Friday, November 27, 2009

Breast Cancer screening: is it health care rationing?

Breast cancer screening has risks - risks of exposure to unnecessary procedures like biopsies, that have risks of their own. When healthy women get biopsied and the biopsy goes wrong - produces infection and scarring, for example - the risks outweigh the benefits. That is why asymptomatic healthy women with no risk factors for cancer who are under 50 might not need screening. Women who have family risks or notice a symptom should get screened regardless of age. That is ALL that Bush's panel on breast cancer screening said. Here it is from the professionals:

The American College of Physicians (ACP), representing 129,000 internal medicine physicians and medical student members, believes that it is essential that research on the effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of different medical treatments not be influenced by political considerations.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations on mammography, which were published in ACP's flagship journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine, have regrettably been used by some critics of the health reform bills being considered by Congress to make baseless charges that the bills would lead to rationing of care. Other critics have made unfair and unsubstantiated attacks on the expertise, motivations, and independence of the scientists and clinician experts on the USPSTF.

ACP believes that it is essential that clinicians and patients be able to make their own decisions on diagnosis and treatment informed by the best available scientific evidence on the effectiveness of different treatments and diagnostic interventions. The USPSTF is a highly regarded, credible and independent group of experts that performs this role, on a purely advisory basis, to the Department of Health and Human Services, as it relates to interventions to prevent or detect diseases. As is often the case with evidence-based reviews, the USPTF's recommendations will not always be consistent with the guidelines established by other experts in the field, by professional medical societies, and by patient advocacy groups. Such differences of opinion, expressed in a constructive and transparent manner so that patients and their clinicians can make their own best judgment, are important and welcome. It is not constructive to make ill-founded attacks on the integrity, credibility, motivations, and expertise of the clinicians and scientists on the USPSTF.

Some critics have erroneously charged that the USPSTF's recommendations were motivated by a desire to control costs. According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, "the USPSTF does not consider economic costs in making recommendations." The Agency continues, "it realizes that these costs are important in the decision to implement preventive services. Thus, in situations where there is likely to be some effectiveness of the service, the Task Force searches for evidence of the costs and cost-effectiveness of implementation, presenting this information separately from its recommendation" and the "recommendations are not modified to accommodate concerns about insurance coverage of preventive services, medicolegal liability, or legislation, but users of the recommendations may need to do so."

Under the bills being considered by Congress, the USPSTF will have an important role in making evidence-based recommendations on preventive services that insurers will be required to cover, but the bills do not give the Task Force - or the federal government itself - any authority to put limitations on coverage, ration care, or require that insurers deny coverage. Specifically, the House and Senate bills would require health plans to cover preventive services based in large part on the evidence-based reviews by the USPSTF, but no limits are placed on health plans' ability to offer additional preventive benefits, or in considering advice from sources other than the USPSTF in making such coverage determinations. Accordingly, patients will benefit by having a floor - not a limit - on essential preventive services that would be covered by all health insurers, usually with no out-of-pocket cost to them. Patients will also benefit from having independent research on the comparative effectiveness of different treatments, as proposed in the bills before Congress. The bills specifically prohibit use of comparative effectiveness research to limit coverage or deny care based on cost.

The controversy over the mammography guidelines illustrates the importance of communicating information on evidence-based reviews to the public in a way that facilitates an understanding of how such reviews are conducted and how they are intended to support, not supplant, individual decision-making by patients and their clinicians.

ACP urges Congress, the administration, and patient and physician advocacy groups to respect and support the importance of protecting evidence-based research by respected scientists and clinicians from being used to score political points that do not serve the public's interest.

Source: David Kinsman
American College of Physicians

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Healthcare around the world

T.R. Reid explains healthcare in five capitalist economies.

PBS Frontline Sick Around the World by TR Reid.

