- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

The Alpena News. Oct. 29.

We need to be more aware of lone wolf terrorists

In a speech about a month ago, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned of the growing threat of “lone wolf” terrorists. He explained some people may not belong to organizations such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida, but may be persuaded to further their causes by making individual terrorist attacks.

Canadians who were aware of Johnson’s remarks may consider them prophetic. It appears our neighbors to the north have been victimized by lone wolves.

In separate attacks last week, men known to have converted recently to Islam killed two Canadian soldiers. One assault occurred Monday in Quebec, when a man used his car to run down two soldiers, killing one. Police shot him to death.

Then, on Wednesday, Canada’s capital, Ottawa, came under attack. A man shot a soldier guarding a war memorial to death, then stormed into the Parliament building. He, too, was killed by gunfire.

It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of Americans view terrorist attacks against our friends and neighbors to the north as attacks on us.

But Johnson is right: Lone wolf terrorists are a growing threat. The question is how to deal with people who may have lived in our communities for years - but then succumb to Islamic terrorist propaganda and become killers. Clearly, an effective strategy for dealing with them needs to be developed.


Midland Daily News. Oct. 29.

Confused about Ebola policy? You bet

If anyone is confused about the U.S. policy concerning health care workers returning to the United States after working in West Africa, he or she has reason to be.

The U.S. policy is a mess.

There are different protocols in place, now, that differentiate between how people are treated coming into different airports, and between civilian and military personnel.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday that all members of the armed services working in Ebola-stricken West African countries undergo mandatory 21-day quarantines upon their return to the United States. Hagel is expected to follow that recommendation.

Yet the position of the Centers for Disease Control and that of President Barack Obama is that automatic quarantines are not necessary, but monitoring is. Obama on Tuesday called the new guidelines “sensible, based in science.”

Last week, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey ordered all people coming into the Newark Airport into a mandatory three-week quarantine. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said residents coming into New York also would have to be quarantined for three weeks, but with a caveat. Citizens would get to pick the location of their quarantine, a kind of designer quarantine.

“This is a big moment, and a lot of people are watching carefully,” said William Eimicke, professor of public affairs at Columbia University. “It’s about balance and judgment, and voters will remember if this was handled well or not.”

We agree. So far, just about all the information emanating from the CDC, the White House and state governments has been contradictory.

Actions in our federal and state governments have not instilled much confidence that our health system will get this Ebola controversy right.

At the very least, the president and the Pentagon should be on the same page.

After all, the president is commander-in-chief, at least perfunctorily.


The Daily News (Iron Mountain). Oct. 29.

Shingles vaccine recommended

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.

After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles, reports Mary Rosner, Public Health Officer for Marinette County Health and Human Services.

“Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash,” Rosner said. “The first symptom is often a tingling feeling on the skin, itchiness or a stabbing pain. After several days, a rash appears as a band or patch of raised dots on the side of the trunk or face.”

It then develops into small, fluid-filled blisters that dry out and crust over within a few days,” she said. The rash and pain usually disappear within three to five weeks. However, about one in five people with shingles will suffer long term nerve damage, which can cause excruciating and unrelenting pain for months and even years.”

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clears up within 2 to 4 weeks.

Before the rash develops, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears.

Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face.

In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision.

Other symptoms of shingles can include:

- Fever.

- Headache.

- Chills.

- Upset stomach.

Several antiviral medicines-acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir-are available to treat shingles, CDC officials said. These medicines will help shorten the length and severity of the illness. But to be effective, they must be started as soon as possible after the rash appears. Thus, people who have or think they might have shingles should call their health care provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

Analgesics (pain medicine) may help relieve the pain caused by shingles. Wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching, CDC officials said.

One out of three Americans will have shingles at some time in their lives.

There are an estimated 1 million cases each year in the United States. For people who live to be 85, the lifetime risk of getting shingles is 50 percent.

The risk increases with age.

Some people have a greater risk of getting shingles, reports the CDC. This includes people who:

- Have medical conditions that keep their immune systems from working properly, such as certain cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

- Receive immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids and drugs that given after organ transplantation.

People who develop shingles typically have only one episode in their lifetime. However, a person can have a second or even a third episode, CDC officials said.

The shingles vaccine - Zostavax -protects your body from reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

It isn’t 100 percent effective, but it significantly decreases the risk of getting shingles and reduces the pain and complications for cases which still occur.

No serious problems have been identified with shingles vaccine.

The most common side effects in people who got the vaccine were redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the shot site, and headache.

“Those 60 and older should get the vaccine whether you’ve had chickenpox or not.” Rosner said.


The Holland Sentinel. Oct. 26.

New options may help TV viewers ‘cut the cord’

With a reputation for poor service, limited choices and a perverse pricing structure that punishes loyal customers, the cable company is the business Americans love to hate. Now some new developments are threatening to overturn the business model that has given the cable companies near monopolistic power for decades. But consumers can’t celebrate yet.

One potentially big development came earlier this month when the premium channel HBO announced it would start offering its shows by subscription over the Internet next year. Shortly thereafter, CBS, the epitome of traditional broadcast TV, said it would provide its programs over the Web for $6 a month. If more content providers follow the lead of HBO and CBS, it will threaten the pay-TV industry’s longstanding refusal to give customers the “a la carte” service they want. Consumers have been forced to accept packages with dozens of channels they may never watch to get the handful they actually want. HBO’s plans are particularly threatening to the cable industry because it’s one of the few channels (along with ESPN) that many people buy cable packages specifically to get. If they can watch HBO for, say, $20 a month (the actual pricing has not been set yet), they may no longer be willing to spend three or four times that much for a high-end TV package.

The recent developments may only accelerate an ongoing trend of consumers, particularly younger ones, “cutting the cord” - the number of consumers who subscribe to cable, satellite or fiber TV services fell by a quarter of a million in 2013 according to the research firm SNL Kagan. Today you can stream movies and original programs from Netflix and watch TV shows online on Hulu, and the number of such services is steadily increasing. (Then there are the frugal few who are rediscovering they can watch TV the way their parents did - with an antenna, for free.)

So does this spell the end of the cable industry monster? Probably not. The reality is that for most people the company you get your TV service through is also the one that connects you to the Internet, and the money (and monopolistic power) they may lose in one business they can make up by raising prices in the other. By manipulating streaming speeds, the big telecom companies could even deny you some of the options now available or soon to come on the market. Earlier this year, Netflix complained that some of its customers were having trouble getting its streaming service through some Internet providers - a problem only solved when Netflix agreed to pay those companies for better connections.

The changing landscape makes it even more important for the Federal Communications Commission to adopt strong “net neutrality” rules that guarantee that broadband companies cannot discriminate against any content providers or offer any entity preferential service. Only if there’s a truly level playing field can consumers take advantage of all the new alternatives to the old cable colossus.

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