U.S. offers Pakistan Army $2 billion bribe aid package

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Even as the Obama administration moved to stop training and equipping Pakistani Army units that have killed civilians in the offensive against the Taliban, the United States said Friday that it planned increased aid for Pakistan’s military over the next five years.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement in Washington alongside the Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as leaders from both nations convened for a series of meetings.

The new aid package, totaling $2 billion, is meant to replace one that expired Oct. 1. It would complement $7.5 billion in aid that the United States has already pledged to Pakistan for civilian projects, some have which have been directed toward helping the nation recover from the damaging floods.

In announcing the aid, Mrs. Clinton did not discuss the administration’s moves to stop financing certain elements in the Pakistani Army that have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians…

One senior administration official said there was “a lot of concern about not embarrassing” the Pakistani military, especially during a week in which officials are here for the third “Strategic Dialogue” in a year

President Obama met Wednesday in Washington with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and other senior Pakistani officials before leaving on a campaign trip to the West Coast, but the White House provided only a vague description of their conversations. Most of the strategic dialogue is focused on coordination of a range of subjects, including counterterrorism, nuclear security, flood relief and trade.

“I told the White House that I have real concerns about the Pakistani military’s actions, and I’m not going to close my eyes to it because of our national interests in Pakistan,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the author of the amendment, said Wednesday from his home in Vermont. “If the law is going to have teeth, it has to be taken seriously. Pakistan’s military leaders have made encouraging statements about addressing these issues, but this requires more than statements.”

Our various governments, you know, administrations we are told are vastly different from each other – have been consistently giving away billions of dollars for so many years I honestly can’t tell them apart once I’m outside the United States.

RTFA. American weapons, US-trained officers, good guys, bad guys who used to be good guys [can you say Zeta?], every flavor of opportunist thug who claims to have the best wishes of the United States and General Dynamics engraved upon his heart gets money, shekels, dollars, zlotys, pesos, dinars, whatever – by the pallet-load.

Pakistan alone has been getting 10 figures a year for a decade and longer. What sort of security has the United States received from that? What have the people of Pakistan received? Nothing, nada, squat, nuttin honey!

Texas healthcare – state sues clinic for not charging enough!

A Grapevine women’s clinic and six of its physicians have been accused of offering their patients unauthorized birth-control products from Canada.

In a lawsuit, Attorney General Greg Abbott said Women’s Integrated Healthcare obtained intrauterine devices from an online Canadian pharmacy even though Bayer, their manufacturer, offers a U.S. version. Neither the attorney general’s office nor Bayer has claimed that the device is unsafe.

Doctors at Women’s Integrated Healthcare said that they turned to Canada because they were desperate to provide a safe but less expensive IUD for patients who were uninsured and could not afford the U.S. version. The Mirena IUD costs about $200 in Canada and $700 in the United States.

I, as a physician, always thought it was a physician’s duty to go to bat for my patients and that’s what I tried to do,” said Dr. Angela Cope, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s Integrated Healthcare. “We’re surprised to be in this situation for a device that is exactly the same worldwide…”

RTFA and learn this is exactly the same device produced by an American company in Finland – it’s just that Americans are charged 350% more than Canadians and the great state of Texas wants it to stay that way.

Health advisory information and physician instructions were printed in Scandinavian languages. The physicians attempted to address the differences by removing the foreign labeling and inserting an English warning downloaded from a website…

“Whether the Mirena IUD gets on an airplane in Finland and comes to Canada or America, the product is exactly the same,” Cope said…

This summer, physicians in Rhode Island also came under fire for importing the devices from Canada. The FDA and Bayer have issued warnings to physicians about selling the unapproved devices. Cope said that the Grapevine practice had already stopped using the devices by the time the FDA warning went out and that they never received a letter from the manufacturer.

Rick Perry and his flunkies don’t have anything more important to do for Texas healthcare than to attack a women’s clinic run by women healthcare professionals? Right?

Good ol’ boy politicians continue to front for corporate profits.

Which do you prefer — frizz or formaldehyde?

“Suffer for beauty” has been taken to a whole new level with recent controversy surrounding a trendy hair treatment called the Brazilian Blowout. The product, used in pricey salons, turns frizzy, unmanageable locks into the luxurious pin-straight looks made popular by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The catch? Tests conducted by the state of Oregon earlier this month determined that the product contains unsafe levels of formaldehyde — as in, embalming fluid — a known carcinogen.

But that’s not deterring some from the pursuit of fabulous wash-and-wear locks…

Introduced at salons a few years ago, the Brazilian Blowout costs about $250. But after the two-hour treatment — which involves coating the hair with the chemical, then flat-ironing it — coarse, kinky hair becomes soft, smooth and straight for two to three months. Sort of an anti-perm, the Brazilian Blowout has been touted as more effective and less time-consuming than other hair-straightening methods such as conventional relaxers, Japanese thermal processing or other keratin-based treatments (there are several available), although concerns have been raised about the product’s possible formaldehyde content in the past, when Allure magazine did an exposé.

These concerns soon dissipated, though, once the company reformulated the products and began distributing bottles labeled “formaldehyde-free.”

Earlier this month, though, Oregon Health & Science University issued two public alerts after tests performed by the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found up to 10.6 percent formaldehyde in the product…

Brazilian Blowout disputes the finding. “We have no formaldehyde in our formula,” spokesperson Dana Supnick said.

