01 July 2009

Little Known History At Unbossed

* Communism in the United States, complete with mass demonstrations by renters and the unemployed, was a much more notable political movement than it is now during the Great Depression. The conclusion to the article argues that FDR was supported by this mass movement. I come away with a new appreciation for why business interests tolerated the New Deal, in the face of what seemed like a much more radical alternative from the communists. The history also makes the Red Scare after World War II, whose leaders are generally demonized (with good reason), easier to understand.

The history is also reassuring. While the public is unhappy with the current financial crisis associated recession, it is clear that we are nowhere close to the conditions that prevailed during the Great Depression, yet, at any rate.

* The other shocker, seemingly right out of a conspiracy theory, except for the pedigree of its proponents, is about the source of the recent swine flu epidemic.

A paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the virus responsible for the ongoing H1N1 "swine flu" pandemic is the result of a laboratory accident that occurred around 1977, "possibly somewhere in Asia or the Soviet Union." Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh noticed that the H1N1 strain responsible for the devastating 1918 pandemic continued to circulate, human to human, until 1957. For the next twenty years, the H1N1 strain seemingly disappeared as other flu strains took its place. Then, in 1977, H1N1 re-emerged in China, Hong Kong and the USSR. (Telegraph, June 30, 2009)

The authors concluded that the strain responsible for the 1977 outbreak "had been preserved since 1950." The likely cause of its re-emergence was "an accidental release from a laboratory source in the setting of waning population immunity to H1 and N1 antigens."

In other words, "swine flu" isn't just like the deadly Spanish flu of 1918, it is the Spanish flu of 1918.

* While not historical, a reminder that 90% of people on a secret U.S. government watch list of terrorists in the United States are able to buy guns illustrates just worthless this list is in real life. In a five year period from 2004-2009, there were 963 terrorist watch list matches. About 10% were denied permission to buy guns.

No comments: