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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Congratulations to Prof. Steve Hanke

Saturday, August 24, 2013 7:03

Last month the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences awarded the title “Doctor Honoris Causa” to the world-famous economist Prof. Steve Hanke.

Steve Hanke

Steve Hanke

In his academic speech , Prof. Hanke thanked for the honor and expressed concern about the current situation in Bulgaria. He went back 15 years, to 1997, when the Bulgarian government turned to him for advice. Prof. Hanke said that then and now, the biggest problem of our country is corruption. The difference today, however, is that there is a serious shortage of hope. To get Bulgaria out of the crisis Prof. Hanke recommended the Singapore strategy to be implemented. He told the story of Singapore from the separation and independence from Britain in 1963 until today.

“Then (in 1963, editor’s note) Singapore was ranked among the poorest countries in the world, much poorer than Bulgaria today.” – Prof. Hanke said. “But there the success is attributable to investment, Singapore took a few steps that revitalized the economy – a currency board was set up for financial stability and external borrowing was carefully monitored; the market and prices were liberalized; an emphasis was put on equitable justice and internal order and all the possibilities for corruption were eliminated. And today there’s no corruption, unlike Bulgaria. “- Said Prof. Hanke.

The professor said that the crisis is an opportunity for progress. According to him Bulgaria should aim towards an economy based on knowledge and added value.

Catch his speech here.

Dollarize Argentina Now

No dejes de seguir el link de arriba que te llevara a May 8, 2013. y el Link de abajo al:

Viernes 12 de Julio de 1991

Dr. Hanke posts at CatoBusiness Insider, and HuffPo.





Pope Francis waves as he arrives at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)

It’s official: 2013 has been the Year of the Pope. The latest evidence? Time has named Francis its Person of the Yearnoting that the pontiff, during his first nine months in office, “has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.” Indeed, the pope’s writings and public pronouncements reveal a deeply caring and passionate man who speaks from the heart. In Evangelii Gaudium, an “apostolic exhortation” released late last month, the pope bemoans inequality, poverty, and violence in the world.

But here’s the problem: The dystopian world that Francis describes, without citing a single statistic, is at odds with reality. In appealing to our fears and pessimism, the pope fails to acknowledge the scope and rapidity of human accomplishment—whether measured through declining global inequality and violence, or growing prosperity and life expectancy.

The thesis of Evangelii Gaudium is simple: “unbridled” capitalism has enriched a few, but failed the poor. “We have to remember,” he writes, “that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity.”

Just how free the free market really is today is debatable. The United States is perceived as the paragon of free-market capitalism. And yet over the last two decades, according to Wayne Crews of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington has issued 81,883 regulations—or nine per day. Maybe the marketplace should be regulated less, and maybe it should be regulated more. But unbridled it is not.

Moreover, the government redistributes some 40 percent of all wealth produced in America—up from 7 percent a century ago. Much of that wealth comes from the rich and pays for everything from defense and roads to healthcare and education, which are enjoyed by Americans from all income groups. The top 1 percent of income earners  earned 19 percent of all income in 2010 and paid more than 38 percent of all income taxes. The top 10 percent paidmore than 70 percent of all income taxes. Maybe the rich should contribute more, and maybe they should contribute less. But contribute they do—well in excess of the biblical tithe.

As for the negative consequences of “trickle-down” economics that the pope bemoans, let’s look at them in turn.

First, consider inequality. Academic researchers—from Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University, to Surjit Bhalla, formerly of the Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation, to Paolo Liberati of the University of Rome—all agree that global inequality is declining. That is because 2.6 billion people in China and India are richer than they used to be. Their economies are growing much faster than those of their Western counterparts, thus shrinking the income gap that opened at the dawn of industrialization in the 19th century, when the West took off and left much of the rest of the world behind.

Paradoxically, the shrinking of the global inequality gap was only possible after India and China abandoned their attempts to create equality through central planning. By allowing people to keep more of the money they earned, the Chinese and Indian governments incentivized people to create more wealth. Allowing inequality to increase at home, in other words, diminished inequality globally. And global inequality, surely, is the statistic that should most concern the leader of a global religion.