In Sick Around the World, FRONTLINE teams up with veteran Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid to find out how five other capitalist democracies -- the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland -- deliver health care, and what the United States might learn from their successes and their failures. (more »)

Friday, October 9, 2009

“VAULT” holds Terps football history

From UMd Terp magazine (Fall 2009):

A new book by a Maryland alumnus, sportswriter and devoted Terps football fan chronicles the team’s history, from the first game in 1892 to its successes under coach Ralph Friedgen today.
John McNamara ’83 uses words, historic photos and replicas of rare memorabilia to create a vivid scrapbook of sorts titled “The University of Maryland Football Vault: The History of the Terrapins.”
“The book was a very personal undertaking,” says McNamara, who covers the Terps at The Capital newspaper in Annapolis. “I have followed Maryland football—first as a fan, then as a journalist—for the last 35 years. Many of the players mentioned were people I watched, interviewed and got to know. I even met my wife, also a Maryland journalism student at the time, after a Maryland-North Carolina football game in 1981.”
He combines stories about legends including Harry C. “Curley” Byrd 1908, Jack Scarbath ’54, Jerry Claiborne, Boomer Esiason ’84 and E.J. Henderson ’02 with materials drawn from Maryland’s athletics department and archives. Johnny Holliday, longtime radio play-byplay announcer, wrote the foreword and Friedgen provided the afterword. -LB

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parade of Liars selling junk: health care, tobacco, and auto billionaires

They get rich making junk cars, junk bonds and junk insurance policies

On April 14, 1994, the executives of America's seven largest tobacco companies came before Congress and each testified that tobacco was not addictive.

On November 18, 2008, auto executives flew to Washington on private jets to testify that they needed taxpayer bailouts. “We’re all slashing back” on non-essential expenses, they said, promising, “We’re going to be dramatically leaner.”

May 30, 1996 Linda Peeno testified that third party payors/insurance companies pay hugh bonuses to people who, without ever seeing a patient, deny the coverage for the care that saves their lives and allows them to keep their homes. You know, the reason why we buy health insurance in the first place.

In the 1960s, stories of elderly people being forced from their homes and eating cans of dog food were not unusual. Now the elderly are safe from that fate. It's time to give the same safety to school children and younger adults. Marcia Angell, editor of NEJM agrees we need Medicare for all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jesus was a public option

Jesus apparently took some convincing that he should cast his pearls before swine, or in this case, his bread to the dogs, to make health care accessible.

“But Lord,” said the lowly Canaanite woman. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Jesus was pleased by her understanding. “Woman, you have great faith!” he said, astonishing the disciples. The disciples watched closely, and would later record this triumphant moment in the Holy Book. The Canaanites were the “dogs” of Israel, but this one—this “dog,” a far cry from one of the chosen—had great faith? Jesus told the woman that her request had been granted. And indeed from that very hour, the woman’s daughter was freed of her demon.

Likewise among the lepers, the outcast Samaritan - the immigrant - proved worthy of health care. Luke 17:11-19:

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
Jesus raised the dead and cured the sick, and took care of outcasts from outside his church and immediate community. How did the established interests respond? With a death sentence, which is probably a pre-existing condition.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

FDA Commissioner: Six new compliance initiatives

FDA Commissioner Hamburg today:

Compliant industry should support these intitatives that will prevent them from being undercut by firms taking illegal shortcuts:

  • 15 days for FDA to issue Warning Letters. Warning letters will no longer be held waiting for firms to respond.

  • No GC reviews unless the case presents a novel legal issue. The Bush adminsitration policy of having letters reviewed by anti-consumer activitists planted in the Agency offices is cancelled.

  • State coordination where state law allows rapid response to seize products and correct issues.

  • A Warning Letter or recall will trigger enforcement follow up. Cases will no longer be allowed to languish or remain open with incertain resolution. Firms will get a knock on the door and an inspection.

  • No multiple warning letters. The second Warning Letter to a firm will trigger increased scrutiny and follow up actions.

  • After Warning Letter is satisfactorily resolved, firms may be eligible for a "close out letter" to document the matetrs have been resolved, e.g., after an FDA inspection.

