Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 24th, 2007

Iraq War vs. Children’s Healthcare

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Via ThinkProgress, this interesting factoid:

Iraq war vs Children’s healthcare

The post goes on to say:

At a recent news conference, President Bush accused supporters of an expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) of trying to “score political points.”

The fight over children’s health isn’t about chalking up political points. It’s about making sure millions of children have access to secure, quality health care.

The House will vote next week on legislation to expand SCHIP to cover 10 million children—4 million of whom are now uninsured. We need a strong bipartisan show of support for the bill to demonstrate to Bush just how isolated he is on this issue.

Click here to tell Congress to stick up for kids, not Bush.

And tell President Bush to sign the bill here.

The bill’s opponents argue the current program should merely be extended. And Bush has claimed the SCHIP bill contains “excessive spending,” even as he’s requested $200 billion more for the war in Iraq.

But because of a big increase in uninsured children in the United States, a simple extension of SCHIP would mean more children than ever would go without doctor visits and medications. With nearly 9 million uninsured children in this country now, we should be doing more to reach them, not less.

It’s time Bush’s allies stood up to him.

As Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) said of a “yes” vote on SCHIP:

It shows that, if [members of Congress] feel strongly about something, they are willing to stand up to the president and tell him.

LaHood is onto something—the American people want Congress to defy Bush. In a recent poll, 64 percent of voters disagreed with the president’s decision to veto SCHIP expansion.

They must know something Bush doesn’t—the SCHIP program works.

Thanks to the program, the number of uninsured children of low-income families has dropped by nearly one-third in a decade. But those gains are in peril as the number of uninsured children jumped to 8.7 million in 2006—an increase of 1 million in just two years.

Children need SCHIP more than ever before.

Tell your representative today to deny political cover to Bush, and instead cover 4 million more uninsured children. Click here to send Congress a message.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 6:39 pm

Good article on the war on drugs

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From a commenter:

You may be interested in an article relating to the War on Drugs from the current issue of Foreign Policy. I must admit that I have done no more than skim it while reading the magazine in a store, but it seems up your alley.

Many thanks. An article worth reading. It begins:

“The Global War on Drugs Can Be Won”

No, it can’t. A “drug-free world,” which the United Nations describes as a realistic goal, is no more attainable than an “alcohol-free world”—and no one has talked about that with a straight face since the repeal of Prohibition in the United States in 1933. Yet futile rhetoric about winning a “war on drugs” persists, despite mountains of evidence documenting its moral and ideological bankruptcy. When the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on drugs convened in 1998, it committed to “eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008” and to “achieving significant and measurable results in the field of demand reduction.” But today, global production and consumption of those drugs are roughly the same as they were a decade ago; meanwhile, many producers have become more efficient, and cocaine and heroin have become purer and cheaper.

It’s always dangerous when rhetoric drives policy—and especially so when “war on drugs” rhetoric leads the public to accept collateral casualties that would never be permissible in civilian law enforcement, much less public health. Politicians still talk of eliminating drugs from the Earth as though their use is a plague on humanity. But drug control is not like disease control, for the simple reason that there’s no popular demand for smallpox or polio. Cannabis and opium have been grown throughout much of the world for millennia. The same is true for coca in Latin America. Methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs can be produced anywhere. Demand for particular illicit drugs waxes and wanes, depending not just on availability but also fads, fashion, culture, and competition from alternative means of stimulation and distraction. The relative harshness of drug laws and the intensity of enforcement matter surprisingly little, except in totalitarian states. After all, rates of illegal drug use in the United States are the same as, or higher than, Europe, despite America’s much more punitive policies.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Good news from the interminable drug war

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An email from Marijuana Policy Project:

Late last week, Congress passed a measure involving the FDA that did not include a dangerous amendment that could have undermined the 12 state laws that are protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail.

The FDA bill’s passage marks the defeat of the greatest threat the medical marijuana movement has ever faced.

The threat was in the form of an amendment that was authored by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and attached to the Senate version of the FDA bill back in April. The House thankfully omitted Sen. Coburn’s amendment from its version of the FDA bill, and the final bill that President Bush is expected to sign also did not include Sen. Coburn’s amendment.

