Posted: February 20, 2013 Filed under: Affordable Care Act (ACA), American Gun Fetish, Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, Great Britain, Gun Control, Health care reform, History, legislation, morning reads, Politics as Usual | Tags: Obamacare, Shit London Awards, Warren Hill
(Uh, this post is full of the word shit…those with fragile sensibilities have been warned.)
Last week Boston Boomer mentioned the repetition of political news stories, that it is difficult to even find something to write about that really isn’t a re-hash of something we have said before.
It really has been the SSDD, same shit different day, and I am sick and tired of it.
So this post will highlight the usual crap, and touch on a few items that are just interesting…and have nothing to do with all the bullshit that is being spread around these days.
There is a group of states who have said no to Obamacare, 26 states who now will have their insurance one stop shop marketplaces set up and run by the Feds. (Sounds ironic doesn’t it.)
26 GOP States Refuse To Build Obamacare Marketplaces
A total of 26 Republican-led or Republican-leaning states have declined to establish insurance exchanges, a centerpiece of the reforms ushered in by the Affordable Care Act, ceding control of a critical element of their health care system to the federal government.
The ACA requires the creation of the one-stop marketplaces called exchanges to connect buyers and sellers of health insurance — the vehicle through which the law would expand coverage and protect consumers. The law encourages states to build their own exchanges under the guidelines. If they refuse, the federal government will take on the task.
By last Friday’s deadline, just 17 states and Washington, D.C., submitted their plans for exchanges. Just four of them are governed by Republicans — Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. An additional seven states intend to build their exchanges in partnership with the federal government. The exchanges are scheduled to go live on Jan. 1, 2014.
Of the remaining 26, twenty-four have Republican governors. The other two, Montana and Missouri, have decidedly conservatives electorates and Republican-controlled legislatures.
Kaiser Health News has a chart of where the states stand:
Personally, I think this story is a prime example of the political machine dishing the same old shit once again.
When the ACA created this structure, it seemed like a no-brainer that states would be on board. Why would any of them, especially the ones hostile to the law, willingly give up control of their health care systems to Washington?
Ironically the answer, by and large, is politics. Conservatives activists detest “Obamacare” and argue that any governor who agrees to build an exchange is abetting the law, even though the consequence of not doing to is to surrender more control to Washington. There is a substantive gripe, too: conservatives contend that the law offers too little flexibility for states to craft the exchanges in accordance with their needs.
I still wish like hell this Obamacare would magically morph into a single payer option, which would be the best way to get healthcare coverage to the masses. But that wish of mine is itself bullshit because it will never happen.
More crap is expected next month as the GOP right-wing nuts (CPAC) get together to discuss the topics they love. Maddow has a contest going on at her blog: TRMS writing challenge: The missing CPAC panels
Seriously, here are some of the actual titles of scheduled events:
CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, hits Washington March 14-16. In addition to speeches by Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Phyllis Schlafly, Sarah Palin, Brent Bozell, Rick Santorum and the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, CPAC is proud to present these panels (all real, BTW):
- Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?
- The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y
- Stop THIS: Threats, Harrassment, Intimidation, Slander and Bullying from the Obama Administration
- How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Plastic Water Bottles, Fracking, Genetically Modified Food, & Big Gulp Sodas
- Is America Coming Apart?
- The Fight for Religious Libery(sic): 40 years After Roe V. Wade
- Getting Hollywood Right
- Free at Last: When the Right to Work Came Back to the Midwest
Good grief! Now if that is not a list of the same old shit, I don’t know what is!
There was some surprising news last night, I expected to have to write about the latest controversial execution in my home state of Georgia, but check it out…a last minute stay of execution was granted to Warren Hill, a man that has learning disability. Warren Hill granted stay of execution
Warren Hill, 53, has been granted a stay of execution from the federal appeals court for the 11th circuit. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images
Warren Hill, an intellectually disabled prisoner, has been spared the death chamber just 30 minutes before he was due to die by lethal injection in Georgia despite a US supreme court ban on executions of people with learning difficulties.
