American Elephants


A Vaccine For A Virus: Burying Ebola by The Elephant's Child

How about a little good news for a change? An invention has come along that has changed the landscape completely.

A vaccine invented in Canada was tested in a large scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone by the World Health Organization to assess just how well it protected people against Ebola—the dreadful virus that ravaged Africa in 2014, killing 60 percent of the people who were infected. What happened? It succeeded spectacularly. It protected 100 percent of the people who received it. This is the first and only therapy for Ebola other than the previous supportive measures.

The vaccine, which is a glycoprotein (1) called rVSV-ZEBOV, was tested in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The group gathered samples from an individual, either alive or dead who had a positive lab test for Ebola, and then identified a cluster of their contacts, contacts of the contacts, and the contacts of the contacts who weren’t around when the team arrived. Each uninfected person got a single injection of the vaccine in the arm. The results are stunning.

The group identified a total of 4539 people in 51 clusters between March 2015, and January 2016. About half (2119 people) received the vaccine immediately, and another 2041 got it 21 days later.

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The name of the vaccine sounds daunting, but it’s really not. The “r” means recombinant—formed by alteration of viral DNA, which can be done using standard molecular biotechnology techniques. VSV stands for vesicular stomatitis virus—the virus that was modified (2). ZEBOV is short for Zaire Ebola virus, which was the most deadly circulating strain.

This is a very big deal. The safety profile is excellent, and only two adverse effects were attributed to the vaccine itself. It is an enormous achievement, and could rid the world of a very scary, very dangerous disease.

The epidemic in 2014-15 claimed the lives of 11,300 people in West Africa, spread the virus as far as New York and Texas, and demonstrated the failures of the world public health system.”The public health bureaucracy resists therapeutics, which threaten traditional manpower-heavy quarantines and tracking.” By 2015, cases were low and declining and researchers were able to gather real world information on an accelerated schedule. The study was so successful that it was stopped early since not providing the vaccine to the control group was unethical.

Ebola is a complex and mutating pathogen, and no scientific triumph is ever final. But the public-health bureaucracy demonstrated no such humility, and its overconfidence showed how unprepared the world is to respond to biological threats. Developing and deploying more vaccines like rVSV-Zebov may be the best defense.



Pentatonix: ‘Mary Did You Know” by The Elephant's Child
December 24, 2016, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, History, Music | Tags: , ,



Is It Possible to Ensure Election Integrity? by The Elephant's Child

Last month, President Obama was in Florida for a partisan fundraiser, described as part stump speech, part farewell-tour stop.And he took the occasion to knock any efforts by Republicans to “ensure election integrity  one last time.”

The president just doesn’t think there is such a thing as election fraud. As he informed the assembled Floridians, “You are much likelier to get struck by lightning than to have somebody next to you commit voter fraud.”

…But we know one thing for sure. The Left loves this old lightning-strike chestnut.

It’s a claim that was debunked more than four years ago, yet progressives keep trotting it out anyway. So it’s time to debunk it again, by turning to the National Weather Service and the Heritage Foundation’s voter-fraud database. which contains hundreds of cases of election fraud, all of which have been  proven in courts of law and resulted in criminal convictions or overturned elections.
I was always under the impression that the Left could not win elections without voter fraud. There have been new cases discovered almost every week. James  O’Keefe’s work to bring the dark rooms of the Democrat underground to light have shown that they plan to bus in out-of-state voters to win elections. I have some 400 pages saved in my Voter Fraud file. Republicans believe that most people have picture ID, that most people appreciate vote fraud being stamped out, and only legitimate voters allowed to cast a ballot, but the Left fights tooth and nail to keep that requirement being put into law, with cries of “racism.”
You need picture ID to open a bank account, to cash a check, to see the doctor, and to get into the Justice building, or to fly anywhere. Methinks the Left doth protest too much!
Here’s satirist Ami Horowitz going to UC Berkeley and to Harlem to find our if voter ID laws are racist and suppress the black vote:

The very partisan Mainstream Media should be ashamed of themselves.



The Solutions Often Aren’t Quite What You Expected! by The Elephant's Child

ows_147520558415635_mediumA column at The Daily Signal, from the Heritage Foundation, by Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University draws our attention to a lawsuit filed by Detroit school students against the state of Michigan. The suit claims a legal right to literacy based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Ninety-three percent of Detroit’s predominantly black public school eighth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 96 percent are not proficient in mathematics. According to the lawsuit, “decades of state disinvestment in and deliberate indifference to Detroit schools have denied plaintiff schoolchildren access to the most basic building block of education: literacy.”

In terms of per-pupil expenditures, the state does not treat Detroit public school students any differently than it does other students. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the Detroit school district ranks 50th in state spending, at $13,743 per pupil. This is out of 841 total districts. That puts Detroit schools in the top 6 percent of per-pupil expenditures in the state.

The answer from the bureaucracy is usually the same. Pay the teachers more and reduce class size, which works out well for the teachers’ unions.

It appears that according to a 2011 survey by the American Psychological Association, 80% of teachers had been victimized at school at least once during that school year or the prior year. Detroit schools have the same problems of violence as are faced by other predominately black schools in other cities.

