Friday, October 16, 2015

Asian Diary by Jack Clontz

Asian Diary by Jack Clontz

Jack Clontz is an Asian Language and Culture specialist. His observations of current events may be of interest to PA readers with a special interest in Asia. Comments on his observations are welcomed since some of his opinions are controversial and will no doubt be contested by some readers. We are publishing his reflections to stimulate thinking and hopefully discussion.

Asian Diary

Re: the TPP agreement. At least Thailand did not become involved as originally envisaged.  The pharma agreements will bring about hundreds of thousands of deaths.

 Did you notice the Chinese recipient (out of three) of the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology?  That was one case in which Chinese traditional medicine made an extremely significant contribution to world medicine instead of killing huge numbers of people and other animals. It was also a unique contribution to science from the darkest days of Mao's lunatic policies in which millions died in his full knowledge. 

 Even towards the end of the Vietnam war, this medicine's efficacy was known.  The Vietnamese people, especially those fighting, desperately needed protection against malaria.  Because of ideological opposition, Vietnam was denied the medicine and the PRC continued to deny it to the Vietnamese people for many years, especially in the wake of Deng's criminal war against Vietnam in which the PRC was actually defeated with the concomitant loss of tens of thousands on both sides and great destruction along both sides of the border. 

Just this week in the Russian euphoria over the bombing campaign in Syria, the Russian Federations's defense minister chortled that the USSR was responsible for the defeat of the USA in Vietnam through air power. What he was actually referring to was the shooting down of huge numbers of US planes (though amateur civilian crews shot down most of the jets fighter bombers like McCain's), especially the Nixon-Kissinger criminal "Arc-Light" heavy bombers during the Christmas madness just before the USA threw in the towel. We know now that most of the missile crews were Soviets, or at least commanded by Soviets, just as in Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis (the sole American plane shot down with the pilot  dying during the crisis was shot down by a Soviet crew--the Cuban missiles did not have the altitude range to hit the American reconnaissance aircraft).  A contribution was also made by the use of Soviet "trawlers" just off the coast of Guam spotting the take off of the Arc Light bombers, where all of them originated at Anderson Air Base (there is a memorial to them at the entrance to the base), Guam and radioed this message to the Vietnamese. We also now know that North Korean jet fighter pilots engaged in aerial combat with the American planes with, as you know, the North Koreans following the Soviet line in spite of all that had happened.

I resent the Russian claims about Vietnam, since I think they are exaggerated and take credit from the Vietnamese people for their incredible achievement in defeating French, American and Chinese imperialism while greatly hampering Japanese imperialism at one point and forestalling Thai imperialism.  

On the other hand, the PRC was incensed by the very cruel treatment of the Vietnamese Chinese by the Vietnamese.  A very large proportion of the many thousands of Vietnamese boat people, many of whom died and all of whom greatly suffered, were ethnic Chinese.  Surprisingly, the PRC has countenanced Vietnamese imperialism in Laos and Cambodia, though both have been sycophantic followers and supporters, especially Cambodia, of the PRC internationally, especially in ASEAN. 

The Chinese anti-malaria drug is artemisinin

Notice that the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation has saved many thousands of lives through its support of work involving this drug and is engaged in fundamental research (artemisinin is not now often used as a monotherapeutic medicine) in malaria.  A handful of French, American and Thai medical scientists are at work on these questions at Mahidol University in Bangkok.  They are desperately working to stave off the spread of malaria with parasites carried by three or four species of mosquitoes serving as vectors, which weirdly originate only in one area in northern Cambodia near the Thai border.  The mosquitoes have now spread to the area of the refugee camps in Burma along the Thai border.  The medical scientists are desperately afraid this drug-resistant form of malaria will spread through Burma with its horrible (though improved in some areas) conditions and thence to Bangladesh and the Indian subcontinent with millions of death certain under the conditions obtaining in India, Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan.  Capitalism saves the world?

 By far the best hospital in northern Thailand is the McCormick Hospital run by American medical missionaries.  Decades ago they forswore proselytizing in recognition of the fact that the vast majority of Thai Buddhists (about 97 percent of the population, it seems) would never become Christians because to do so would be tantamount to becoming non-Thai.  The inroads made by evangelical Christian missionaries, often from Australia, have been amongst the northern hill tribes, who are badly treated and are not allowed to become Thai citizens.  There are Roman Catholic converts, mostly educated Thais, in Bangkok and sometimes elsewhere, but they are few in numbers. Most Roman Catholics in Thailand have Vietnamese or ancestral Portuguese connections. 

Incidentally, Vietnamese students in universities in Thailand are outstanding and make Thai students look very bad in comparison. They are disciplined and learn quickly.  Many are already very proficient in English before they come and learn Thai quickly.  I have talked to their university teachers in some cases.  They are often invidiously compared with foreign students from Burma and such places as Nepal or Sikkim.  