Hill, 53, had already taken an oral sedative of Ativan to help calm himself for the gurney before he learned of the stay of execution from the federal appeals court for the 11th circuit. The court agreed to consider the issue of his intellectual disabilities in the light of a 2002 US supreme court ruling that prohibits executions of “mentally retarded” prisoners as a breach of the constitutional safeguard against cruel and unusual punishment.
Georgia is the only state in the union that insists prisoners must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have learning difficulties – a standard that experts say is almost impossible to achieve.
Hill had been scheduled to be executed at 7pm at the same prison where Troy Davis was put to death in September 2011 amid massive international outcry. Davis’s death, despite substantial evidence of his innocence, prompted dramatic scenes at the prison where hundreds of protesters were confronted by armed Swat police armed with a police helicopter flying overhead.
This article from the Guardian makes a point to mention there were fewer protesters this time around.
Hill’s scheduled execution attracted a comparatively small response, with few protesters and campaigners present in the prison grounds as the appointed hour approached. This was the second time in seven months that Hill has come close to the death chamber: last July he was spared by just 90 minutes and the experience was repeated on Tuesday night with just 30 minutes to go.
I guess many people are feeling the apathy that SSDD brings to those who deal with the same shit every day, you know what I am talking about…that feeling of why even bother, things are never going to change. Shit always trickles downward…and it is invariably the same folks getting shit on, over and over again.
One more political link: GOP lawmakers propose $30 million a year to fund Cops in Schools program
Freshman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and six other House Republicans have proposed legislation that would spend $30 million a year on federal grants to help put police officers in schools across the country.
The Protect America’s Schools Act is a reaction to the December shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children dead. After that shooting, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre suggested that children in schools be protected by armed guards, and Meadows’s bill would appear to be a step in that direction.
“According to a recent Gallup poll, 53 percent of Americans believe that increasing police presence at schools would be very effective in preventing future tragedies,” Meadows said last week. “After speaking to local law enforcement, superintendents and principals in my district, I believe this is the best path forward.”
His bill, H.R. 751, would fund the Cops in Schools grant program, which has not been funded since 2005. Up to $30 million per year could be distributed in grants to help states afford the placement of police in schools.
Meadows said this spending would be offset with unspent funds from the operations budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The article reports this plan to put cops in schools got its start in the Clinton Administration…but this current bill is sponsored by GOP reps alone. Why not put a big tax on the bullets and used that to fund the cops in schools?
Okay, the rest of today’s links are just plain interesting. Of course I give them to you in link dump fashion:
That Texas woman did not take fertility drugs, her pregnancy was a one in 70 million chance she would naturally conceive and carry two sets of identical twins.
The winners and runners-up in the second annual Shit London photography awards
, celebrating the city’s ugliest buildings, worst shop names and most depressing views…
I think that is enough shit for this morning’s post. Let’s get this party started…what are you all reading about this morning?
Posted: July 19, 2012 Filed under: Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, Foreign Affairs, SDB Evening News Reads, Syria | Tags: Bashar al-Assad, George Zimmerman, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, Warren Lee Hill
Let’s catch up on things, eh?
Syria is really heating up, but of course the situation remains the same.
Syria shows al-Assad, amid speculation on his whereabouts – CNN.com
Amid fierce fighting, Syrian TV on Thursday showed video of President Bashar al-Assad, the first images broadcast of him since a deadly attack on top officials a day earlier.
The development cameas rebels fought government forces in Damascus and its suburbs and made significant attacks on strategic border points, officials said.
Although al-Assad has not often appeared on television or in public events during the near 17-month crisis gripping his country, it is unusual for a leader not to address a nation in the wake of a major bombing, and as violence rages in the capital.
Wednesday’s blast at a government building in Damascus killed three top officials, one of whom also was the president’s brother-in-law.
Syrian borders in rebel hands, battles in Damascus | Reuters
Syria’s international borders and torched the main police headquarters in the heart of old Damascus, advancing relentlessly after the assassination of Bashar al-Assad’s closest lieutenants.
