Hundreds rally to not to vaccinate children amid measles outbreak.
Olympia, Wash. — With more than 50 cases of measles in Washington state, there’s been a new push to change the law. Washington is one of 17 states that allow parents to refuse vaccines for philosophical reasons.
But on Friday, hundreds rallied to preserve their right not to vaccinate their children. Lawmakers heard arguments on a proposed bill that would ban the measles vaccine exemption for philosophical reasons. Thirty-two other states have similar laws.
Measles is so contagious that an unvaccinated person has a 90 percent chance of catching the disease if they’re near someone who has it. The virus can survive for up to two hours in a room where an infected person sneezed.
Measles vaccination rates here, at the epicenter of the outbreak, are now up by 500 percent.
“I think we’re seeing people rush to the doctor now because it’s real and it’s been growing every week. And so folks actually see a real threat,” said Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
But opponents of the bill still think the measles vaccine is a bigger threat than the disease itself.
“I don’t feel I’m putting my child at risk. There’s nothing that’s going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination,” said mother Monique Murray.
The CDC insists the two-dose measles vaccine is safe and 97 percent effective. Washington lawmakers hope to get the measure passed by April.
Schools in France may replace ‘mother & father’ with ‘parent 1 & 2’ under controversial same sex amendment.
French schools are to replace the words “mother” and “father” with “parent 1” and “parent 2” under an amendment to a law passed this week.
Supporters of the change say it will stop discrimination against same sex parents but critics argue it “dehumanises” parenthood, is “ugly” and could lead to rows over who gets to be “parent 1”.
The amendment was passed by MPs on Tuesday night as part of a wider so-called law to build “a school of trust”, which among other things also makes attendance compulsory for all three-year-olds.
“This amendment aims to root in law children’s family diversity in administrative forms submitted in school,” said Valérie Petit, MP for the majority REM party of President Emmanuel Macron. Ms Petit, from the Nord department, said that the words mother and father, on all school documents such as pertaining to the canteen or authorising children to go on excursions, no longer took into account the recently-passed gay marriage law, nor the existence of same sex parents.
She added: “We have families who find themselves faced with tick boxes stuck in rather old-fashioned social and family models. For us, this article is a measurement of social equality.”
Socialist MP Joaquim Pueyot also praised the reform as “a question of respect and dignity”. “You cannot imagine the consequences when children don’t feel treated like the others,” he said.
FCPE, France’s biggest parent’s federation, called “a very good thing”. “It echos the (recent) law on fighting harassment because often situations of child harassment target kids who don’t fit the current criteria.”
But the move angered the mainstream conservative Republicans, or LR, party and the far-Right.
Conservative MP Xavier Breton said: “When I hear people say this is an old-fashioned model, I would remind people that today among unions celebrated, civil or marital, some 95 per cent are man-woman couples.”
Conservative MP Fabien Di Filippo denounced a “frightening ideology, which in the name of limitless egalitarianism promotes removing points of reference, including those regarding the family”.
The idea of replacing mother and father by parent 1 and 2 was already mooted during the debate leading to the 2013 law legalising same sex marriage but was not inscribed into legislation at the time. Indeed, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the current education minister, had opposed the amendment on the grounds that this need not be a legislative matter.
Eric Ciotti, another Right-wing MP, said: “They swore this was fantasy, that it would never happen. The negation of gender deconstructs the balance of our society.”
Traditionalists were appalled.
Ludovine de la Rochère, president of the Manif Pour Tous organisation that opposes gay marriage, called it “totally dehumanising”. “Children need bearings,” she said.
Meanwhile Marine Le Pen, head of the far-Right National Rally, said “the mask has fallen” from the Macron camp regarding its view of society. Jordan Bardella, head of RN’s European election list, said the move was part of an attempt to “ideologically condition children”, even claiming that “totalitarianism is not far off”.
The Right wasn’t the only camp to express scepticism.
AFDH, the French association for same sex parents, said that while it welcomed providing a way for such parents to be “included in forms”, it warned it could create a “parental hierarchy”.
“Who is ‘parent number 1’ and who is ‘parent number 2’?,” asked AFDH president Alexandre Urwicz, who called for more “inclusive” forms including the boxes “father, mother and legal representative”.
Jean-Michel Aphatie, editorialist on Europe 1 radio, said that while the change was logical to keep step with “administrative reality”, turning parents into numbers was “very administrative and very ugly”.
The amendment could yet be rejected by the majority-Right Senate but will then return to the National Assembly for a final reading.