Also she mentioned FDA has asked for additional power to mandatory food recalls.

The full text of the speech will be available immediately following the event here.

A video recording of the speech will be available after 4:00 this afternoon here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

FDA Food Safety Changes Round up

The FDA food safety law is written by Big Commercial Farms to keep FDA out of dirty Food, Inc.

Find out what food safety requirements didn't pass here and here, here thanks to the commercial farms that contaminate the animals we eat.
Findlaw on Food Safety: In the wake of recent food recalls, foodborne illnesses, and reports of unhygienic food processing conditions noted in some factories, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act this week in a vote of 283 to 142, significantly increasing resources for food inspection and quality control.

Although this article says FDA had no power over food imports, the law at Section 801 gives FDA MORE authority, allowing the agency to refuse to admit food that "appears" in violation, without having to prove that it is adulterated or filthy.

Here is a summary of the law.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gallup: 38% say FDA is doing a good job, lower than IRS

It's true the IRS received the highest ratings since 1956, at 40%. However, confidence in FDA is even lower, at 38%.

"The Environmental Protection Agency, Internal Revenue Service, and Food and Drug Administration fall a notch lower in the rankings, as close to 40% of Americans give each of them credit for doing an excellent or good job. The relatively low ranking of the FDA is of particular note with regard to the scrutiny the agency has been under, given recent attention to U.S. food safety."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Washington Post invites the powerful to write their own news - with no editors to check their planted stories

Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander has failed to connect two serious reader complaints of uncorrected "Pay to Play" journalism.

One scandal occurs where Post owner Katharine Weymouth invites politicians and power brokers to an off-the-record party at her home (she called them "Salons" as if it were a bona fide Algonquin Rountable). The Ombudsman finally reveals on Sunday that for weeks before the event, reporters and editors objected to the plan that, "for a fee of up to $25,000, underwriters were guaranteed a seat at the table with lawmakers, administration officials, think tank experts, business leaders and the heads of associations."
  • There is no explanation of why the salons would be off-the-record, a special type of meeting where the speakers are not responsible for what they say and the reporters agree not to use what it said. It is much more restrictive than merely agreeing to be an anonymous source.
  • There was no explanation of why it was going to be paid for by the industry that was covered by the event.
  • Although the editor apologized for the way it was portrayed by Marketing, there is no explanation of why Marketing would be involved in the event if it were truly an informational meeting.

The second scandal is that the information at the Salons, as well as other pay-to-play and favored politicians, can further influence the content of the Post because there are so few editors and fact-checkers that errors are now at unacceptable levels. What is the Post's plan to address this, you might ask: Telling readers to Get Used to It.

"Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli did not disagree that more errors have appeared lately.... Post managers have few choices but to cut staff while restructuring for the future.... Small errors will continue. Loyal Post readers should continue to note them when they're small and complain loudly when they're large. But I hope they also show some patience and understanding. "

The cuts are big and small, and rightly have a devastating effect on the Post's credibility. As another example, June 8th's Travel section had photos from and the Florida Department of Tourism. No Post photographers took any of the pictures on the front page of the section.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Legislators - Manno is excellent, Elrich not a "people person"

In Montgomery County our district is represented by legislators in their first terms, including a state legislator and an at-large councilman. Roger Manno has a 100% pro-environmental rating by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Environment Maryland. He received a perfect environmental score for the 2008 Legislative Session. This is Manno's second straight year scoring 100%, making him one of only five sitting Delegates in Maryland with a perfect 100% lifetime environmental rating. I was even more impressed when I called his office during the July 4th Holiday weekend and my call was answered by ... Delegate Manno! We spent 20 minutes talking about how to Save the Chesapeake Bay. His attention and passion were evident throughout the conversation, and his staff contact called me back within a few minutes to follow up. As soon as I got home, I broke out my credit cards and donated to him. Call him and talk to him, and I'm sure you will, too.

