The OldChilla Concert

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If this is a handy venue – and you’re young enough to wonder why so many geezers uniformly agree that much of today’s music is crap – here’s an opportunity to find out what we’re talking about. Most of these artists are younger than me; but, that’s not saying much. 🙂

I know some of them are still in good voice. Regardless, worth checking out.

Me? I’m still a New Mexico hermit. I won’t be there; but, one of our regular contributors, Ursarodinia, will be there with bells on. And maybe a cardboard camel.

Uruguay wins case against tobacco giant


An international arbitrator has ordered tobacco company Philip Morris to pay Uruguay $7 million in damages and court costs after losing a lawsuit that challenged government anti-smoking policies…

The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, an arm of the World Bank, ruled that the Swiss-based tobacco-manufacturer had failed to prove that Uruguray had violated the terms of its 1998 Bilateral Investment Treaty in approving a ban on smoking in enclosed spaces, higher cigarette taxes and warning labels between 2005 and 2010. This lawsuit represented the first time a tobacco company had sued a sovereign state before an international forum…

In enforcing the laws, government officials ordered a review of each of the 12 brands of cigarettes sold in Uruguay and required the manufacturer to increase the size of the health warnings on cigarette packaging by 80 percent. The resulting costs forced Philip Morris to withdraw seven of the 12 types of cigarettes that it sold on the Uruguayan the market.

But in their defense, lawyers for Uruguay cited scientific studies which showed a correlation between smoking and a 15 percent increase in cancer cases in the country, making it an “addictive chronic disease.

“This position is shared by the World Health Organization and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as well as the Pan American Health Organization and international scientific and medical institutions,” Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez said.

Bravo, Uruguay. Keep making these greedy bastards pay for their crimes.

The global surge in diabetes – in one map

Around the world, the number of people living with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980, and most of the burden of the disease is concentrated in poorer countries.

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As this chart from Statista shows, many of the biggest increases in diabetes prevalence have happened in the developing regions of the world, such as the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. In 2014, 422 million adults were living with diabetes, compared with 108 million in 1980, according to a new report from the World Health Organization.

For years, researchers and health agencies have warned that urbanization and the influx of cheap, sugary, and processed foods into low- and middle-income countries are linked to the surge in noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes and obesity…

❝ “If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: To eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director general, said in a statement. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Whether they’re poor or rich, countries are also going to have to find ways to counter the ​food marketing messages​ urging people to consume more if they want to turn the trend around.

Any Libertarians, liberal or conservative, on your block who will support that approach? The right to sell people crap food is as sacrosanct as “debate” anchors refusing to challenge political lies from presidential candidates.

Zika virus may infect up to 4 million people in the Americas

The Zika virus, blamed for thousands of deformities in babies in what is a growing crisis across Latin America, could see “explosive” growth and affect up to 4 million people globally, experts at the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the U.N.’s health agency, said the organization will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide if Zika should be declared an international emergency. She added that the spread of the mosquito-borne disease had gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions…

The virus “is now spreading explosively,” she added.

“As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the (Americas) region,” Chan told WHO executive board members at a meeting in Geneva.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters Thursday that there have been 31 cases of Zika infection among U.S. citizens who traveled to areas affected by the virus. So far, there have been no cases of transmission of the virus through mosquitoes in the United States…

Schuchat said that “any outbreaks in the continental U.S. would be limited” for reasons including the fact that urban areas in the U.S. are “not as densely populated” as in the countries where the virus has spread.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said one of the potential vaccines was based on work done on the West Nile virus. Fauci said that vaccine was never developed because a drug company partner could not be found, but he did not see this as an issue for Zika…

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said in November 2015 that Zika was linked to a fetal deformation known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with abnormally small heads.

Brazil has reported 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the WHO said last week, more than 30 times more than in any year since 2010 and equivalent to 1-2 percent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas.

Chan said that while a direct causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations has not yet been established, it is “strongly suspected…The possible links, only recently suspected, have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions…”

Scary stuff. Following on the Web, it appears a broad range of medical bodies throughout the Americas are marshaling forces as quickly as possible. From DNA research to a range of potential vaccines, folks are trying to get ahead of this.

I saw an interview, this morning, where the doctor simply said – sexually active young women should be conscious of mosquito season anywhere they may travel. If they live in a country with a substantial mosquito season and lacking the budget for eradication programs, consider insect repellents – until vaccines are available.

Doctors/Public Health prescription for healthier planet

Some top international doctors and public health experts have issued an urgent prescription for a feverish planet Earth: Get off coal as soon as possible.

Substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change, recommended a global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet. The panel said hundreds of thousands of lives each year are at stake and global warming “threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health.”

