Dakhla to Imlili and back

Imlili – April 5, 2021 – Dakhla to Imlili and back, Morocco

By Tom Allin

Yesterday was a day of taking it easy and trying to de-sand ourselves, and our clothes, luggage and the 4Runner. As for de-sanding; we made progress and hopefully someday soon we will say goodby to the sands of the Sahara.

Today we are taking another drive into the desert. However, this drive will be with Martina not Nico and she will do all the driving. Nancy and I will be passengers.

Martina is a knowledgeable guide: (a) a Doctorate degree in Ocean Biology, (b) enjoys the outdoors, (c) has lived in Dakhla for six plus years, and (d) enjoys people. She discussed tourism, government programs, the issue of the Sahrawi independence movement, birds, oceans and of course the desert.

The primary destination is Imlili. Not the very small village but the Imlili sebkha. A sebkha is a depression with a salted bottom. The Imlili sebkha is characterized by small saltwater pools with fish and is approximately 12 km long and 2.5 km wide and 10 km deep. It is 15 km east of the Atlantic Ocean and if you know this area there are several trails to drive – I didn’t see trails but Martina said we were on trails.

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Not a Stump-screaming, Mesmerizing Speaker. But

By George Smith

Joe Biden is not a stump-screaming, mesmerizing speaker. But Wednesday night, his message was clear: The crap we’ve been doing in the past is not going to be the path to the future.

Early observation: Only a handclapful of Republicans applauded his promise to move millions of children out of poverty. 

That’s heartless, like saying newborn kittens are ugly. 

Republicans, as a political entity and a national party, not as individuals, believe in the theory of the “unwashed masses”, a grouping of folks living in poverty that want a handout, rather than a hand up.

This rather disparaging term was coined by the Victorian novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He used it in his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford”. But the phrase is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, who never, apparently used those words in any published document or speech.

Lincoln was quoted as saying, iterations include this quote: “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln” 

He never uttered those words, at least that have never been recorded.

In as early as 1967, the misattribution was explained in a congressional record. The text from the document explains that a list of ten points attributed to Lincoln “sprang from the imagination of Rev. William J. H. Boetcher, who copyrighted and printed them in 1916.”  

The report blames the Committee for Constitutional Government for having started the misattribution by selling and circulating “the spurious quotations and, thus, earned the dubious honor of having first associated Lincoln with the maxims.” 

This might explain why: The committee was a lobby created in 1937 against Franklin D. Roosevelts’ court-packing plan, part of his New Deal programs to respond to the Great Depression.

For decades, in columns and editorials, I used the “unwashed masses” phrase and attributed it to Lincoln. It’s amazing how research and reading can change personal reality.

I am hopeful today that our elected leaders can get past petty partisan politics and work together on programs desperately needed to fix the country’s ills.

Working together, in harmony, any chore becomes easier. The nation needs healing in so many ways. Now’s the time to reach across the political aisle and do what’s in the best interests of the country, not any one political party.

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 04/29/2021

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 04/29/2021

HELLO, ETBU VACCINE CLINIC 10-4 TODAY. FREE. PFIZER. SHORT WAIT. NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY. HELP SOMEONE ELSE GET VACCINATED?

Track Coronavirus Cases

“Harrison County is at a high risk level for Covid-19 infections. The average number of new cases in Harrison County reached five yesterday, a 3 percent increase from the day before. Since January of last year, at least 1 in 14 people who live in Harrison County have been infected, and at least 1 in 628 have died.”

What to Do If You Received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine

After a temporary pause, CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine resume in the United States. A review of all available data at this time shows that the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks. However, women under 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of the adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen. CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. 

HOPKINS CITED:

1. The Anti-Vaccine Influencers Who Are Merely Asking Questions (The Atlantic) Life can go back to normal in the United States only if millions more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19. The problem is that today’s communication environment is perfectly engineered to discourage that. Wild claims go viral, and partisans exploit any scientific uncertainty for political advantage.

Hopkins Recent Citations:

1. Pfizer CEO Says Antiviral Pill To Treat Covid Could Be Ready By The End Of The Year (Forbes) A pill that can be ingested orally at home to combat Covid-19 when illness is first detected could be available to the public by the end of 2021, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC on Tuesday, noting that the antiviral treatment is expected to be effective against variants of the virus.

2. An Unexpected Pandemic Side Effect In Peru: A Comeback For TB (NPR) Tuberculosis kills around 1.5 million people a year, making it a top priority for public health organizations. The United Nations aims to end the epidemic of tuberculosis by 2030, but COVID-related disruptions to TB treatments may push that goal out of reach — and end up propagating strains that are resistant to treatment, which also tend to be the deadliest.

