Watch the eclipse safely

With our area in the path of the solar eclipse this coming Monday (and with clear skies forecast), we urge any of our readers who are intent on watching the event to be sure to wear proper eyewear and to ensure that their children do as well.

A person can cause permanent damage to their eyes — and even go blind (a condition known as solar retinopathy) — if they do not use proper eye protection, such as eclipse glasses or a special solar filter. Regular sunglasses don’t offer any protection and viewing the eclipse through your I-phone camera offers no protection for you and will damage your phone. (Photography experts say just pointing your smartphone camera at the eclipse could cause catastrophic damage to the phone if you don’t have proper equipment.)

Individuals also have to be certain that the eyewear they are using is certified. There are reports that knock-offs that are being sold on-line are not legitimate.

One eye doctor, who was quoted in the New York Times, offered this advice: Don’t look at the eclipse at all, even with proper eyewear. 

But for those who are intent on watching this event, please do so safely.

Russia is our real enemy

Sunday’s special report on the CBS news show 60 Minutes revealed that Russia has been the culprit in the hundreds of cases of debilitating neurological injuries that have struck American intelligence and law enforcement operatives around the world in the past few years.

The phenomenon has been dubbed “Havana Syndrome” because the problems first became apparent among a cluster of employees at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. However, as the 60 Minutes report showed, these attacks on U.S. personnel (and their families), all of whom have worked with the CIA, the FBI, the military, the State Department, and the White House — almost all of whom were working on areas of national security related to Russia — have been occurring all over the world and even in our own country.

The “weapon” being used by the Russians is thought to be directed energy or microwaves fired from hidden devices that inflict serious and permanent injury on those who are targeted.

The 60 Minutes report makes it clear that Vladimir Putin is a monster who is using any means necessary to undermine our national interests. Our political leaders, especially the Republicans in Congress, must recognize the threat he poses and do whatever it takes to thwart him.

Bird flu is not just for the birds

The second confirmed case of the bird flu infecting a human in this country (a Texas dairy farm worker who worked among infected cows) raises a red flag about the possibility of another pandemic ripping across the world.

The current bird flu outbreak not only has killed millions of wild and domesticated birds world-wide, but it also has killed many mammals across the globe, including the well-publicized devastation of an elephant seal population in Argentina.

Although the bird flu is not as fatal in cows as seals, it has sickened cows in states across the country, an indication that cows are infecting each other as they move around farms from state-to-state. The virus has been detected in the unpasteurized milk of these cows. More ominously, the detection of the virus in the dairy worker suggests that the bird flu can jump from one mammal species to others — including ourselves.

The bird flu — also known as H5N1 — wreaked havoc in many parts of the world, especially in Asia, in 2006. The U.S. largely was spared the ill-effects of the outbreak thanks to efforts by our national health authorities who worked in these foreign countries to contain its spread.

However, this new variant of H5N1 is being brought to this country by wild bird populations, which obviously is something we cannot control. If cows have been infected, it stands to reason that other animals, including our house pets, could become infected and spread the virus.  

COVID-19 killed more than one million Americans. But as bad as the pandemic had been at its height, it was only killing about one percent of those who were infected, with substantially higher death rates among the elderly and those with prior-existing health conditions, including obesity.

However, the bird flu in humans is far deadlier, with death rates having been estimated at 50% during the 2006 pandemic in some countries. Even if the chances of a bird flu pandemic among humans are slim, the high mortality rate should be enough to raise the alarm bells among our public health officials.

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