It’s like a cigarette smoker with lung problems: Doctors can treat the disease, but the first thing that has to be done is to get the patient to stop smoking, or in this case get off coal in the next five years, commission officials said in interviews…

Dr. Anthony Costello…called it a “medical emergency” that could eventually dwarf the deadly toll of HIV in the 1980s. He and others said burning coal does more than warm the Earth, but causes even more deaths from other types of air pollution that hurt people’s breathing and hearts…

Virtually everything that you want to do to tackle climate change has health benefits,” Costello said. “We’re going to cut heart attacks, strokes, diabetes.”…

In a companion posting in Lancet, World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan also compares fighting climate change to fighting smoking and saving lives. Both Chan and the Lancet commission quote WHO studies that say by 2030 climate change would “be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year” around the world.


Death from malaria has been diminished by half

Global efforts have halved the number of people dying from malaria – a tremendous achievement, the World Health Organization says…It says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.

Each year, more people are being reached with life-saving malaria interventions, the WHO says.

In 2004, 3% of those at risk had access to mosquito nets, but now 50% do.

There has been a scaling up of diagnostic testing, and more people now are able to receive medicines to treat the parasitic infection, which is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes.

An increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination.

In 2013, two countries – Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka – reported zero indigenous cases for the first time, and 11 others (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) succeeded in maintaining zero cases.

In Africa, where 90% of all malaria deaths occur, infections have decreased significantly.

Here, the number of people infected has fallen by a quarter – from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013. This is despite a 43% increase in the African population living in malaria transmission areas.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”

But she added: “We must not be complacent. Most malaria-endemic countries are still far from achieving universal coverage with life-saving malaria interventions.”

Based on current trends, 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria by the end of this year.

One portion of my personal efforts to get Americans to think beyond their family, their community, is the larger community that is our world. Just as we are affected by the loss of young people who may have grown up in the poverty and illness afflicting life that we see around us – there is an even larger community outside the comparative wealth of this nation that fights the same negatives to stay alive – times 10 or 100.

As a species we all lose every time we suffer a young death from disease or war. Someone who might have grown up to discover a way to a better, longer life for us all – never had a chance to achieve any contribution to humanity. We’re all moved to a new place of potential achievement by the simple opportunity of life extended to those who would have missed that chance a decade ago, a century ago.

We have to realize the human family really is a global family.

Agencies warn Africans over bogus Ebola cures

Panic over Ebola has the makers of dietary supplements aggressively targeting Africans, claiming to have a cure for the lethal virus.

Late this week, both the World Health Organization and the United States Food and Drug Administration issued strong warnings about false Ebola cures. The latter threatened American companies with penalties if they continue making such claims…

Earlier this week, a W.H.O. expert panel ruled it ethical to try some experimental drugs to fight this outbreak; some supplement makers have implied that ruling constituted permission for use of their products, though a top W.H.O. official emphasized that it did not.

The hustlers who specialize in the class of medical alternatives guaranteed to be nothing more than a hustle – take this as an invitation to flood the market of fear with so-called wonder cures.

While discussing the shipment to Liberia of an experimental drug the panel did endorse, ZMapp, Nigeria’s health minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said an unidentified Nigerian scientist living overseas had arranged for Nigeria to get a different experimental medicine, according to Nigerian news outlets. They identified it as NanoSilver, a supplement offered by the Natural Solutions Foundation, which said that it contains microscopic silver particles, although, as a food supplement, it is not tested by regulatory agencies. Silver kills some microbes on surfaces and in wounds, but it can be toxic and is not F.D.A.-approved for systemic use against viruses…

ZMapp is a set of antibodies made by the Mapp company of San Diego. Only a few doses exist, and the first two were given to American health workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia and are now hospitalized in Atlanta.

NanoSilver is for sale on the foundation’s website alongside hemp oil, ear candles, chocolate and “mental clarity packs.”

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director general of the W.H.O., said that testing promising treatments “doesn’t mean that any crazy idea that people have — things that have barely been tested in anything — will now be brought to Africa to test on patients. This is absolutely out of the question…”

Since the outbreak started, many rumored cures have swept West Africa. A popular Nigerian rumor is that bathing in or drinking saltwater is protective. Bags of “blessed Ebola cure salt” are for sale.

While bathing in saltwater is harmless, drinking large amounts of it is not. The W.H.O. said two Nigerians have died of it.

Medical hustles abound in every culture in direct proportion to the segment of the public still stuck into religion and superstition. Poverty is another quality creating an open door to snake oil salesmen. If your nation has a significant number of politicians afraid of science and education it’s all the more likely that 14th Century solutions will take hold of the hopes and prayers of ignorant folk.

The placebo effect is next to useless on a virus as deadly as Ebola. So, miracle cures, amazing remissions, aren’t likely. Just more dead – after being drained of every penny they could come up with.

