OH YES THEY DID: Scientists Name A Parasitic Worm After President Obama

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Nobel Peace Prize, Move Over: Meet baracktrema obamai, the two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm. it’s a type of blood fluke that infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia.

President Obama, Commander in Chief and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, can add another honor to his resume: namesake of a new species.

Granted, the species is a parasitic flatworm. But in the scientific community, the act is considered *coughBaracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.cough* an honor all the same.

“I have named a number of species after people I admire,” Thomas Platt, the parasitologist who discovered and collected the new species, said, with a straight face.

[Baracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.]

The move is meant to be a permanent tribute, he said. “Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.”

Platt and three other American researchers proposed Baracktrema obamai as both a new genus and species in The Journal of Parasitology. The two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm — a type of blood fluke — infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia. The team used genetic testing and morphological analysis of the worm’s body and genitalia to determine the new species. Their proposal marks the first new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 years.

The find was the last that Platt — a turtle parasite expert — named before retiring from Saint Mary’s College. Platt named 32 species during his tenure and was inspired to name Baracktrema obamaiafter discovering that he and the president share a common ancestor, he said. Read the rest of this entry »


FRESH HOT PANIC, GLOBAL EDITION: Sleepwalking Policymakers Lose Another Year

In its bluntest warning to date on the costs of policy inaction, the IMF said “financial and economic stagnation” could take hold unless governments prevented a “pernicious feedback loop of fragile confidence, weaker growth, low inflation and rising debt burdens” from forming.

José Viñals, the head of the IMF’s financial stability division, said a prolonged slowdown could knock around 4pc off global output relative to current expectations over the next five years amid repeated bouts of market turmoil.

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Mr Viñals said a $1.3 trillion (£912bn) corporate debt timebomb in China also posed “potentially serious challenges” to financial stability if defaults pushed banks over the edge.

The IMF’s global financial stability report said a “loss of market confidence” would drag global bourses into a bear market.

Under this scenario, Stocks in the UK, US, eurozone and China would lose a fifth of their value over two years, it estimated.

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The triple threat of slower growth, rising risks from China and diminished faith in policymakers’ ability to prevent a fresh downturn meant households and businesses were likely to save more and spend less in the uncertain global environment.

Economic powerhouses such as China and India would see output losses of more than 4pc by 2021 compared with current IMF forecasts, it said, while world output world be 3.9pc lower relative to the baseline.

“This would be roughly equivalent to foregoing one year of global growth, said Mr Viñals.

Low inflation and nominal growth would also push debt burdens in struggling countries such as Greece and Japan to fresh highs.

This would “entrench secular stagnation worldwide” the IMF warned.

Mr Viñals called for a “more balanced and potent policy mix for improving the growth and inflation outlook”.

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He urged policymakers in the eurozone to help banks deal with an “elevated” number of so-called non-performing loans – where debtors are usually three months behind on payments.

In China, the IMF called for an end to implicit subsides that allowed zombie companies to remain in business. It also said Beijing should equip regulators with the tools needed to police China’s increasingly complex financial system.

“Much is at stake. Additional measures are needed to deliver a more balanced and potent policy mix. If not, market turmoil may recur and intensify, said Mr Viñals.

“Monetary policy was becoming “overburdened”, the IMF said. Growth-friendly fiscal policies and wider reform would be needed to support the recovery and boost investment and consumption. Read the rest of this entry »


Funeral Spice

Relish the accidental comedy in a humorless world

pic_main_121313_SM_Funeral-Spice-Barack-Obama-RevMark Steyn writes:  ‘I don’t want to be emotional but this is one of the greatest moments of my life,” declared Nelson Mandela upon meeting the Spice Girls in 1997. So I like to think he would have appreciated the livelier aspects of his funeral observances. The Prince of Wales, who was also present on that occasion in Johannesburg, agreed with Mandela on the significance of their summit with the girls: “It is the second-greatest moment in my life,” he said. “The greatest was when I met them the first time.” His Royal Highness and at least two Spice Girls (reports are unclear) attended this week’s service in Soweto, and I’m sure it was at least the third-greatest moment in all of their lives. Don’t ask me where the other Spice Girls were. It is a melancholy reflection that the Spice Girls’ delegation was half the size of Canada’s, which flew in no fewer than four Canadian prime ministers, which is rather more Canadian prime ministers than one normally needs to make the party go with a swing.

But the star of the show was undoubtedly Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign-language interpreter who stood alongside the world’s leaders and translated their eulogies for the deaf. Unfortunately, he translated them into total gibberish, reduced by the time of President Obama’s appearance to making random hand gestures, as who has not felt the urge to do during the great man’s speeches. Mr. Jantjie has now pleaded in mitigation that he was having a sudden hallucination because he is a violent schizophrenic. It has not been established whether he is, in fact, a violent schizophrenic, or, as with his claim to be a sign-language interpreter, merely purporting to be one. Asked how often he has been violent, he replied, somewhat cryptically, “A lot.”

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Interpreter at Mandela Event: ‘I Was Hallucinating’

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(JOHANNESBURG) — report:  The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela‘s memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were “armed policemen around me.” He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.

A South African deputy Cabinet minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, later held a news conference to announce that “a mistake happened” in the hiring of Jantjie.

Government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Thamsanqa Jantjie but the owners “have vanished into thin air,” said Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

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Obama’s Speech at Mandela Memorial’s Cost to Taxpayers: $500,000 Per Minute

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President Barack Obama’s expected 10-minute speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial will cost taxpayers at least $500,000 per minute.

That’s not counting any cakes and coffee he and his inner circle consume aboard Air Force One during the 18,000-mile round trip to Johannesburg, via Dakar, in Senegal.

The 28-hour two-way flight will cost $5 million because the four-engined Boeing 747 costs roughly $180,000 an hour to operate, according to a May 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The cost includes jet fuel and subsequent maintenance of the aircraft’s engines, electronics and hotel-class facilities.

Obama has been accompanied by the First Lady, Attorney General Eric Holder, national security advisor Susan Rice and confidante Valerie Jarrett.

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