Open up! It’s the Religious Department!

I was reading a news story on John McCain meeting with the Dalai Lama, and happened to see this one.  The site was the Malaysia Star.  I am completely mystified that there are countries on our planet that have “religious” departments, which conduct “raids” to look for “immoral activities.”  Wow.  Human beings really are a piece of work.

Housewife upset by 4am religious dept raid

By HAH FOONG LIAN

IPOH: Housewife Zuraida Zainul Abidin had a shock of her life when her house was raided by three religious officers in the early hours of Friday morning.

She said that at 4am that day she was breast-feeding her three-month-old baby when she heard noises at the front gate of her house in Pusing.

“I thought it was my husband returning but when I opened the door, it was three men from the Perak Religious Department,” said Zuraida, 28, at the office of her lawyer Ranjit Singh Sandhu, whom she had consulted.

The three Batu Gajah-based officers told her they were searching for immoral activities but could not find anything.

She immediately lodged a report at the Pusing police station after relating the incident to her 39-year-old husband, Mior Baderus Hisham, who is a security guard at a nearby factory.

Zuraida, who has three young children, said that because of the raid her husband suspected her of having extra-marital affairs.

Could such craziness happen here?  We’d like to hope not, I’m sure.  But in the U.S. would we end up with a Religious Department, or an Anti-Religious Department?  I wonder.

Demonstrators demonstrate poor judgment

Basically, yuck. That’s how I feel about the anti-war demonstrators who chose to mar the Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Monticello yesterday.

These people have all kinds of ways to exercise their right of free speech, but they chose to prove their utter disregard for others by engaging in another display of stupidity during a ceremony that many immigrants consider one of the most important moments of their lives.

What is it about people who are extremely passionate about something, that causes them to think they have the right to trample all over others’ rights? Once again I find reason to be entirely disgusted with badly behaved liberals. Is this how their parents taught them to act? (Oh, and should any of said manners-deprived liberals be reading this, don’t get your panties in a bunch and go off half-cocked. I equally despise the loud-mouthed religious zealots on the far right, for the same reasons.)

Look, I understand feeling passionate about something. But we humans have this thing called self-control, and allegedly some of us have another thing called judgment. Would it kill demonstrators to put some thought into expressing themselves at appropriate places and times, with just a hint of good manners? Apparently neither parents nor schools are teaching the fact that free speech is not the same thing as a free-for-all.

One thing the demonstrators probably accomplished, though, was to make 74 brand new American citizens a lot less sympathetic to their cause.


Elsewhere, U.S. troops celebrated Independence Day in a different way.

Using the homeless as vaccine test subjects in Poland

The homeless in Poland may have more hazards than the elements to deal with—it seems some unethical scientists viewed them as easy pickings for tests. Oh, and don’t take any ambulance rides there, either.

I figure this story deserves passing along in its entirety because it’s short, and it’s weird enough on its own without any commentary from me. I added the italics.

Homeless people die after bird flu vaccine trial in Poland

By Matthew Day in Warsaw
Last updated: 11:17 PM BST 02/07/2008

Three Polish doctors and six nurses are facing criminal prosecution after a number of homeless people died following medical trials for a vaccine to the H5N1 bird-flu virus.

21 people died after being given the vaccine

The medical staff, from the northern town of Grudziadz, are being investigated over medical trials on as many as 350 homeless and poor people last year, which prosecutors say involved an untried vaccine to the highly-contagious virus.

Authorities claim that the alleged victims received £1-2 to be tested with what they thought was a conventional flu vaccine but, according to investigators, was actually an anti bird-flu drug.

The director of a Grudziadz homeless centre, Mieczyslaw Waclawski, told a Polish newspaper that last year, 21 people from his centre died, a figure well above the average of about eight.

Although authorities have yet to prove a direct link between the deaths and the activities of the medical staff, Poland’s health minister, Ewa Kopacz, has said that the doctors and nurses involved should not return to their profession.

“It is in the interests of all doctors that those who are responsible for this are punished,” the minister added.

Investigators are also probing the possibility that the medical staff may have also have deceived the pharmaceutical companies that commissioned the trials.

