On vaccines and a brave new (old?) world of polio, measels and whopping cough

Between 2008 and 2014 there has been a 6000% percentage increase in vaccine preventable deaths. Why? Because parents no longer give their kids the vaccines of the standard vaccination program due to ideas of vaccines being harmful.

Out of 12000 annual whooping cough cases worldwide, 5000 are in California [1]. Worldwide in the last 6 years there have been over 1.2 million deaths that would have been prevented fi they’d been given vaccines [2].

In Oregon and West Virgina, vaccine coverage has dropped below herd immunity [3,4]. Loosing herd immunity leads to deaths among both unvaccinated individuals (who might want to vaccines but can’t get them due to cost, immigration status, access and many other reasons) as well as vaccinated individuals for whom the vaccine isn’t 100% effective [5].

So, supposedly “informed” and “conscious” parents opt out of vaccines, ensuring that people with either poor immunity, poor vaccine cover or lack of access to vaccines die from “their” choices.

And on the basis of what? Often things like that study about vaccines and autism is quoted… well that one could never be repeated by anyone else and was recently retracted as complete and utter bullshit (“study leader Andrew Wakefield, MD, and two colleagues acted ‘dishonestly’ and ‘irresponsibly’ in conducting their research”) [6].

Here’s an interactive map to illustrate the extent of our problems with vaccine preventable death (notice those clusters, like the one in the middle of Sweden? That’s how vaccines spread, they infect groups or clusters of people and that’s why herd immunity is so important):

But yeah, a world with smallpox, measels, polio, spanish flu etc. would be a much better world wouldn’t it? A more natural one I’d say…

  1. http://magazine.good.is/articles/vaccination-preventable-disease-map
  2. http://www.cfr.org/interactives/GH_Vaccine_Map/index.html
  3. http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/08/low-state-vaccine-rates
  4. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/too-many-children-go-unvaccinated/
  5. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/08/26/vaccine-exemptions-in-california-threate/
  6. http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/news/20100202/study-linking-autism-to-vaccine-retracted

If only the original inhabitants had had an ad-agency like that

It’s remarkable that states – especially those which have sprung up as a result of migration – takes this kind of stance, with this type of communication. I could, perhaps, understand “there are legal and safe routes to migrate to Australia, please don’t get on a boat”. But: “No matter who you are or where you are from, you will not make Australia your home”?

If you want to enjoy the full nastiness of their ad-campaign click through here.

Peace prizes are given to those who fit in with the narrative

Obama and Malala are both together against the ‘medieval’ Taliban.

While not diminishing anything about the bravery of a girl taking a bullet to the head for her wish to go to school, lets make sure it doesn’t create blind-spots.

The prizes, attention and celebration is – whether they intend to be or not – a part of a very specific narrative and alternative ones are certainly possible – on the other side of the Taliban stands a violent force as well.

Malala and Nabila: worlds apart

What does Hamas want?

Can’t say much about the veracity of these, but supposedly they are coming from Hamas sources and have been given to Egyptian negotiators. They are requirements for the signing of a 10 year peace.

The ten conditions were translated by The Electronic Intifada from an Arabic version published by Ma’an News Agency:

  1. Mutual cessation of the war and withdrawal of tanks to previous locations and the return of farmers to work their land in the agricultural border areas.

  2. Release of all the Palestinians detained since 23 June 2014 and improvement of the conditions of Palestinian prisoners, especially the prisoners from Jerusalem, Gaza and Palestinians of the interior [present-day Israel].

  3. Total lifting of the siege of Gaza and opening the border crossings to goods and people and allowing in all food and industrial supplies and construction of a power plant sufficient to supply all of Gaza.

  4. Construction of an international seaport and an international airport supervised by the UN and non-biased countries.

  5. Expansion of the maritime fishing zone to 10 kms and supplying fishermen with larger fishing and cargo vessels.

  6. Converting the Rafah crossing into an international crossing under supervision of the UN and Arab and friendly countries.

  7. Signing a 10-year truce agreement and deployment of international monitors to the borders.

  8. A commitment by the occupation government not to violate Palestinian airspace and easing of conditions for worshipers in al-Aqsa mosque.

  9. The occupation will not interfere in the affairs of the Palestinian government and will not hinder national reconciliation.

  10. Restoration of the border industrial areas and their protection and development.

via Palestinian factions reportedly set 10 conditions for 10-year truce with Israel | The Electronic Intifada.

Israeli PM: There can be no state for Palestinians

Netanyahu has stressed often in the past that he doesn’t want Israel to become a binational state — implying that he favors some kind of accommodation with and separation from the Palestinians. But on Friday he made explicit that this could not extend to full Palestinian sovereignty. Why? Because, given the march of Islamic extremism across the Middle East, he said, Israel simply cannot afford to give up control over the territory immediately to its east, including the eastern border — that is, the border between Israel and Jordan, and the West Bank and Jordan.The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to “take care of Hamas.” But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.”

