• THIS FLU EPIDEMIC IS REAL AND SERIOUS. With three months of flu ‘season’ to go, the percentage of people treated – for severe fever, chills, muscle aches, coughing and headaches – is already triple last year’s rate, and over 7% have already died in 47 states as the epidemic has spread west across the country. The vaccination shot is a quick arm poke which does NOT (like in earlier years) cause a minor form of the sickness. While it takes two weeks to build body defenses and is only 62% effective, when combined with lots of warm-water hand-washing and doing your best to avoid others’ coughs (which spread 3,000 germs at 50m.p.h.) or sneezes (releasing 40,000 germs at 100 m.p.h.), this can save you up to three weeks of major discomfort. [TIME – Jan 28, 13]
  • AMONG THE GIMMICKS BEING CONSIDERED BY CONGRESS TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY is a tax break for companies to repatriate some $1.7 trillion in profits parked overseas. However, based on results from the last time this was tried, not only will it fail to create more jobs, could likely have the opposite effect – one forecast is that up to 800,000 additional jobs could be sent abroad. The last ‘tax holiday’ in 2004 resulted in some $360 billion coming back to America and $18 billion tax revenue. However, since money is fungible and even provisions which required that funds go to creating jobs were easily circumvented, “the majority went not to research or building factories or higher wages, but to the enrichment of investors through stock buybacks and dividend payments.” The cheapest American- manufactured microwave retails around $550 – ten times Walmart’s price for an Asian unit. “If you could make money in high-growth, low-tax locations, bring it home for free (or a miniscule tax) and send it right back out, why wouldn’t you? …Job creation in the U.S. isn’t about tax rates. It’s about strengthening the underlying growth environment – from improving infrastructure and education to launching a more cohesive national strategy to support strategically important industries like high-end manufacturing.” [TIME – Jan 14, 13]
  • LABORATORY RATS SUBJECTED TO SLEEP DEPRIVATION ALL DIED WITHIN 11 TO 32 DAYS.” Getting enough sleep is a critical functional activity, “during which brain tissue is restored & repaired, certain hormones are released, and learning & memory are reinforced.” But most adults get less than the recommended necessary eight hours (nine for teens & children), based on polls by the Nat’l sleep Foundation – resulting in negative physical, mental and emotional impacts on the human body – including weight gain, higher blood pressure, propensity to sickness, slower healing, and lesser “cognitive faculties, emotional intelligence and sexual performance… Although most people intuitively understand the importance of a good night’s sleep, many (consciously or not) ignore the consequences” of zoning out in front of the TV and addiction to computers, smart phones & other internet-generated preemptions – which, unsurprisingly, turn out to be the major cause of sleep deprivation. [THE INTELLIGENT OPTIMIST – Nov/Dec 12]
  • “THE FEDERAL RESCUE OF WALL STREET DIDN’T FIX THE ECONOMY – it created a permanent bailout state based on a ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come…There were lies told” to pass the bailout, about lending, health of the banks, controls over executive bonuses and about the bailout being temporary. “The five biggest beneficiaries (Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs) received a combined total of more than a trillion dollars in cash, loans and guarantees – at the same time they were pocketing over $650 billion in profits, salaries & bonuses… so what did the bailout accomplish? It built a system that increases risk, discourages sound business lending, punishes savings by making it even easier and more profitable for Too-Bigger-To-Fail banks to chase high-yield investments than to compete for small depositors… and has made lying on behalf of our biggest and most corrupt banks the official policy of the U.S. government.” An amazing and dismaying expose: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailout-20130104 [ROLLING STONE – Jan 17, 13]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: The Democratic Campaign Committee provided new members of Congress who started this week with a ‘model day schedule’ which allots four hours a day to “potential donor phone calls” and up to two hours a day “meeting with constituents” but no recommendation on handling the business of governing America.“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” – Bertrand Russell “If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.”