The graph below shows the narrowing gap between Chinese (orange) and global (red) incomes. As China embraced capitalism in the late 1970s, its economy started growing faster than the world average, making the world less unequal in the process. The figures in the graph are adjusted for inflation and purchasing power parity (in other words, they take into account that the cost of identical goods—such as a pair of shoes or a pound of beef—may be significantly different in two countries, depending on the price of labor, land, capital, etc.)

GDP, per person, 2011 international dollars, PPP

Second, let’s look at poverty. According to the Brookings Institution researchersLaurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz, the “rise of emerging economies has led to a dramatic fall in global poverty.” The authors “estimate that between 2005 and 2010, the total number of poor people around the world fell by nearly half a billion, from over 1.3 billion in 2005 to under 900 million in 2010. Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history: never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.”

If anything, the speed of human progress seems to be accelerating. As Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development writes, “4.9 billion people—the considerable majority of the planet—[live] in countries where GDP has increased more than fivefold over 50 years. Those countries include India, with an economy nearly 10 times larger than it was in 1960, Indonesia (13 times), China (17 times), and Thailand (22 times larger than in 1960). Around 5.1 billion people live in countries where we know incomes have more than doubled since 1960, and 4.1 billion—well more than half the planet—live in countries where average incomes have tripled or more.”

The graph below shows the percentage of the population living on less than $1.25 a day in Bangladesh (orange), China (blue), Vietnam (purple), and India (green) beginning in the 1980s. The dollar figure is, again, adjusted for inflation and purchasing power parity.

Poverty gap at $1.25 per day, adjusted for inflation and PPP, percent of population

Third, consider violence. In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined—a book that spans 800 pages and millennia of human development—Steven Pinker of Harvard University documents a tremendous decline in global violence. According to Pinker, “Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then were suddenly abolished. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse—all substantially down.”

Rape and homicide rates in the United States, percent of 1973 level

Rate of deaths in genocides, per 100,000 people

Last, but not least, consider disease. Measles, polio, and cholera, which destroyed innumerable lives in the past, have been all but eradicated. The spread of HIV/AIDS has been checked by the increasing use of marvelous antiretroviral (ARV) therapies. Some 10 million people, mostly Africans, are being treated with ARVs—an intervention mostly financed by the West. Even cancer rates, which have increased together with life expectancy, are beginning to decline—at least in rich countries. Speaking of living longer, the average global life expectancy at birth hovered around 30 years from the Upper Paleolithic to 1900. Even in the richest countries, like those of Western Europe, life expectancy at the start of the 20th century rarely exceeded 50 years. Today, the average global life expectancy is 68 years.

Antiretroviral therapy coverage, percent of people with advanced HIV

Life expectancy at birth, years

Pope Francis has a big heart, but his credibility as a voice of justice and morality would be immeasurably improved if he based his statements on facts.

The parable of Argentina

Feb 15th 2014 | From the print edition  “The Economist”.

There are lessons for many governments from one country’s 100 years of decline

CENTURY ago, when Harrods decided to set up its first overseas emporium, it chose Buenos Aires. In 1914 Argentina stood out as the country of the future. Its economy had grown faster than America’s over the previous four decades. Its GDP per head was higher than Germany’s, France’s or Italy’s. It boasted wonderfully fertile agricultural land, a sunny climate, a new democracy (universal male suffrage was introduced in 1912), an educated population and the world’s most erotic dance. Immigrants tangoed in from everywhere. For the young and ambitious, the choice between Argentina and California was a hard one.

There are still many things to love about Argentina, from the glorious wilds of Patagonia to the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi. The Argentines remain perhaps the best-looking people on the planet. But their country is a wreck. Harrods closed in 1998. Argentina is once again at the centre of an emerging-market crisis. This one can be blamed on the incompetence of the president, Cristina Fernández, but she is merely the latest in a succession of economically illiterate populists, stretching back to Juan and Eva (Evita) Perón, and before. Forget about competing with the Germans. The Chileans and Uruguayans, the locals Argentines used to look down on, are now richer. Children from both those countries—and Brazil and Mexico too—do better in international education tests.

Why dwell on a single national tragedy? When people consider the worst that could happen to their country, they think of totalitarianism. Given communism’s failure, that fate no longer seems likely. If Indonesia were to boil over, its citizens would hardly turn to North Korea as a model; the governments in Madrid or Athens are not citing Lenin as the answer to their euro travails. The real danger is inadvertently becoming the Argentina of the 21st century. Slipping casually into steady decline would not be hard. Extremism is not a necessary ingredient, at least not much of it: weak institutions, nativist politicians, lazy dependence on a few assets and a persistent refusal to confront reality will do the trick.

