Medical

Await the witch hunts from #METOO

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Perhaps the saddest side effects of the METOO campaign will be the witch hunts that ensue. Already we are seeing such a movement in Australia to out the sexual predators in our own entertainment ranks. We don’t need to labour the point that sexual (or physical for that matter) harassment or assault is abhorrent and true offenders should be dealt with according to the law.  Sadly with a witch hunt some of the claims will be unsubstantiated, knowingly consensual but cause otherwise innocent people to defend things that aren’t true. Im sorry but if you are accused by an ambulance chaser seeking a payout making up about things that never happened then careers could be ruined in the process even if the defendant wins. It’s dangerous ground.

I made the point the other day that people that have PTSD from such sexual crimes do not need campaigns, especially started by Hollywood stars who knew full well the predators in the midst but chose to put career, fame and fortune ahead of other’s misery. It demeans them. Each person who has suffered a serious traumatic event in their life  has to deal with demons in their own way. There is no set manual to coping. To think that ‘raising awareness’ for something that some people have spent a life time trying to suppress or at the very least contain do not need to have the spotlight. Shame is perhaps one of the strongest emotions for sufferers among anguish, anxiety, anger, despair, hopelessness and suicide so putting Me Too in neon lights does them no good at all. You’ll find that most PTSD sufferers have problems with elevated risk taking whether alcohol, sexual or drug addiction, extreme sports activities (motorcycling, skydiving, off piste skiing etc) and so on. Yet someone had the nerve to say “How f*cking dare I?” In all honesty she speaks volumes about the victimhood industry, that I, an innocent casualty  of a sick mind, am told to shove it in order that someone who suffered at the hands of a wolf whistler somehow deserves equal outrage.

There is no issue with people who wish to come out and tell stories of things that happened in the past. However people need to be allowed to come out with their issues at a time that suits them, Indeed different things affect different people in different ways but this Me Too (if you honestly read the majority of posts) looks little more than unbridled activism which sets out to achieve something yet gets diluted by the people making petty claims they personally dismissed 20 years ago who now get a free kick on a social media platform so they can receive oodles of attention, likes and soothing words about bravery. To many of those that sought attention through Me Too, there is a likelihood the stated issue never really bothered you more than a day or two. Think of how someone bothered for decades views a cry for attention?

I have made this comment till I am blue in the face – the real sufferers are the ones who want the least exposure and least attention drawn to them. It is hard enough to cope, We aren’t reaching out for hand holding or singing songs by a campfire. We are in need of understanding, not sympathy or empathy.

So to the witch hunts that are surely coming. I pity the poor (majority of) males who will be unfairly dragged before courts (or out of court settlements) to defend something that never happened. Do not mistake this with an absolute desire to punish real offenders that break laws. What this activism will do is dilute the cause. Just like we saw with the witch hunts encouraged by the Australian Human RIghts Commission, even innocent students can have their lives ruined by people claiming utter falsehoods. Why should we expect anything less in the quest of some disgruntled people to use Me Too to destroy the lives of people that they willingly consented to be in a position to come in sexual contact? That to me is a sickening way to turn a cause that was supposed to help the innocent turn into one that unfairly frames the truly not guilty. But, how f*cking dare I?

Austria proves again why the EU needs to listen more and talk less

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God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we’d listen more and talk less,’ so the old saying goes This is what the EU gets for trying to bully its member states. It wasn’t long ago that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was telling Austrians that if they democratically elected Norbert Hofer of the right wing FPO then the EU would remove Austria’s voting rights and cut off any transfers. Well the Austrians have voted for a conservative anti-immigrant party (which wants a programme to get immigrants to assimilate with the local culture) with a 31yo leader, Sebastian Kurz. His People’s Party garnered 31.4% (+7%) of the vote with the far-right wing FPO coming in second at 27.4% and incumbent Social Democrat Party coming in third with 26.7%. The Greens will probably not make the cut off of 4% to make a party, So once again the EU has had yet another major repudiation of its totalitarian ideals.