Genomic Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 Infection During the Initial Pandemic Wave and Association With Disease Severity

Question  Are SARS-CoV-2 variants, virus clades, or clade groups associated with disease severity and patient outcomes?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study of 302 SARS-CoV-2 isolates, 6 different Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data clades circulated in the community followed by a rapid reduction in clade diversity. Several variants, including 23403A>G (D614G), were significantly associated with lower hospitalization rates and increased patient survival.Meaning  These findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 clade assignment is an important factor that may aid in estimating patient outcomes.

Can You Have Alcohol After the Covid Vaccine?

“…One thing that is clear from studies is that heavy alcohol consumption impairs the immune response and increases your susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections. It prevents immune cells from traveling to sites of infection and carrying out their duties, like destroying viruses, bacteria and infected cells; makes it easier for pathogens to invade your cells, and causes a host of other problems.” 

(J. Harris: …and they use tiny little jiggers to measure the hooch.)

LAST BUT NOT LEASED:

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol

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Essaouira Fishing Port

Essaouira Fishing Port – March 29, 2021 – Essaouira, Morocco

By Tom Allin

First thing I did this morning after making my morning check to confirm I was still breathing was to go to the parking lot to retrieve an item or two we had forgotten to unload yesterday. On the way back I stopped In Essaouira’s Moulay Hassan Square for a cup of coffee.

The square is huge and as you can see: empty. Essaouira has morphed from a fishing port into a tourist center during the last twenty years. However, being a year into the pandemic and Morocco still limiting Europeans and others in visiting plus the mandated closing of all restaurants at 8:00 pm has brought tourism to a standstill.

Nancy and I spent 30 minutes or more looking for the perfect café for an American egg and black coffee breakfast. When our search turned up nothing we sat down at a café, ordered eggs and coffee, and sat back to enjoy the morning.

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You wanna talk health care?

You wanna talk health care?

By George Smith

If I didn’t have Medicare Part D, my out-of-pocket monthly expense would be about $960; Eliquis alone, without Medicare, would be $450 a month. My personal cost is about $80 a month with almost 40 percent of that amount for Eliquis alone.

Big Pharma gets away with their pricing because members of Congress are bought and paid for via campaign contributions.

Ask yourself: Why are identical drugs exponentially cheaper in other counties?

Why is a drug that costs $10 a day in Canada cost 10 times that amount in the U.S.? On average, Canadian patients pay 40 percent less than Americans.

The U.S. allows market competition to control medication pricing. This has led to higher medication prices in the U.S. than in other countries. The government in many other countries directly or indirectly manages drug costs.

The U.S. competitive marketing system, allows pharmaceutical companies to make significant profits. Manufacturers counter this complaint stating a need for profits to incentivize high-risk research.

In order for a manufacturer to get a product to market, they must pass many layers of government approval.

Between 2011 and 2015, Medicare recipients saw a 62 percent increase for brand-name drugs. The salary and pension income for those over the age of 65, however, did not meet this 62 percent rise. Thus, the steep rise in medication prices makes it very difficult for people to keep up.

Are medications really cheaper in Canada?

PharmacyChecker reports that many brand-name prescription medicines are less expensive in Canada. Yet, the U.S. Generic medications are often cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada.

Research on 20 popular brand-name drugs found a possible average savings of 70 percent when purchased in Canada. Some examples of 90-day supplies in October 2018 include:

Premarin 0.625 mg costs $623.70 in U.S. vs. $76.61 in Canada

Januvia 100 mg costs $1,593.90 in the U.S. vs. $269.94 in Canada

Crestor 10 mg costs $969.30 in the U.S. vs. $204.02 in Canada

Advair Diskus 250/50 mcg costs $1,437.99 in the U.S. vs $383.74 in Canada

Nexium 40 mg costs $863.10 in the U.S. vs. $149.94 in Canada

The U.S. government could create laws to set lower prices. Here, however, money talks and Big Pharma’s lobby

lobbyists talk BIG and LOUD!

Nothing will change until we — you, me, us, them — scream BIG and just as LOUDLY!

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 04/28/2021

PFIZER VACCINE AVAILABLE TODAY AND TOMORROW AT ETBU:

FROM NYT COVID TRACKER:

HOPKINS CITED:

1. Higher Stroke Risk Linked to Asymptomatic COVID-19 in Younger Men (CIDRAP) Men under 50 recovering from asymptomatic COVID have double the likelihood of acute ischemic strokes (AIS) compared with men of the same age without COVID infection, according to a study last week in JAMA Network Open. Eighteen South Asian men were treated in Singapore for AIS a median of 54.5 days after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis. Twelve (67.7%) had no known pre-existing risk factors. While AIS is a known neurologic complication from symptomatic COVID-19, none of these men experienced respiratory symptoms during their infection. 

