Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Truth about risks of homosexuality must not be mentioned

On Monday, a team of researchers led by doctors from the University of California at San Francisco announced that gay men were "many times more likely than others" to acquire a new strain of drug-resistant staphylococcus, a nasty, fast-spreading and potential lethal bacteria known as MRSA USA300. And sure enough, the study, published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was quickly picked up by reporters round the world and across the Internet, including a London tabloid which dubbed the disease "the new H.I.V."

But for gay men in the Castro neighborhood here, which was an early epicenter for the AIDS epidemic and a current hot spot for MRSA, the report also seemed to cast an unfair, and all too familiar, stigma on their sexuality. "The way they keep targeting gays as if gays alone are responsible for it, its like H.I.V./AIDS all over again," said Colin Thurlow, 60, who is gay and lives in San Francisco. "And we're sick and tired of it."

The report also inadvertently offered ammunition for many antigay groups, including the conservative Concerned Women for America, which issued a release on Wednesday citing the "sexual deviancy" of gay men as leading to AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea. "The medical community has known for years that homosexual conduct, especially among males, creates a breeding ground for often deadly disease," the release read. Another group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, also cited the report as a way of proving that "homosexual behavior is unhealthy." "Why aren't all schoolchildren being taught that there are special health risks associated with homosexual behavior and that they should `just say no' to homosexuality?" read a released posted on the group's Web site.

National gay rights groups were quick to label such talk as "hysteria," even as researchers as the university scrambled to clarify their findings. On Friday, it issued an apology, saying their release had "contained some information that could be interpreted as misleading." "We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns," it concluded. Dr. Henry Chambers, one of the report's authors and a professor of medicine at the university, said he was surprised by how the report had been spun. "I think we were looking at this from a scientific point of view and not projecting any political impact," he said. "We were focusing on the data. You want to make sure it's as right as possible and written up in a form that reviewers would understand what you're trying to say, and do it in a clear manner so it's not subject to misinterpretation. Which is what happened later, it appears."

One of the major sore points for some critics was a quote attributed to the report's lead author, Bien Diep, a researcher who said he was concerned about "a potential spread of this strain into the general population." Mr. Diep, 29, said on Friday he regretted not being more thorough in communicating his research to reporters. He said that the term "general population" was part of medical jargon used in the report, which did not translate well. "It's really meant to be used to mean all inclusive, including the men-who-have-sex-with-men population," he said.

Worries about the negative press resonated even as some gay men here expressed concern about the disease itself. The report looked at nine San Francisco hospitals in 2004 and 2005. A separate part of the study, conducted at an AIDS clinic in the city from 2004 to 2006, found that gay men were 13 times more likely to be infected with MRSA USA300.

Josh Figurido, 27, a bartender at Metro, a popular gay bar in the Castro, said he had only heard about the strain this week, but was already taking precautions when it came to sex. "I'm definitely going to be a lot more careful with what goes on," he said. But Mr. Figurado said he was less concerned about antigay rhetoric. "It's not just gay people that get it," he said. "You can get it anywhere."

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which helped finance the study, affirmed on Wednesday that the disease was not sexually transmitted or limited to a certain type of person. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, the agency said in a statement, and is widespread in hospitals and among hospital workers. "These infections occur in men, women, adults, children and persons of all races and sexual orientations," the statement read, adding that while the particular strain identified in the report had been found in gay men, it had also been found in people who were not gay.

For those who do come down with the disease, there are various treatments, including antibiotics. Preventive measures include frequently cleaning hands, clothes and open wounds. MRSA can cause painful sores, which should be lanced and treated to prevent the disease's spread.

Jason Overcash, 37, a sales representative who lives near the Castro and is gay, said he was upset by the initial presentation of the report, which he said seemed geared to panic people both inside and out of the Castro. "The way they presented it, it makes people think if they come here, they're going to get MRSA," he said.

That is an experience Mr. Overcash says he knows all too well: he contracted MRSA in 2002, and soon found a lesion on his left buttock. "It got to be like a golf ball in a matter of 36 hours," he said. He tried three different antibiotic treatments, even as the lesions spread, before finally knocking it out. "It was horrible, and that's why I'm super hyper-aware of it," Mr. Overcash said. "Because I don't ever want to go through that again."