On the other hand, I met Marc Elrich at one of his fundraisers when he was running for the seat he won, an at-large Council member in Montgomery County. I paid the entrance fee to the fundraiser, and went to shake his hand and introduce myself. He said he didn't have time to meet me - his sister was visiting. "What?" I said to his retreating back as he hustled away. "Don't you have her vote?" After the election, I saw him at a Women's conference at the U MD campus in Shady Grove. Hundreds of women were there. He leaned on the back wall and then turned his back on the attendees. I snapped a shot, and that's him, circled, the shoulder in the blue shirt, ignoring dozens of constituents in line and having a tete-a-tete with someone he already knows.

It's not just annoying that he avoids voters even when requesting donations. His signature proposal so far has been to work to combine the activities of the County Recreation Department with other programs. The plan might save money, but the biggest cost is the confusion and unrest now created by the proposal for change without a plan for making the change happen.

"OPPONENTS ARE LESS concerned with the territorial dispute between the departments than with the fear that the potential assumption of responsibility for the county’s parks by the Department of Recreation would threaten the integrity and preservation of parkland.

A joint letter signed by representatives of the Audubon Naturalist Society, the West Montgomery County Citizens Association and the Neighbors of Northwest Branch and distributed to media outlets on Friday, March 6 warned that "[r]ecreation [department] contractors are not obliged to include a conservation or stewardship message. The Department itself does not have any track record for environmental stewardship." The letter urged that no action be taken by the Council or the PHED committee before a public hearing on the matter could be scheduled to obtain input from county residents."

Friday, May 15, 2009

The book drops today - Maryland Football history by John McNamara

John McNamara's second book on the Maryland Terrapins drops today.

His first book is Cole Classics!, which sold out.


The legends and magic moments of Maryland football down through the years has been uniquely captured in words, historic photographs and replica memorabilia over the 144 pages of the University of Maryland® Football Vault®: The History Of The Terrapins®,” produced by Whitman Publishing of Atlanta.

The building of the Terrapins program from the very first game in 1892 through the 1953 national title team to the present-day success behind current coach Ralph Friedgen is chronicled by longtime Maryland sportswriter John McNamara.

This “scrapbook” of Maryland football history combines stories about the legendary names — Harry C. “Curley” Byrd, Jack Scarbath, Dick Modzelewski, Jim Tatum, Jerry Claiborne, Boomer Esiason, E.J. Henderson, Randy White and many others — and famous games with never-before-published photos, artwork and colorful replica memorabilia drawn from Maryland’s athletic department and campus archives.

Highlights of the rare replica memorabilia enclosed in the University of Maryland® Football Vault® include: A 1911 team photo, a 1920 fundraising brochure for the first Byrd Stadium, a 1940 schedule card, a set of 1950s Maryland decals, a 1960 poster featuring Gary Collins, a 1992 Maryland football centennial sticker, a 1980s-style felt replica Maryland pennant, several famous game program covers made into postcards and full-sized tickets from important games dating back to 1919.

The book’s foreword is provided by legendary Terps radio play-by-play announcer Johnny Holliday, who wrote, “This coming season will be my 31st behind the microphone as ‘Voice of the Terrapins.’ The past 30 seasons hold so many magical moments of Maryland football that many of you may have stored them away in your memory bank. Well, those memories will be rekindled by this incredible book.”

Friedgen, a former player who became head coach, wrote the book’s afterword. “The University of Maryland® Football Vault® chronicles those accomplishments in a way that is both descriptive and eye catching,” he said. “Whether you want to relive the past or learn about it, the University of Maryland® Football Vault® has it all.”

The University of Maryland® Football Vault®: The History of the Terrapins® is part of the College Vault Books series from Whitman Publishing. The hardcover 12” by 10” book with slipcase is available for $49.95 in bookstores. The book can also be ordered online at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frontline: Tyson's kills the Chesapeake Bay

Frontline: Tyson's corner and Tyson's chicken are killing the Chesapeake Bay.

