Showing posts with label World Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Health. Show all posts

Monday, January 24, 2022

Russian Saber Rattling over NATO?

All this talk of war with Russia and Ukraine is the last thing we need.  With climate change and coronavirus we need more cooperation not more death and destruction.  Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation magazine gives a good review of the history behind this standoff. 


It started at the end of the cold war in 1990.  In return for dissolving the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe and allowing Germany to reunify, Gorbachev was promised by George HW Bush that NATO (the western military alliance formed after WWII) would not be expanded eastward toward Russia's border.

This promise was broken when Clinton took office as can be seen in the above map.  Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary were admitted to NATO in 1999.  This continued under Bush, Obama, and Trump right up to Russia's borders with the admission of Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and other former Iron Curtain state.  Any possible addition of Ukraine into NATO is totally unacceptable for Russia.

With Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, they were excluded from G8 summit of economic powers.  They also received many other economic sanctions including their athletes not being allowed to compete in the Olympics under their flag.  With Russia's history of paranoia of foreign invaders from the Mongols to Hitler, it should be easy to understand their obstinance over NATO expansion.

We have already tried the stick in dealing with Russia with little success.  Maybe it's time for a carrot to improve relations.  Let's come back from the brink.

**Related Posts**

A Proposal to Fix Relations with Russia: Russia in NATO

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cuba a Failed State?

The news media has recently reported on President Biden's calling Cuba a failed state.  There have been demonstrations there due to the corona virus pandemic.  The Cuban president responded by pointing out that the 60 year embargo of Cuba has exacerbated shortages of medical supplies and other basic resources.  I thought I would compare how Cuba is faring compared to surrounding island nations Jamaica and Haiti and to the U.S.

The graph above is from the Gapminder Institute showing income and life expectancy for the four countries.  We see that while per capita income is much higher in the U.S. than Cuba, life expectancy in years is virtually the same in both countries with Jamaica and Haiti lagging behind.  Infant mortality rates (an indication of the health of the infant and the mother) is actually 40% lower in Cuba (4/1,000 births) than the U.S. (5.6/1,000), as seen in the table below, followed by the Jamaica (13.5/1,000) and Haiti (52.2/1,0000).  

Income per capita

Life Expectancy (years)

Infant Mortality per 1,000 births

COVID Case Mortality %

Covid deaths per 100,000

























The life expectancy and infant mortality data are from the World Health Organization from 2018 before the pandemic.  Johns-Hopkins University has been tracking mortality and cases for each nation from the Coronavirus.  The case mortality is 2.6 times higher for COVID in the U.S. (1.8%) compared to Cuba (0.7%) with higher rates in Jamaica (2.3) and Haiti (2.6).  The population adjusted death rate from COVID is more than 10 times higher in the US (185.61) than Cuba (17.35).  Haiti so far has a low death rate due to a low case rate.

Some may want to dismiss these numbers from the WHO and Johns-Hopkins due to their political beliefs.  The CIA (hardly a radical leftwing organization) also does estimates of life expectancy for each country in the world.  They estimate Cuba's life expectancy to be 79.41 years.  Haiti's is estimated to be 65.61 years. Jamaica's is estimated to be 73.71 years.  U.S.'s is estimated to be 80.43 years.

You can say what you want about the political system in Cuba, the mortality data do not indicate poorer outcomes there relative to their Caribbean neighbors and the U.S.  The U.S. embargo has given the Cuban government a convenient scapegoat for their problems,  the U.S.

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Update on Johnstown Zip Code Testing

Last week I reported that my most viewed post on COVID-19 was on zip code testing in Johnstown zip codes compared to the county, state and the U.S I reported that the testing rates for the zip code for downtown Johnstown (15901) was nearly identical to the U.S. rates while the rates for the other zip codes and the county lagged behind the state and the U.S. rates.  I reposted the chart from that post above. 


As I was tracking the testing rates I noticed that the pattern was changing in the testing rates.  You can see that pattern in the bar chart above from the Google Sheets I put together for the county.  The rate for 15901 is still the highest in the city but it is falling behind the U.S. rate. The 15902 zip code has been inching upwards while the 15909 zip code lags behind the others and the county.  

I updated the line chart at the top of the post with the trend in testing up to the current date.  I got rid of the data table to make it more readable. In the chart we see that the testing rate for 15901 started to fall behind the U.S. rate on May 29. The post for the chart at the top was on May 17.  