"Flesh-Eating" Bacteria Striking Homosexual Men

The report above is from the NYT. Below is a report that does not pull any punches

A new medical study appearing in the Annals of American Medicine shows that homosexuals are spreading a new, highly-infectious and extremely dangerous bacteria amongst themselves, most probably through anal intercourse. The bacterium, called MRSA USA300, is impervious to front-line antibiotics and can only be treated with rarer drugs, primarily Vancomycin. Researchers say that the bug, which is a type of staphylococcus, is primed to develop immunity to that drug as well. Infected patients may have inflammation, abscesses, and tissue loss in the affected areas. Although the bacterium does not literally "eat" the body, it manufactures toxins that can cause "necrosis" - the death of surrounding tissue.

The study's authors note that the strong link between unhealthy behavior, particularly among homosexuals, is the driving force behind the disease. "Spread of the USA300 clone among men who have sex with men is associated with high-risk behaviors, including use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, sex with multiple partners, participation in a group sex party, use of the internet for sexual contacts, skin-abrading sex, and history of sexually transmitted infections," the authors write.

"The same patterns of increased sexual risk behaviors among men who have sex with men - which have resulted from changes in beliefs regarding HIV disease severity with the availability of potent antiretroviral therapy - have been driving resurgent epidemics of early syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and new HIV infections in San Francisco, Boston, and elsewhere," add the researchers.

The study, which focused on clinics in the San Francisco area, found that in some cases up to 39% of patients had the MRSA USA300 infections in their genitals or buttocks, although the disease can be spread by general skin-to-skin contact and can even be picked up from surfaces. Observing that "Infection with multidrug-resistant USA300 MRSA is common among men who have sex with men," the study timidly concludes that "multidrug-resistant MRSA infection might be sexually transmitted in this population," and counsels "further research."

It is estimated that in San Francisco's Castro District, which has the highest concentration of homosexuals in the country, the infection rate is 1 in every 588 residents. One in every 3,800 residents of San Francisco are infected. Homosexuals are 13 times more likely to be infected than others in the city.

The disease is not only spreading in San Francisco, but also Boston, New York and Los Angeles. In addition to homosexuals, people who are ill or have weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible. MRSA and other types of staphylococcus bacteria, often spread in hospitals, kill more than 19,000 Americans each year, a rate higher than deaths due to AIDS.

Peter LaBarbara, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, is hoping that the revelation of yet another homosexual epidemic will have an impact on the public's perception of homosexual behavior. "I think that the media, and Hollywood, and a lot of our policy makers and certainly academia are in a world of 'let's pretend' with regard to homosexual behavior and its consequences," he told LifeSiteNews. "They don't want to focus on the special risks that homosexual behavior, especially between men, have in the public health arena, and issues like this keep coming up."

However, LaBarbara acknowledges that the major media will "invariably spin things in a homosexual direction." "We saw the identical thing happen 25 years ago with the reporting on AIDS," he said, "but ironically the whole AIDS crisis strengthened the homosexual lobby in this country."

Source. Original report: "Emergence of Multidrug-Resistant, Community-Associated, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Clone USA300 in Men Who Have Sex with Men"

People are the world's most important resource

Forget the talk of recession. The world is about to enter a new era in which miracle drugs will conquer cancer and other killer diseases and technological and scientific advances will trigger unprecedented economic growth and global prosperity. Pie in the sky optimism? Perhaps. But there are reasons to be optimistic, and they rest not on science fiction but within the badly misnamed "dismal science," economics.

To understand why economics triggers such optimism, imagine that there are two deadly diseases. One disease is relatively rare, the other common. If you had to choose, would you rather be afflicted with the rare or the common disease? If you don't want to die, it's much better to have the common disease. The reason? The cost of developing drugs for rare and common diseases are about the same, but the revenues aren't. Pharmaceutical companies concentrate on drugs with larger markets because larger markets mean more profits.

As a result, there are more drugs to treat diseases with a lot of patients than to treat rare diseases, and more drugs means greater life expectancy. Patients diagnosed with rare diseases-those ranked at the bottom quarter in terms of how frequently they are diagnosed-are 45% more likely to die before age 55 than are patients diagnosed with more common diseases.

So imagine this: If China and India were as wealthy as the U.S., the market for cancer drugs would be eight times larger than it is today.

Of course, China and India are not yet as wealthy as the U.S., but their economies are growing rapidly, and with them, the market for new drugs. Cancer is now China's leading killer, with spending on treatment increasing by 17% per year. To be close to the Chinese market, AstraZeneca and Novartis are building major research facilities in China, which will benefit patients everywhere.