So is Purdue Chicken. Standard Purdue contracts say the company owns the chicken, their feed, and their feeding regimen. They won't take ownership of the chickensh*t that is creating "dead zones" killing fish and crabs and other Bay life.

Tyson's corner - as large as Boston or Phoenix, "a case study in harmful impact of unchecked growth." "The car built Tyson's; it also built the gridlock that is strangling Tyson's."


"There is now today ... 46 million sq ft of development... and 40 million sq ft of parking." Tyson's is a glaring example of poor land use:, impervious surfaces that cause drainage and runoff, no accommodation for biking or walking, and poor public transportation.

"The danger signs are everywhere. 'Dead zones.' Dying young whales. Inter-sex in male fish. The growing risk of serious health problems in humans."

"The key is public engagement."

More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination.With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health.
In Poisoned Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem.
"The '70s were a lot about, 'We're the good guys; we're the environmentalists; we're going to go after the polluters,' and it's not really about that anymore," Jay Manning, director of ecology for Washington state, tells FRONTLINE. "It's about the way we all live. And unfortunately, we are all polluters. I am; you are; all of us are."
Through interviews with scientists, environmental activists, corporate executives and average citizens impacted by the burgeoning pollution problem, Smith reveals startling new evidence that today's growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers' face creams,
deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains and eventually into America's waterways and drinking
"The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it's not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown, war or terrorism," Smith says. "But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It's a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives."
In Poisoned Waters, Smith speaks with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who report finding genetically mutated marine life in the Potomac River. In
addition to finding frogs with six legs and other mutations, the researchers have found male amphibians with ovaries and female frogs with male genitalia.
Scientists tell FRONTLINE that the mutations are likely caused by exposure to
"endocrine disruptors," chemical compounds that mimic the body's natural
The USGS research on the Potomac River poses some troubling questions for the 2 million people who rely on the Washington Aqueduct for their drinking water.
"The endocrine system of fish is very similar to the endocrine system of humans," USGS fish pathologist Vicki Blazer says. "They pretty much have all the same hormone systems as humans, which is why we use them as sort of indicator species. ... We can't help but make that jump to ask the question, 'How are these things influencing people?'"
"The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in epidemiologic data, studies -- large population studies," says Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "There are 5 million people being exposed to endocrine
disruptors just in the Mid-Atlantic region, and yet we don't know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia, things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don't raise the alarm in the general public."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April is the Cruelest Month

Today marks the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre (32 dead).

Slate explains why teddy bears and candles is not a healthy gun policy, and exposes the NRA's fundraising ploy to lie about the existence of President Obama's "10 Point Plan To 'Change' the Second Amendment" in a plan that boosts the number of donations and the number of the dead.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Peanut Butter kills if companies don't qualify their vendors

More information about companies who audited Peanut Corporation of America and looked the other way because cost was more important than their customer's lives.

Nestlé's Inspectors Saw Rat Droppings, Rejected Peanuts

Nestlé USA, considering whether to buy ingredients from Peanut Corporation of America, twice sent its own inspectors to check out the company. Both times, they rejected the company after finding sanitary problems at its facilities in Georgia and Texas, noting rat droppings, live beetles, dead insects and the potential for microbial contamination.

What if Nestle Had Told the FDA?

FDA now accepts whistleblowers through its homepage

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Financial institutions have been paying bonuses for bad behavior for 5 years

Compliance officers have noticed. See the article March 20 on

Chevy Chase Bank passed by the get-rich-quick schemes, just as it did in the 1980s when the Republican Keating Five brought down the American Savings & Loans. The reason? - SnLs were issuing the same kind of "liar loans" that brought on the financial crisis today. Those loans would never be paid back and the institutions knew it. The difference in banks who survived versus those that didn't, then and now, was the existence of strong compliance departments who looked out for the long term health and survival of the company.
The Corporate Library, which researches and reports on corporate governance, began criticizing the [Countrywide, the first and leading subprime lender] in 2004, when it was a Wall Street darling with a surging stock price.

