October 15, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 103

AFD-logo-470

[repeats] Guest expert Sydnee McElroy MD of the “Sawbones” podcast explains the science of vaccines (March 2013). Guest historian Pilar Quezzaire on the crisis in northern Nigeria (May 2014). Guest expert Abby Stoddard from Humanitarian Outcomes on violence against aid workers (November 2013). New introductions by Bill.

Discussion Points:

– How were vaccines invented?
– What is the significance and origin of the north-south divide in Nigeria? How did colonialism change the country? Who are the Boko Haram?
– How do kidnappings affect international humanitarian aid organizations?

Full episode:
Oct 2014, Interview Repeats – Arsenal for Democracy 103

Related links
Segment 1

Sawbones: “Dr. Mesmer and the Power of Animal Magnetism”

ABC News: “NYC Measles Outbreak Spreads to Lower East Side”
Think Progress: “Orange County, California Is Experiencing Its Worst Measles Outbreak in Decades”
New York Magazine: “Immune to Logic: Some New York City Private Schools Have Dismal Vaccination Rates”

Segment 2

More articles on Nigeria at Arsenal For Democracy

Segment 3

Humanitarian Aid Workers: Aid Worker Security Report
BBC: Sahara kidnappings: A massive money-making business
NYT: Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Ebola is showing unpreparedness of int’l orgs to control disease outbreaks

If you want to consider this Ebola outbreak as a minimal standards stress test for a response by the World Health Organization to a giant flu pandemic (or zombie apocalypse!), the answer is “Yep, we’re all going to die,” according to a huge investigative reporting article by the New York Times last week.

True, U.S. health professionals and others have noted that if Ebola emerged in the United States (or another industrialized nation), it would almost certainly be controlled quickly because of generally greater access to and availability of controlled care, as well as the C.D.C.’s presence. Unfortunately, disease outbreaks and pandemics are far more likely to start in and rapidly spread through developing and underdeveloped nations, which lack both the C.D.C. and plenty of good hospitals. And that’s where the trouble starts.

As the article reveals, the W.H.O. is severely under-staffed and under-funded, with just a fraction of the C.D.C.’s annual resources, despite theoretically advising the entire world. Their efforts to coordinate responses across national lines and even respond at all have been an omnishambles of lateness and ineffectiveness. Some of this is avoidable incompetence, but a lot of it comes back to the money issue. As it turns out, the W.H.O. gets only one-fifth of its annual budget from world governments (who have been cutting back anyway, following the global recession), which is a pretty disturbing testament to just how little governments spend relative to what they could be spending easily. The vast majority of the money comes from private donors, who nearly always bring an agenda with their contributions.

This tends to force the W.H.O. to spend a lot of money on rarer and narrower diseases (or on non-contagious health problems associated with affluent living standards) than on basics like malaria and the like. Moreover, the only time the private donor money goes to help fight disease outbreaks is when the outbreaks are in a developed nation or a non-industrialized country that also has a lot of rich people and business interests. The prime example cited was how money flooded in to help control and suppress the SARS outbreak 11 years ago, because it adversely affected the commerce of wealthy businessmen in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other spots around the region. Once the outbreak ends, so does the cash flow.

Thus, the W.H.O. is underprepared and underresourced to combat disease outbreaks in countries with very low development, very high poverty, and not a lot of glamorous plutocrats willing to throw money at the problem. And since that’s where most of the potential pandemics are likely to break out and spread rapidly out of control, that’s not very re-assuring.

Thanks, budget hawks of the world! Thanks, misguided philanthropists! You are why we’re all going to be eaten by flu-ridden undead hordes.

Ebola outbreak causes Peace Corps pullout

All US Peace Corps Members in Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are being evacuated indefinitely — disrupting dozens of projects across the region — due to the current West Africa outbreak of Ebola. My friend is one of them and she is not happy about it.

Projects that have taken months of sweet-talking the authorities, grueling grant applications, planning every step of the way have to be left now – postponed indefinitely. Bags must be packed. Close of Service dates for volunteers preparing to leave will be moved up. Pre-service training has been stopped dead in its tracks for the recently arrived group of volunteers. Somehow, we must all find the words to explain to our friends and host-families the harsh truth that we are leaving and don’t know when we will be back.

 
In that post, she discusses how Western abuses and then neglect have led to a cycle that is fueling a major outbreak of the very deadly and horrible disease. Centuries of White Western doctors abusing non-white populations under their “care” the world over has fostered a great deal of fear of outside help.

The misinformation, distrust, and lack of education is unfortunate and causing this virus to spread, but it is not the fault of the Guinean people. The rich history of Guinea is pained by colonization, civil discord, military raids, failed communism and struggling democracy and has led to a general distrust of both the Guinean government and the Western world in general. The education system, 70% unemployment rate, and social structure sets people up for failure; there is nothing inherently unintelligent or incapable about Guineans. During my time here I have been constantly amazed at the rich linguistic intelligence I see on a daily basis — people are often fluent in 5 or 6 languages, while Americans struggle through their required 4 years of Spanish or French. Creative solutions and a tenacious energy run freely through villages and cities. Yet I fear that many back home reading about this outbreak imagine an uneducated country with religious zealots refusing to be treated. I imagine that these people cluck their tongues, sigh, and silently think that this would never happen in America. And they go back to their day without a second thought.

 

Ebola, she notes, is indeed a very dangerous disease, but Western media outlets are more interested in fostering fear and panic than in rallying crucial assistance. And they certainly aren’t interested in more mundane afflictions:

It was more likely, and still is, that people in Guinea would die of malaria or malnutrition than a deadly viral hemorrhagic fever. I remember calling my mother to dispel her fears. She’s a reasonable woman but even she imagined that I was living through some sort of ‘zombie apocalypse’ with infected patients roaming the streets looking to pass on their contagion.

“No, Mom. I’m OK. Everything will be fine as long as I don’t touch dead bodies and stay away from severely ill people, which I tend to do anyways.”

 
I encourage everyone to check out the full post for more insights.

March 10, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 76

AFD-logo-big-new Description:
Nate and Greg join Bill to talk about rising vaccine hysteria, the importance of public vaccinations, and how the “debate” fits into the broader arc of American politics and ideology. European correspondent Persephone looks at the debate over Spanish time zones and siesta culture. Finally Nate, Greg, and Bill look at Crimea in the context of other separatist/independence movements, such as Scotland and Catalonia.

Part 1: Part 1: Vaccines – AFD 76
Part 2: Part 2: Siesta Culture – AFD 76
Part 3: Part 3: Independence Movements – AFD 76

Note 1: This week, the online/podcast version contains an additional segment not aired on WVUD for time purposes. The whole episode with all 3 segments this week is an hour long.
Note 2: This week, the online version is split into one file for each segment. To get one file for the whole thing, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related Links

Mother Jones: Study: You Can’t Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind
BBC: Analysis: Why Russia’s Crimea move fails legal test
Slate: Crimea referendum: Is the U.S. hypocritical about which independence movements it supports?
The Globalist: A History of Spanish Autonomy
The Globalist: Spain Urgently Needs Consolidation
The Globalist: To Secede or Not to Secede: The Case of Europe

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”