Did you know a Thai foreign minister, a Muslim from the northern part of southern Thailand (not a Muslim majority area), in the coup-government involved in throwing over Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006 apologized to the Vietnamese for Thai participation in the Vietnam War? Quite amazing, actually, but nothing really came of it.

Submitted by Thomas Riggins

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Austerity Leads to Rise in Suicides

Austerity Measures Linked to Increase in Suicides: Science News Round Up
Thomas Riggins

Below you will find links to some of the most interesting science stories reported this week relating to both political and social affairs and health news from which everyone may benefit. You can comment on these reports at the end of the round up.

"These results have profound health and economic policy implications and raise substantial questions on the prolonged application of fiscal austerity without any safety nets...." Thousands of young people (ages 10-24) as well as the elderly (age 65+) are killing themselves out of desperation due to the imposition of austerity measures on people in the EU. These measures cause a rise in unemployment, a cut in pensions and other effects bringing about extreme hardships. Capitalism's Profit Before People drive is causing widespread misery throughout the EU (and not only there).

Unless there is a serious retooling the industrial base in Europe to halt massive pollution it will be impossible to reach the emissions reduction goals set for midcentury. It is possible to save the climate but will private profit driven industries actually make the changes needed? Will bourgeois governments force them to do so? If not capitalism will destroy us all sooner rather than later.

This article shows that when women's health care clinics are closed as a result of the Republican assault on the constitutional right to abortion large numbers of women can no longer receive the preventive care necessary to detect cancers and other illnesses. The claim that other clinics and health services will cover those formerly receiving treatment at the closed clinics is not true. Republican politicians, in their attacks on Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, are engaged in  a massive assault on women's health, especially the health of lower income and minority women, and their policies will lead to needless deaths that preventive medical care could have avoided. These reckless unremorseful   mysogynists must be removed from power.   

A study of 50 major cities shows that urban school districts are failing to provide
a basic education to many students especially low income and minority students.
It is the responsibility of the state to provide proper educational opportunities to all students and in failing to educate low income and minority students the state is perpetuating institutional racism. Parents, students, and teachers and their unions will have to organize to remove from office those racist politicians who refuse to fully upgrade and fund equal education for all.

“Expectant mothers who live near active natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania are at an increased risk of giving birth prematurely and for having high-risk pregnancies, new research suggests.” What else needs to be said to convince the state not to issue tracking permits! The scientists suggest that state officials “consider” these finding when giving out permits. Who can tell? Maybe it is just a coincidence.

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected the genetic make-up of populations across the entire African continent. (Science Daily)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Low Income Children With Cancer Lack Basic Needs

Low Income Children With Cancer Lack Basic Needs: Weekly News Round Up

Thomas Riggins

Below you will find links to some of the most interesting science stories reported this week relating to both political and social affairs and health news from which everyone may benefit. You can comment on these reports at the end of the round up.

Almost One-Third of Families of Children With Cancer Have Unmet Basic Needs During Treatment

These basic needs include food, housing, clothing, transportation, as well as incidental expenses.
These families are of course low income workers and people in poverty. U.S. capitalism not only does not provide the needed assistance to these families with sick children it tolerates the knowledge that this situation has a negative influence on the survival rate of these children many of  whom die of their cancers who may have lived if they were not poor. This is one more reason to oust the Republicans from power wherever they are so that they can no longer block legislation and programs that could remedy this problem, and eventually abolish capitalism.

Reserch indicates that there is a strong relation between lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 and the increase of the dropout rate of high school students. The last time the age was dropped to 18 the dropout rate increased anywhere from 4 to 13% and minority children were the most likely to dropout. The current discussions on lowering the drinking age back to 18 should consider the facts that only the alcohol producers will really benefit due to market demand and that minority students will be the most vulnerable due to the lack of social services and the social pressures many are under to dropout of school.

While the developmnt of the Chinese economy has lifted millions out of poverty and turned China into an economic world power, their manufacturing sector spews forth more CO2 by far than similar sectors in other countries. This makes their system more detrimental to the environment than it should be. This is due to their dependence on burning coal for fuel and the fact that many of their factories are technologically out of date. To its credit the Chinese government has taken steps to remedy the situation by closing down coal fueled plants, investing in alternative energy sources, and beginning to upgrade the manufacturing sector.

The answer is yes according to analysis of math teaching around the world. The U.S. was included in this study which revealed that social class was a major factor in getting a good math education. More content and better access to higher math classes are available to more affluent students while lower class students get a lower quality math education. This puts these students at a disadvantage in passing tests for better colleges and jobs in the future and helps to perpetuate the lower class status of low income students. Of course, in a country based on inequality and birth privilege the schools will reflect and reproduce the class and income structure of society as a whole.

Low birth weight babies are more likely to be handicapped as adults and they also have a higher mortality rate. These studies show that this negative affect is most pronounced in poor third world populations but as the climate worsens will eventually spread to the developed world as well.