The 15902 zip code (red dotted line) testing rate has nudged ahead of the state rate (solid black line.  Finally we see that the 15909 zip code has fallen further behind the other zip codes and the state and county overall in the testing rates on May 26.  

The number of COVID-19 cases in the county on May 17 was 54.  Today (27 days later) it is 61.  The 15902 zip code (Hornerstown and Moxham) now has a cluster of five confirmed cases and between 1 and 4 probable cases (the exact number is not released for privacy concerns) while 15901 has between 1 and 4 confirmed cases according to the PA Department of Health.  
Does the lag in testing account for the decrease in the number of new cases for the county?  I suppose only God knows for sure.  The COVID cast website shows a decrease in the indicators that they use to forecast the future cases from may 17 to May 31.  These indicators include doctor visits with COVID-19 symptoms, google search data, and Facebook search data.  After May 31 the indicators has leveled off which suggests that a surge in cases is not imminent.  Dr. Fauci has warned that a surge could happen as the states have been reopening.  So far it has yet to materialize in Cambria County.  Time will tell.

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Protests and Pandemics: Lessons from History

Watching the developments of the past week were surprising even to me. Were the up swelling of protests over the death of George Floyd and the corona virus pandemic totally unrelated?  Is Trump's generally incompetent leadership a factor?  The mostly peaceful demonstrations have been occurring just as the turbulent restriction from the pandemic are being lifted.  Do people just have more time now to pay attention to the news surrounding Floyd's death?  History may provide some clues.

The late 1910s were a largely forgotten turbulent time in our nation's history.  We had just entered World War I, the battle over women's right to vote was reaching a critical stage, the brutal race riots in Tulsa, OK were happening just as the Ku Klux Klan was becoming a national force, and of course the Spanish Flu epidemic was rampaging globally,  None of these things occurred in a vacuum.  

The Spanish Flu may not have originated in Spain but it was the first country to report on it as the news was censored in the neighboring countries fighting in World War I.  It unknown where the pandemic started but it was first observed in Europe just as U.S. soldiers arrived there in 1918.  Returning soldiers brought it back home with them and it spread quickly.  Worldwide it killed approximately 50 million and in the U.S. the death toll was around 675,000.

While this was going on the suffragettes led by Alice Paul were getting close to the Seneca Falls convention of 1848's goal of achieving votes for women.  Woodrow Wilson eventually was convinced to support the amendment along with the proposed 18th amendment to usher in prohibition.  The suffragettes hoped that prohibiting drinking would curb domestic violence against women. 

Maurice Decaul: Commentary on "Close Ranks" and "Returning Soldiers" by W.E.B. Du Bois from The Gilder Lehrman Institute on Vimeo.

African American's fought in World War I hoping that it would improve their standing in society, it did not.  They came home to the same racism that they had experiences before.  W.E.B. DuBois had supported Wilson but was disappointed when they returned home.  Two years later things exploded when lynchings occurred and the KKK began a resurgence.  Things came to a boiling point when a race riot occurred in 1919 in Chicago and the  deadliest race massacre in U.S. history in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.  In Johnstown, PA, another racial incident occurred in the Rosedale section when African American and Mexicans were driven out of the city in response to the shooting of police officers.

In addition to these other issues the government was involved in the Palmer raids which were conducted against suspected communists who had just come to power in Russia.  This was a precursor to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950's.  The socialist Presidential candidate Eugene Debs and Alice Paul were briefly imprisoned as a result.

These problems were exacerbated by small economic depression which followed the war.  In response to all of this, Warren G. Harding ran for president where he promised a "return to normalcy" from the turbulence of the last years of Wilson's Presidency.  He won in a landslide with the votes of women who could vote for the first time.  The roaring 20's and the corruption and hypocrisy of prohibition followed.

History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme sometimes.  Many of the same forces at work then are at work now.  Mostly peaceful protests occurred in response to the death of George Floyd as in the video above.  Joe Biden may be successful running as a normalcy president but will he be able to address all of these forces in a way that Trump is unwilling to?