CM has been making the point for ages that forcing one’s beliefs onto others must be done in a way that listens to the other side. Otherwise it delivers results like Trump. It seems the EU hasn’t learned a thing.

So what have we had?

-Le Pen garnered 1/3rd of the French vote (double the best ever achieved by Front National),

-the far right Freedom Party’s (FPO) Norbert Hofer still managed 46% in Austria farcical re-run presidential election),

-Geert Wilders’ 25% increase in seats for the anti-immigrant PVV in The Netherlands,

-the surge in the Sweden Democrats to the top of the recent polls, Elections in 2018.

-Italy’s referendum which turned into a backdoor vote to oust PM Renzi. Elections in 2018 likely.

Brexit (although PM May is handling negotiations in true British efficiency – Fawlty Towers ring a bell?),

the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join the EU,

-the AfD in Germany getting 13% of the vote (Merkel may have won but it was her party’s worse showing in 7 decades)

…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care. It just issues more threats.

While the left openly voices its rage at these ‘right-wing’ parties growing in support, they never bother to seek reasons why. The right are generally just dismissed as racists, bigots or worse.  Major party loyalty has never been worse. The fabric of the loyal party voter base is wearing thinner. Take Australia’s One Nation Party led by Senator Pauline Hanson. The popularity of the mainstream LNP and Labor Parties is at record lows. One Nation is now 10% of the vote from 2% several decades ago. While some parties may claim their loyal base has abandoned them the stronger case to be made is the clear shift of the parties away from their once faithful constituents. Why?

Incumbent governments seem to cower at receiving negative news from the 24-7 polling cycle that is social media. Being careful to avoid inviting attack, they pander to all of the socially acceptable agendas – climate change, gender fluid bathrooms, laws clamping down on free speech, open borders and afffirmative action.

However political correctness is clearly not the answer as these results across Europe and elsewhere show. People are sick of the brow beating by socialist activists. Tired of the constant protests and social justice bleating. The NFL might find that most of its fans are against police brutality but they aren’t wanting a weekly lecture in grievance politics with the price of entry or their cable TV channel. Growing weary of the idea that it is ‘free speech’ and anything against those ideals are deemed ‘hate speech’. It is not to deny some positions are not necessarily palatable but in the marketplace of free speech, ridiculous positions can easily be disproven. Better to give extremist voices a chance to talk and invite public opinion on them at their own peril. Shutting it down forces it underground., making it inherently more dangerous.

Too many mainstream political parties are moving off the policy reserve that defined them so their once loyal followers are actively seek ones that will. While Hanson’s One Nation or Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives may not tick every box to existing LNP voters, they cover enough of the positions that matter to them that they’ll tolerate some of the more out there ideas. It is not uncommon to hear the left complain at One Nation’s is growing popularity at the expense of the Greens but it is a devil of their own making.

So will the EU listen to the Austrian call? Will it pay attention to the Hungarians who voted over 98% against accepting forced migrant quotas? Think through the logic. If you were an asylum seeker, would you think your chances of unincumbered settlement would be best placed where 98.4% of the population doesn’t want you? It is irrelevant whether we think the Hungarians are insensitive brutes not to extend a welcome to those that are legitimately in need. It is their country and their democracy has spoken. If Brussels assumes to dictate to Hungary how it wishes to protect its culture and whatever it holds precious, why shouldn’t the EU have the same rights to enforce income tax, housing benefits and anything else it sees fit? Of course it is a preposterous notion.