 

Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”Earlier this spring, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sparked a storm in Israel-US ties when he told a private gathering that the US-Kerry-Allen security proposals weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Netanyahu on Friday said the same, and more, in publicNot relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there. It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands.

 

This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state. A less-than-sovereign entity? Maybe, though this will never satisfy the Palestinians or the international community. A fully sovereign Palestine? Out of the question.He wasn’t saying that he doesn’t support a two-state solution. He was saying that it’s impossible.

 

This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance.Naming both US Secretary of State John Kerry and his security adviser Gen. John Allen — who was charged by the secretary to draw up security proposals that the US argued could enable Israel to withdraw from most of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley — Netanyahu hammered home the point: Never mind what the naive outsiders recommend, “I told John Kerry and General Allen, the Americans’ expert, ‘We live here, I live here, I know what we need to ensure the security of Israel’s people.’”

via Netanyahu finally speaks his mind | The Times of Israel.

Who’s the aggressor?

The chart below depicts a few things; Israeli cease-fire violations, Palestinian projectile launches and Palestinian casualties that resulted from Israeli cease-fire violations week by week of the cease-fire through January 2014. A few notes on the data; first, we refer to “projectiles” because there are different types of projectiles that are deployed, not all are “rockets” and thus “rockets” alone, the preferred parlance of the Israeli state, isn’t an accurate descriptor. Additionally, we are not focusing on each individual piece of ordinance but rather on events. So if one projectile is launched or two are launched together, these are the same event. Likewise, we don’t count each individual piece of ordinance Israel deploys in an airstrike wherein it routinely drops several bombs in a singular event. If we did, the number of Israeli violations would surely be much, much higher. For example, the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, citing the Israeli Shin Bet, notes that nearly 14,000 projectiles were fired from Gaza from 2005 to 2013. UN OCHA noted that Israel fired about the same number of artillery shells into Gaza……in 2006 alone. Lastly, the Shin Bet keeps numbers on Palestinian fire from Gaza but does not differentiate between fire at Israeli targets that have entered Gaza vs. those outside it. Also, it does not have data available at the week level, only the month level. Even using their numbers for Palestinian fire though, Israeli violations outnumber them nearly two to one.

There really is no comparison between Israel’s capacity to destroy and the combined capacity of all the factions in Gaza. The point here is to understand how the events relate to each other, what leads to escalation, and how this effects the durability of the cease-fire agreement.

Dynamics of Ceasefire

As you can see from the chart, Israeli cease-fire violations have been persistent throughout and have routinely resulted in Palestinian injuries and deaths. Palestinian launches have been rare and sporadic and occurred almost always after successive instances of Israeli cease-fire violations. You can see a steady escalation from around week 48 and onward. This corresponds with mid-December during which Israel committed several cease-fire violations resulting in multiple Palestinian casualties. There was no Palestinian projectile fire in the two weeks prior to these Israeli violations which inflicted high causalities. This means that this week was the escalation point and it was Israel doing the escalating. You can see that the following weeks continue to feature exchanges that included high Palestinian casualties. You may wonder why you don’t see Israeli casualties from Palestinian projectile fire depicted on this chart, that is because as afar as I can tell, there weren’t any during this period.

via Permission to Narrate: Israel/Gaza Cease-Fire Dynamics Breakdown.

This is not a situation of two equal parties

The latest increase in violence between Israel and Gaza, which has lasted for more than a week now, seems to have caused its first Israeli casualty [Jerusalem Post]. A rabbi hit by shrapnel from an Hamas rocket, fired at a Israeli Defence Force location at the Erez Crossing. One of the few crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel [Interactive Map, B’tselem]. A place which can hardly been considered civilian by any means [images.google.com].

Meanwhile on the other side of the fence, 172 Palestinians have been killed. 34 of them (that’s about 20%) minors [B’tselem] (178 deaths according to UNOCHA). As of yesterday, 72 schools, 7 health facilities and over 1200 homes had been destroyed. 17,000 have taken shelter in UNRWA schools. 77% of deaths (all – bar one – who were Palestinian) have been civilian. [UNOCHA].

Meanwhile, some Israelis are feeling safe enough to engage in Sderot cinema. Eating popcorn while watching kids being bombed to pieces [Allan Sørensen, Twitter].

There can be absolutely no question of it. This is not a question of two equal parties that need to negotiate and sort out there differences. This is a question of one militarily supremely superior state, using its force to kill and repress another. While “light injuries” and stress is, I am sure, affecting citizens of Tel Aviv right now, the numbers alone show how this no comparison to what is going in Gaza. Eyewitness accounts bears this out [Gurdian].

Gaza Tel