All through my wild days, my mad existence

As in any other country, Argentina’s story is unique. It has had bad luck. Its export-fuelled economy was battered by the protectionism of the interwar years. It relied too heavily on Britain as a trading partner. The Peróns were unusually seductive populists. Like most of Latin America, Argentina embraced the Washington consensus in favour of open markets and privatisation in the 1990s and it pegged the peso to the dollar. But the crunch, when it came in 2001, was particularly savage—and left the Argentines permanently suspicious of liberal reform.

Ill fortune is not the only culprit, though (see briefing). In its economy, its politics, and its reluctance to reform, Argentina’s decline has been largely self-inflicted.

Commodities, Argentina’s great strength in 1914, became a curse. A century ago the country was an early adopter of new technology—refrigeration of meat exports was the killer app of its day—but it never tried to add value to its food (even today, its cooking is based on taking the world’s best meat and burning it). The Peróns built a closed economy that protected its inefficient industries; Chile’s generals opened up in the 1970s and pulled ahead. Argentina’s protectionism has undermined Mercosur, the local trade pact. Ms Fernández’s government does not just impose tariffs on imports; it taxes farm exports.

Argentina did not build the institutions needed to protect its young democracy from its army, so the country became prone to coups. Unlike Australia, another commodity-rich country, Argentina did not develop strong political parties determined to build and share wealth: its politics was captured by the Peróns and focused on personalities and influence. Its Supreme Court has been repeatedly tampered with. Political interference has destroyed the credibility of its statistical office. Graft is endemic: the country ranks a shoddy 106th in Transparency International’s corruption index. Building institutions is a dull, slow business. Argentine leaders prefer the quick fix—of charismatic leaders, miracle tariffs and currency pegs, rather than, say, a thorough reform of the country’s schools.

They are not the solutions they promised to be

Argentina’s decline has been seductively gradual. Despite dreadful periods, such as the 1970s, it has suffered nothing as monumental as Mao or Stalin. Throughout its decline, the cafés of Buenos Aires have continued to serve espressos and medialunas. That makes its disease especially dangerous.

The rich world is not immune. California is in one of its stable phases, but it is not clear that it has quit its addiction to quick fixes through referendums, and its government still hobbles its private sector. On Europe’s southern fringe, both government and business have avoided reality with Argentine disdain. Italy’s petulant demand that rating agencies should take into account its “cultural wealth”, instead of looking too closely at its dodgy government finances, sounded like Ms Fernández. The European Union protects Spain or Greece from spiralling off into autarky. But what if the euro zone broke up?

The bigger danger, however, lies in the emerging world, where uninterrupted progress to prosperity is beginning to be seen as unstoppable. Too many countries have surged forward on commodity exports, but neglected their institutions. With China less hungry for raw materials, their weaknesses could be exposed just as Argentina’s was. Populism stalks many emerging countries: constitutions are being stretched. Overreliant on oil and gas, ruled by kleptocrats and equipped with a dangerously high self-regard, Russia ticks many boxes. But even Brazil has flirted with economic nationalism, while, in Turkey, the autocratic Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blending Evita with Islam. In too many parts of emerging Asia, including China and India, crony capitalism remains the order of the day. Inequality is feeding the same anger that produced the Peróns.

The lesson from the parable of Argentina is that good government matters. Perhaps it has been learned. But the chances are that in 100 years’ time the world will look back at another Argentina—a country of the future that got stuck in the past.

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Snake Bite Costs North Carolina Couple $89,000 Hospital Bill

The couple visited the emergency room in August to receive treatment. The sticker shock comes as Americans continue to battle high health care costs following the introduction of the American Care Act

By  @m_rhodanJan. 29, 2014241 Comments

A couple in North Carolina is speaking out against hospital pricing after receiving a bill for an 18-hour emergency-room stay which they say cost them a whopping $89,000. The Charlotte Observer reports that Eric Ferguson visited a hospital near his home in Mooresville, N.C. over the summer after being bitten by a snake.