What did the Corporate Library notice? The CEO's pay package... wasn't the long-term sort that governance consultants recommend; his bonus was calculated in part by the rise in the stock price from the previous year.

Why make such a big deal over pay? Nell Minow, The Corporate Library's co-founder, says that CEO comp is "overwhelmingly" the most consistent predictor of poor performance. As her Countrywide report explained: "Any board which can make such poor decisions about a CEO's compensation package is almost certain to be making poor decisions elsewhere in its range of responsibilities." In fact, all the companies that received bailout funds to date were rated D or F by her group, ratings based in large part on skewed executive compensation, she adds.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Industry: "Regulatory Incentives languish" for safety and efficacy

The gold standard in the regulated product industry, The Gold Sheet (Vol 43, No 1) has some advice for Regulatory and Quality staff. (RAQA are those staffers who told Peanut Corp of America that it would be illegal and dangerous to sell deadly contaminated peanut butter. ) Last month's Gold Sheet says death and jail is not enough to stop criminal profiteers - RAQA now has to show how complying with the law saves money. Why? because "regulatory incentives languish."

That means for the last 8 years, FDA has not been allowed to do its job. And regulated companies know it.

"FDA officials encourage industry to concentrate on the business benefits of [Quality by Design or] QbD. [Controlling manufacturing or] CMC pilot [program]s raised questions about cost effectiveness."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Peanut Butter and Salmonella, explained

When a product tests out of its specification, the product must be quarantined. That is why specifications exist.

The peanut butter made by the Peanut Butter Corporation of America tested positive for salmonella. It should have been quarantined.
What the manufacturer cannot do, is simply retest to see if another result will be produced. This has been prohibited by law for at least the past 15 years. But that's exactly what PCA did.
How many manufacturers simply retest? Under the current system there is no way to know. FDA, and the public health, depend on employees of the manufacturers themselves to stand up to marketing, sales, and even Presidents and CEOs, to prevent the shipment of contaminated foods, drugs, and devices. Some employees report to corrupt companies in corrupt countries far away. In this US facility, emails from PCA employees disclose a battered staff trying hard to get their company heads to follow the law. These employees are just a paycheck away from not working. This is a one of several gaping holes in the safety net.

FDA has no authority to recall many products without company approval.

FDA needs investigators now.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Senate wants to pay us to shop for junk

Compare the Senate and House stimulus plans:

The Democrats in the House propose to increase spending to help poor, and to save schools and public works projects that have suffered under the tax cuts and silly stimulus packages that have gotten us into this mess. The Senate wants to pay us to shop for houses and cars, buying more environmentally harmful junk from companies and banks who can use taxpayer bail-outs to pay stock options and executive bonuses.

WaPO has a helpful graphic here.

AP's Comparison of economic stimulus plans here.

ACTION: Contact Congress easily - use this link!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our government's War on Dogs

Nope. That's not a misprint. The Post today covers an incident of police incompetance, ineffectiveness, and lies in todays Magazine. It's just one example. The overuse of paramilitary forces occurs regularly in the US and our own neighborhoods - 16 botched raids in VA, 8 in MD, and 2 in DC.

In this case, the government lied about having a no-knock warrant.

They lied about having any warrant at all.

They lied about killing the beloved pets that were running away from them. One of the two dead dogs was shot in the back.

According to the report "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America," US police squads do this all the time, to people who are less photogenic, less rich, and less connected than the Mayor of Berwyn Heights. See how many raids went wrong in your neighborhood on this interactive map.