It will not be long before the EU will be front and center on Greece. Let us not forget that the EU colluded with Goldman Sachs to ‘fiddle’ the accounts to make Hellas much prettier optically than it was. Was this pig without lipstick it wouldn’t have gained acceptance to the club. So the EU is not in a position to claim innocence over a deliberate ploy to ram-road the Greeks into its federal state yet have no qualms treating it with disdain. Talk about double standards.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks by the EU is despicable beyond words. So for all of the left’s blind love for the EU and its socialist agenda, 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line and 58% of the youth are unemployed. So for all of the EU’s shared sense of purpose and equality, that means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the hospital fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Shortly, the Greeks are coming up for discussion over its debt position and austerity. With just months left before Greece’s latest lifeline expires, officials directly involved in the country’s bailout say they don’t have the stomach for contingent aid program when the current one expires in August 2018. While the EU and Athens are battle worn after 7 years of this knife edge rescue,  Greece will need to show it can go it alone but it’s eurozone creditors will be reluctant without further strings attached.

Here is betting that the EU doesn’t heed the lessons that have been ringing loud and clear for years. Sincerely hoping Greece leaves the EU and lets market forces revive its economy. Better to die on its feet than live on its knees.

Shocking state of suicide

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The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists the top 10 categories of causes of death in America in 2015 as above. Heart disease was the highest cause leading to over 633,800 deaths. Cancer was slightly under 600,000. Respiratory disease came in 3rd at 155,000. Homicide, while not listed in the Top 10, was around 14,000. Total drug related deaths were around 50,000, equivalent to deaths from car accidents and murder combined. Death from heroin and illicit opioid overdoses exceeded 20,000.

F4BB85AF-601B-44CD-8232-83590DB4455E.jpegSadly suicides in the US totaled a shocking 44,193 in 2015, most prevalent in younger age groups. Over the last 15 years we can see that suicides per head of US population has continued to climb.

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In 15 years, the incidence of female suicides has climbed 45% per head of population. While male suicide outnumbers female suicides per head of population by almost 4x the relative increase in 15 years has been 16.3%. In aggregate total suicides have grown 20.4%, an awful statistic. Half of the suicides were the result of self inflicted gunshot wounds. 1/3rd of women tended to commit suicide by taking poison versus 10% by males.

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The detrimental economic impacts are also quite heavy, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Suicides cost around $51bn annually while homicide is around $26bn.

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Perhaps the most alarming part of the NIMH study was the 1.1mn people that made proper attempts to take their own life. Almost 10mn contemplated it.

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In Australia, suicide rates are also at a decade high of 12.6 people per 100,000 or almost identical to those rates in the US. 3,000 took their life in 2015. According to Beyondblue 3 million Australians suffer from anxiety or depression.

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The suicide rate in Northern Ireland has increased dramatically over the last 30 years – the male rate has increased by 82% in this time. Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK.

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Since 2007, suicides in the UK have started to mildly trend back upwards from 10,8/100,000 to 10.9.

China accounts for 26% of the world’s suicides. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country saw c.500 by women per day taking their own lives in 2009 or around 183,000 a year. At that rate some 1.5 million Chinese women have taken their own lives in the past eight years.

Japan is approximately down to 19.5 suicides per 100,000 but South Korea remains persistently high at 28.5.

It is a point worth reflecting on. There have been six people from my own high school year who have taken their own life. Seemingly happy and healthy on the outside, matters have taken a turn that not even friends could have detected until it is too late.

The most common symptoms that lead to suicide are due to depression or anxiety onset by

-substance abuse
-incarceration
-family history of suicide
-poor job security or low levels of job satisfaction
-financial insecurity
-history of being abused or witnessing continuous abuse
-being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as cancer or HIV
-being socially isolated or a victim of bullying
-being exposed to suicidal behavior

Worsening economic conditions are undoubtedly pushing more people toward suicide. Greece, which does not have a high suicide rate (8.8) compared to other EU countries (average of 11.6 people per 100,000), saw tough financial austerity measures leading to a 35% jump in suicide rates in a little less than 2 years, not dissimilar to Russia between 1989-1994. Each 1 percentage point rise of unemployment rates in men aged 20 to 59 was associated with a 0.19/100,000 population rise in suicide. Spain saw 20% higher suicides in 2015 vs 2008.