This victory is the result of MPP’s tireless work on Capitol Hill — and your calls, e-mails, and faxes to your members of Congress. Also important were the behind-the-scenes calls from major MPP allies to key members of Congress.

If you haven’t yet made a donation to MPP this year, would you please consider giving $10 or more today to support our important work in Congress?

The defeat of Sen. Coburn’s amendment feels really, really good. He is perhaps the number-one opponent of medical marijuana in the U.S. Senate; for example, last year he told MPP’s lobbyist that “marijuana is not a medicine, and the doctors and scientists who say it is one are smoking it themselves.”

Sen. Coburn’s amendment was a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the medical marijuana laws in 12 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — by placing them under the authority of the FDA (in addition to the DEA), while not providing the same approval process for marijuana as for other drugs seeking FDA approval as prescription medicines.

If the Coburn amendment had become law, a federal agency could have sued, say, the Oregon government for the purpose of persuading a federal judge to shut down Oregon’s medical marijuana ID card program that has done so much to protect more than 10,000 patients in the state.

MPP and its allies on Capitol Hill successfully worked with members of the House and Senate to remove the offending provision from the final version of the bill — making new legislative allies in the process. The House passed the final FDA bill on Wednesday, and the Senate passed it on Thursday.

Again, this success would not have been possible without your support — in the form of contacting your legislators, and in the form of financial contributions. Influence in Congress is not easily gained.

Please make a donation to MPP today so that we can continue to push forward with ending marijuana prohibition in this country.

Just today, the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Reports, which documented that our nation just hit a new all-time high for marijuana arrests in the U.S. — 829,627 arrests by local and state police (not the feds) in 2006 alone. That’s one marijuana arrest every 38 seconds.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Congress, Drug laws, Government, Medical

Tagged with ,

Wikipedia growing more trustworthy

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Good steps:

Wikipedia’s entry on Albert Einstein looks good. Covering each phase of the physicist’s life, from childhood to death, it tells readers about his politics, religion and science. Honours named after him and books and plays about his life are listed. But there is one snag: there is no way to tell whether the information is true.

It is a problem that dogs every Wikipedia entry. Because anyone can edit any entry at any time, users do not generally know if they are looking at a carefully researched article, one that has had errors mischievously inserted, or a piece written by someone pushing their own agenda. As a result, although Wikipedia has grown in size and reputation since its launch in 2001 – around 7 per cent of all internet users now visit the site on any given day – its information continues to be treated cautiously.

That could be about to change. Over the past few years, a series of measures aimed at reducing the threat of vandalism and boosting public confidence in Wikipedia have been developed. Last month a project designed independently of Wikipedia, called WikiScanner, allowed people to work out what the motivations behind certain entries might be by revealing which people or organisations the contributions were made by (see “Who’s behind the entries?” below). Meanwhile the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity that oversees the online encyclopedia, now says it is poised to trial a host of new trust-based capabilities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Education, Software, Technology

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Condi fans must be depressed

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ThinkProgress today:

Over the past two years, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on the Sunday talk shows 30 times, making her the most second frequent guest after Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).

But that may be changing. In his Washington Post column, Howard Kurtz reveals that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is no longer a “prize catch” for the Sunday talk shows. She was recently turned down by both CBS and NBC:

The secretary of state has always been considered a prize catch for the Sunday talk shows. But when the White House offered Condoleezza Rice for appearances eight days ago, after a week focused on Iraq, two programs took the unusual step of turning her down.

Executives at CBS and NBC say Rice no longer seems to be a key player on the war and that her cautious style makes her a frustrating guest.

“I expected we’d just get a repetition of the administration’s talking points, which had already been well circulated,” says Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” who questioned two senators instead. “We’d had a whole week of that with General Petraeus and President Bush.”

Television media aren’t the only ones uninterested in Rice. A few months ago, every single major newspaper turned it down an op-ed by Rice on Lebanon. Price Floyd, formerly the State Department’s director of media affairs, recounted that the piece was filled glowing references to President Bush’s wise leadership and “read like a campaign document.”