The battle for parts of the capital raged into the early hours of Friday, with corpses piled in the streets. In some neighborhoods residents said there were signs the government’s presence was diminishing.
Officials in neighboring Iraq confirmed that Syrian rebels were now in control of the Syrian side of the main Abu Kamal border checkpoint on the Euphrates River highway, one of the major trade routes across the Middle East.
Rebels also claimed control of at least two border crossings into Turkey at Bab al-Hawa and Jarablus, in what appeared to have been a coordinated campaign to seize Syria’s frontiers.
In Damascus, a witness in the central old quarter district of Qanawat said the huge headquarters of the Damascus Province Police was black with smoke and abandoned after being torched and looted in a rebel attack.
“Three patrol cars came to the site and were hit by roadside bombs,” said activist Abu Rateb by telephone. “I saw three bodies in one car. Others said dozens of security men and shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) lay dead or wounded along Khaled bin al-Walid street, before ambulances took them away.”
The next few days will be critical in determining whether Assad’s government can recover from the devastating blow of Wednesday’s bombing, which wiped out much of Assad’s command structure and destroyed his circle’s aura of invulnerability.
Streaming live coverage here: Russia, China Veto Syria Resolution at U.N. – WSJ.com
Syria: Bashar al-Assad swears in minister as diplomacy stalls at UN | World news | The Guardian
Hopes for any kind of peaceful resolution of the escalating crisis faded as Russia and China used their vetos at the UN security council to block a western-backed resolution calling for punishment if Assad failed to implement an internationally backed agreement on a ceasefire and political transition with the opposition.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, condemned the UN developments as “inexcusable and indefensible” and warned Assad that his regime was “doomed”. The White House also condemned it as “highly regrettable.”
An estimated 15,000-17,000 have been killed in the 16 months of bloodshed in Syria. Funerals were held in Damascus for Wednesday’s bomb victims as Assad’s sister Bushra and mother Anisa received condolences for the death of Shawkat.
Western diplomatic sources told the Guardian they believed the loss of the highly experienced Shawkat and Dawoud Rajha, the defence minister, would now make it harder for the regime to judge how much force it could use without risking alienating Russia, still Assad’s most influential and supportive ally. In one of the most significant events on a fast-moving day, fighters of the Free Syrian Army took control of the border crossing into Turkey at Bab al Hawa – gateway to Idlib province – and Bab al Salam and Al-Boukamal crossings into Iraq, according to videos posted on the internet. That seems certain to make it easier for the FSA, being financed and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to step up their fight.
Syria: US condemns UN veto as ‘highly regrettable’ – as it happened | World news | guardian.co.uk
Russia and China vote against a UK drafted resolution at the UN security council. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA
5.35pm ET / 10.35pm BST: Here’s the latest summary of today’s events:
• The US has condemned Russia and China’s veto of a new draft resolution on Syria as “highly regrettable”. The UK and France were also highly critical of the countries’ third veto, with the French UN ambassador accusing Russia and China of buying time “for the Syrian regime to smash the opposition”.
• Russia’s ambassador accused western countries of “attempting to fan the flames of conflict”. Vitaly Churkin said the draft resolution vetoed by Russia and China was “biased”, with threats of sanctions “levelled exclusively at the government of Syria. China’s ambassador said the resolution would have “further aggravated the turmoil”.
On a side note, congratulations to Glenn Greewald: Glenn Greenwald joins Guardian US from Salon | Media | guardian.co.uk
The Guardian has announced the addition of Glenn Greenwald, the renowned political commentator and bestselling author. In his new role, Greenwald will write a daily blog and weekly column appearing in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section.
“The Guardian offers the opportunity to reach a new audience, to further internationalize my readership, and to be re-invigorated by a different environment,” said Greenwald. “Salon has fully supported my work in every possible way, which makes it difficult to leave, but I’m an admirer of the Guardian’s journalism and concluded that it was a great match,” Greenwald added.