The suspects said that the all those involved knew that the trial involved an anti-H5N1 drug and willingly participated.

The news of the investigation will come as another blow to the reputation of Poland’s beleaguered and poverty-stricken national health service. In 2002, a number of ambulance medics were found guilty of killing their patients for commissions from funeral companies.

Let’s say it again: it’s NOT smallpox

Here we go again, with reporters using the word “smallpox” over and over in a story about a kid with a vaccinia infection. At least they did manage to slip the correct name into the story.

Tests could prove soldier as smallpox link

LAWTON — A child who came into a Lawton emergency room with a strange rash likely contracted a strain of smallpox from a recently vaccinated Fort Sill soldier.

Test results are pending with the State Department of Health, but officials say the patient probably contracted the vaccinia virus, a milder form of smallpox used in vaccinations, from a Fort Sill soldier who had recently been inoculated for the disease, said Kristy Bradley, state epidemiologist.

The patient came into the emergency room at the Southwestern Medical Center on Tuesday with a widespread rash on the face, neck, trunk and limbs, Bradley said. Initially, the patient was isolated from other patients until doctors could determine the child did not have other symptoms of smallpox.

Do reporters even go to school? Vaccinia and variola are two different viruses, and vaccinia infection is not a mild form of smallpox. In fact, technically the smallpox vaccine is just a vaccinia vaccine. How hard is it for reporters to get it straight? Oh well, these are probably the same people who demand antibiotics for a cold.

UPDATE: Looks like tests for vaccinia and chicken pox came back negative.  It definitely wasn’t smallpox, but what it was may never be known.

Koran in toilet a felony? I don’t think so.

We live in a country where radical muslims take advantage of their freedom to stomp on the flag in the street, where you can feel safe tearing apart a bible in public and call it art, where you and a hundred of your favorite white supremacist asshole buddies can put on your hoods and march down mainstreet pretty much hating everybody. But apparently no matter who you are, you’d better not do anything retarded with a koran or you’re committing a felony.

Somebody had better explain the double standard here, where people can get away with any kind of disrespectful behavior toward any other group or even the whole country, except if there’s a koran involved. Misdemeanors and fines for messing up school property, definitely. That seems appropriate since two items of school property (books) were water damaged in separate acts of vandalism. Anything beyond that reveals the blatant hypocrisy in this country.

If dunking a koran in a toilet is a hate crime, then I demand to see every person who’s ever “disrespected” any religious text from any religion in prison, right now. For the record I’m not religious in the least, but damn it, I do expect consistency.

More on this at Ace of Spades HQ.

More Chinese shenanigans with tainted products

In the past few days we’ve heard of yet another occurrence of Chinese shenanigans with poisoned products: this time it’s toothpaste contaminated with diethylene glycol (DEG) – an industrial chemical with nephrotoxic and hepatotoxic properties. DEG-contaminated products have killed numerous people in past incidents (examples 1, 2, 3).

It appears Chinese manufacturers are functioning these days with little safety oversight. At this point, if you’re buying packaged food or anything else you put in or on your body that has “China” written anywhere on the package, I can only ask, why? However, even that simple precaution won’t fully mitigate the risk. In cases where Chinese-prepared base materials or unfinished mixtures are incorporated into Western-finished products, I don’t believe that information has to be indicated on the label. And we saw with the recent pet food debacle—which nearly killed my parents’ cat and left her permanently ill—the quality control protocols closer to home may not be able to catch the presence of an unusual contaminant in a finished product before it’s too late.

The Chinese predilection toward cutting corners regardless of killing a few foreigners reminds me a little bit of some manufacturer shenanigans that occurred in our own history: I’m referring to the “Ginger Jake” incident that occurred during Prohibition times in the U.S. (here’s a TIME article from 1930 —note this line about the use of ginger, “Many women use the candied root or the extract to soothe their periodic griping.” Ha!) Jake was marketed as a health drink but as everyone was aware, it was actually a strong alcoholic beverage and so became quite popular among people who couldn’t get their hands on the good stuff. Unfortunately, Jake drinkers developed a delayed neuropathic syndrome with a prominently featured paralysis of the feet and sometimes hands – a serious neuropathy that in many cases was permanent. The culprit was found to be tri-o-cresyl phosphate, a plasticizer that was added to the drink to increase its volume of dissolved solids. If I recall correctly, this characteristic enabled the drink to be marketed as other than an alcoholic beverage. As was soon discovered by hundreds of hapless consumers, tri-o-cresyl phosphate is an organophosphate neurotoxin (want a refill on that nerve agent cocktail, pal?). This mass poisoning, among many others early in the last century including DEG poisonings, led to the U.S. 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which significantly strengthened the previously weak oversight of such products.