Big Bang May Have Created a Mirror Universe Where Time Runs Backwards.
Why does time seem to move forward? It’s a riddle that’s puzzled physicists for well over a century, and they’ve come up with numerous theories to explain time’s arrow. The latest, though, suggests that while time moves forward in our universe, it may run backwards in another, mirror universe that was created on the “other side” of the Big Bang.
Two leading theories propose to explain the direction of time by way of the relatively uniform conditions of the Big Bang. At the very start, what is now the universe was homogeneously hot, so much so that matter didn’t really exist. It was all just a superheated soup. But as the universe expanded and cooled, stars, galaxies, planets, and other celestial bodies formed, birthing the universe’s irregular structure and raising its entropy.
One theory, proposed in 2004 by Sean Carroll, now a professor at Caltech, and Jennifer Chen, then his graduate student, says that time moves forward because of the contrast in entropy between then and now, with an emphasis on the fact that the future universe will so much more disordered than the past. That movement toward high entropy gives time its direction.
The new theory says a low entropy early universe is inevitable because of gravity, and ultimately that’s what gives time its arrow. To test the idea, the theory’s proponents assembled a simple model with nothing more than 1,000 particles and the physics of Newtonian gravity. Here’s Lee Billings, reporting for Scientific American:
The system’s complexity is at its lowest when all the particles come together in a densely packed cloud, a state of minimum size and maximum uniformity roughly analogous to the big bang. The team’s analysis showed that essentially every configuration of particles, regardless of their number and scale, would evolve into this low-complexity state. Thus, the sheer force of gravity sets the stage for the system’s expansion and the origin of time’s arrow, all without any delicate fine-tuning to first establish a low-entropy initial condition.
But here’s the twist: The expansion after the simulated Big Bang didn’t just happen in one direction, but two. The simple Big Bang they modeled produced two universes, one a mirror of the other. In one universe, time appears to run forwards. In the other, time runs backwards, at least from our perspective.
Here’s Billings again, interviewing lead author Julian Barbour from the University of Oxford:
“If they were complicated enough, both sides could sustain observers who would perceive time going in opposite directions. Any intelligent beings there would define their arrow of time as moving away from this central state. They would think we now live in their deepest past.”
From that perspective, maybe George Lucas’s Star Wars didn’t take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in the far future—our deepest past—of our mirror universe.
New Zealand may ban semi-automatic weapons after mosque shootings.
The crowd in attendance at a vigil at Auckland’s Aotea Square cheered loudly when Attorney-General David Parker said the Government would ban semi-automatic rifles.
He warned of a global rise of extremism.
“There is a dimming of enlightenment in many parts of the world,” he said.
“How can it be right for this atrocity to be filmed by the murderer using a go-pro and live-streamed across the world by social media companies?
“How can that be right? Who should be held accountable for that?”
Parker’s comments come after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s earlier remarks that New Zealand’s gun laws would change.
Speaking to media in Wellington this morning, Ardern stressed that “now was the time for change.”
Ardern said five guns were used by the primary perpetrator, including two semi-automatic weapons, and two shotguns.
“The offender was in possession of a gun licence,” Ardern said.
She said the guns were purchased in December last year.
“While work is being done as to the chain of events that lead to both the holding of this gun licence and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now; our gun laws will change.”
She said there had been attempts to change New Zealand’s gun laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017.
“Now is the time for change.”
Ardern reiterated that three people had been arrested in relation to the attack including one Australian citizen, who will appear in court today, charged with murder.
She said he had travelled around the world with “sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand”.
Despite this, the man was not on any watch lists in New Zealand or Australia.
He was not a resident of Christchurch, Ardern confirmed. She said he was currently based in Dunedin.
She said inquiries were being made to assess whether the other two people arrested were directly involved in the incident.
“The fourth person who was arrested yesterday was a member of the public who was in a possession of a firearm, but with the intention of assisting police,” Ardern said.
That person had been released, she confirmed.
Ardern said none of the arrested had a criminal history, either in New Zealand or in Australia.
She reiterated that New Zealand’s intelligence community and police were focused on extremism of every kind.
“Given global indicators around far-right extremism, our intelligence community has been stepping up their investigations in this area.
“The individual charged with murder had not come to the attention of the intelligence community – nor the police – for extremism.”
Ardern said she had asked New Zealand’s intelligence agencies to “work swiftly” to see if there was any activity on social media or otherwise that should have triggered a response.
