Polio’s Comeback

It wasn’t that long ago that the disease poliomyelitis, or polio, was feared all over the world, even in the most advanced countries. Polio is a contagious disease caused by the polio virus. While most people who are exposed to the virus do not show any symptoms, if the virus gets into the bloodstream or into the central nervous system, the results can be dire. In the worst cases, the virus may cause permanent paralysis. Polio became epidemic in the twentieth century and the worst outbreak in the United States was during the 1950’s. Every year, people dreaded the summer and the polio outbreak that would come. It must have seemed a near miracle when Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine and ended the threat of polio. Polio rapidly became unknown in the West and it seemed that the disease would soon be eradicated worldwide.

Polio is making a comeback in the developing world, however. Is this because the vaccine has become ineffective? Have international health agencies lost interest in distributing the vaccine? No. What has happened is that Muslim authorities in several countries have become convinced that polio vaccination is a conspiracy against the Islamic world and have declared jihad against it. Here is the story in USAToday, which I found through Jihad Watch.

Once close to eradication worldwide, the dreaded disease polio is resurfacing in Muslim-majority countries where vaccinations are hard to come by due to war, religious edicts and ignorance, experts say.

The latest example comes this week in Syria, where a strain of polio originating in Pakistan has crippled more than a dozen children, according to doctors for the Kurdish Red Crescent. Cases have also been showing up in Somalia, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

The problem is prompting some polio-free countries to demand that visitors from high-risk countries take oral vaccines at the airport upon arrival if they cannot prove they’ve gotten the vaccine.

“The Saudi government has introduced restrictions for all those traveling to the Holy Land from polio-affected countries,” said Mazhar Nisar of Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Regulations and Services.

“Every pilgrim is to take polio vaccine before traveling to Saudi Arabia and also upon arrival at any of the international airports in the Kingdom,” Nisar said.

It says something when the Saudi government, where they still execute people for witchcraft, is the voice of reason. Other people are far less sane about this matter.

In Pakistan’s Northwest territories, where Taliban clerics have significant influence, polio vaccination teams are maligned as un-Islamic or Western purveyors of poison meant to sterilize Muslim women.

A cleric in Pakistan’s Punjab province warned that a jihad would be launched against polio vaccination teams, whose mission he labeled a Western conspiracy, frightening away a team that arrived in Muzaffargarh, according to The Express Tribune.

This week, militants in northwestern Pakistan kidnapped 11 teachers involved in a polio vaccination campaign. Local official Khyali Gul said the teachers were taken from a school in the Bara area, close to Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan.

The United Nations in Pakistan pulled its staff involved in immunization from Pakistan after three eradication workers were shot in Peshawar and two of them were killed, in 2012. Since then, more vaccine teams have been targeted.

Without vaccination, the cases of polio are rising in Pakistan, as is the appearance of the Pakistani strain of polio in other countries where infected Pakistanis travel.

The Pakistani polio virus was found in sewage samples in Israel in June this year (the virus can be found in fecal matter of an infected person) and in Cairo in January.

It would be bad enough if the effects of this sort of idiocy were simply the spread of polio in places like Pakistan. In this age of rapid and easy travel, no disease can be stopped by national borders for very long. Despite any precautions by other countries, polio is likely to spread among the unvaccinated, even in Europe and America.

The World Health Organization says the once-rare disease could be resurrected and has declared a polio emergency across the Middle East. Allias Durray, a doctor who is the chief of polio eradication for Pakistan, warned that Europe may be next.

“After the Syrian polio outbreak and the flight of refugees in proximity to Turkey and European Union, it is evident that the polio virus is at the doorstep of Europe,” he said.

Not all countries check for polio vaccinations among foreign visitors from countries where polio is considered endemic. The United States requires immigrants be vaccinated, but not visitors.

“We collaborate closely with international organizations and other countries to make sure that international and U.S. guidance on vaccination for immigrants is implemented, said Donda Hansen, media spokesperson for the Center for Global Health at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.

“The U.S. maintains ‘elimination status’ in the U.S. by aggressively investigating every suspected case to determine whether an importation has occurred, taking steps to prevent transmission, and safeguarding Americans,” Hansen said.

It’s too bad a general quarantine cannot be imposed against the parts of the world controlled by these fanatics until they see reason.

It is not clear why Islamic authorities would oppose vaccination. Inoculation or vaccination seems to have been invented in either China or India. It was widely practiced against smallpox  in the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century and European travelers from that country brought the knowledge of the procedure to Europe and America. There is no prohibition of the practice in any Islamic scripture or law that I know of. Medical products made from unclean animals like pigs have been ruled acceptable for use by both Jewish and Islamic authorities. It seems clear that saving lives is of greater importance than dietary purity. Perhaps the concern is not really religious at all, but stems from a general paranoia and hatred of the West. Whatever the cause, the fools making the fatwas will not be hurt as much as the innocents who will have their lives blighted by their ignorance.

A Freed Slave

Slavery in America was abolished with the ratification of the thirteenth amendment to the constitution in 1865. Although discrimination against Blacks continued, especially in the former Confederate states of the South, a great evil was finally ended. Since slavery was ended 148 years ago, you wouldn’t expect to find any former slaves still living, but you would be wrong. Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has affirmed, in a recent speech on the House floor, that she is a freed slave.

She certainly doesn’t look like she’s at least 150 years old. I wonder what her secret to preserving her youth is. Perhaps Ponce de Leon was looking for the fountain of youth in the wrong state.