This is the mark of suicide prevention. Note that most countries have suicide prevention hotlines.

America

Australia

UK

Help is at hand.

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Drug (welfare) cheats are cheats

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The Australian government intends to conduct a random drug test trial in the Canterbury-Bankstown area for welfare recipients. What is the problem? Why should the taxpayer fund someone’s drug habits, surely something not conducive to job hunting. After all we rightly strip gold medals from athletes who take performance enhancing drugs, why not strip welfare from those who are literally ‘taking the piss’ for ‘refusing to take a piss’.

Theranos-aurus Wrex

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In my former life I analysed a Japanese company called Sysmex which deals in rapid blood testing equipment for hospitals and clinics. One question that was often put to me by clients and my colleagues at the time was that of the threat of Theranos, a Silicon Valley start up which was worth $9bn and had a star studded board which included Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and Bob Shapiro. Oracle’s Larry Ellison was a backer.

My initial thought was that Theranos’ business model was interesting but like many start ups, commercialisation and acceptance by doctors/regulators was always going to get in the way. The main driver of the business model was cheap blood tests with a sliding price scale. Instead of getting a $300 comprehensive run of all your blood work, a doctor would tell you what he needed to see in your blood work to determine why you had a cold or potentially diabetes and you would head to a Walgreens, go to the back where a Theranos booth was and pay $40 to get the blood work customised for what you needed only.

The issue for me on Theranos was ‘trust’. Not so much on Theranos but the risks to medical professionals. To me the problem was switching costs for doctors. Faced with malpractice lawsuits, doctors, especially in America, do not want to take risks. Theranos hadn’t got the green light from the regulators. Potential yes, but like so many start ups, the problem is always execution. It seems that Theranos had exaggerated its connections with big pharma companies and its laboratories were staffed by inexperienced employees. The FDA concluded patient lives were in danger and banned Theranos from blood testing.

Of course the company is confident it can succeed in the miniLab platform but the blood testing market is densely populated by big players and small. The next big thing in blood testing is liquid biopsies. Doctors will be able to test cancer treatment efficacy in real time rather than send results away for analysis. Sysmex is moving into this area and Johnson & Johnson is already in the market place with a product.

貧乏な米国人 Americans in poverty

Markets cheered the 287,000 Non-farm Payrolls numbers on Friday. Yet within those numbers, 347,000 more people became unemployed. Mathematically one would think that the aggregate number of paychecks rising should equate  to falling numbers of unemployed not rising figures.

Well if the these new payrolls are going to people holding down several jobs to get by then it kind of makes sense. America’s Research Group (ARG), which has been tracking consumer shopping trends since 1979, says that 26 million Americans are juggling multiple jobs and only earnings $27,000 average. These people are supporting 2-4 kids and 68% are women aged 28-38 working in retail or call centres.

ARG said, “Nearly half of all Americans have not seen an increase in salary over the last five to seven years, and another 28 percent have seen their take-home pay reduced by higher medical insurance deductions or switching to part-time jobs.”

As we noted in another piece, 47% of Americans can’t gather $400 cash in an emergency without selling something or borrowing it. That was a Fed survey and it highlights the status of living paycheck to paycheck. It is so bad no these people can only shop for necessities.

Electronic Bong

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The Israelis are pretty good at inventions. Here are a few you may not be aware of

-USB flash drives
-Laser keyboard
-PC microprocessor
-Pillcam – a pill shaped camera to see digestive systems

Now the Israeli firm Syqe Medical has introduced a special cannabis release system for pain relief. As it comes in a metered dose, patients get an exact hit. Traditional smoking of marijuana could have very wide ranges of dosage. Apparently medical trials show it to be very accuratemedical trials show it to be very accurate and useful in replacing other types of pain killers.