2. U.S. to Share AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Doses With World (WSJ)

The Biden administration is making plans to share millions of doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and preparing a major effort to help India fight a resurgence of the virus, as calls mount for the U.S. to do more to assist developing countries in confronting the pandemic. The White House said Monday it would share as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rest of the world. U.S. officials also said they were exploring options to urgently dispatch oxygen and related supplies to India.

3. Brazil Rejects Russia’s Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine, Citing Safety Concerns (The Washington Post) Brazilian health regulators have issued a scathing rebuke of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, rejecting the shot’s approval in a decision late Monday that could impact its use elsewhere in the world. The ruling from Brazil’s Health Regulatory Agency, or Anvisa, cited a range of concerns with the vaccine’s development and production, including what it said was a lack of quality control and efficacy data, as well as little if any information on the shot’s adverse effects. It was not the first time that health authorities have raised concerns about Sputnik V, which was hailed as “safe” and more than 91 percent effective in a peer-reviewed article in the Lancet in February.

LONG HAUL ARTICLES FROM BECKERS:

Related Articles

FROM HOPKINS AND CDC A REAL NURSING HOME STORY WITH PROOF VACINES WORK:

NURSING HOME OUTBREAKS Health officials in Kentucky and experts at the US CDC published a case study of an outbreak at a long-term care facility (LTCF) initiated by an unvaccinated employee. At the facility, 90% of the residents and 53% of the staff received 2 doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Routine testing identified the outbreak, which began in an unvaccinated and symptomatic healthcare worker. Ultimately, the outbreak involved 46 total cases, including 26 residents and 20 facility personnel. Notably, 18 of the residents and 4 personnel received their second dose of the vaccine more than 14 days before the outbreak. Three (3) residents died, including 2 who were unvaccinated.

The risk of infection among unvaccinated residents was 3 times higher than among vaccinated residents. Similarly, the risk among unvaccinated personnel was 4 times higher than among vaccinated personnel. For this outbreak, the vaccine’s effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection was estimated to be 66% among residents and 76% among employees, and the effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 disease was 86.5% among residents and 87% among employees. This is in line with the expected effectiveness based on clinical trial efficacy data. The authors conclude that low vaccination coverage among employees at LTCFs could facilitate introduction of SARS-CoV-2, which could result in outbreaks, even among resident populations with high vaccination coverage. While the authorized SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are highly effective*, COVID-19 risk remains, particularly among individuals at elevated risk for exposure and severe disease. Even as vaccination coverage increases, it is critical to maintain COVID-19 risk mitigation measures until sufficient community protection is in place to bring the pandemic under control. 

*For those vaccines with publicly available Phase 3 clinical trial data. 

1115 Waiver Rescission – What It Means for Texas

(J. Harris: I’m not interested in discussing politics, but Marshall hospitals treat many uninsured patients as well as a large number of Medicaid-funded patients — whose payments are inadequate and not capable of paying a significant amount of the expenses incurred. Marshall is too close to hospitals in Longview and Shreveport to be considered “Rural,” a designation that would help us financially. Around ten years ago, a good local hospital administrator told me that Texas’ approach to Medicaid would bankrupt our hospital as well as many other smaller Texas hospitals. He was correct in his prediction. Many smaller hospitals have closed.  In my opinion, only partially informed, had  Christus not bought the Good Shepherd hospitals in Longview and Marshall, I’m not sure that either would still be functional. What do you think? What do you think about increasing Texas’ participation in Medicaid?  

The article below is written by Tom Luce who I know and trust:

Medicaid expansion picks up bipartisan support in the Texas House, but hurdles remain

AND LAST FOR TODAY:

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

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CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 04/27/2021

CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 04/27/2021

HELLO,

1. PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOTE FOR MISD SCHOOL BOARD

2. ETBU VACCINE WALK IN CLINIC TUES, WED, THURS. (PFIZER)

J. Harris: There is a slight increase of Covid patients in the general beds, ie. regular hospital rooms as apposed ot ICU. Young people? 

FROM THE NYT TRACKER FOR THIS AREA TODAY:

FROM HOPKINS MORE REASONS YOU DON’T WANT TO CATCH COVID:

1. High-Dimensional Characterization of Post-acute Sequalae of COVID-19 (Nature) Here, we use the national healthcare databases of the US Department of Veterans Affairs to systematically and comprehensively identify 6-month incident sequalae including diagnoses, medication use, and laboratory abnormalities in 30-day survivors of COVID-19. We show that beyond the first 30 days of illness, people with COVID-19 exhibit higher risk of death and health resource utilization. Our high dimensional approach identifies incident sequalae in the respiratory system and several others including nervous system and neurocognitive disorders, mental health disorders, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, malaise, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and anemia.