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

When Looking at Gun Ownership and Gun Deaths, Dates Matter

In response to the horrific shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, I saw the graph below from Vox showing the correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths.  The graph was used on Late Night with Seth Meyers on Monday right after the shootings in the above clip.  It shows that the US is an extreme outlier in gun deaths and ownership comparred to other developed nations.
In response to the graph I was going to look at what type of a relationship still exists between guns and gun deaths after the US is excluded.  I went to the source for the data for this chart to find the data that was used in the its creation.  

The United States had 120.5 guns per 100 individuals and 12.21 total gun deaths per 100,000 individuals both in 2017.  On the graph the US is seen closer to 100 guns per 100 and below 12 deaths/100,000.

The United Kingdom or UK is in the lower left hand corner of the chart near the origin of both axes of the graphs.  The Gun Policy website for the UK lists 5.03 guns/100 for 2017 and 0.2 deaths/100,000 for the year 2015.  

The nation of Cyprus had 34 guns/100 for 2017 (the only time point listed) and 1 death/100,000 for 2016.  On the graph Cyprus is listed closer to 2 deaths/100,000 and closer to 40 guns/100.  

To do a proper correlational study, the data points for each county for each axis need to be from the same time point (year in this case).  There could be different ownership and death rates for the years not listed.  The investigator could be accused of cherry picking the data that supports the investigator's argument.  

I do agree with the argument that more guns lead to more gun deaths but to conduct a proper analysis of this data the methodology must be sound to protect against claims of dishonesty.  For me to do a proper study I will have to sift through the gun policy website and use only gun ownership and death data from a recent year for the countries from which both variables are available for that year.

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Season's Shootings

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The 5th Anniversary of CSI wo DB: Top 25 All Time Posts

The fifth anniversary of this blog coincides with the end of the series that inspired it's name. Because of this momentous event, instead of a top 10 all time post list I thought I would do a top 25 list out of 250 posts so lets get started.  This should give a good sampling of the posts on the blog.

25. Pennsylvania Medicaid Expansion and Legislature Polarization

Pennsylvania's last Governor dragged his feet on expanding medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  The new governor has reversed himself but a lot of other governors haven't.
24.  Titanic Perspective

The 100th anniversary of that cursed ships sinking made me think of other disasters that have been forgotten. 

23. Morality as a Mathematical Equation

The earliest post on this list was on a discussion of how morality can be evaluated like a mathematical equation.
22. Habemus Resegnum - We have a resignation

Pope Francis became the 266th successor of St. Peter after Benedict XVI abdicated.  Here is a look at the Papacy.
21.  The David Roberts Family Fund

Last year my friend from Hartford died from brain cancer.  A site was set up for his family to cover medical expenses.  I talked about how they shouldn't have to be begging for money for this purpose.  You can still donate to their paypal account here.

20.  An In Depth Look at a Mindfulness and Stress Study

An old classmate of mine from Hartford had an article in the Huffington post on how mindfulness can reduce stress.  I discussed her study here.

19. Season's Shootings

A response to the terrible shootings that occurred about the same time as the Newtown Shootings.
18. Olympic Medal Counts Still Reflect National Power (or the Need for it) 

As the title of this post says, a look at how Olympic medal counts reflect a nations power.
17.  Ruth Institute - Making Marriage Cool (In the US but not Scandinavia)

A response to a question I asked about the effect of Scandinavian social programs on marriage.
16. A Statistical Profile of the Uninsured in Washington, DC, New Mexico, and Texas

How do uninsured rates relate to health outcomes for these three outlier states?
15. A Geographical Representation of the Mode and Ethnicity

A look at methods of displaying descriptive statistics in geographic form.

14. Controversy over the New Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

The American Psychiatric Assn caused controversy when they decided to remove Asperger's Syndrome from the DSM-V and place it on the Autism spectrum
13.  The World Wars and Today's Wars

A look at how World Wars I & II relate to the current troubles in the Middle East.
12. Correlation with the Number of Hate Groups per Million, Poor Health Suggests More Hate

In a follow up to the post on the concentration of hate groups (seen further down on this list), I looked at the correlation between the concentration of hate groups in each state and their health outcomes.
11. Bullying & Society

In this post I argue that bullying in schools is merely a reflection of ills in the larger society.
10. Lance Armstrong's Doping Claim: A Probabilistic Calculation

When Lance Armstrong was still claiming innocence of blood doping I thought I would apply probability theory to his claim.  This is the post with the longest average time per view.
9. 2013 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Are Out for School Districts and Counties in PA

