A moral catastrophe: not just in the United States

Care England, Britain’s largest representative body for care homes, reckons that by the end of April 7,500 residents may have died of the virus.  But only those who die in hospital after testing positive are included in the statistics. Elderly sufferers, unseen, disregarded, have gone uncounted. Average life expectancy in nursing homes is only two years anyway, …

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Water crisis

Millions of Americans are facing unaffordable bills for running water and risk being disconnected or losing their homes Water bills weigh heavily on many Americans as utilities have been hiking prices to pay for environmental clean-ups, infrastructure upgrades and climate emergency defences to deal with floods and droughts. Federal funding for America’s ageing water system …

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The shame Americans should feel: corona virus and the big donations

Why is the US corona virus situation such a disgraceful mess? All politicians in America depend on big donors for their elections. That is a given. But some governors, (mainly in the South) are more than ever in the pockets of the super-rich in a country of obscene disparities of wealth. Having donated handsomely, the …

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The virus has been around longer than we thought

Milan, Italy Scientific analysis of sewage samples has shown that the novel coronavirus was present in both Milan and Turin by mid-December, more than two months before Italy’s first case was diagnosed in Codogno, southeast of Milan, on 20 February. Covid-19 patients are believed to shed the virus in their faeces from the time they …

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Covid-19 pandemic risks worst global food crisis in decades

The covid-19 pandemic’s impact on hunger around the world could be worse than the calamitous spike in food prices of 2007 and 2008, a leading food security expert warns. Unlike the scarcity of food during the crisis 13 years ago, the big issue this time is the economic downturn hitting the ability of millions of …

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The coming crisis in American primary healthcare

Over the past several years, there has been a growing shortage of physicians in this country, especially in primary care. A new report by the Association of American Medical Colleges suggests that the shortage will only worsen in the coming years, in large part because of physician burnout. A stronger claim could be made that …

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Annexation of the occupied West Bank

(This post is a bit longer than usual, but the injustice is so troublesome that I wanted to reproduce it;  one won’t find it easily in the American media): Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) decries the Israeli government’s intended annexation of significant parts of the occupied West Bank (to start this coming Wednesday), for the …

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Abortion No. 2

Yesterday I wrote about Tennessee and the attempt to use the corona virus crisis to shut down  abortion services. Tennessee is not the only state determined to end abortion. Other states are using the ruse of declaring abortions “elective”, rather than medical, emergencies.  Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Oklahoma, Alaska and Alabama have issued bans on abortion …

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Abortion

At around 12.30 p.m on Juneteenth, with the doors of the legislature locked to the public, Tennessee passed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion bans, one that would prohibit abortion before many patients even know they are pregnant. It includes medically unnecessary, anti-science restrictions, including some rooted in racism and misogyny. If Tennessee Governor …

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Are they born so uncaring and greedy? An un-Epicurean story

In 2019, Samuel Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare in Nashville, was paid  $26.8 million in compensation ( don’t you just love the word “ compensation”? ).  Until the pandemic hit things looked even better.  Then HCA promptly cut the salaries of 11,000 corporate staff, and even Hazen “sacrificed,” donating $237,000 of his salary — less …

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The iniquities of the drug industry

If ever we find a Covid-19 vaccine, it won’t just be the academics and pharmaceutical giants leading the search we have to thank.  It will also be down to all the funding provided by governments and global charities. Public-private organisations such as Gavi (the global vaccine alliance, supported by the WHO and the Gates Foundation) …

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The British quarantine

“Even by its own increasingly chaotic standards, the mess into which the Government has got itself over its new quarantine rules takes some beating,” said The Times. The new regulations – which came into force this week – require travellers to Britain to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. This is “the wrong policy at …

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Covid’s genetic link to dementia

People who are genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer’s are more likely to be severely affected by the coronavirus, a new study has found. The researchers examined the DNA and medical records of almost 40,000 relatively young Britons (aged 48 to 60) and found that those with two copies of a faulty gene called APOE e4 …

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A gene that keeps people skinny

Scientists have identified what they claim is the first known “skinny gene” – raising the possibility of a new generation of drugs that will make it easier for people to stay thin. Researchers analysed the genetic make-up of 47,102 Estonian adults and found that those who were metabolically healthy and thin tended to have unusual …

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The meaning of life in lockdown: an exchange of views

To The Times ( London) The most lamentable thing about the epidemic is the almost uncontested surrender to the idea that the only meaning of human life lies with preserving human life. In the name of “keeping people safe”, the moribund die alone and the dead are buried without proper ceremony. Meanwhile, mothers give birth …

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Misleading figures on US annual flu deaths

At a White  House briefing in late February Donald Trump reassured the nation that there was little chance of the virus causing significant disruption, and that the flu kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. The coronavirus would be no worse than the flu, and who noticed flu deaths particularly? In April further comparisons with the …

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America’s food chain

Warren Buffett famously observed that “only when the tide goes out, do you discover who’s been swimming naked”.  And Covid-19 represents “an ebb tide of historic pro-portions”. One thing it has exposed with brutal clarity are the flaws of America’s industrialised food system. On one side, there are empty supermarket shelves; on the other, farmers …

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Here we go again- typically British

The scientific evidence that has underpinned No 10’s response to Covid-19 will not be made public until the pandemic ends, the government chief science adviser has told MPs. Sir Patrick Vallance said that the minutes of meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) — the government’s most senior team of expert advisers — …

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