Thursday, February 4, 2016

Missiles, virus and oil

Don't mean to sound like a broken recording but 2016 is still tracking to be one a very interesting year.

While most Americans attentions are being diverted to either the Super Bowl or the NCAA brackets (sorry candidates, even the party faithful will be rooting for their team), Japan has upped matters in the Pacific.  North Korea's announced plans to launch a "space vehicle" between Feb 8th and Feb 29th has put the Japanese Self Defense Forces on high alert.  If anything from the North Korean launch even kind of looks like it might fall towards Japan, the Self Defense Forces will blast it out of the sky using either the latest Patriot batteries or the surface ships.

North Korea has lobbed missiles over Japan before but something this time has really gotten the Japanese concerned.  If Tokyo is concerned, why isn't Washington?  But the real question will come should Japan actually shoot the North Korean missile down, what will North Korea do?

Meanwhile in a different hemisphere, Rio de Janeiro and the International Olympic Committee are about to lose their collective shit over the Zika virus outbreak.  A mosquito-borne virus, the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from a few days to a few weeks.  No big deal except then the Pan American Health Organization release a report back in May of last year that linked the Zika outbreak to Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome.  Rut-roh, according to the Mayo Clinic; "Guillain-Barre syndrome is
a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling in your extremities are usually the first symptoms.

These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body. In its most severe form Guillain-Barre syndrome is a medical emergency. Most people with the condition must be hospitalized to receive treatment.

The Pan American Health Organization also is concerned that the Zika virus may be causing birth defects in pregnant women including microcephaly.  If all of this were not enough, the Zika virus can be transmitted through that most favorite of human activities, sex.

Mosquitos of course have no problems hitching a ride outside of the South American continent and infected mosquitos are already in Central America, Mexico and even Texas.

So what's the difference between this and the ebola outbreak?  Well there weren't going to be millions of people traveling to West Africa for the 2016 Olympics.  Brazil has already having a bad PR time concerning the aggressive police tactics used to crack down on the favelas (slums).  If Brazil fails to handle the Zika outbreak, it could wreck the Brazilian economy (which some might be hoping with the ascendancy of BRICS).

Where is Mr. Obama amidst these issues?  Giving a speech at an American mosque for he believes the greatest danger is the fear Americans have of Muslims ("Islamaphobia as he prefers to call it).  In the President's eyes, this will tear our country apart.  While I do applaud the President for trying to stem the tide of paranoia and bigotry,  I have to wonder why he felt so compelled when there has been no public outcry for Mr. Obama to speak out.  Personally,  I'm still waiting for Mr. Obama to do something about the growing rift between police and the African-American community.

Then there is tonight's Democrat debate in which Bernie Sanders, he of that Brooklynese accent you could cut with a knife, plans to pummel Hillary over her ties to Wall St.  What is unlikely to come out though is how many of those Wall St moguls made their money basing their projections on the cost of oil being around $50/barrel instead of the current $37/barrel?  Our economy has been built around this energy model and prices aren't going to climb back up anytime soon, especially now that sanctions have been lifted from Iran.

February holds promise for many more interesting things.

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