Recent reports indicate that Rice’s influence within the White House is also waning, giving way to the more extreme policies of Cheney and his allies. A Newsweek article in June found that Cheney’s national-security team had “been actively challenging Rice’s Iran strategy in recent months.” In April, Rice advocated that five members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard be freed from captivity, but she was overruled after Cheney “made the firmest case for keeping them.”

These reports contrast when Rice first became Secretary of State. The media gushingly predicted she would succeed because she and Bush “know each other so well they have conversations based on body language” and speculated that she may even run for president in 2008.

This past Sunday, none of the five network talk shows turned down Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Fox.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, Media

Tagged with ,

New mouthwash for bad breath

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The New Scientist has an interview with a guy who’s invented a new mouthwash:

Why spend your career sniffing bad breath?

It’s an intellectual gold mine – albeit a smelly one – and it’s a problem that almost everyone suffers from or worries about. Furthermore, you can learn almost everything you want to know about bacteria from the mouth. At least 600 different bacterial species live there. For them, it’s like living in a tropical rainforest. Most have adapted exclusively to the oral cavity. Understanding bacteria is essential for understanding life.

What causes the smell?

Bacteria feed on food debris, dead cells and mucus by clipping off sugar linkages on glycoproteins, which exposes polypeptides. Next, other types of bacteria break down these exposed polypeptides into their building blocks, which break down further into individual amino acids, and eventually foul-smelling gases. These include volatile sulphur compounds, such as hydrogen sulphide and methyl mercaptan, and nitrogen-containing gases such as skatole and indole, which smell like faeces. Other nitrogenous gases that may be involved include cadaverine and putrescine, whose odours are related to corpses and decay. Dozens of gases are probably involved.

Where are the bacteria most prolific?

The most common source of the smell is the back of the tongue. We think that a mucus secretion from your nose, called post-nasal drip, rolls down the back of the throat, where some of it sticks to the tongue for hours or even days. Bad breath can also come from poor oral hygiene and dental problems, the nasal passages, the tonsils, and hundreds of medical conditions.

Did you start your career studying bad breath?

My PhD was focused on finding out how bacteria that degrade oil after an ocean spill stick to the tiny oil droplets, which they break down to derive energy.

Later, in the early 1980s, I joined the fledgling dental faculty at Tel Aviv University and embarked upon a project with my dentist friend Ervin Weiss to find out whether oral bacteria would also stick to oils. At the time, almost nobody in academia was studying bad breath. And anyway, researchers tended to be industry based and so were not publishing their methods or data.

You discovered that bacteria’s fondness for oil could make for a lucrative breath freshener. How?

Bacteria need to stick to surfaces in the mouth and to one another, to avoid being washed down the throat to the gut where few survive. We developed the notion of “beating adhesion with adhesion”. We figured that if we could also get the bacteria to stick to oil droplets that a person could spit out, we might have a commercial product. Our first idea was an oily toothpaste, but it turned out that this had already been patented, though not successfully produced. So we turned to mouthwash.

The resulting product, called Dentyl pH, is now marketed by the US company Blistex. [Not yet—at least it’s not shown on the Blistex Web site. – LG] It is now one of the top two mouthwash brands in the UK and we plan to market it globally.

What are your top tips for fragrant breath?

First ask a trusted family member to what extent you suffer from the problem: it may not be as bad as you think. Gargle mouthwash with your tongue sticking out, because it allows the mouthwash to reach the back of your tongue. Don’t use mouthwash straight after brushing because toothpaste contains foaming soap, which takes some of the mouthwash’s effective ingredients out of commission by binding to them.

The best time is just before bed so the mouthwash is active all night. When you sleep, bacteria produce more odours because there is minimal saliva flow to wash them away. Beyond that, clean your tongue, visit the dentist twice a year, avoid coffee and alcohol, eat a good breakfast with rough foods, and remember to floss once a day.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 1:48 pm

Funny: thief photographs himself, uploads to the Web

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Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2007 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software, Technology

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