The four vials of anti-venom medication Ferguson received reportedly cost about $20,000 each. Ferguson and his wife Laura researched the price of the medicine and found its retail price was between $750 and $12,000 per vial.  Medicare, they reportedly found, would have paid about $9,460 for the total treatment

Though their Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance reduced the bill to a little over $20,000, according to the Charlotte Observer, and they only ended up paying about $5,400 to cover their deductible and co-pay, the couple said they were shocked by the price of treatment.

In a 2013 cover story by Steven Brill, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,  TIME explored the often exorbitant prices patients face after hospital stays.The article examined the reasons behind the prices and the damage caused to those on the receiving end of the American health care system as a result

The hospital, Lake Norman Regional, defended their pricing in a statement to the newspaper:  ”Hospitals only collect a small percentage of our charges, or ‘list prices.’ We are required to give Medicare one level of discount from list price, Medicaid another, and private insurers negotiate for still others. … If we did not start with the list prices we have, we would not end up with enough revenue to remain in operation. … Our costs for providing uncompensated care are partially covered by higher bills for other patients.”

[Charlotte Observer]

Read more: SnakeBite Causes $89,000 Hospital Bill for North Carolina Couple |

Dr. Gaston Saint Martin (Blog’s editor) comment:

This is not my note. A common friend of  us (Mr. Eduardo Damian, and I)  sent it to me.

Mr. Eduardo Damian is commenting here,   his “agnostic friend note” about the Pope Francisco (below, in yellow) He is astonished about such brave defense of Pope Francisco, coming from an agnostic person…

I hope all of you can read castellano (Spanish) … or… I wish to have time myself to translate it ESL.    If someone has time and willing to help others by translating  this to english, please mail it to me ( I will be glad to include the english version here.

¿Cuánto durará Francisco?