Ardern said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) was acting as a liaison point for foreign governments.
She said consular representation for any foreign nations involved had been provided.
“At this stage I understand those involved include Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.”
Meanwhile, Ardern said she had instructed ODESC to report to Cabinet on Monday with a view to “strengthening our systems on a range of fronts” including, but not limited to, firearms, border controls, enhanced information sharing with Australia and any practical reinforcement of our watch list processes.
“I want to come now to what people can expect over the course of the day and beyond. The safety of New Zealanders is our highest priority.”
She said MFAT staff were dealing with offers of assistance, and receiving a significant number of condolence messages.
After addressing media in Wellington, Ardern headed to Christchurch on a Defence Force plane. She said other political leaders, such as National leader Simon Bridges, would be going as well.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister was not able to confirm which other ministers would be accompanying Ardern to Christchurch today.
Across the nation maids are talking back; who knows one day they may even demand long-handle mops to clean the floors. The rich wonder if it is all because of the employment guarantee schemes conceived by the profligate Congress government—the poor seem to have options these days. The wages, too, have soared. In any case, the middle class, at least the young and the refined, want to be nice to their servants. The conscientious sahib even exclaims on social media how cruel it is that maids are “expected to be invisible”. The madam, though as conscientious, is unlikely to say that, or let the maid use her toilet or the cutlery. Across urban homes, however, the maids are sitting on footstools, even chairs, in the presence of their employers. If there is a time-lapse video of seated maids across a stretch of 10 years, it would show them slowly soaring from floor to sofa. Also, the maids today are not the tragic malnourished women of once upon a time. And their infants are roly-poly.
A cluster of apartment blocks called Mahagun Moderne in Noida, adjacent to Delhi, where hundreds of maids worked, was not very different from the rest of the urban hives until a few days ago, when a riot broke out. A mob of maids and their men attacked the society after one of the maids, a young woman, went missing and her family thought she had been detained by a family that had earlier accused her of stealing money.
Similar scuffles have occurred in other parts of Delhi. The occurrences are rare but they may be a portent of what is to come. The master-servant equilibrium of Indian society is collapsing. The poor are becoming socially and politically more empowered than ever before.
What is surprising is why they do not attack more often. How does vast poverty tolerate the wealth of a few, who are vulgar just to appear so rich in plain sight. Many a time, even if you are just walking with an ice cream in hand, you feel you are taunting the poor. Why don’t the poor rise in revolt and cause end-of-days havoc? Order suits the rich. Chaos is a leveller. Do the poor overestimate the defences of the rich? Why are we safe?
There is a type of phoney Indian who would, with flared noble nostrils, say the poor will not do it because they are such wonderful folk. But just as foolish is the innate suspicion of rich India that the poor are prone to criminality and violence, and that they are kept in check by religious or other mystical forces. But the fact is India’s poor shun violence for the same reasons most human beings abhor violence. They wish to be humane.
There is something far less pleasant that guards the rich—the near absence of human rights for the poor in a police station or a prison, or in the rest of the judicial process. India is not a safe place for the rich but it is safer than it should be, or even compared to more mature economies like South Africa, because the consequences of crimes against the rich are severe in India. Mumbai’s underworld, for example, was an organized attempt by gangs to steal from the rich, but when they began to employ efficient lawyers and use the legal process to free their captured men, society responded through extrajudicial killings of criminals. What India lacks through order it often makes up through informality. The less democratic a nation, the safer it is for the rich. Street safety in China, it will not surprise us, is much better than in India.
But the most important reason why it is hard for anyone to organize India’s poor against the rich is that such a system already exists—in the form of electoral politics. As long as the poor believe that they own politics, they will find greater release in that legitimate revolution than in self-destructive rage.
Indian politics thus is largely a revenge of the poor, or at least an attempt. That is one of the reasons why demonetization did not destroy the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the liberals had hoped. The party has won more than 10 elections since that announcement. The poor thought the rich suffered more than them.
Everything considered, the rich are great beneficiaries of poverty. It is very cheap to be rich in India. As the chief economic adviser, Arvind Subramanian, pointed out, the subsidies that the rich so hate are designed for the poor but are best experienced by the rich. But the benefits are not as trivial as being served by a maid who would skin hundreds of soya beans for hours and crush them into milk. In a poor nation, the social elite can pass through life without facing any substantial competition. That is why the frequent middle-class accusation of “nepotism” in the film industry is somewhat amusing—not just Bollywood dynasties, almost the entire Indian upper class owes its supremacy to the huge advantages its families have provided.
