Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bacteria Resistant Pneumonia C-diff Epidemics Hospitals New Gene India Pakistan

Tags: Resistant Pneumonia and Diarrhea Klebsiella and Clostridium difficile, Gram Negative Gene India Pneumonia Deaths

Kawakami: Summary of Epidemics in hospital acquired highly resistant gram negative Klebsiella pneumoniae and gram positive and/or gram negative Clostridium difficile or C-diff bacteria and spores.

The epidemic started in New York hospitals and has spread to 37 states. Chicago is the latest with huge problems. Few antibiotics for gram negative bacterias work well anymore for this resistant form.

I have read only one example of a prevention treatment by yogurt probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus carried with the patient’s air supply. I don’t know if post treatment works.

Hospital Epidemics Resistant Bacterias: Major hospitals are suffering epidemics in a very deadly mutated gram negative bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common bacteria that is the most frequent cause of pneumonia and bloodstream infection. It can also be found in urinary infections. The fear is that gram negative e-coli may acquire this resistant gene. This bacteria is present in the colon of everyone.

Although denied by India, the New Delhi gene which is easily transferred in gram negative bacteria, has caused epidemics in major hospitals starting in New York.

It is difficult to treat resistant pneumonia bacteria, Klebsiella pneumoniae. Carbapenem antibiotics used to treat gram negative bacterial infections no longer work well. The resistant gene is present in bacteria infecting a wide segment of the people in India and Pakistan who apparently developed a tolerance for it and less likely to have wholesale use of antibiotics not only for individuals, but in large numbers of cows and beef cattle, pigs, chickens, and other animals in our food factories in our food and water.

The resistant bacteria may explain why there are increased deaths from pneumonia in top rated hospitals in major cities. (April 2011, Scientific American, pages 46-53.

With daily use of bleach on all suspected surfaces, the Mayo clinic was able to reduce infections by half. Most pneumonia is acquired in hospitals.

A similar problems has emerged with intestinal diarrhea hospitalizations with a resistant form of Clostridium difficile which gives us severe diarrhea.

However probiotics do not work as well on hospital patients who get very severe diarrhea from the inflammatory Clostridium difficile. One woman expected to die in a day or two from resistant C-diff was treated with a new technique. The doctors replaced her protective bacteria by inserting healthy feces from her husband’s colon.

A miracle recovery happened from the first day and she stayed in the hospital for two weeks to be sure it would not come back. She did not return to the hospital. Since that time, many doctors have successfully tried this feces healthy bacteria insertion approach. However, many patients refused to use this treatment or their spouses or family refused to consent even though the success rate averaged 94% and all were over 90%. So far a google search indicates this treatment is not wide spread or published in medical journals.

Because the C-diff acquired so many genes within a decade, I strongly suspect as do a few doctor scientists that the spores and bacteria may be partly gram negative bacteria which acquires genes easily. I do not know whether carbapenems antibiotics that work against gram negative bacteria was used in the treatments.

The FDA has temporarily halted the use of feces to cure incurable C-diff infections to check on side-effects, so patients may have to fend for themselves and get feces from family or friends who have healthy feces. It is not a complicated procedure.

When I acquired bacteria during an endoscopy and got diarrhea, I found that Trunature Digestive Probiotic from Costco helped keep it in check and had mild diarrhea only once a day for a week and was able to eat my normal meal anyway.

C-diff gram negative or gram positive bacteria has acquired 5 genes in the last Bush decade where one-third are resistant to antibiotics and more often than not. The spores form when attacked by antibiotics which protects it and increases the difficulty of treating it with antibiotics. The assumption is that the spores are gram positive, but it might be worth checking with quicker deaths available in some hospitals to check this out more carefully. It is possible there is a mix of the two types.

About a third of the patients are resistant to many gram positive antibiotics and 10 percent are resistant to all antibiotics including Vancomycin, the antibiotic of last resort. Vancomycin does not kill the bacteria, but stops it from growing. A continuing problem is that patients often leave the hospital too quickly due to corporate insurance restrictions and then come back again. Medicare, under Obama, now punishes hospitals financially if a patient has to return.