Amigos, la nota que antecede al artículo en sí mismo y que leerán en color amarillo, firmada por un tal St., está escrita por un viejo tenor amigo. Su lectura me ha dejado anonadado, ya que sé de su falta de fé, y puesto que él mismo, y como verán, se define como “agnóstico”. Por ello, lo escrito por él adquiere un significado enorme por sus conceptos. Les ruego leer detenidamente ambas notas, de sumo valor. 
Eduardo Damián
La pregunta no es: ¿Cuánto durará Francisco? Sino: ¿dejaremos sólo a un Papa que quiere imponer la caridad, la benevolencia y la humildad de Jesús, por sobre los mercaderes del Templo, dos mil años después, sin avergonzarnos?  ¿Cómo no van a estar preocupados los mafiosos, los corruptos y los que hicieron sus negocios blanqueando a través de la iglesia sus negociados turbios, los Lefrebistas, el Opus Dei, la derecha vaticana atornillada en sus tronos cardenalicios pese a la denodada lucha del Juan XXIII por imponer el Concilio Vaticano II, pese a su enfermedad terminal. Y pese a la dudosa muerte de Juan Pablo I, que apenas duró un mes, con la sospecha de haber sido envenenado en los mismos aposentos vaticanos. Hasta la llegada de Juan Pablo II. Ultimo Papa, que renovó la superficie, pero no pudo romper los cimientos del conocido: Vaticano S.A.; con su Banco Ambrosiano, la Pdue, los suicidios, asesinatos y violaciones de seminaristas. Hasta que llegó la decadencia del pobre polaco, obligado a seguir en su puesto hasta la última gota de su vida, sin conmiseración, sin lástima, arrastrándose doblado como una rama seca,
públicamente, para que el mundo supiera quiénes tenían el verdadero poder tras las paredes turbias del estado clerical en Roma, que no era precisamente el Papa moribundo, y como llamado de atención para el siguiente inquilino: quién debió renunciar por miedo a que lo maten, o a sufrir como Cristo en la cruz hasta el último aliento. Francisco vino a dar latigazos a ese estado podrido, y los latigazos  duelen, y los señorones, vetustos e inútiles ven como cada día pierden poder sus “Eminencias ilustrísimas”  Ven como la gente los mira de frente y no hacia arriba, por que son  hombres como nosotros, aunque acostumbrados al boato y el buen pasar, tan diferentes al Jesús histórico.  Los actos de Francisco fueron a imitación de él, el simbólico lavado de los pies fuera del palacio a dos mujeres y dos musulmanes ¿acaso no son seres humanos los cuatro?
¿Qué tiene de malo? ¿Acaso el cristianismo es segregacionista, racista o antisemita, por que los musulmanes son semitas como los judíos y como el mismo Jesús? 
 Francisco sabe lo que está haciendo. Y si prefirió vivir en la residencia Santa Marta en lugar del Palacio  Vaticano, es porque sabe que allí esta más seguro que en el museo de arte que es il Palazzo Reale, donde están la mafia y la antirreligiosidad cristiana, sosteniendo lo más miserable de una era que está llegando a su fin, reclamando una iglesia de y para los pobres. Por lo tanto, religiosos, no se escondan debajo de la cama, si tienen  la gracia de la Fe, defiéndanla, tengan el coraje de este argentino que pone el pecho al frente de una de las fuerzas más grandes de la tierra, ante la cual se postran presidentes, 
reyes y príncipes, y no se marea ni se agita temeroso, no pierde la modestia y tiene el don de hacer sentir importante a más de un imbécil que se desespera por sacarse una foto a su lado. Imítenlo, tengan confianza en él y aprovechen su fe, para ayudarlo rezando por el Papa Francisco, pedido que no se cansa de rogar ante ustedes. Un agnóstico, que aun sin fe religiosa, cree en este hombre. St.
¡Qué pronto salieron a la luz las maniobras de seres oscuros con
intereses que no tienen nada que ver con la fe en Cristo! INICIAN ATAQUES Y DURAS CRÍTICAS CONTRA EL PAPA FRANCISCO Rebotes que circulan entre la comunidad de inteligencia en Roma,
Italia, indican que sectores radicales conservadores de la Iglesia
Católica Romana han iniciado duras críticas y feroces ataques contra el Papa Francisco, a través de medios de comunicación, sitios webs y redes sociales por su actitud reformista.
 Entre los argumentos que como ejemplo esgrimen los radicales conservadores Católicos están: 