Like pharmaceuticals, new computer chips, software and chemicals also require large research and development (R&D) expenditures. As India, China and other countries become wealthier, companies will increase their worldwide R&D investments. Most importantly, as markets expand, companies and countries will put to work the greatest asset of all for the betterment of mankind: brain power.

Amazingly, there are only about 6 million scientists and engineers in the entire world, nearly a quarter of whom are in the U.S. Poverty means that millions of potentially world-class scientists today spend their lives trying to eke out a subsistence living, rather than leading mankind's charge into the future. But if the world as a whole were as wealthy as the U.S. and were devoting the same share of population to research and development, there would be more than five times as many scientists and engineers worldwide.

People used to think that more population was bad for growth. In this view, people are stomachs-they eat, leaving less for everyone else. But once we realize the importance of ideas in the economy, people become brains-they innovate, creating more for everyone else.

New ideas mean more growth, and even small changes in economic growth rates produce large economic and social benefits. At current income levels, with an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 3% per year, America's real per capita gross domestic product would exceed $1 million per year in just over 100 years, more than 22 times higher than it is today. Growth like that could solve many problems.

In the 20th century, two world wars diverted the energy of two generations from production to destruction. When the horrors ended, the world was left hobbled and split. Communism isolated much of the world, reducing trade in goods and ideas-to everyone's detriment. World poverty meant that the U.S. and a few other countries shouldered the burdens of advancing knowledge nearly alone.

The battles of the 20th century were not fought in vain. Trade, development and the free flow of people and ideas are uniting all of humanity, maximizing the incentives and the means to produce new ideas. This gives us reason to be highly optimistic about the future.


How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It

Governments-local, state, and federal-spend a lot of time wringing their hands about the plight of the urban poor. Look around any government agency and you'll never fail to find some know-it-all with a suit and a nameplate on his desk who has just the right government program to eliminate or ameliorate, or at least contain, the worst aspects of grinding poverty in American cities-especially as experienced by black people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and everyone else marked for the special observation and solicitude of the state bureaucracy. Depending on the bureaucrat's frame of mind, his pet programs might focus on doling out conditional charity to "deserving" poor people, or putting more "at-risk" poor people under the surveillance of social workers and medical experts, or beating up recalcitrant poor people and locking them in cages for several years.

But the one thing that the government and its managerial aid workers will never do is just get out of the way and let poor people do the things that poor people naturally do, and always have done, to scratch by.

Government anti-poverty programs are a classic case of the therapeutic state setting out to treat disorders created by the state itself. Urban poverty as we know it is, in fact, exclusively a creature of state intervention in consensual economic dealings. This claim may seem bold, even to most libertarians. But a lot turns on the phrase "as we know it." Even if absolute laissez faire reigned beginning tomorrow, there would still be people in big cities who are living paycheck to paycheck, heavily in debt, homeless, jobless, or otherwise at the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. These conditions may be persistent social problems, and it may be that free people in a free society will still have to come up with voluntary institutions and practices for addressing them. But in the state-regimented market that dominates today, the material predicament that poor people find themselves in-and the arrangements they must make within that predicament-are battered into their familiar shape, as if by an invisible fist, through the diffuse effects of pervasive, interlocking interventions.

Consider the commonplace phenomena of urban poverty. Livelihoods in American inner cities are typically extremely precarious: as Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh writes in Off the Books: "Conditions in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty can change quickly and in ways that can leave families unprepared and without much recourse." Fixed costs of living-rent, food, clothing, and so on-consume most or all of a family's income, with little or no access to credit, savings, or insurance to safeguard them from unexpected disasters.

Dependent on Others

Their poverty often leaves them dependent on other people. It pervades the lives of the employed and the unemployed alike: the jobless fall back on charity or help from family; those who live paycheck to paycheck, with little chance of finding any work elsewhere, depend on the good graces of a select few bosses and brokers. One woman quoted by Venkatesh explained why she continued to work through an exploitative labor shark rather than leaving for a steady job with a well-to-do family: "And what if that family gets rid of me? Where am I going next? See, I can't take that chance, you know. . . . All I got is Johnnie and it took me the longest just to get him on my side."

The daily experience of the urban poor is shaped by geographical concentration in socially and culturally isolated ghetto neighborhoods within the larger city, which have their own characteristic features: housing is concentrated in dilapidated apartments and housing projects, owned by a select few absentee landlords; many abandoned buildings and vacant lots are scattered through the neighborhood, which remain unused for years at a time; the use of outside spaces is affected by large numbers of unemployed or homeless people.