Image of Sheila Jackson-Lee
Amazing! She doesn’t look a day over 50 (credit: Wikipedia)

Looking over her Wikipedia article, I see that this isn’t the first stupid thing she has said.

In July 2010 Jackson Lee said: “Today, we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side.”[27] It was noted that Vietnam had not been split for four decades.

The Hill reported in 1997 that Jackson Lee had asked NASA officials whether the Mars Pathfinder photographed the U.S. flag that Neil Armstrong had planted on Mars. When this incident was reported, her chief of staff wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that she was targeted because she was black.

In February 2013, Jackson Lee called herself a “freed slave” while talking on the House floor.

Sheila Jackson Lee serves on the Committee of Homeland Security and the Committee on the Judiciary. Lord help us.

Infant Left in Truck


Here is another story for my what were they thinking file. According to fox59.com, a couple from Bartholomew County Indiana decided to leave their four-month old infant in their truck while they went shopping.

Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Tompkins made the 911 call Monday evening. He said he’d just pulled into the Jay C grocery store parking lot in Columbus when someone alerted him about the baby.

“As soon as I got up to the truck I could hear a baby screaming in the back seat,” said Tompkins. “I didn’t even think. I just, was like, this kid needs to get out of there.”

The temperature outside was around 75 degrees and although the truck windows were rolled down, Tompkins said the baby was in distress from the heat.

“When I pulled the child out of the seat I had to take a fleece blanket off of him,” he explained. “When I pulled him out of the seat, I immediately felt that his outfit was soaked through with sweat. And I could notice that there was water droplets on his head and on his face where he’d been sweating. And he’d also spit up. So there was vomit down his chin and all down, all the way down his belly.”

Tompkins said he held onto the baby until an ambulance showed up. Then, he said, the boy’s parents came out of the grocery store.

“It might have been 20 or 30 minutes before I’d seen the woman come out of the store.”

He said the couple is lucky the situation didn’t end worse.

“You can’t leave a child that young alone for any amount of time,” said Tompkins. “It’s a potentially fatal situation.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as it might have been. The temperature was not too hot and the baby was unharmed, but how could anyone leave an infant alone for any length of time? Four month old babies are completely helpless and there is no telling what could have happened. And, since they were a couple, if they didn’t want to take the baby into the store, couldn’t one of them stay behind to baby-sit?

I have to wonder if these people were thinking at all.



USA Today and “Climate Deniers”

USA Today has published a remarkably dishonest editorial on their opinion page today, titled “America, Pick Your Climate Choices” I say that it is dishonest because on the fourth paragraph, it refers to those who have not drunk the climate change, global warming, climate catastrophe, or whatever they are calling it this week, Kool-Aid, as “deniers”. This, of course is meant to evoke Holocaust deniers, thus placing those of us who believe in actual science in the same league as fringe groups who deny well-established historical facts. To make sure we get the implication, USA Today compares the “deniers” to birthers in the very next paragraph, calling them;

a vocal minority that refuses to accept overwhelming evidence.

And what is this “overwhelming evidence”. Well;

Late last week, the nation’s pre-eminent scientific advisory group, the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a report called “America’s Climate Choices.” As scientific reports go, its key findings were straightforward and unequivocal: “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment.” Among those risks in the USA: more intense and frequent heat waves, threats to coastal communities from rising sea levels, and greater drying of the arid Southwest

There is no mention of any actual empirical evidence that climate change is occurring. This is simply an argument from authority. Given the fraud and self-deception that many climate scientists have been engaging in (climategate?) I am not inclined to accept such authority at face value.

The editorial continues;

The Climate Choices report didn’t generate big headlines because its conclusions aren’t new; they are consistent with the scientific consensus about global warming. That consensus acknowledges some uncertainty in the extent to which climate change is the result of human activity, and how bad global warming will be if nothing is done.

Scientific hypotheses are not accepted based on consensus but on the quality of the evidence. If the evidence favors a hypothesis than it is accepted, until the next observation or experiment. Note that the consensus is in fact no consensus at all since even the report confesses that there is uncertainty about the extent that climate change is the result of human activity.

To continue with the editorial;

If the deniers want a more legitimate basis for resistance, it is this: Even bold and costly national U.S. actions to limit greenhouse gases will be ineffective unless developing nations also curb their emissions. It’s hard to imagine China and India acting, however, if the U.S. doesn’t lead.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine the governments of China and India being so foolish as to wreck their economies to fight a chimera. Unfortunately, our political class is not so pragmatic.

And finally, USA Today makes some recommendations;

The Climate Choices report, requested by Congress, suggests investing in clean-energy technology, looking for ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and — most important — putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions. “Cap-and-trade,” a complex but proven way to use market forces to reduce pollution, passed the House in 2009. Like health care reform, though, it has become so unpopular in GOP circles that at the first Republican presidential debate this month, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty abjectly apologized for once supporting the idea. “I’ve said I was wrong,” Pawlenty groveled. “It was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”

In other words, wasting the taxpayer’s money, in a time of record deficits, on unproven technologies and getting the EPA involved in every single economic transaction. I am sure the Chinese would be delighted to see us destroy our economy in such a fashion.

I also note the snide way in which they criticize the actions of Republican politicians. God forbid public officials actually listen to the opinions of the public.

Finally, the National Academy of Sciences is not an unbiased institution. They have been on the global warming bandwagon at least since 2005. Among their members is Michael Mann, known for his climate change fraud, the hockey stick graph. 255 members of the Academy signed a letter published in Science magazine decrying “political assaults” against climate change scientists, by which they apparently mean holding them to at least minimal standards of honesty.