1. El Papa Francisco rompió con la tradición y violó el rito vaticano al realizar el lavado de pies del jueves santo fuera de los muros vaticanos, en la prisión de menores “Casal del mármol” en Roma, incluyendo a 2 musulmanes y 2 mujeres no católicos. Este es un hecho inédito en la historia y tradición de los rígidos rituales de la Iglesia Romana. El ritualismo vaticano de la Iglesia Romana siempre, por siglos desde su fundación, había marginado y no tomado en cuenta a la mujer en estos rituales. Los conservadores miraban con horror el “sacrilegio” del sonriente Papa Francisco, a quien llaman burlonamente “Papa Piacione”, expresión despectiva que alude a alguien que sonríe siempre y se lleva bien con todo el mundo.
2. La negativa del Papa Francisco de residir en el apartamento
papal en el palacio vaticano, decidiendo por su seguridad personal residir en la residencia Santa Marta, el hotel cuatro estrellas del Vaticano donde hay muchas personas, y evadir así el aislamiento que rodea al Papa al residir en el Palacio Vaticano. El Papa Francisco quiere estar pendiente de lo que ocurre a su alrededor y fuera de los muros vaticanos. En el apartamento papal estaría compartimentado y vigilado, de cierta forma, controlado y mediatizado, y lo más esencial, desinformado y a merced de las “hienas vaticanas” que ya planean sacarlo del medio.
3. En el encuentro almuerzo con Benedicto XVI en Castel Gandolfo,
éste le confió al Papa Francisco que una de las causas que influyeron en su renuncia eran las amenazas que recibió y por temor a ser envenenado, pues ya se había tomado la decisión de matarlo, por lo que Benedicto XVI en una jugada para neutralizar ese atentado contra su vida, hace pública su renuncia con lo cual desarmó el intento de matarlo.
4. El alto poder enquistado en la cúpula vaticana está totalmente opuesto a los planes del Papa Francisco de reformar, eliminar, modificar la pompa, el ritualismo y el lujo y ostentación de la Iglesia Católica Romana. (Francisco tiene un deseo y pensamiento secreto y es el de permitir que la mujer pueda acceder al sacerdocio católico, lo cual tendría un efecto tipo terremoto a lo interno de los ensotanados).
5. La Curia Romana y los grupos de poder rechazan que el Papa Francisco haya hecho un llamado público a la Iglesia Católica a estrechar el diálogo y las relaciones con el Islam. Lo acusan de ser un relativista teológico.
6. El Papa Francisco marginó a los más altos cargos vaticanos en
el acto y ceremonia de lavado de pies el Jueves Santo.
7. Acusan al Papa Francisco de hacer caso omiso a las reglas y
normas de la Iglesia Católica Romana, ya que como Papa está actuando sin consultar ni pedir permiso a nadie para hacer excepciones sobre la forma en que las reglas eclesiásticas se relacionan con él.
8. La organización “Opus Dei” <obra de Dios> ha prohibido (censurado) a todas sus librerías “Troa” la venta del primer libro acerca del nuevo Papa Francisco.
9. La Fiscalía romana anticorrupción hizo importante decomiso de
cientos de cajas de documentos que comprometen y vinculan a las finanzas vaticanas y a importantes personajes con la “mafia” italiana y gigantescas operaciones de blanqueo de capitales y desvío de fondos vaticanos en un complicado mecanismo para desaparecer dineros. Este escándalo será el “Sansón” que derribará las columnas que sostienen la capilla sixtina y todos los edificios de la ostentosa y lujosa estructura vaticana.
10. Tanto el “Opus Dei”, la “Masonería Iluminatti”, importantes e
influyentes sectores bancarios, económicos, sectores      mafiosos
italianos, los propios Cardenales que forman la “mafia y el poder vaticano” se sienten en inminente peligro por el decomiso de estas cajas de documentos supremamente comprometedores por parte de la Fiscalía romana anticorrupción, y por parte del Papa Francisco que tiene toda la intención de sanear y poner controles a las finanzas vaticanas y a todos los negocios e inversiones de este multimillonario Estado      religioso.
11. Otra de las situaciones que tienen sumamente enojados y
furiosos a estos grupos que siempre fueron el poder tras el poder, es que el Papa  Francisco no está de acuerdo en que delincuentes con sotana vivan en terreno vaticano, refugiados, escondidos, evadidos de enfrentar la ley. Por lo pronto ha girado instrucciones para que todo aquel con cuentas pendientes con procesos o acusaciones penales, salgan de suelo Vaticano, ya que en su pontificado el
vaticano no será santuario de infractores de la ley…
¡Imaginemos lo que puede suceder…
¡Dios lo proteja de los lobos, que en gran número, ya empiezan a
rodearlo para cazarlo!
Si te gustó, pásalo.  Es en beneficio de Nuestro Papa y de nosotros también.