2. Maternal and Neonatal Morbidity and Mortality Among Pregnant Women With and Without COVID-19 Infection: The INTERCOVID Multinational Cohort Study (JAMA Pediatrics) In this multinational cohort study of 2130 pregnant women in 18 countries, women with COVID-19 diagnosis were at increased risk of a composite maternal morbidity and mortality index. Newborns of women with COVID-19 diagnosis had significantly higher severe neonatal morbidity index and severe perinatal morbidity and mortality index compared with newborns of women without COVID-19 diagnosis. This study indicates a consistent association between pregnant individuals with COVID-19 diagnosis and higher rates of adverse outcomes, including maternal mortality, preeclampsia, and preterm birth compared with pregnant individuals without COVID-19 diagnosis.

3. States with Springtime Covid-19 Surges Appear to Have Turned a Corner (STAT News) Michigan and other states that experienced springtime Covid-19 surges or faced worrisome transmission trends appear to have turned a corner, with drops in new cases in recent days as vaccines reach more people. After hovering at stubbornly high levels or increasing over the past two months, average daily cases in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, and other states in the Midwest and Northeast have started to fall, providing a breath of relief that the communities are past their most recent peaks. 

4. US TRAVEL ADVISORIES The US Department of State updated its travel advisories, resulting in nearly 80% of countries falling under the “Do Not Travel” category. Previously, the State Department issued Level 4 (Do Not Travel) guidance for only 34 countries, but the recent additions bring the total to more than 150. Among the Level 4 category countries are Austria, Brazil, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, and the UK. The department said the additions were made “to better reflect CDC’s science-based Travel Health Notices” as well as to consider the logistics of testing availability and other travel restrictions for US travelers. The department also noted it is continuing to monitor COVID-19 data across the globe and will regularly update destination-specific advice as conditions evolve.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:(PLEASE EXCUSE “POLITICS” BUT I COULDN’T RESIST THIS MISSIVE FROM SOUTH DAKOTA:

Brad lives in California….. He was sick of the world, of Covid-19, Trump, Russian belligerence, China, global warming, racial tensions, and the rest of the disturbing stories that occupy media headlines….Brad drove his car into his garage and then sealed every doorway and window as best he could….

He got back into his car and wound down all the windows, selected his favorite radio station, and started the car.

Two days later, a worried neighbor peered through his garage window and saw him in the car. She notified the emergency services and they broke in, pulling Brad from the car…

A little sip of water and, surprisingly, he was in perfect condition, but his Tesla had a dead battery.

Brad is a registered California Democrat.

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Drive from Marrakesh to Essaouira

Essaouira – March 28, 2021 – Drive from Marrakesh to Essaouira, Morocco

By Tom Allin

After three days of taking, it easy at the Al Fassia Hotel in Marrakesh it was time to become explorers again.  We are doing nothing tough today after a pandemic caused layoff of one year.  We have a less than four-hour drive to Essaouira and I have already made hotel reservations with a hotel with parking.  Oh, to be so naïve.

We leave the hotel, drive out of Marrakesh, stop for gas, and hit the open road.  It didn’t take but a few minutes to again become comfortable with driving in Morocco.  Something new to contend with: it seems there is a police check point every 20 or 30 minutes that require us to come to a stop and either we are waved through or we have to pull over to show our passports.

As we entered a small town the policeman waves me over.  I put on my mask, roll down the window and the officer says, “Texaaasss, you are from Texaaasss”?  I say, “Yes, from Texas”.  He is smiling (no mask), we fist bump through my window and off we go.

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Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca – April 18, 2021 – Casablanca, Morocco

By Tom Allin

Today was Sunday and no one was working on transporting our 4Runner from Morocco to South Africa.  We decided to go bathing suit shopping.  Nancy and I both thought we had left bathing suits in the 4Runner when we left Morocco last year at the beginning of the pandemic.  We returned to Morocco and the 4Runner to find no bathing suits.  The front desk suggests the Marina Mall, grabbed a taxi and off we went.

It was maybe a 15-minute ride that cost about $2.50 – we over paid.  The mall was two floors with two U.S. small medium sizes store, a large grocery store, 30 small shops and a dozen eating establishments.  Took us less than 45 minutes to see everything including maybe 10 women swimsuits and to head for the door.

Took a taxi to Hassan II Mosque.  This is the third largest mosque in the world – and was closed, no tours.  This is the one tourist attraction that Casablanca claims and it wasn’t open to the public.

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