Greenwald is a former constitutional and civil rights litigator and current contributing writer at Salon.com. He is the author of three New York Times bestselling books: How Would a Patriot Act?, A Tragic Legacy and With Liberty and Justice for Some. Greenwald was named by The Atlantic as one of the 25 most influential political commentators in the nation and by Newsweek as one of the country’s top 10 online political opinion writers.
“Glenn will be a great fit, and we’re delighted to have him join our provocative line-up of Guardian voices,” said Janine Gibson, Guardian US’s editor-in-chief.
I think it is a good fit too, Home news – Salon.com
After five-and-a-half highly fulfilling years at Salon, I will be leaving to join TheGuardian beginning on August 20. My last day writing on a daily basis for Salon will be August 15. Politico‘s Dylan Byers has an article about the move here. I will write daily at the U.S. edition of TheGuardian, which is based in New York, and will do so exactly the same way as I have here: with full editorial independence and the same type of readership involvement and support upon which I’ve long relied, including a vibrant comment section. In addition to the daily writing, I’ll also write a more traditional once-a-week column there.
And now for the Zimmerman links:
Here is some “class” real class, from George…Zimmerman Posts ‘Thank You’ Video For ‘The Masses,’ Re-Launches Website | Mediaite That website is now a bit more professional looking but what an ass Zimmerman is.
Thursday afternoon, George Zimmerman, the accused killer of Trayvon Martin, posted a video to YouTube entitled “Thank You,” thanking “the masses” for their support during his ongoing situation.
In the video, Zimmerman stands in front of a window and announces the re-launch of “TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com,” which he describes as a website where “you can personally communicate with me,” and will be the “website to provide facts” as his case unfolds.
This comes as Barbara Waters tells about how she was given conditions by Zimmerman: Barbara Walters Rejects George Zimmerman’s Interview Demands
Barbara Walters revealed on Thursday that she had rejected demands made by Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman in exchange for an interview.
The New York Post reported on Thursday that Walters had traveled down to Florida with the intention of interviewing Zimmerman, but walked away after he requested that ABC get him a hotel room for a month.
Walters was not competing for the first interview with Zimmerman, as he had already granted that privilege to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Hannity’s interview aired on Wednesday night.
Walters confirmed much of the Post’s story on Thursday’s “View.” She explained that Zimmerman’s lawyer, whom she referred to as “effective,” confirmed Tuesday night that Zimmerman would do an interview. Walters said that Zimmerman was going to tape an interview with Hannity before sitting down with her. Walters said Hannity “had been very supportive to [Zimmerman] in the past and George Zimmerman told me that he was very grateful, and I appreciated his loyalty to Hannity.”
Walters agreed that her interview would tape and air after Zimmerman sat down with Hannity. She said that she had then flown down to Florida for the interview.
When Walters and her team arrived in Florida, she said that Zimmerman came in dressed in a t-shirt, rather than a suit. “That should have been my first clue,” she said.
According to Walters, Zimmerman said that the plans had changed, and he was refusing to do the interview unless ABC granted him one request. Walters refused to confirm that he had requested a month-long stay in a hotel. “It was a condition that, being a member of ABC News, I was unable to grant,” she said.
Money, could be the condition?
Walters described Zimmerman as “desperate for money” and “very worried about his family.” She also said he was “polite, soft-spoken, stubborn.” She said that his lawyers “wanted him to do the interview.”
George then pulled a Trump, calling Walters while the View was being taped live: Zimmerman calls ‘The View’ after Barbara Walters walks away from interview meeting – NY Daily News
Near the end of Thursday’s show, Walters told viewers that Zimmerman called “The View,” but she refused to put him on the air.
“Mr. Zimmerman, if you could not do the interview yesterday, I don’t think we should do a quick one today,” Walters said.
“In the future if you feel differently, we will consider it,” she snipped.
Zimmerman’s call-in came hours after Martin’s parents made the morning show rounds to slam his claim to Hannity that the deadly confrontation with the teen was “all God’s plan.”
This New York Daily News article says Zimmerman wanted ABC to put him and his wife up in a hotel for a month…ugh.
