Category Archives: Science & technology

Tuesday funnies!


DCG

Little girl whose head was three times bigger than normal receives life-changing surgery

Baby Roona before surgery

Baby Roona before surgery

From Daily Mail: Roona Begum is enjoying a new lease of life after her swollen head was reduced from 37 to 23 inches during life-changing treatment. Indian-born Roona, 3, suffers with the illness hydrocephalus, which affects up to 500,000 children worldwide. The condition stems from a blockage in the valve that drains cerebral spinal fluid to the spine – squashing the brain, restricting its development and stunting its growth.

At three-years-old Roona’s head reached 37 inches in diameter – more than triple the average size for her age.

Her parents, Fatima Khatun and Abdul Rahman, were unaware of the severity of her condition for a long time because they could not afford routine medical care. Abdul said: ‘This all feels like a bad dream. We did notice her head getting bigger and bigger, people in our village would come see our baby. Children would come to our village to play with her and there were some children who would get scared looking at her head.

Following an MRI, doctors warned Roona’s parents that she could die if the fluid from her brain was not drained as soon as possible. Fatima said: ‘We were worried about the baby and how to provide her with better medical care as we were helpless with our financial condition.’

Roona’s neurosurgeon Dr. Sandeep Vaishya, was the first to asses her at Fortis Memorial Hospital in New Delhi. He said: ‘I thought it would just be a routine hydrocephalus. When I saw her for the first time my first reaction was ‘oh my god’ – it is stupendously big.’

Roona’s family, who lived in a single room hut with no running water or electricity in India’s remote Tripura state, could not afford treatment on their own – but several charities intervened and raised the money for her surgery.

Roona after surgery

Roona after surgery

Sadly Fatima and Abdul’s unwavering love for Roona was not always matched by those around them. Abdul said: ‘A lot of people said a lot of things in our village, some thought she was a deity and some suggested that we should give her away to an orphanage or an ashram, but we refused. We said if she lives she will stay with us. Otherwise she will go back to him who made her like this.’

In her first surgery, Dr. Sandeep Vaishya drained fluid from her brain and applied a pressure bandage to reduce the circumference of head and remodel the bones. The operation was the first of many for little Roona and the surgeons drained nearly eight pints of fluid from her skull over three weeks. Neurosurgeons then inserted a shunt to redirect the fluid to her stomach and remodelled her skull to fit it to her new head size.

Dr. Sandeep Vaishya said: ‘Surgery itself is a major challenge in such small babies because when we remodel the skulls we have to open the whole scalp and a lot of bone cuts are done. And actually in the last remodelling surgery her blood pressure dipped so much that we had at one point in time thought we might even lose her.

But Roona surprised everyone and now six months later, she is out of the danger zone and recovering well. Her head remains larger than average, but the diameter of her head has been reduced to 23 inches – there will be no further reduction in size.

Fatima and Abdul have even welcomed a healthy little boy to the family and are hopeful that Roona will one day learn to walk and talk on her own. Roona’s mother said: ‘The doctors said she would not live, but she has lived to see more than two and a half years. For that I’m happy. She is much better now.

‘She can hold her head straight and she can move her head from side to side on her own. I would be very happy if she could become a normal child and could stand like normal kids.’

roona begum3

Abdul is just as happy with Roona’s miraculous journey and is thankful for the flood of support they received from around the world. He said: ‘Roona’s case is known to the world. They are discussing it and other cases are also getting attention because of Roona. All of those who have supported Roona in the treatment and all those who were around during the tough phase – I want to thank every one of them.’

Little Roona is just one of four children whose journeys to recovery are explored in the upcoming TLC show My Baby’s Head Won’t Stop Growing.

Parker Hendrix was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in utero and at the time her brain was so crushed by fluid pressure, it was hardly visible on scans. Now seven, she has undergone three shunt replacements and has just started first grade.

In Uganda, Tumuewabze sought treatment for her baby Lyndos Tumuramye at CURE children’s hospital Talent, who are pioneering new corrective surgeries to treat hydrocephalus.