In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. In February 2014, The Baltimore Sun reported that more than 300 Baltimore school staff members had filed workers’ compensation claims during the previous fiscal year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job.

A January 2015 post at American Thinker documents the problems of racial violence in schools by the author of two books on racial violence in schools—toward teachers. The videos linked are no longer available, except for one, which was captured on a student’s phone, and is startling.

The most popular manual to train teachers how to eliminate racial disparity in grades and discipline is by Glenn Singleton, which is based on Critical Race Theory and insists that teachers must know 3 things to do their jobs: 1. White racism is everywhere. 2. White racism is permanent. 3. White racism explains everything.  Clearly that is not apt to improve much of anything.

The American people invested a lot of hope that the first black president  would improve race relations in the country. Instead we have Black Lives Matter raising animus on campuses and encouraging riots and violence against police. In the assumption that most black men in prison have been convicted because of racism rather than crime, Obama is releasing and/or pardoning hundreds. He has suggested that Trayvon Martin might have been his son, and that police shootings of young black men were unjustified even before the facts were all in, or the grand jury had convened.  The general opinion is that race relations have not only not improved, but have become much worse.

In Minnesota ‘s Cooper High School, “football coach Willie Howard looked at his team and decided there was still something missing. The former Vikings defensive lineman has changed the football culture at Cooper, compiling a more-than-respectable .596 winning percentage compared to the .361 percentage Cooper had in its five previous seasons.”

But, like any football program, there is always more to be done. Black students comprise nearly 37 percent of the student body at Cooper, the school’s largest racial demographic group. Looking to improve their self-esteem and bolster perceptions of them in the community, Howard hit on an idea that has long been a staple in the business world: Two days a week, the Cooper football players dress for success.

“I’d had enough of people thinking negatively,” Howard said. “The only way you can change the way people think about you is by changing things you can control. If you don’t want people thinking you’re a thug, don’t dress like a thug. It you don’t want people thinking you’re unintelligent, show them how intelligent you are.”

Senior wide receiver Emmanuel Ogboru, dressed impressively in a checked shirt, vest and gold tie, said “When you look good, you act good, you do your work good and you play good.”

On Mindset Mondays and We Will Succeed Wednesdays, the entire Cooper football team puts away the hoodies and sweats and dons a more professional-looking attire. If they don’t own such clothes, the school has amassed a large wardrobe with hundreds of shirts and ties, as well as sport coats, vests, slacks and even shoes. Most of the clothes were donated or acquired through the crowdfunding website GoFundMe, which raised $5,000.

“They come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get the clothes they need for the next [Dress For Success] day,” Howard said. “When they come to school dressed like that, it says they took the time and energy to prepare. When they’re sitting in that classroom, they feel differently about that class. It reminds them why we’re in this building.

The kids don’t have to do it every day. Howard says some days kids just need to be kids, but dressing for success seems to be catching on. The basketball coach wants to continue it, and kids not in the sports programs are asking if they can take part.

*photo by Jerry Holt, jerryholt@startribune.com



How Much Money have Humans Created? by The Elephant's Child

All stock markets added together are worth $70 trillion, and global debt is $199 trillion.

That’s all impressive, but the derivatives market takes the cake. Derivatives are contracts between parties that derive value from the performance of underlying assets, indices, or entities. On the low end, the notional value of the derivatives market is estimated to be a whopping $630 trillion according to the Bank of International Settlements.

However, that only accounts for OTC (over-the-counter) derivatives, and the truth is that no one actually knows the size of the derivatives market. It’s been estimated by some that it could be as high as $1.2 quadrillion, and others estimate it could be even higher.

There are many financial critics who worry about the risk that these contracts pile onto the global financial system. With the sheer size of the derivative market dwarfing all others, it’s understandable why business mogul Warren Buffett has called derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction”.



Mark Knopfler: “Telegraph Road” by The Elephant's Child
September 20, 2016, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Music, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

lyrics here
(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)



Happy Constitution Day! by The Elephant's Child

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Today is Constitution Day, September 17, celebrating the ratification of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787.  If you are unfamiliar with the day of celebration, you may be forgiven, for it was only established in 2004, and to further confuse matters, if it occurs on a weekend it is celebrated in schools and government offices on the closest weekday, so they supposedly celebrated yesterday. Check with your child if you have one in school.

The law establishing the American federal observance was created with an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004, and mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions, and all federal agencies provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on September 17, 1787. It is also Citizenship Day, commemorating the coming of age or by naturalization, of those who have become citizens. (What? You’re not a citizen until you turn 18?)

Iowa schools started celebrating in 1911, and there’s a long history of attempts to make it a national celebration, which aren’t really important anyway. What is important is that a recent survey determined that most college students had no idea who James Madison was, or why he was important. And were astonished to learn that slavery was not practiced only in the United States. No idea of Muslim raids on the British Isles to capture British slaves, or of Muslim slave traders caravans up from ‘darkest Africa’, nor of  American Indian slaves. Schools across the country have become very lax in the teaching of American History. And our college students have no idea why the Constitution is a big deal. Oddly enough, the institution that makes the most of American history and the study of the Constitution is Hillsdale College, which receives no federal funding at all. Here is Dr. Larry  P. Arn, President of Hillsdale College explaining why they study the Constitution.




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