Jim Kawakami, Nov 30, 2011,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crime Witness, New Robber Barons

Tags: Crime Witness DNA Freed Mistakes Witness ID, America's New Robber Barrons, Wall Street Executives

NY Times, Laura Beil, Nov 28, 2011 About 75 percent of DNA based exonerations have come from mistakes in witness identification.

The New Jersey Supreme Court decided that witness accounts should be viewed more like trace evidence with the fragility and vulnerability of contamination.

America’s New Robber Barons, Jeff Madrick, Nov 16, 2011

This may seem counterintuitive at first. After all, analysts have long painted a picture of growing inequality over the past few decades in which the top quintile’s share of the national income has risen while the share of the other 80 percent has fallen. But almost all the gains for the top 20 percent was for the top 1 percent. And half of that is accounted for by a tiny group within the top percent—those earners in the top 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, for the four quintiles below the 80 percent level, the share of total income fell significantly. For those from the 80th to the 99th percentile, the share rose only slightly (a little more rapidly as you go higher up).

In other words, Occupy Wall Street’s claim that “We are the 99 percent” is dead on right.

So it’s worth knowing who is in that group of very rich with runaway incomes. Several news reports in recent weeks have cited a seminal 2010 study that uses IRS tax returns to find out who belongs to the top 0.1 percent. The authors deserve mention because they are often left out when their results are cited: Jon Bakija of Williams College, Adam Cole of the US Treasury, and Bradley Heim of Indiana University. This was not a Treasury study, however, but a private if scholarly one.

One key finding of the study is that three out of five of those in the top 0.1 percent of tax filers are executives or managers of financial and non-financial companies. Overall, more are from non-financial companies. Does this partly exonerate Wall Street, suggesting it is really Main Street where the problem lies?

In fact Bakija, Cole and Heim’s analysis shows the opposite: it turns out that much of the increase in wealth of non-financial executives was also tied to the rise in stock prices. Keeping in mind that stocks options appear as wages in the data, it seems Wall Street itself was often a main source of income growth for “non-financial” managers as well. (Lawyers were another large category of tax payers in the top 0.1 percent, and though there is not direct data for this, one can fairly assume that many of those in corporate firms made a lot of money from the booming business on Wall Street.)

Next, think about how these executives managed their businesses. If they wanted a big pay check they had to orient their strategies to push up their stock prices—that is, often to appeal to the financial fads and fashions of the day. These strategies typically have included cutting labor costs and R&D in order to boost short-term profits. This delighted their advisers on the Street. Stock investors soon loved nothing better than consistent increases in quarterly profits, and not coincidentally, stock options accounted for an ever-growing proportion of executive pay over the past thirty years. We used to say once that Wall Street worked for business, but over the past thirty years business has come to work for Wall Street.

It is just as interesting to explore the factors that the authors found out probably did not cause the surge at the top. Economists typically posit sophisticated technologies (often related to digitalization) as a source of growing inequality: because these technologies require better educated and smarter workers, those who have mastered them are rewarded handsomely. But there was no surge at the very top in other nations like Japan or in Western Europe, which also adopted the same technologies.

Similarly, some have argued that globalization led to higher incomes at the top because skilled workers can sell themselves globally at ever higher salaries. Again, however, such skilled workers have not seen a surge at the very top in Europe or Japan.

One reason for the discrepancy between the US and other countries is that boards of directors in the US are especially willing to give their CEOs and other high level executives big raises and generous stock options. Lucian Bebchuk of Harvard has done a lot of research on this so-called “governance” issue. Meantime, as Bebchuk’s work shows, shareholder influence over executive compensation is far too weak. And there is also the issue of culture itself. America—with its admiration for the self-made man—tolerates high remuneration for the men and women at the top and lower wages in the middle and the bottom. Culture likely matters.

But when we put it all together, compensation tied to stock options along with unusually high profits by financial firms, much of which was passed on to their executives, seems to be the overriding factor. This is probably now the main driver of what we call income inequality in America and what we should more accurately call runaway incomes at the very top. …

Monday, November 21, 2011

Casino Jack and the United States of Money Starring Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff Marvelous Unbelievable Documentary

Tags: Casino Jack Kevin Spacey Abramoff Corruption Includes Everyone of Importance Justice?