The favorite solutions of the welfare state-government doles and "urban renewal" projects-mark no real improvement. Rather than freeing poor people from dependence on benefactors and bosses, they merely transfer the dependence to the state, leaving the least politically connected people at the mercy of the political process.

But in a free market-a truly free market, where individual poor people are just as free as established formal-economy players to use their own property, their own labor, their own know-how, and the resources that are available to them-the informal, enterprising actions by poor people themselves would do far more to systematically undermine, or completely eliminate, each of the stereotypical conditions that welfare statists deplore. Every day and in every culture from time out of mind, poor people have repeatedly shown remarkable intelligence, courage, persistence, and creativity in finding ways to put food on the table, save money, keep safe, raise families, live full lives, learn, enjoy themselves, and experience beauty, whenever, wherever, and to whatever degree they have been free to do so. The fault for despairing, dilapidated urban ghettoes lies not in the pressures of the market, nor in the character flaws of individual poor people, nor in the characteristics of ghetto subcultures. The fault lies in the state and its persistent interference with poor people's own efforts to get by through independent work, clever hustling, scratching together resources, and voluntary mutual aid.

Housing Crisis

Progressives routinely deplore the "affordable housing crisis" in American cities. In cities such as New York and Los Angeles, about 20 to 25 percent of low-income renters are spending more than half their incomes just on housing. But it is the very laws that Progressives favor-land-use policies, zoning codes, and building codes-that ratchet up housing costs, stand in the way of alternative housing options, and confine poor people to ghetto neighborhoods. Historically, when they have been free to do so, poor people have happily disregarded the ideals of political humanitarians and found their own ways to cut housing costs, even in bustling cities with tight housing markets.

One way was to get other families, or friends, or strangers, to move in and split the rent. Depending on the number of people sharing a home, this might mean a less-comfortable living situation; it might even mean one that is unhealthy. But decisions about health and comfort are best made by the individual people who bear the costs and reap the benefits. Unfortunately today the decisions are made ahead of time by city governments through zoning laws that prohibit or restrict sharing a home among people not related by blood or marriage, and building codes that limit the number of residents in a building.

Those who cannot make enough money to cover the rent on their own, and cannot split the rent enough due to zoning and building codes, are priced out of the housing market entirely. Once homeless, they are left exposed not only to the elements, but also to harassment or arrest by the police for "loitering" or "vagrancy," even on public property, in efforts to force them into overcrowded and dangerous institutional shelters. But while government laws make living on the streets even harder than it already is, government intervention also blocks homeless people's efforts to find themselves shelter outside the conventional housing market. One of the oldest and commonest survival strategies practiced by the urban poor is to find wild or abandoned land and build shanties on it out of salvageable scrap materials. Scrap materials are plentiful, and large portions of land in ghetto neighborhoods are typically left unused as condemned buildings or vacant lots. Formal title is very often seized by the city government or by quasi-governmental "development" corporations through the use of eminent domain. Lots are held out of use, often for years at a time, while they await government public-works projects or developers willing to buy up the land for large-scale building.

Urban Homesteading

In a free market, vacant lots and abandoned buildings could eventually be homesteaded by anyone willing to do the work of occupying and using them. Poor people could use abandoned spaces within their own communities for setting up shop, for gardening, or for living space. In Miami, in October 2006, a group of community organizers and about 35 homeless people built Umoja Village, a shanty town, on an inner-city lot that the local government had kept vacant for years. They publicly stated to the local government that "We have only one demand . . . leave us alone."

That would be the end of the story in a free market: there would be no eminent domain, no government ownership, and thus also no political process of seizure and redevelopment; once-homeless people could establish property rights to abandoned land through their own sweat equity-without fear of the government's demolishing their work and selling their land out from under them. But back in Miami, the city attorney and city council took about a month to begin legal efforts to destroy the residents' homes and force them off the lot. In April 2007 the city police took advantage of an accidental fire to enforce its politically fabricated title to the land, clearing the lot, arresting 11 people, and erecting a fence to safeguard the once-again vacant lot for professional "affordable housing" developers.....

The poorer you are, the more you need access to informal and flexible alternatives, and the more you need opportunities to apply some creative hustling. When the state shuts that out, it shuts poor people into ghettoized poverty.

Much more here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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