A look at local poverty rates in my home state of Pennsylvania.
8. A Kinder, Gentler Looney Tunes

Warner Brothers tried to modernize the Looney Tunes characters.  I thought it had promise but it didn't last.
7. Top 10 Worst Super Bowls of All Time 

We are used to thrilling Super Bowls today but there was a time when the game rarely lived up to the hype.
6. Two Years Ago in Stanton Heights

In 2009, three policemen were killed by a right wing extremist about a mile from where I live.  I gave a profile of the neighborhood where it happened.
5. Hitler, Napoleon, and Stalin: Outsider Despots

Hitler and Napoleon are often compared.  I argue that there is also considerable overlap between those two and Josef Stalin.
4. The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War these past 4 years I thought it would be helpful looking at in with similar conflicts in Italy, Germany and Japan which would have repercussions for later conflicts..
3. A Wave of Hate Groups in California? No in Washington, DC

A look at the concentration of hate groups in the US (adjusting for population).
2. Global Warming, Wikileaks, and Statistics: What Barry Sanders Can Teach Us

The second most popular post provides a sports metaphor (Barry Sanders' running statistics) for explaining global warming/climate change to denier of this science who also is a sports junkie (ie. Rush Limbaugh, James Inhofe, etc).
1. CSI Without Dead Bodies: Income and Life Expectancy. What does it Tell Us About US? 

Thanks to this post being linked to on the BBC programme (British Spelling) web page for The Joy of Stats, this page has received over 3,000 hits (7% of total traffic). It covers the correlation between life expectancy and income.

**Related Post**

CSI senza cadaveri


Friday, June 13, 2014

The World Wars and Today's Wars

Much was made of the 70th anniversary of D-Day last week which was the beginning of the end for Hitler's Third Reich (along with Stalingrad in the east for the Soviets).  Much less talked about in the US is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I coming up this summer.  The beginning of the war was also 99 years after Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo.
The History Channel produced the graphic at the bottom to go with their documentary 'The World Wars' which shows the 'War to End All War' in numbers which was the first air war as well as the first as the first to use chemical weapons and tanks on a large scale.  An estimated 14.6 million were killed (8 million soldiers and 6.6 million civilians). 

We still live with it's consequences today and it's hard to find anything good that came of the war for anyone.  What attention there is on WWI in the US has mostly focused on how men like Hitler, Churchill, Mussolini, and Stalin, who were prominent in WWII, became battle hardened during it and rose to power in it's aftermath. 

Less reported is how the Middle East was carved up after the British and French seized it from the Ottoman TurksBy the Sykes-Picot agreement Syria and Lebanon became colonies of France while Iraq, Jordan and Palestine fell under British rule.  Winston Churchill became secretary of the colonies and brutally put down rebellions by the Kurds in Iraq.  This conquest was later glorified in films like Lawrence of Arabia.  British Petroleum (now BP) was created in this period.
Today Iraq is being carved up by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria with funding from Saudi Arabia.  The third picture above shows the lands in Iraq and Syria that they control.  Robert Fisk of the Independent reports that this is the beginning of the end for the Sykes-Picot agreement.  Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Assad family in Syria, Kings Hussein and Abdullah of Jordan, and of course Israel have all done their part to brutally hold it together but it is a shotgun marriage that could not last forever.  Saddam Hussein became a pariah when he violated the Sykes-Picot agreement by invading Kuwait  Iraqi Sunnis are now abandoning their army and joining ISIS while Iraqi Shiites are likely to side with Iran.

George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq created a power vacuum in Iraq which ISIS was finally able to exploit just as Hitler and Stalin were able to capitalize on in their countries after WWI (the History channel documentary on the world wars interviewed the top hawks from the Bush administration such as Cheyney, Rumsfeld and Powell plus Senate hawk John McCain).  How all this will play out is anyone's guess with the US, Iran, and other outside powers weighing their options.  With an estimated hundreds of thousands (the precise number may never be known) dead in Iraq and Syria since 2003 could this be a resolution or an escalation of the conflict?  I don't know the answer to this question but the less further bloodshed there is, the better for all sides.

**Related Posts**

Hitler, Napoleon, and Stalin: Outsider Despots


Measuring Democracy in the World?


The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context


9/11 Aftermath Survey


We've All Neglected Our Wars (Me Too)


What is Sanity?