Sunday, March 18, 2012

Still feeling a little cranky

For a variety of reasons.

-- Texas school districts cut 25,000 jobs after budget cuts:

"I'm hoping the Legislature will see there's hard data showing that, yes, districts are making some good decisions in terms of efficiencies," said Bob Sanborn, president of Children at Risk, a Houston-based nonprofit that analyzed the state figures. "But the Legislature should be very worried that in the haste to be more efficient we are cutting our future out from under us."

In the greater Houston area, districts reduced their workforce by 5 percent - with 7,655 fewer employees overall, including nearly 3,300 fewer teachers.

Democrats' silver lining: There at least won't be a super-majority of Republicans in the Lege come next session. Republicans' silver lining:

"The cuts weren't as bad as they could have been," said Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, who chairs the House Education Committee.

-- Obama to celebrate (part of) Keystone pipeline next week:

Under fire for painfully high gas prices, President Barack Obama next week is scheduled to head to Cushing, Oklahoma, to highlight his support for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline -- well, part of it, anyway.

The Obama administration blocked the overall project, which was to carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, on environmental grounds. But it also endorsed plans to build the section of the pipeline that is to stretch from Cushing to the Gulf, which analysts say will help ease a bottleneck and get more oil -- and therefore ultimately more gas -- to market.

This plus the rumors of tapping the strategic oil reserves just reinforces the false narrative that tight supply of feedstock is forcing up the price per gallon. It is not; it IS market speculation and the declining number of refineries in the US that are keeping pump prices on the rise. Gasoline consumption in the United States has fallen off a cliff, and not just recently, either. (There is a case to be made for both austerity and lower economic activity -- also known as 'recession' -- as the causes of the decline in demand, and this author makes it.)

But hey, there's a presidential election coming -- not to mention a war with Iran -- and pandering by Democrats has been in short supply.

All perception and very little reality involved in this equation.

-- But by all means, let's focus on the things that really matter.

A stump speech delivered Friday night by Rick Santorum to a crowd of about 2,000 at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, IL., was interrupted 15 minutes in by shouts of "Mic check! Mr. Santorum! Mr. Santorum!" ("mic check" is a familiar Occupy Wall Street battle cry) -- followed by the sight of two men kissing passionately in the stands. The crowd responded with loud booing and chants of "USA! USA!" as the kissers, identified by The Palatine Patch as Timothy Tross and Ben Clifford, were ejected from the venue.

Asked by the Patch if the kiss was a "public display of affection or merely a symbolic act," Tross replied, "I don’t think the message should be about what my sexuality is. It’s the message that he’s saying about sexuality that matters.”

The crowd chanted "USA, USA". Here again I am reminded of the words of Sinclair Lewis (who, as has often happened in the retelling of history, never actually uttered or wrote those words).

-- Three conservatives tout credentials in GOP race to succeed Ron Paul. "Three right-wing freaks work to out-batshit crazy each other in race to lose to Nick Lampson in November". There, fixed it for ya.

The amazing thing to me is that article doesn't even mention Steve Stockman. He's obviously too old-school kooky to make the cut.

-- The fat guy that broke the explosive story about the atrocities at Apple's Foxconn factory in China fabricated the worst of it out of whole cloth. So he disserved everyone, but particularly Apple, the legitimate concerns of exploited labor, and even journalism.

-- It's not just Goldman Sachs that is corrupt and evil to the core but also Chase. Like any of this is a surprise at this point.

-- Still feeling chipper after all my Debbie Downer? Let me know how you feel after you read this.

As bacteria evolve to evade antibiotics, common infections could become deadly, according to Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization.

Speaking at a conference in Copenhagen, Chan said antibiotic resistance could bring about "the end of modern medicine as we know it."

"We are losing our first-line antimicrobials," she said Wednesday in her keynote address at the conference on combating antimicrobial resistance. "Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units."

Chan said hospitals have become "hotbeds for highly-resistant pathogens" like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, "increasing the risk that hospitalization kills instead of cures."

Indeed, diseases that were once curable, such as tuberculosis, are becoming harder and more expensive to treat.

Chan said treatment of  multidrug resistant tuberculosis was "extremely complicated, typically requiring two years of medication with toxic and expensive medicines, some of which are in constant short supply. Even with the best of care, only slightly more than 50 percent of these patients will be cured."

Antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella, E. coli, and gonorrhea have also been discovered.

"Some experts say we are moving back to the pre-antibiotic era. No. This will be a post-antibiotic era. In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry," said Chan. "A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill."

I had a great-relative (great-grandmother, great grandaunt, I am uncertain) who died about a hundred years ago because she squeezed a pimple on her face and it became infected. We're headed back to those good old days. And it's not even the Republicans' fault this time.

Hey, I'll post some more Funnies later. That ought to make us feel better.

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