords and the Illuminati.

The two Americans affected are Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol. Brantley is already in the US, and Nancy should be there by the time I land.

The dialogue from the quacks, the libertarian right wingers and the usual suspects is the same. WorldNet Daily is off scaring people about immigrants bringing in Ebola and other diseases. Dave Hodges and the president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Jane Orient are both working together to undo any goodwill the public have to doctors by claiming that “100,000 West Africans are in Central America, have been taught to speak Spanish and are coming across our Southern border” carrying Ebola, naturally. Because these people not only show a complete lack of understanding of how difficult it is to learn other languages but how hard it is to do so while having ebola. That’s like trying to play Contra blindfolded.

The dialogue of many of the fears are dominated by people like Mike Adams, Orient and Trump. As of now? Trump’s ideas have had thousands of views.

The truth is? You know how there are so many panic stories coming out of Africa? A lot of them are simply that. People panicking. The media is in general after a “scoop” and the more sensationalist the better. It’s why the “buzzfeed” headline exists. Avicenna Last travelled to the UK and you won’t believe what he wrote! The same fears that people have in Africa are mirrored in the press of the USA and UK. For all our education, we rarely remember our own education.

We have effectively forgotten that ebola is not spread by air but by bodily fluids. So we begin to treat its victims as if they had TB. The truth is? If the CDC are planning to bring a highly deadly disease into the USA for study and treatment then at the very least you would see staff following a strict checklist of aseptic technique to rule out infections. The staff themselves will be under scrutiny and if they really want to go all out they will put patients into isolation booths with a negative air pressure (meaning air comes in, not out if doors are opened) preventing the spread of the pathogen.

Ebola Clinic from Medicin Sans Frontier

These are the people who will help beat ebola.

Not people like Trump. People like Trump are the sort of people who throw their fellow man to the wolves for a quick dollar. If it were profitable to help? Then I am sure he would be out there making a killing.


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Criticising an Atheist Horseman – Sam Harris is wrong about Israel and Palestine

I had exams. So I let this slide. My next two are on Saturday and Sunday so I have some time to field this one.

Sam Harris’s take on Israel and Palestine shows an incredible naivety about the situation and buys into the whole notion that the conflict is purely religious in nature. Let’s break it down.

And I fear that writing this will get me accused of being a secret Muslim. The count of accusations due to the prior piece was at 43.  [Read more…]

Peace on our Dime – Israel/Palestine

When a zionist once asked me why I think partitioning Israel may have resulted in the current conflict I had to point out that I came from an ethnic group whose identities of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi were determined by a similar partition and indeed on the same religious grounds.

And for this? Between 7 to 10 million people died in the fragmentation of the Raj and the arbitrary lines drawn up for the sake of peace.

Israel vs. Palestine. [Read more…]

Protective Edge – MSF report from Gaza

I have long written about the withholding of aid to Gaza and the West Bank.

But one of the major problems is we keep saying that the information coming out of Gaza is solely in the hands of non-Israeli sources and so is suspect as propaganda. The Facebooks have been aflood with images of London and France with missiles above asking “what would you do”. The  answer is “Not This”.

Protective Edge’s name alone clouds the fact it is a “pre-emptive strike”, defence by offence.  [Read more…]

Didgeridon’t – Rolf Harris and the harm caused by Trolls/MRA

The heroes of our youth in the UK are no more. They died in ignominy. Gary Glitter and Jimmy Saville turned out to be paedophiles. While Glitter became synonymous with Child Molestation and went to trial quickly, Sir Jimmy Saville was beloved of many and a knight to boot.

He died and his legacy went down fighting against charges made. Now some may say the victims should have come forward earlier while the man was still alive so he could be punished. Maybe, but do you think we would have listened?

[TW – Rape, Sexual Assault, Paedophilia, Harassment]

[Read more…]