Vials of deadly smallpox from 1950s found in federal storage

Stray vials of the deadly smallpox virus from the 1950s have been discovered at a federal lab near Washington, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday, the second lapse discovered in a month involving a deadly pathogen at a government facility.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that workers discovered the vials in a cardboard box on July 1 while clearing out an old lab on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

The six glass vials contained freeze-dried smallpox virus and were sealed with melted glass. The vials appeared intact and there is no evidence that lab workers or the general public are at risk…

The mishandling of smallpox follows the CDC’s recent mishap in which the agency believed it may have transferred live anthrax samples to a CDC lab that was not equipped to handle them, potentially exposing dozens of employees to the pathogen.

The CDC is testing the vials to see if the smallpox is viable and could make someone sick, said Skinner. After those tests, which could take up to two weeks, the samples will be destroyed, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said…

The CDC said it has notified WHO about the discovery. If the specimens turn out to be viable, the CDC said it will invite the WHO to witness the destruction of the smallpox samples.

Skinner said the CDC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine how and when the samples were prepared and how they came to be stored and forgotten in the FDA lab.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm said the discovery of abandoned vials of smallpox is a reminder to labs globally to take stock of what is in their freezers.

I sense the plot for yet another less-than-stellar movie made for the SyFy Channel.

Thanks, Mike

Achilles’ heel in defensive barrier of antibiotic-resistant bacteria discovered

New research published today in the journal Nature reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.

The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.

The discovery doesn’t come a moment too soon. The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotic-resistance in bacteria is spreading globally, causing severe consequences. And even common infections which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.

Researchers investigated a class of bacteria called ‘Gram-negative bacteria’ which is particularly resistant to antibiotics because of its cells’ impermeable lipid-based outer membrane…

Until now little has been known about exactly how the defensive barrier is built. The new findings reveal how bacterial cells transport the barrier building blocks (called lipopolysaccharides) to the outer surface.

Group leader Prof Changjiang Dong, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We have identified the path and gate used by the bacteria to transport the barrier building blocks to the outer surface. Importantly, we have demonstrated that the bacteria would die if the gate is locked…”

Lead author PhD student Haohao Dong said: “The really exciting thing about this research is that new drugs will specifically target the protective barrier around the bacteria, rather than the bacteria itself.

“Because new drugs will not need to enter the bacteria itself, we hope that the bacteria will not be able to develop drug resistance in future.”

Bravo! I look forward to seeing how this new information will be introduced to the mainstream of disease treatments.

Finding a key mechanism in antibiotic resistance, using that information to destroy that defense mechanism, working backwards to restore efficacy and working forwards to include that capability in next-gen medications is a boon.

Polio emergency declared as war and bandits spread the virus

The spread of polio to countries previously considered free of the crippling disease is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said, as the virus once driven to the brink of extinction mounts a comeback.

Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria pose the greatest risk of exporting the virus to other countries, and should ensure that residents have been vaccinated before they travel, the Geneva-based WHO said in a statement today after a meeting of its emergency committee. It’s only the second time the United Nations agency has declared a public health emergency of international concern, after the 2009 influenza pandemic.

Polio has resurged as military conflicts from Sudan to Pakistan disrupt vaccination campaigns, giving the virus a toehold. The number of cases reached a record low of 223 globally in 2012 and jumped to 417 last year, according to the WHO. There have been 74 cases this year, including 59 in Pakistan, during what is usually polio’s “low season,” the WHO said.

The disease’s spread, if unchecked, “could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious, vaccine-preventable diseases,” Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s assistant director general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, told reporters in Geneva today. “The consequences of further international spread are particularly acute today given the large number of polio-free but conflict-torn and fragile states which have severely compromised routine immunization services.”

“Conflict makes it very difficult for the vaccinators to get to the children who need vaccine,” David Heymann, a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said in an interview before the WHO’s announcement. “It’s been more difficult to finish than had been hoped.”

The polio virus, which is spread through feces, attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis within hours, and death in as many as 10 percent of its victims. There is no cure. The disease can be prevented by vaccines

The resurgence of the virus “reminds us that, until it’s eradicated, it’s going to spread internationally and it’s going to find and paralyze susceptible kids,” Aylward said.

Resurgence, as well, of the question: what holds back progress for most of the people living on this planet? Is it stupidity or ignorance? My answer changes from week to week.

It takes a special kind of stupidity after all to make uninformed and ignorant decisions. Whether the ignorance is religion-based, hatred of furriners, paranoid rejection of science and info from educated folks who obviously don’t live in your own neighborhood/state/region/country/continent – doesn’t matter a whole boatload. Killing your kin and letting your children die sounds mostly stupid to me.