Uh, does your cat have a persistent cough?

Two people in England have been infected with TB by domestic cats who contracted the bovine strain of tuberculosis. The announcement came from Public Health England and they say the risk of further spread of the disease is very low…

There are reportedly nine cats who are carrying the strain of TB that infected the two people. The same strain has been found in two other people but the disease is in its latent form. This particular strain is bovine TB which comes from cattle but badgers may have been behind the outbreak.

Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore of the Feline Clinic at the Roslin Institute says that future outbreaks can be prevented from paying attention to the health of pets.

“We’re not thinking about infectious diseases but if we have a cat or dog with a skin lesion that won’t heal or a persistent cough, then we must take them to the vet and the vet needs to have a look at them and the vet needs to be thinking that TB might be a possibility.”

Cripes. One more thing for world-class hypochondriacs to worry about.

Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy

A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.

Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.

Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city’s Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.

Allegations of blasphemy against Islam are taken very seriously in Pakistan, where 97% of the population are Muslim.

Several recent cases have prompted international concern about the application of blasphemy laws.

Sawan Masih’s lawyer said a judge announced the verdict during a hearing at the jail where the trial has been held, amid fears for his client’s safety if he attended court.

The 26-year-old Masih, who is a father of three, has consistently maintained his innocence during the year-long trial…

Critics argue that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are frequently misused to settle personal scores and that members of minority groups are also unfairly targeted.

Muslims constitute a majority of those prosecuted, followed by the minority Ahmadi community.

Any expectation of fairness in the use of a patently absurd law is misplaced. Not that I expect anything more from sectarian zealots. No matter which continent.

Flat-earthers who consider science untouchable and secular law untenable are stuck into definitions of culture that hasn’t changed since the Stone Age.

Smart small business owners support raising minimum wage

Sen. Robert Casey, CEO Clifton Broumand and Sen. Cory Booker

Small business leaders joined Senate Democrats on the Hill Thursday to lend their support to a push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

Flanked by business owners who said they experienced measurable benefits to paying their employees above the minimum wage, Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the impact of such a move would go far beyond the individual worker.

“We know that 70 percent of the economy is driven by consumer spending,” Casey said. “If you put more dollars in the pockets of consumers, not only do you have that overarching economic benefit to the country, but of course small businesses especially benefit.”

But the more powerful testimony came from John Cooper, Clifton Broumand and Scott Nash, who told stories of their employees who “were more like family” and stayed with their companies for decades because they could count on a “a fair wage for a fair day’s work.”

Broumand, who owns Man & Machine Inc., which makes medical-grade waterproof keyboards and mice, said that paying his employees well meant they were more innovative and loyal.

“Inevitably as a business owner, you’re not going to get as much money initially, but I’ve found that productivity by people who have less stress, who are happier in their jobs, actually increases substantially every time they’re getting more money,” he explained. “And therefore, it doesn’t take that long for me to actually become more productive and actually make more money…”

Cooper, president of Spectronics Corporation, a Westbury, N.Y. company that builds ultraviolet lamps for forensic and fingerprint analysis, said more than 70 percent of his company’s employees had been there for more than 10 years.

A higher minimum wage will result in increased employee retention, which means lower costs for hiring and training new workers,” he said. “It will allow workers to buy essentials they cannot afford now and most of the money they spend will go right back into local businesses.”

“Raising the minimum wage might have a short impact on our profits, the bottom line, but in the long run, it benefits our workers, and it benefits me as owner of the company as well,” he said. “So it’s a win, win.”

One of the most interesting experiments by any nation as we we headed into the global crash of the Great Recession was that portion of German industry that tried an alternative to the dole. Work hours were cut; but, workers were not cut loose from their jobs into unemployment. They may not have had a boatload of work to do; but, factories were maintained; tasking skills were continued as was training; plans were studied and trialed – and when the turnaround barely began to be felt, German industrial capacity was ready to move and grow, produce and benefit the whole country’s economy.

All at a cost less than traditional measures. All without displacing workers from their place of employment often for decades. All without hiring new workers requiring one to three years of experience to get up to the productivity levels of staff let go to the dole. A stroke of success beyond the comprehension of the American government, particularly Congress. Unfortunately.

On a smaller scale, these small business owners are talking about the same concept and practices.

Ratzilla in Sweden

The appearance of a massive rat in a Stockholm family’s kitchen has made headlines in Sweden, where it is being dubbed “Ratzilla”…Measuring 40cm (nearly 16in) plus tail, the creature terrified the family in Solna district.

Pest controllers finally killed the intruder using an oversized trap.

Even the family cat had refused to enter the kitchen while the giant rat was in residence, father Erik Korsas told BBC News.

It appears that it reached the kitchen via a ventilation pipe, having gnawed its way through cement and wood.

After devouring food leftovers under the sink, the creature feasted on a “Swedish smorgasbord” of waste in the bin, according to Mr Korsas…

The incident occurred three weeks ago and initially, after taking a few souvenir photos, the family thought no more about it…But when they contacted Sweden’s Home And Rent website to see if it was interested in the story, it rapidly scurried to the top of the country’s news agenda, attracting the attention of reporters at newspapers including the English-language The Local…

Since the incident, the kitchen has been repaired and the family and its cat, Enok, have not been bothered by rats of any size. Nonetheless the family is “just waiting for the next rat to come home to us”, Mr Korsas said.

The rat weighed over 2 lbs. and was 16 inches long plus the tail. Cripes, that’s bigger than some of the pets I’ve had over the years.