In addition learning how to use their weapoons of destruction, officers of the law must also learn when to use them. Yes, drug dealers are bad. They are domestic terrorists. And while we stand for liberty against terrorists, white and non-white, domestic and foreign, the founding fathers knew full well some bad people might elude the law. In a famous exchange by Sir Thomas More:

More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Michael Steele, Criminal, RNC chairman

Michael Steele was hand-picked as a poster boy for Republican diversity by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Rather than admit what were his principles to voters, he lied to Maryland voters when he ran for Senate in 2006.
WaPo: "A fuller picture has emerged about how the plan to capture blacks' votes unfolded -- details that suggest the fliers, and the people paid to distribute them, were not part of a hurry-up effort but a calculated strategy."

Now Steele is head of the Republican National Committee. Is a liar and crook the best they could do?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is FDA finally free from politically driven decisions?

Just days after the inauguration, exciting projects that had been frozen for political reasons - even after researchers answered all safety and efficacy questions - are now underway.

One project has the promising goal "to achieve restoration of spinal cord function by the injection of hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells directly into the lesion site of the patient's injured spinal cord."

Freezing this research that would help spine injured patients and their families was not the only significant politically motivated FDA action during the previous administration. For example, Plan B was delayed only to become the first and only over-the-counter product for preventing unwanted pregnancy that had a different standard for sexually active patients based on their age alone.

Susan Wood, the head of the Office of Women's Health protested, and payback was that women's health was de-funded. Wood then resigned.

Then-Commissiner Crawford admitted he had delayed approval of Plan B, a product that proved it prevented high-risk pregnancies and saved patient lives. The criminal investigation of the Commissioner was revealed in 2006, shortly after he had resigned in September 2005. He had been confirmed by the Senate for less than three months as the permanent FDA commissioner, a position which he had held on an “acting” basis for a couple of years. It turned out he invested in companies with applications pending at FDA.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sara Palin can see Virginia from her PAC!

Sarah Palin is setting down roots in Virginia. She selected the newly battleground state as the one in the Lower 48 to start her bid for the Presidency in 2012.

SarahPAC, which submitted its filings in November, chose Virginia as its headquarters. Emily Buchanan of Arlington, an anti-choice volunteer for McCain, is listed as the treasurer. Melissa Graeff of the same anti-choice group, a Bob Jones University graduate, is listed as Assistant.

The anti-choice group mentioned above that is run by the two Virginians is disguised under the name of the Susan B Anthony (SBA) Foundation. SBA is an illegal pass-through group for organizations who have already donated the contribution that is the maximum allowed by law. By donating to SBA, a shell organization, SBA can disburse further donations to the same candidates, and the candidate recipients can collect donations twice - twice as much money as that allowed by Campaign Finance Law. It is the same principle that got Tom Delay indicted.

SBA is now filing under a slightly modified name here, which makes their donations seem to start from a "clean slate."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"So help me God"

The oath of office of the President, dictated by the Constitution, is 35 words long and reads: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

There never was a "So help me God." Historians have searched for support for the urban legend that George Washington added it, but no one has been able to support the theory.

Nevertheless, U.S. Dist. Judge Reggie B. Walton refused to grant an injunction in a lawsuit brought by a group who were seeking to prohibit public prayers and all references to God at the ceremony. Judge White ruled the reference to God was a quaint historical reference that had little religious weight.
That's right. Judges can't exactly say that it's okay to favor one religion over any religion or no religion. That's clearly unConstitutional. So, to get the result they want, in order to leave the religious references undisturbed, they have to say sacred symbols are meaningless historical references of limited religious importance.

Surprised? Don't be. This Supreme Court has already ruled that affirming a belief in a Supreme Being is a quaint but mostly meaningless historical tradition. Here is an explanation:
The Supreme Court determined that a city's inclusion of a creche in its Christmas display merely recognizes NOT religion but ''the historical origins of this traditional event long [celebrated] as a National Holiday,'' 167 and that its primary effect was not to advance religion. The benefit to religion was called ''indirect, remote, and incidental...''
In some countries, suggesting that the holiest day of the year is significant only because some offices close that day might start a riot. Here, people ignore the suggestion that the holiest day of the year is a cute little tradition in order to get the chance to shoehorn a creche on a plot of government land at taxpayer expense. Instead they could proudly show off their freedom of speech and religion in their own front yard.