Pope John Paul II’s confidante caught in controversy over book publication

Feb 4th 2014 5:34PM
Polish cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz
JOHN PAUL II POPE MemoriesITALY – DECEMBER 30: Polish cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, born in 1939, and ordained cardinal by Benoit XVI. Former private secretary and confident to John-Paul II. As the cardinal-archbishop of Krakow, he held Karol Wojtyla’s former seat. Since the death of John-Paul II, he has generated an unequaled enthusiasm among the Polish people. Here he is in the gardens of John-Paul II ‘Polish House’ in Rome,Italy on December 30, 2008. (Photo by Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – One of the cardinal rules in the Catholic church: obedience to the pope. So it has come as a shock for many in the Catholic world that John Paul II’s most trusted confidant has betrayed the beloved pontiff’s last will and testament by publishing personal notes he wanted burned.
Deep moral dilemmas were at stake for Stanislaw Dziwisz – between loyalty and conscience, the wishes of the pope and the obligations of history.
John Paul ordered the notes burned after his death and put Dziwisz, his secretary, in charge of the task. To everyone’s surprise, Dziwisz, now a cardinal, said recently that he “did not have the courage” to destroy the notes and is having them published as a precious insight into the inner life of the beloved pontiff, who will be declared a saint in April.
The book – “Very Much in God’s Hands. Personal Notes 1962-2003” – comes out in Poland on Wednesday.
Criticism so far has outpaced praise.
“I don’t think it is right for a church member to go against the will and authority of the pope, whatever the reason,” Ewelina Gniewnik said as she was leaving Savior’s Church in downtown Warsaw. “I’m not sure that Cardinal Dziwisz knows what he is doing.”
JOHN PAUL II POPEThe Polish-language book contains religious meditations that Karol Wojtyla recorded between July 1962 and March 2003 – spanning a period in which he went from being a bishop in Poland to a globe-trotting superstar pope. There are plans to publish the book in English and other languages but no details have been fixed.
The decision to publish does not go against papal infallibility, which contrary to popular belief applies only to matters of church doctrine. And Dziwisz was also free to follow his conscience – since the obligation to obey the pope ends with his death or retirement.
Still some are expressing shock that a trusted aide would defy the orders of the pope, especially on a matter as sacred as a will – with the Internet flooded with angry comments against Dziwisz.
The book itself may be a tough slog for ordinary readers. It runs 640 pages and basically consists of deeply religious, compact, sometimes arcane ideas or trains of thought that spring from citations from the Bible. Priests, theologians and philosophers will be inspired – the layperson will find it opaque.
However, one cryptic remark about sinful priests, registered in March 1981, perhaps gains new significance under the flood of pedophilia cases against Roman Catholic clergy.
“The social aspect of sin,” wrote John Paul, “it hurts the Church as a community. Especially a sin by a priest.”
There have been other cases in history in which executors defied instructions of famous people to destroy their work.
Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov’s son, Dmitri, published his father’s unfinished work “The Original of Laura” – which Nabokov had left instructions to burn – and justified the act by saying he didn’t want to go down in history as a “literary arsonist.”
Dziwisz was prepared for accusations of betrayal.
He was John Paul’s personal secretary and closest aide for almost 40 years in Poland and at the Vatican, where – Vatican experts say – he made key decisions in the pope’s waning years. After John Paul’s death in 2005 at age 84, he was made Archbishop of Krakow, in southern Poland, where he is building a museum memorial to the Polish pope. The book’s proceeds are to go to the memorial.
“I had no doubt,” he said recently. “These notes are so important, they say so much about the spiritual side, about the person, about the great pope, that it would have been a crime to destroy them.” He noted the despair of historians after Pope Pius XII’s letters were burnt.
Respected church commentator, the Rev. Adam Boniecki, wrote in a Polish Catholic weekly that he was at first “surprised in an unpleasant way” by Dziwisz’s decision, but after reading the book “I am grateful to him for having taken the risk of following his own conscience and not being a meticulous formalist.”
Some ordinary worshippers were also supportive.
“The teaching and prayers of our pope are most precious to us and we should study them with attention,” said Maria Welgo. “We should be thankful that Cardinal Dziwisz left these notes for us.”
Lawyers in Poland are not sure whether Dziwisz broke the law by disobeying the will – which explicitly said: “Burn my personal notes.” There is scant tradition in Poland of having will executors so the rules are not clear-cut.
Jacek Stokolosa of the Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka Law Firm said that without studying the entire will he was not even sure whether Dziwisz was an executor under Polish law.
The Rev. Jan Machniak, who wrote the preface, told The Associated Press that the book is intended for readers who need to bring order into their life, or need guidance in their own spiritual growth.
The book may be more surprising for what it does not contain: reference to world events and the collapse of communism in John Paul’s native Poland, which the pope played a critical role in bringing about.
But John Paul gave an enigmatic insight into his social, and possibly literary, concerns by writing about an “American female writer O’Connor” – an apparent reference to short story writer Flannery O’Connor.
“Lack of emotional approach to the human person – seemingly substituted by the notion of the ‘quality of life’ – a symptom of our times.”

Dr. Gaston Saint Martin comment:

Is that a “Strep Test“?   (See below: “A NEW Test …..”

Just 2 questions anybody can answer at home, without the need to call the hospital?  

The kid question should be: IS THERE? or THERE IS NOT STREPT A BETA HEMOLYTIC STREPTOCOCUS BACILLI  in that throat?    

Because if that is the infecting bacteria, the patient NEEDS TO GO TO his/her physician to be treated with antibiotics, not only to be cured, but to avoid the spread of that dangerous bacilli and also to avoid serious complications, such as artritis reumatoidea, endocarditis, scarlet fever, toxic shock sindrome, pneumonia, corea. meningitis and …………..  

If to day any female can do a pregnancy test by herself without the need to chase a frog, Why shouldn’t we be able to do “rapid strep test” at home to avoid unnecessary  consultations for the much more frecuent viral infection? 

A new test being researched could get rid of unnecessary doctor visits.

Home Strep Test Coming Soon?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

More than 230,000 unnecessary doctor visits a year could be prevented if an experimental strep throat test becomes a reality.