Do the Chinese even have something like a Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act? Yes, in fact they do, but it seems their State Food and Drug Administration has been a bit lax in enforcement of late due to widespread corruption reaching to the top. Things could improve since they decided it’s time for the Chinese school solution of killing the guy in charge. But until we find out how effective the fear of death is on greedy Chinese manufacturers, we’d all be well advised to just pay more for Western-made products. It’s well worth your health to avoid Chinese imports at whatever cost. Western manufacturers, as well, who want to avoid future liabilities should be seeking other sources for materials that will eventually end up in, or on, anything that’s supposed to continue living afterwards.

Previous post: Know where your food comes from?

More information: the U.S. FDA has a system called OASIS that records import alerts and refusals. You can look up how many products were refused by country, month, and other criteria. To explore this topic, try starting from this page.

UPDATE: Why China Sucks! Timeline of dangerous Chinese products at where else, Who Sucks.

UPDATE: He’s dead, Jim!  As noted above, the Chinese decided killing this man would improve their safety record and their image.

“TB guy” is lawyer, father-in-law works for CDC

This story is just getting more ridiculous.  The guy is a personal injury lawyer and his new father-in-law is a microbiologist who specializes in TB at the CDC! Oops.

Being a lawyer probably fed into his “all about me” attitude in exposing fellow passengers to XDR-TB on his recent transatlantic flights, as well as his new wife.  Maybe putting the wedding off until after spending several weeks being treated in a sealed room might have been a more responsible idea, you think?

And maybe we’re going to have to rethink how CDC doctors “suggested” he not fly while his lungs were big wet petri dishes culturing the worst strain of TB known to man.

I guess free speech depends on who’s saying what

Don Imus—a radio personality I cannot stand the sight or sound of, but regardless of that—lost his job for using the phrase “nappy-headed hos.” My understanding is that he’s used many a derogatory term in his useless radio career, so I’m a little confused by this one.

imus-fairrington1.jpg

Seen on Doctor Bulldog, the cartoon shows the kind of hypocrisy that I really cannot stand. Is free speech, including the freedom to insult, only free for some? I have a running argument with a certain teenager about this. The next generation feels that it’s perfectly fine for them to use terms like “niggas” and “hos” and “bitches” amongst themselves. Anyone in an outgroup (that may mean white, or it may mean old - the definition is determined by the members of the ingroup) is to be loudly shamed as a bigot for using any such terms. Of particular stickiness is the “n” word, which the kids try to justify by saying that if you pronounce it just right—nigga, rather than nigger—the “n” word is perfectly fine and even a term of endearment!

Kids, and a lot of you adults, first point: if you think it’s rude for some people to use these terms, then it’s rude for you to use them. You don’t get special rules. You stop being hypocrites and we’ll all be getting along a whole lot better. Second point: insults happen where there’s free speech. If you don’t like the terms someone uses, you are free to cease further contact with that person. You don’t have to listen to their ignorant radio shows, or their stupid music about slappin’ some bitches, or look at their cartoons of Mohammed having sex with a camel, or whatever it is that happens to offend you. It’s your responsibility.

Had I been Imus’s boss I’d have fired him long ago just because he gives me the willies. But this was a lame excuse that just feeds the fire on the torch being carried by a culture of self-righteous, self-proclaimed “victims” of free speech who howl for “justice” in public venues while they privately use such derogatory terms amongst themselves in their day-to-day speech. To our youth, including not just the next generation of black Americans but all of you kids who think the language is a joke as long as you’re the ones using it, you’re wrong. Fair is fair for all, my niggas.

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