The poor also serve the rich by providing them a clear moral goal—eradicate poverty. Every learned Indian is a poverty eradication thinker. Many among the elite youth lament “inequality”, though all they have to do to reduce inequality is, instead of lamenting, refuse to go to expensive American colleges, and boycott inheritance. In the sheer absurdity of the youth even considering such a drastic sacrifice lies a more disturbing question—can the beneficiaries of inequality really end it? In their subterranean minds, do they actually wish inequality to continue?
As the nation transforms and the facile deference and the isolation of the poor dissolves, the rich are responding by paying a premium for places and experiences that will not be diminished by the other kind of Indians. When India is expensive, it is not because it has something of value to offer, it is the price one pays for keeping the riff-raff out.
Exposure to infection in the womb increases risk of autism & depression study says.
Children born to women who had a severe infection during pregnancy, such as sepsis, flu or pneumonia, show an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and depression, new research finds. Yet those exposed to even a relatively minor urinary tract infection in utero also experienced an increased risk of such disorders.
Women should “make sure you have your influenza vaccination in pregnancy,” said Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, co-author of the study and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
Although the flu shot is safe for pregnant women, coming down with the illness during pregnancy “can be very dangerous for your baby’s mental health and brain development,” she said.
Autism and depression, not bipolar disorder
Adams Waldorf and her colleagues analyzed patient data from Sweden’s national health registry, specifically looking at information “for the entire population of pregnant women that were hospitalized between 1973 and 2014,” she said. “And then we had up to 41 years of follow-up on those children that stayed in Sweden.”
In total, they looked at the records of 1,791,520 children and, using hospitalization codes, identified those who’d been exposed to their mother’s infection in utero.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The results, Adams Waldorf said, were “very surprising.”
Children born to mothers with an infection during pregnancy had a 79% increased risk of an autism diagnosis anda 24% increased risk of a depression diagnosis as adults, the researchers found. They also saw “an increased risk of suicide in those children that had been exposed to infections in utero,” Adams Waldorf said, adding that this association made the depression findings “much stronger.”
The increased risk level for autism and depression was detected regardless of whether fetal exposure was to a severe infection — such as sepsis, flu, pneumonia, meningitis or encephalitis, chorioamnionitis (an infection of the placental tissues) or pyelonephritis (a severe kidney infection) — or a urinary tract infection.
No increased risk of bipolar disorder or psychosis, including schizophrenia, was seen among those exposed to infection during fetal development, the study showed.
“We need more research into understanding the inflammation that occurs in the urinary tract infection and how it might impact the fetus,” Adams Waldorf said. More research is also needed on areas of the fetal brain that are extremely vulnerable to damage from infection and inflammation.
“The hippocampus is a very vulnerable part of the brain that is targeted by Zika virus infection but may be vulnerable to other infections as well,” she said, explaining that this brain region “plays a key role in social and emotional functioning.”
Sensitive periods in brain development
Margaret McCarthy, a neuroscientist and professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said the study is “astonishing” in terms of both the number of subjects and the length of time. “To my knowledge, this is the largest and most comprehensive study of in utero infections and the health outcomes for the offspring,” said McCarthy, who had no role in the new research.
The fact that both severe infection and urinary tract infection conferred the same level of risk “highlights that there’s something very subtle that can be very profound in brain development, and it probably has to do with sensitive periods in brain development that we don’t understand yet,” she said.
In her own research on sex differences and brain development, she found that a lot of immune system signaling “sculpts” the male brain during development. “And we have speculated that this increases their risk for neurodevelopmental or neuropsychiatric disorders like ADHD, autism, et cetera.” Yet, she added, studies have shown that both boosting inflammatory molecules (due to an illness or infection) or dampening them all the way down (by treating an illness or infection with certain medicines) may have deleterious effects on brain development.
“Brain development is really complicated, and things that we think are relatively benign sometimes aren’t, because we still don’t understand just a lot of the basic signaling molecules that are involved,” she said.
Dr. Alan S. Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center, said in an email that “overall, the investigators have done a commendable job.” However, he also noted that the “findings could also be influenced by treatment-seeking behaviors.”
A previous study from Taiwan showed that treatment for infection in the third trimester was related to autism risk, explained Brown, who was not involved in the new study.
“Starting in the 1990s, we demonstrated that prenatal exposure to several pathogens including rubella, influenza and toxoplasmosis are related to risk of schizophrenia,” he said of his own research. “In more recent work, we showed that prenatal influenza was related to bipolar disorder.”