More than 12 million Americans go to the doctor complaining of a sore throat each year, many expecting to get antibiotics for a strep throat infection. Yet a majority of these cases are caused by viruses like the common cold and will get better on their own without a prescription. Those caused by the bacteria group A streptococcus, commonly known as strep throat, do need antibiotics for treatment.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine have devised a simple way to assess whether or not you have strep throat using an over-the-phone assessment of symptoms along with real-time rates of infection with the strep throat bacteria in your community. Evaluating this information could let you know your likelihood of having strep and whether or not you need to go to the doctor.

By asking two questions — do you have a cough and have you had a fever in the last 24 hours– people at home could easily know whether or not it’s worth making a doctor’s appointment.

Symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, headache, fever, and sometimes vomiting. But if your sore throat comes with just nasal congestion and a cough, it’s more likely to be caused by a virus.

To validate the accuracy of this concept, researchers analyzed information from 71,776 people age 15 and over who visited CVS Minute Clinics in six states for a sore throat between 2006 and 2008. They took into account the patients’ symptoms and strep test results to determine their findings.

Then they calculated what the benefits would be for people who go to the doctor in any given year for a strep throat evaluation. Almost a quarter of a million people would likely be able to estimate that their chance of strep throat was less than 10 percent and save themselves a doctor visit.

Experts are concerned about whether or not this test would actually work. “Doctors should be the ones who are making the decision whether or not to give antibiotics,” said pediatrician Heather Lubell, MD, of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. “I’m afraid the test will miss too many.”

However, the health risks of missing a case of strep throat is much lower for people over age 15, the age group looked at in the study. In general, adults usually get better from strep throat on their own within about a week. Treatment with antibiotics is recommended to prevent the infection from spreading to others as well as to reduce the rare but serious risk of rheumatic fever (a disease that can affect the heart and other organs) or kidney complications.

Among children, complications of strep throat are more common and can include ear infections, sinus infections and scarlet fever.

Dr. Lubell said the idea of doing more at home testing to prevent unnecessary office visits and medication is interesting, but, “I worry about this one in particular.”

One current limitation with the at-home assessment is that the other component — real-time infection rates for the strep bacteria — are not currently available in most areas of the United States.

“I don’t think it’s very practical at all,” said Lubell. “At any given time, I don’t know what’s going on in the community with strep.”

Still, according to the researchers, most hospitals and large group physician practices may already have enough information to generate their own real-time surveillance data.

Although Lubell said she gets a lot of parents who ask for strep tests for their children, she doesn’t think it’s enough that it would justify the costs versus benefits of maintaining a strep infection database. Lubell added that most pediatrician and primary care physician offices already ask people who call in with sore throat concerns the same questions about symptoms recommended by the at-home strep test.

“If you have good people answering the phones they should be asking these questions anyway so we know if patients need to come in or not,” Lubell said.

Hackers Sue German Government Over NSA Spying

BERLIN February 3, 2014 (AP)
By FRANK JORDANS Associated Press

A group of computer hackers and human rights campaigners in Germany announced Monday that they are suing their government for allegedly breaking the law by aiding foreign spies.

The Chaos Computer Club and the International League for Human Rights submitted a criminal complaint to federal prosecutors claiming that Chancellor Angela Merkel, her government and security officials tolerated and even helped members of the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ to spy on German citizens.

The groups point to documents released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden as evidence that the emails, social media messages and phone calls of ordinary citizens are screened beyond what is allowed under German law.

“With this criminal complaint, we hope to finally initiate investigations by the Federal Prosecutor General against the German government,” the Chaos Computer Club said in the statement. The group calls itself Europe’s largest association of hackers; it regularly campaigns for greater privacy rights and exposes flaws in electronic security systems.

Federal prosecutors have been considering for months whether to open an investigation of alleged NSA activities. They will now have to consider whether to open an investigation on the basis of the new criminal complaint as well.

While the German government has expressed misgivings about some of the reported allegations and is seeking to negotiate a ‘no-spy’ agreement with the United States, opposition lawmakers have accused Merkel’s administration of failing to put sufficient pressure on Washington for fear of jeopardizing diplomatic relations and intelligence cooperation.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, noted that “everyone in Germany can file a criminal complaint” and declined to comment on the hackers’ suit.