Another patient at CURE hospital, ten-year-old Vincent Kintu, underwent life saving surgery by Justin Onen to reduce the swelling on his brain – a tough operation made more complex by his age.

Roona appears in My Baby’s Head Won’t Stop Growing on TLC, Monday, July 25th.

DCG

Kerry: Air conditioners as big a threat as ISIS

Whatever you say, Lurch.

Kerry on 9.4.13

From Fox News: Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna on Friday that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big of a threat to life as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State.

The terrible dangers to our planet...

The terrible dangers to our lives…

The Washington Examiner reported that Kerry was in Vienna to amend the 1987 Montreal Protocol that would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, from basic household and commercial appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, and inhalers.

“As we were working together on the challenge of [ISIS] and terrorism,” Kerry said. “It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we–you–are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”

Kerry said that most of the substances banned in the Montreal Protocol have increased the use of HFCs and claimed that the coolant was thousands of times more potent than CO2. He added that the increase of HFCs has led to the trend of global climate change.

“The use of hydrofluorocarbons is unfortunately growing,” Kerry said. “Already, the HFCs use in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other items are emitting an entire gigaton of carbon dioxide-equivalent pollution into the atmosphere annually. Now, if that sounds like a lot, my friends, it’s because it is. It’s the equivalent to emissions from nearly 300 coal-fired power plants every single year.”

Members of the Montreal Protocol have met their obligations and have aided in the shrinking of the hole in the ozone, as well as created jobs and improved the quality of life, Kerry said.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy was also present at the negotiations and is serving as the lead negotiator for the United States. McCarthy has said that her goal is to enact the HFC agreement by the end of the year.

New EPA rules along with the global deal would band HFCs in the United States and push for alternative chemicals for use in appliances. The negotiations are part of President Obama’s climate agenda to combat global climate change.

One of many of the Kerry's homes

One of many of the Kerry’s homes

I wonder how many air conditioners and refrigerators are in the multiple homes that John and Teresa Kerry own in the U.S., including:

  • A five-story, twelve-room brownstone townhouse (with six fireplaces, a rooftop deck, and an elevator) in Boston’s Beacon Hill. This home is John Kerry’s main residence and was assessed at a value of $6.6 million in 2003
  • A nine-room colonial home on a 90-acre family farm in Fox Chapel near Pittsburgh. This home is Teresa Kerry’s longtime residence, where she lived while was married to John Heinz and where she raised her three children. It is valued at $3.7 million.
  • A ski/vacation home located near the banks of the Big Wood River in Ketchum, Idaho, fashioned from a reassembled barn originally built in England in 1485 and brought to Idaho by Teresa Heinz Kerry’s late husband. It was purchased for $4.9 million in 1988.
  • A three-story, five-bedroom waterfront estate near the Brant Point Lighthouse in Nantucket’s harbor, where John and Teresa Kerry were married in 1995. The beachfront property is valued at $9.1 million.
  • A 23-room townhouse in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., valued at $4.7 million.

DCG

FBI agents signed NDA for matters involving Hillary’s emails

Can you imagine what’ll Killary will get away with if she is our next president? Shudder to think of that.

Hillary makes devil sign

Via NY Post: In an unusual move, FBI agents working the Hillary Clinton email case had to sign a special form reminding them not to blab about the probe to anyone unless called to testify.

Sources said they had never heard of the “Case Briefing Acknowledgment” form being used before, although all agents must initially sign nondisclosure agreements to obtain security clearance.

“This is very, very unusual. I’ve never signed one, never circulated one to others,” said one retired FBI chief. An FBI agent currently on the job admitted, “I have never heard of such a form. Sounds strange.”

Meanwhile, FBI agents expressed their “disappointment” over FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to recommend charges against Clinton, sources close to the matter told The Post. “FBI agents believe there was an inside deal put in place after the Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton tarmac meeting,” said one source.

Another source from the Justice Department was “furious” with Comey, saying he’s “managed to piss off right and left.”

DCG

IRS launches investigation into Facebook looking into a 2010 property transfer that could have drastically decreased company’s tax payments

Zuckerberg better hop on a private jet and have a rendezvous with Koskinen on a tarmac STAT.