Brown believes the new study provides more evidence for “relationships between prenatal infection and autism and opens up a potential new avenue of exploration regarding prenatal infection and depression.”
McCarthy said, “I don’t think pregnant women should panic. Try to avoid any kind of infection; avoid it if you can, and if you do have to treat it, treat it judiciously.”
Thailand is sick of tourists begging for money to get to home.
A Western tourist has sparked anger after begging for money from locals working at a market in a Thai holiday resort. The so-called ‘begpacker’ – calling himself Alex – was seen next to a donation box and signs pleading ‘I’m out of savings… please donate for my trip’ at Samkong Market on the island of Phuket.
There have been numerous reports of Western travellers begging in the country in the past. But many Thais do not know of the trend and demonstrate their generosity and hospitality by making donations, assuming they are in desperate need of help.
One sign said: ‘My name is Alex. I’m travelling in Asia for 15 months. Sadly, I’m out of my savings, but I stay positive.’
The Thai version translated as: ‘I’d like to ask for your kindness to fulfill my dream of travelling. Please donate for my trip. Thank you.’
Last year, German Benjamin Holst, dubbed ‘the big-legged beggar’ because he used his deformed limb to get sympathy and cash to fund partying in Thailand, was banned from the country
Kind-hearted Thais donated hundreds of pounds to help Benjamin Holst in 2014 after they saw him begging on the street and assumed he needed help. But they were left outraged when pictures later emerged appearing to show him partying with girls in Pattaya – the country’s sex tourism capital
Benjamin Holst, originally from Flensburg in Germany, suffers from a rare condition known as macrodystrophia lipomatosa which has left his right leg severely inflated
‘Wait a minute. They do this now?’ he said, adding: ‘Is this right?’
The nationality of the men is not yet clear.
Last year, a German man dubbed ‘the big-legged beggar’ because he used his deformed limb to get sympathy and cash to fund partying in Thailand was banned from the country.
Benjamin Holst, originally from Flensburg in Germany, suffers from a rare condition known as macrodystrophia lipomatosa which has left his right leg severely inflated.
Kind-hearted Thais donated hundreds of pounds to help him in 2014 after they saw him begging on the street and assumed he needed help.
But they were left outraged when pictures later emerged appearing to show him partying with girls in Pattaya – the country’s sex tourism capital.
An attempt to reach the country in September last year, however, appeared to backfire after he was barred from boarding a flight from Zurich in Switzerland amid reports he had been blacklisted by Thai immigration.
Last year, a series of pictures emerged showing how wealthy Western backpackers are increasingly begging across South East Asia simply to fund their trips in the region.
The trend caused outrage among locals, who say the tourists are taking money from the truly needy in order to finance lifestyle choices many consider a luxury.
Thailand is cracking down on “beg-packers” — shameless Western backpackers begging for travel money on the streets of Southeast Asia.
According to reports, visitors entering Thailand may be required to show immigration officials they have 20,000 baht ($748) in cash on them before being allowed into the country.
Thaivisa, an online forum for expats in Thailand, says it has learned of several instances where immigration officials at a number of border checkpoints across Thailand have been asking people entering the country on tourist visas to prove they have the funds.
Reports of this have also been surfacing increasingly on social media in Thailand expat groups.
According to Thaivisa, people trying to enter with a history of tourist visa entries appear to be the ones under the most scrutiny, but education visa holders are also subject to similar scrutiny.
It is believed that the new requirements at border checkpoints around the country could be a response to the rise in “beg-packers” and foreigners who want to work in the country illegally.
Last week, a Thaivisa member was held in an immigration detention center at Suvarnabhumi Airport, having been refused entry on the grounds that he could be working illegally.
During the same time, another Thaivisa member in possession of an education visa was also being held at Suvarnabhumi after he was asked to show 20,000 baht in cash. He was only able to show 8,000 baht.
The member told Thaivisa he previously had four tourist visas and a 30-day stamp on arrival.
A Thailand immigration officer, who spoke to Thaivisa under the condition on anonymity, confirmed that people entering Thailand on tourist visas should be able to show they can support their stay.
He said it is normal procedure and up to the discretion of the immigration officer to ask for more information if they suspect that the individual may not be a genuine tourist or may be working in Thailand illegally.
However, Thaivisa has been unable to confirm whether the 20,000 baht in cash is a requirement nationwide.