Casino Jack and the United States of Money

  1. R Netflix

This is an amazing well done documentary film that is very informative and held my interest.

The Norquist no tax guy was involved deeply in the scandal and should have gone to jail. I always considered the Republicans very corrupt, but I did not know the full extent of their corruption until this film.

Kevin Spacey plays Abramoff. Marshall Fine reviews the film on HuffPost Review: Casino Jack.


Kevin Spacey plays Abramoff. Marshall Fine reviews the film on HuffPost Review: Casino Jack.

It's a tragedy that director George Hickenlooper didn't live to see the release of his film, Casino Jack. It's both great fun and strong filmmaking, encapsulating the hubris and self-aggrandizement that marked the career of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Think of Casino Jack as a companion piece to Alex Gibney's documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money. See Hickenlooper's film to get a dramatized, telescoped version of Abramoff's rocket-ride to the top -- then find Gibney's doc to get the whole backstory. They're both important reminders of what American political culture was during the Bush years -- and, unfortunately, what it continues to be.

Hickenlooper's film stars Kevin Spacey as Abramoff (though Spacey is probably 10 years too old for the role), captured at the point when Abramoff, a right-wing zealot and orthodox Jew, was reaching his peak of power. Abramoff was best buddies with now-disgraced and convicted former Congressman Tom DeLay and had ties to Karl Rove and George W. Bush, when they were making the White House their own little clubhouse.

In the film, Abramoff is coming off a major win, getting Congress to give favorable trade status to the Marianas Islands, essentially sanctioning sweatshop conditions for child labor. Even as he and his right-wing buddies -- Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and others -- exult in their ability to rake in lobbying bucks for providing high-level access to clients, Abramoff is thinking bigger.

He sells his services to an Indian tribe that's looking for bigger casino profits, telling them he can ensure that a rival tribe won't get a competing casino license. At the same time, he's selling his services to the rival tribe, promising he'll work to get them the license they seek. And he and his partner, Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), are gouging both tribes and laughing all the way to the bank.

But Abramoff is nothing if not grandiose. He has plans to build his own Hebrew school - and starts by buying a Zamboni for the ice rink to be. To cover his costs, he works a shady deal to help one of his firm's clients, a shifty operator in Florida who runs a cruise ship that takes cruises to nowhere. They float out beyond the borders and have gambling and other vices onboard.

But Abramoff's choice of partners is always slightly sketchy. In this case, he picks Adam Kidan (Jon Lovitz), a mobbed-up owner of a discount mattress operation, to be his front man. Eventually, it all catches up with him -- and he winds up on the wrong end of a grand jury and, finally, in jail.

Hickenlooper, working from a script by Norman Snider, plays this for rueful laughter. Abramoff is as brazen as possible, glad-handing and otherwise blowing smoke to get business, bullying when he can, wheedling when he can't. Spacey plays him with a brash energy that fits the character of a guy who believes that doing the Lord's work includes lining his own pockets.

There's surprisingly broad comedy between Spacey and Lovitz as the mattress salesman, a whiny weasel who always knows just the wrong thing to say.

Together, Spacey and Pepper capture the sense of entitlement, the hypocrisy and greed disguised as patriotism that marked Abramoff's dealings. Kelly Preston, as Abramoff's wife, is the perfect political spouse, kept in the dark, worrying about money but willing to believe Abramoff's blandishments that everything is going to be OK.

Casino Jack, unfortunately, arrives after the midterm election; it might have served to remind people just who it was that drove the economy into the ground by playing a constant me-first game. Still, it's surprisingly funny and entertaining, though it leaves a bitter taste, given what has happened in the past six months or so.

Click here: Find more reviews, interviews and commentary on my website.

Book: Heist: Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, His Republican Allies, and the Buying of Washington [Kindle Edition]

Peter H. Stone (Author) (Go to books and search Heist: Superlobbist and you will find the book. Casino Jack is largely based on this book. Even George W. Bush was getting boatloads of crooked money from Abramoff. If McCain who was also guilty was not running the investigation in the senate, many top Republicans would have gone to jail including many in the Republican congress, House Leader DeLay, and many others in the current House and Senate. I guest Abramoff kept quiet because he wanted to stay alive. Yes, Bush got loads of money as did a few top ministers in the Evangelical Church.

Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers [Hardcover]

Ellen E. Schultz (Author)

Check out Recent video talk by Schultz.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Financials Bill Gross, Illegal Drug Economy, If Romney President, Health Supreme Court, Banks

Tags: Financials Bill Gross, Illegal Drug Economy, If Romney President, Healthcare Supreme Court, Europe Crisis

You can now watch Bloomberg TV Live on the Internet or on iphone and ipad. On Surveillance with Tom Keene, a more sophisticated analysis of the market with more in-depth discussion visited PIMCO to find out what they think of the current market and why they have been so successful in the complex world of bond trading.

One comment that I made in the past a number of times is that high IQ does not mean success necessarily. Sure Harvard has many Nobel Prize winners, but most came from other universities and once they were successful, Harvard got them by paying more including their perceived reputation of being the best.

I was shocked when Bill Gross made a similar comment! He said we found that we over rate high intelligence. What we are looking for is good common sense. What he did not mention is how people have good common sense.

Unfortunately many of the wrong decisions in government and in corporations were based on hiring people who had the best grades which is closely tied to higher intelligence. Of course there are exceptions such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. She has a combination of being a very hard worker and also a good people person unlike Mark Zuckerberg.

Most decisions are made by so-called common sense without the broad knowledge needed to make it effective and appropriate. Dan Ariely in Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decision

PIMCO has found a team consisting of an economist, a mathematician, a gut thinker, and experienced bond trader, but I really forgot the latter so it is just a guess. Check out YouTube tomorrow to see if it is recorded.
Education went downhill when we switched away from early rote learning to get lots of information in our head. Fast thinking and google does not make one a successful person. One elementary school principle in Compton, one of the worst school districts in California, had used a teaching method that great success and made the school of the best in California. She emphasized the basics by rote learning and did not adopt the new way of learning to read. The way to learn is to read is to read.

The Asian way to learn by rote has made the Chinese students also more creative than Americans. We think we need to think logically, but the question I ask is can logic come up with the best ideas. I don't think so. The idea comes and then we use logic to determine whether it is worth implementing even if all the questions cannot be answered.

Reread Gladwell's Blink.

Jim Kawakami, Nov 14, 2011,


Health Law Puts Focus on Limits of Federal Power

If, as expected, the Supreme Court agrees to be the final arbiter on President Obama’s health care law, it will face the question of what the government can force people to do.

Banks Quietly Ramping Up Costs to Consumers

Facing a reaction from an angry public and heightened scrutiny from regulators, banks are turning to all sorts of fees that fly under the radar.

Hispanics Reviving Faded Towns on the Plains

Hispanics are arriving in numbers large enough to offset the decline in the white population in many of the smallest communities in the heartland.

Italy Remains in Trouble, Pimco’s Gross Says: Tom Keene
Pacific Investment Management Co.'s Bill Gross ... a radiointerview ... Recession could be deep in Europe, Pimco Chief Executive Officer Mohamed El-Erian said during the interview ... during today's interview ...

A glimpse of the impact of illegal drug $$$ in the legitimate ecomomy in this TX Tribune story. #muckreads

In Laredo, was a criminal enterprise bathed in sweet perfume?

The drug war spillover from Mexico is much broader than shootouts and kidnappings — it is cloaked in the seemingly routine business transactions of the border economy.
  • Date: November 14, 2011
  • By: Julian Aguilar
  • Source: Texas Tribune
Tags: drugs
Tweeted by 20 others
Heeding @ProPublica's suggestion, story on #Romney & Bain Capital deserves #MuckReads hashtag. Big time.

After a Romney Deal, Profits and Then Layoffs

An examination of the Dade deal, which Mr. Romney approved and presided over, shows the unintended human costs and messy financial consequences behind the brand of capitalism that he practiced for 15 years.
  • Date: November 14, 2011
  • By: Michael Barbaro
  • Source: New York Times