Mark Zuckerberg

From Daily Mail: US tax authorities are asking Facebook to turn over documents for an investigation into the social networking giant’s dealings with its Irish subsidiary, court documents show.

In a petition filed in federal court in San Francisco, the Internal Revenue Service said it is ‘conducting an examination of the federal income tax liability’ for Facebook in 2010.

The petition said the IRS is looking into ‘certain agreements between Facebook Inc. and Facebook Ireland Holdings Limited purporting to transfer rights associated with Facebook’s worldwide business to Facebook Ireland.’

The revelation is the latest highlighting tax questions on big tech companies on global operations. The statute of limitations on the case will expire at the end of this month.

European officials have looked at tax liabilities of companies including Google, Amazon and Apple. Some of the firms have taken advantage of tax breaks offered from Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The IRS said Facebook has failed to turn over documents sought in the investigation and did not appear in response to a summons for the information. ‘Facebook complies with all applicable rules and regulations in the countries where we operate,’ a spokesperson for the social media site told CNN Money.

The IRS is seeking a court order requiring Facebook to turn over the requested documents and to appear before IRS agents looking into the case.

DCG

It feels good to be a Clinton…

DCG

Huma Abedin admits that Clinton burned daily schedules

Hillary and Huma

Via NY Post: Hillary Clinton’s closest aide revealed in a deposition last week that her boss destroyed at least some of her schedules as secretary of state — a revelation that could complicate matters for the presumptive Democratic nominee, who, along with the State Department she ran, is facing numerous lawsuits seeking those public records.

Huma Abedin was deposed in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit into Clinton’s emails — but her admission could be relevant to another lawsuit seeking Clinton’s schedules.

“If there was a schedule that was created that was her Secretary of State daily schedule, and a copy of that was then put in the burn bag, that . . . that certainly happened on . . . on more than one occasion,” Abedin told lawyers representing Judicial Watch, the conservative organization behind the emails lawsuit.

Abedin made the surprising admission in response to a question about document destruction at the Department of State. A lawyer for Judicial Watch asked: “And during your tenure at the State Department, were you aware of your obligation not to delete federal records or destroy federal records?”

Abedin was not pressed for more details.

Clinton has admitted to destroying “private personal emails” as secretary of state. But Abedin’s admission that she used so-called “burn bags” — a container that material is placed in before it is destroyed — for some of her schedules is the first time anyone close to her has disclosed destroying public records.

The exact circumstances surrounding those destroyed records will likely come under intense scrutiny, critics said.

A former State Department official told The Post it was unprecedented for a diplomat to destroy a schedule like this. “I spent eight years at the State Department and watched as four US ambassadors and two secretaries of state shared their daily schedules with a variety of State Department employees and US officials,” said Richard Grenell, former diplomat and US spokesman at the United Nations.

 “I’ve never seen anyone put their schedule in the burn bag — because every one of them had a state.gov email address and therefore their daily schedules became public records, as required by law.”

Others said Clinton’s careful approach to her schedule further highlights her recklessness in using a personal server for all her email communications.

“The [president’s] schedule was not classified but it was deemed ‘highly sensitive.’ Instructions were given at the White House and on the road that schedules would be disposed of through the use of ‘burn bags’ and/or shredding,” said Brad Blakeman, a scheduler for President George W. Bush.

This shows, in my opinion, a skewed sense of security. The Clinton people would dispose of the secretary’s schedule in the same manner as if it were classified yet those same safeguards were not in place with regard to email communications.”

Ambassador John Bolton, a Clinton critic, said the matter shows Clinton’s “recklessness” regarding her emails. But he noted it’s unlikely Clinton could have completely destroyed her schedules. “They can’t eliminate it even if they wanted to,” Bolton said.

The Associated Press has been seeking Clinton’s schedule through Freedom of Information Act requests asking for Clinton’s public and private calendars and schedules from Jan. 21, 2009, through Feb. 1, 2013. The wire service sued the State Department for those schedules in 2015.

DCG