Like this guy, every year, near the DC line in Silver Spring.

How impressed would Jesus be with knowing that a group of taxpayers, even a majority of taxpayers, was forcing other taxpayers to help foot the bill for his celebration?

Here is a good wrap up of what is allowed under almost all interpretations of the First Amendment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More FDA Changes: New Acting Commissioner, more allegations

WSJ: The new Acting Commissioner is Food and Drug Administration Chief Scientist Frank Torti.

Dr. Frank Torti, the FDA's science chief, is set to become its acting commissioner. President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team could announce a permanent
appointee to lead the FDA in the next three weeks, sources said. Wall Street Journal, (subscription required) (01/12)

William Gimson III, chief operating officer at the CDC, will serve as acting director after Dr. Julie Gerberding leaves the agency Jan. 20.
Torti will have his hands full right away - nine device scientists report being pressured to approve unsafe and ineffective products. In the letter, the scientists described an agency where President Bush's FDA managers "ordered, intimidated and coerced scientists to manipulate their research results in violation of federal law."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sydney Wolf joins FDA

WSJ: Now the outsider [from Ralph Nader's Health Research Group] is going inside, mirroring a larger shift in the Washington pendulum toward tougher company regulation. To the consternation of the drug industry, Dr. Wolfe has been appointed to a four-year term on the FDA's Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee, which plays a key role in telling the agency which drugs are safe.

What's more, he has the ear of several health leaders and members of Congress expected to influence FDA policy in the Obama administration. Joshua Sharfstein, a former aide to liberal Rep. Henry Waxman, who is leading the Obama transition team assessing the FDA, worked for Dr. Wolfe years ago.

Press Unfair to Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin says she didn't know Katie Couric would be so mean. And when she was, her handlers still made her answer more questions!

Before she was tapped, Sarah said Hillary should have expected tough coverage.
Palin: "When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or, you know, maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn’t do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. I don’t think it’s, it bodes well for her -- a statement like that."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas Eve in the Bronx - written Dec 1940

In the interest of historical accuracy, stereotypes not modified:
By George Wandell

Twas Christmas Eve in the Bronx; in the old tenement,
Not a family was moving, they'd all paid their rent.
The landlord was rubbing his hands gleefully,
As he gazed, with delight, at his big Christmas tree.
The cop in the corner, ever ready for graft,
Moved about quite uneasily; afraid of the draft.

Up the stairs tramped Tim Murphy, overloaded with booze,
You could tell it was him by the squeak of his shoes.
Mrs Katz, on the first floor, put herrings to soak,
She expected her Sam home about nine o'clock.
On the next floor above, dwelt young Mrs Howe,
She was dressing a tree for her little pet Chow.

Mrs Bruno was getting spaghetti to boil,
For Tony's late meal, after a long day of toil.
Mrs. Murphy, up higher, got her bird to prepare,
While the kids round the table, let out a glad cheer.
When, all of a sudden, came a noise down the street,
Twas the Salvation Army; and their drums they did beat.

The kids raised the window and shouted with glee,
When they spied an old man, Santa Claus, with a tree.
Straight to the tenement strode dear old Saint Nick,
And he opened the door, just as quick as a a wink.
Up the stairs he then started, past Mrs. Katz door,
To the home of the Murphy's, with presents galore.

To Jack, a steam engine, a dolly for May;
And Billy was pleased with his flexible sleigh;
To Jimmy, a bicycle; Tommy, a drum,
Mrs. Murphy got handkerchiefs, Daddy got rum.
Santa was invited to sit down and eat,
They'd a dinner of corned beef and carriage; a treat.

All hands ate quite hearty as you would assume,
Then Santa Claus told them he had to leave soon.
He had quite a lot of calls in his book,
And only stopped in, just to give them a look.
He bade them good-bye, as he jumped in his sleigh,
Shouting out Merry Christmas, he hurried away.