As far as that interview with Hannity: Trayvon Martin’s Family on Zimmerman Apology: ‘We Must Worship a Different God’ | NewsFeed | TIME.com
George Zimmerman sat down Wednesday night on Fox News’ The Sean Hannity Show, speaking to the press for the first time since the night when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. (Watch clips from the interview here.)
It looks like evidence to the prosecution. George Zimmerman Prosecution May Use TV Interview as Evidence – ABC News
George Zimmerman’s television interviewin which he said had few regrets about the night he killed teenager Trayvon Martin has been entered as possible evidence in his upcoming murder trial.
In a wide ranging interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Zimmerman, appearing articulate and calm, said he neither regretted carrying a gun that night nor pursuing the 17-year-old Martin.
“I feel that it was all God’s plan,” he told Hannity. When asked if there was “anything you might do differently,” Zimmerman responded, “No Sir.”
For a good review of the interview: 5 things George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that may come back to haunt him | theGrio
1. Trayvon wasn’t running.
Hannity seemed taken aback when Zimmerman repeatedly insisted that Trayvon Martin wasn’t running, since Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that he was. The Fox News host asked Zimmerman to try to “get into the mind-set” of the teen, and questioned whether he might have been running from Zimmerman because he was afraid of him and didn’t know who Zimmerman was. Zimmerman’s one word response to that proposition: “no.”
“You don’t think — why do you think that he was running then?” Hannity asked, to which Zimmerman replied that maybe he “said running,” but that Martin was “more … like skipping, going away quickly. But he wasn’t running out of fear.”
“You could tell the difference?” Hannity asked, to which Zimmerman replied more emphatically: “He wasn’t running.” Hannity asked again: “So he wasn’t actually running?” And Zimmerman reiterated, “No, sir.”
Hannity, who has been sympathetic to Zimmerman and didn’t cross-examine him forcefully during the interview, eventually gave up on that line of questioning, but not before adding, “OK. Because that’s what you said to the dispatcher, that you thought he was running.”
Meanwhile, Zimmerman said on the 911 tape, as he was describing where he was inside the gated community the Retreat at Twin Lakes on February 26th:
“… you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Sh*t, he’s running.”
The dispatcher asked, “he’s running? Which way is he running?” to which Zimmerman responded, “down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.” A few seconds later, Zimmerman tells the dispatcher, “he ran,” and then begins trying to give directions to where his truck is parked.
Click that link for the four other “problems” with the interview. Wow…and I thought the skipping thing was the biggest one!
One more update: Court won’t halt execution of Georgia death row inmate | ajc.com
A state court has declined to halt the execution of a Georgia death row inmate set to die Monday.
Warren Lee Hill is set to die by lethal injection on Monday.
A Butts County Superior Court judge Thursday denied requests filed by Warren Lee Hill’s lawyer. Lawyer Brian Kammer argued Hill is mentally disabled and shouldn’t be executed. Similar requests are pending at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court said Hill has proven an IQ of 70 beyond a reasonable doubt, and he meets the overall criteria for being mentally disabled by a preponderance of the evidence.
This is an open thread…
Posted: July 18, 2012 Filed under: U.S. Economy, The Bonus Class, morning reads, Food, U.S. Politics, income inequality, 2012 presidential campaign, Republican politics, Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, Mitt Romney, the GOP | Tags: bernanke, RNC, HIV, EPA, Germany, Truvada, BPA, Qsymia, Gammagard, Alzheimer, diet drug, pentobarbital, Maastricht Treaty
Coffee served, the way God intended…
Good Wednesday Morning
I have a variety of links for you today, no shared theme or clever connections this morning…let’s just say that my energy level and lack of ambition is at an all time low. (I don’t even think ambition is the correct word. It is like my mind has forgotten how to think.)
Anyway, first a few articles on the new FDA’s approved list of pharmaceuticals…and banned list of plastics.
Plastics. (I bet a few of you will key in on that word…I know I did.) So, I’ve got one word for you…Plastics.
F.D.A. Bans BPA From Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that baby bottles and children’s drinking cups could no longer contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging.
Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the F.D.A. said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence.
