Over 34,000 cases of measles in last two months in Eastern Europe

❝ More than 34,000 people across Europe caught measles in the first two months of 2019, with the vast majority of cases in Ukraine, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday as it urged authorities to ensure vulnerable people get vaccinated.

❝ The death toll among 34,300 cases reported across 42 countries in the WHO’s European region reached 13, with the virus killing people in Ukraine – which is suffering a measles epidemic – as well as in Romania and Albania. The risk is that outbreaks may continue to spread, the WHO warned.

❝ Measles is a highly contagious disease that can kill and cause blindness, deafness or brain damage. It can be prevented with two doses of an effective vaccine, but – in part due to pockets of unvaccinated people – it is currently spreading in outbreaks in many parts of the world including in the United States, the Philippines and Thailand…

There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles, and vaccination is the only way to prevent it, the WHO said. Most cases are in unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people.

And if the anti-vaxxers get their political way, we will return to the days of my childhood. Every spring my fellow students would gather in the schoolyard first warm day – look around to see who died or was unable to resume school from one or another disease.

And then we waited for polio in the summer.

Muslim Engineer in Kansas sues Boeing Employees Association

❝ A judge has rejected a move by Spirit Boeing Employees Association seeking to dismiss the lawsuit filed by a Muslim aerospace engineer alleging discrimination stemming from a party at a Kansas lake.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled Tuesday that there remains a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Munir Zanial’s rights were violated on the basis of race, religion or national origin.

❝ The Malaysian national of Indian ancestry rented a pavilion at the group’s lake in 2017 to celebrate Malaysian Independence Day. The lawsuit alleges the association suspended his rental privileges and reported him to authorities.

It alleged an American flag had been desecrated by Islamic State group symbols. But the flag was actually a Malaysian flag and the guests included people of Malaysian Indian ancestry, some wearing hijabs.

Ignorance ain’t bliss, folks. In Kansas it apparently means you might suspect someone of being a dangerous conspiratorial terrorist. Not someone who honors the nation of his birth.

Someday MAGA hats will be shameful secrets, like Klan robes

❝ Donald Trump’s values and beliefs may appear incoherent, but they are not a buffet or à la carte meal from which a person can pick and choose from. Rather, they are a nasty, incestuous knot that cannot be easily untangled. Ultimately, to wear Donald Trump’s MAGA hats or his other regalia is to share and endorse his racism, sexism, nativism, bigotry and anti-social behavior. To utter the words “Make America Great Again” with no sense of irony or foreboding is to announce one’s betrayal of human decency and distrust of democracy.

❝ How do Trump’s MAGA hats and other clothing and slogans help to create a sense of political community for his followers? Is “Make America Great Again” an implicit threat against nonwhites, Muslims and others that he and his followers deem to be a type of enemy Other? Does Trumpism represent larger cultural battles in America about the role of academics, teachers, intellectuals and other experts in public life? Should Trump’s supporters be held morally accountable for their political decision-making and the harm that they are causing to American society?

❝ If you look at the reasons that Trump and his movement actually believe (and often explicitly say) that American is not great any longer, it’s because there’s now too many nonwhite immigrants. America for Trump and his supporters is no longer great because black people have too many rights or there are too many women in the workplace.

Trump and his MAGA hats and slogans and policies are also connected to things like the Muslim ban, building the wall, calling Mexicans rapists and saying the terrorists are crossing into the border among these caravans from Guatemala. The obvious conclusion is hard to escape. It takes a certain kind of willful denial and willful ignorance to wear a MAGA hat and assume that you’re not conveying all those values and beliefs.

RTFA if you need reinforcing arguments for the concept. Actually, if you have the habit of reading science-based articles, verifiable material reality – it’s just one more good source to give to your friends who haven’t the habit.

American politicians learned nothing from the collapse of the Roman Republic

❝ If you were a Roman citizen around, say, 200 BC, you probably would have assumed Rome was going to last forever.

At the time, Rome was the greatest republic in human history, and its institutions had proven resilient through invasions and all kinds of disasters. But the foundations of Rome started to weaken less than a century later, and by 27 BC the republic had collapsed entirely.

❝ The story of Rome’s fall is both complicated and relatively straightforward: The state became too big and chaotic; the influence of money and private interests corrupted public institutions; and social and economic inequalities became so large that citizens lost faith in the system altogether and gradually fell into the arms of tyrants and demagogues.

This is more than a deja vu moment. The article confronts American greed, corruption, ignorance, bigotry and – did I mention – greed. Read it, please. If your favorite Congress-critter or President is a Trumpublican, you know that they won’t.

Trump’s primitive mind is smaller than his hands

❝ The problem is the gut, intelligent though it may be (and no offense to any guts that are reading this), does not know how to run a country. “Even though it has a lot of neurons and can do a lot of things, it doesn’t think a lot about nuclear policy or climate change,” Braden Kuo says. Nor is the gut well schooled in the nuances of monetary policy — the matter on the mind of Trump’s gut most recently…

Bandy X. Lee, the Yale University psychiatrist who has sounded the alarm about the president’s mental functioning, thinks Trump’s preference for his gut is a rare moment of self-awareness. When Trump talks about his gut, she says, he’s really referring to his “primitive brain” — from which a rush of emotion is “overcoming him so he’s not able to access his actual intellect.”

❝ “For people who are cognitively impaired, they use what we call our ‘gut,’ but it is really their primitive mind,” she says. “It takes over and can defeat those operations in the cognitive and rational realm.”

In common parlance in my neck of the prairie this means Trump “is as dumb as a hoe handle”. Or, I guess, a rake handle – given his crap analysis of wildfires.

Cartoon by Jim Morin – courtesy of gocomics.org

Yup. Last month was the hottest May on record.

❝ It’s a familiar theme: each year, it seems, is the hottest year on record. The most recent climate change milestone in the U.S. occurred last month, when the country experienced its hottest May ever recorded. “Nature is dealing cards from a very different deck now compared to the 20th century,” climate scientist David Titley told USA Today. The average temperature for May in the lower 48 states was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the average temperature for the month in the 20th century. Prior to this year, the record hottest May occurred in 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl.

Meanwhile, our Fake President stops lying long enough to wander off into simple-minded fantasy and conspiracy theory. “Climate change is a Chinese hoax.” At a minimum it takes a chump to support Trump. There must be some limits to ignorance and blind faith, rejection of science and historic knowledge.

Maybe not?