In other tests a couple of weeks ago, Canada’s health department found up to 12 percent formaldehyde and warned people to stop using it, citing consumer complaints of “burning eyes, nose, and throat, breathing difficulties, and one report of hair loss associated with use of the product…”

Health complaints from stylists who’ve performed the Brazilian Blowout on clients have prompted at least one class action lawsuit against the manufacturer.

I defer to my lovely wife on the decision. We both side with science on a great deal of decision-making; though, you would hope that questions of style and appearance wouldn’t fit into that category.

When she made the decision that coloring her hair wasn’t conducive to living a long and healthy life, she came to the parallel conclusion that continuing to straighten her naturally [and very] curly locks should drop by the wayside, too. I think her hair is more gorgeous than ever and I believe she’s come round to that opinion, as well.

10th California baby dies in whooping cough epidemic

She caught whooping cough – her infant son died
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

California health officials say a tenth baby has died of whooping cough in the state’s worst epidemic in 55 years.

The 6-week-old baby died last week after being treated at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego…

More than 5,270 cases of the highly-contagious illness have been reported in California this year. The previous record was set in 1955 when there were 4,949 cases reported.

All of the babies who have died were too young to be fully immunized against the disease, according to health officials.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious, cyclical illness that peaks in number of infections every five years. The last peak occurred in 2005 when California reported 3,182 cases, with 574 hospitalizations and seven deaths…

Jonathan Fielding, the county’s health director, urges parents and caretakers to get vaccinations to avoid any more deaths…

What the anti-vaccination nutballs don’t get is that those who may be outside the effective zones of infection also need to be vaccinated to inhibit transmitting the disease to the most vulnerable. This is something that’s been accepted medical practice since the days of Jenner – when the sum of peer review determined which disease vectors needed to be inhibited by any means. Vaccination happens to be just one of those that is most effective.

Individuals, whether caregivers or parents who refuse vaccination, decide to be Good Germans. They don’t set out to harm anyone else by their self-important act of “freedom”. Neither does the fool who drinks and drives. Both classes of egregious behavior serve in practice to put others in danger.

Health officials say most kids are once again susceptible to the disease by middle school.

A booster dose of the vaccine is recommended for people between the ages of 11 and 18, as well as for people who have contact with infants.

Scientists say warmer Arctic probably permanent

In an international assessment of the Arctic, scientists from the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark and other countries said, “Return to previous Arctic conditions is unlikely…”

“Winter 2009-2010 showed a new connectivity between mid-latitude extreme cold and snowy weather events and changes in the wind patterns of the Arctic, the so-called Warm Arctic-Cold Continents pattern,” said the report, issued by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)…

Normally cold air is “bottled up” in the Arctic during winter months but in late 2009 and early 2010, powerful winds blew cold air from north to south instead of the more typical west to east pattern, said Jim Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Overland saw this as a direct link between a warmer Arctic with less sea ice and weather in the middle latitudes, and he suggested it was likely to become more common as Arctic sea ice melts over the next 50 years.

This pattern has occurred only three times in the past 160 years, Overland said at the briefing.

“It’s a bit of a paradox where you have overall global warming and warming in the atmosphere (that) actually can create some more of these winter storms,” Overland said. “Global warming is not just warming everywhere. … It creates these complexities.”

“There’s now really no doubt that glacier ice losses have not just increased but have accelerated,” said Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Research Center. “Sea level rise projections for the future will again need to be revised upward.”

Reporting on this inexorable process continues, week-by-week, month-by-month. I don’t expect most people – especially in the United States – to pay much attention. First off, it’s science. Not as interesting as NASCAR or the NFL. 2nd, climatology requires understanding of time measured in quantities longer than 2 quarters of Wall Street reporting.

Those who ignore peer-reviewed study for the mumbo-jumbo of junk science designed to reinforce the status quo for an oil-based economy – aren’t even up to that level.

The report is over here.

Brazil’s richest man builds huge port/city/highway

Dangling above the South Atlantic, construction workers brave wind and waves to erect a vast 10-berth port terminal off the Brazilian coast. Nicknamed the “highway to China,” the $2.7 billion port will be one of the biggest in the world when completed in 2012.

Eike Batista, a mining mogul and Brazil’s richest man, dreamed up the idea for the Acu Superport because he was fed up with the delays in getting iron ore from his mines onto ships bound for China.

“Land your cargo at a port and if it’s a container, it may stay there for 30 to 60 days,” Batista told CNN.

He ended up building a port and industrial complex that will be bigger than Manhattan and already is luring foreign and domestic investments…

A cement causeway juts 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) into the ocean. It will boast a four-lane highway, pipelines and conveyer belts to move iron ore, soybeans and oil onto waiting ships, feeding China’s insatiable appetite for raw materials…

This is a story about connecting Brazil to the world. Because for the last 20 years, why haven’t German companies or European or American companies come to Brazil?” he asks. “Very bad logistics.”

Brazil’s clogged roads and ports add billions of dollars to the cost of production every year. Analysts say improving the country’s infrastructure will be one of the main challenges facing Lula da Silva’s successor.

Batista’s a pretty impressive dude. Get a chance, watch the interview Charlie Rose did with him earlier this year. He’s one of those overachievers whose father was one of the wealthiest men in the country; but, didn’t believe in giving his kid a leg up.

He treats his own children the same way. Could make for a soap opera if he wasn’t so busy building a port that should end up anchoring a new city that rivals Rio. And brings in a lot more money.