But the new prohibition does not apply more broadly to the use of BPA in other containers, said an F.D.A. spokesman, Steven Immergut. He said the decision did not amount to a reversal of the agency’s position on the chemical. The F.D.A. declared BPA safe in 2008, but began expressing concerns about possible health risks in 2010.
Did you know there was a way to tell if the plastic bottle you are using has BPA?
BPA has been used since the 1960s to make hard plastic bottles, cups for toddlers and the linings of food and beverage cans, including those that hold infant formula and soda. Until recently, it was used in baby bottles, but major manufacturers are now making bottles without it. Plastic items containing BPA are generally marked with a 7 on the bottom for recycling purposes.
Fancy that…well, it is a move in the right direction, but there is still no ban on BPA use in baby formula containers.
Next on our list is the anticipated approval of a new diet drug. FDA Approves Diet Drug Qsymia
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the diet drug Qsymia, the agency’s latest move to give doctors and their patients more tools to fight excessive weight gain as obesity rates continue to bulge in the U.S. and around the world.
An advisory panel voted 20 to two to approve the drug in February, the first time the FDA voted to approve a weight-loss drug in more than a decade. Originally known as Qnexa, the FDA required Vivus, the manufacturer of the drug, to change its name in order to prevent its confusion with other drugs with similar-sounding names. Data presented by the company showed that it helped patients lose about 10 percent of their body weight.
How the hell do you pronounce that name? Qsymia…sounds like a deaf hunchback or something you get after eating a whole box of Ho Ho’s and Ding Dong’s. That queasy, nausea sort of feeling.
Well, what do you know, FDA approves first pill to help prevent HIV
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a milestone in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS.
The agency approved Gilead Sciences’ pill Truvada as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners.
Public health advocates say the approval could help slow the spread of HIV, which has held steady at about 50,000 new infections per year for the last 15 years. An estimated 1.2 million Americans have HIV, which develops into AIDS unless treated with antiviral drugs. With an estimated 240,000 HIV carriers unaware of their status, doctors and patients say new methods are needed to fight the spread of the virus.
Finally, maybe this new prevention method is signalling the beginning of the end of AIDS.
There was some new information on a drug for Alzheimer patients: Trial Hints Baxter’s Gammagard Can Slow Alzheimer’s
A drug already on the market that treats immune disorders may help stabilize patients with Alzheimer’s disease for up to three years, according to the results of a tiny study presented at a conference on Tuesday.
All four patients who received the optimal dose of the drug, Gammagard from Baxter International, had no decline in several measures of cognition and daily function for three years, researchers said.
Dr. Norman Relkin of Weill Cornell Medical College, the lead investigator of the study, said the results were “remarkable” because patients with Alzheimer’s disease typically worsen within 12 months.
“If we have a patient who goes 18 months without changing we begin to doubt they have Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Relkin said in a news conference at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the results were presented.
The doctors warned that it was an extremely small trial, but they are encouraged by their findings.
Whether the results are a fluke or not could be known by the first half of next year, when the results of a Phase 3 trial are expected.
The results presented Tuesday were from an extension of a 24-patient trial begun a few years ago. In the first six months of the study, those who received the drug did better than those who received a placebo. After that, patients could continue on the study, with all of them receiving the drug.
Sixteen patients completed three years of treatment. Five of those who originally received a placebo declined less rapidly once they shifted to the drug. Of the 11 who received the drug for the entire 36 months, those who got the optimal dose — which was a high dose — for the whole time fared the best.
That evidence “really suggests this is a drug effect and not just an accident,” said Bill Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Of course, the Baxter stock rose with the news…almost a whole dollar to $55.68 a share.
I guess I was wrong about this post not having a theme or connection.
In my home state of Georgia, announces switch to single-drug method for executions even as a death penalty case looms
(Your may remember that the death penalty drug of choice was no longer available, and they had to use the same drug veterinarians use on animals to carry out the sentence. )
Georgia announced Tuesday that it is switching immediately to single-drug executions from a three-drug combination, following the lead of several other states even as a death row case loomed.
The Georgia Department of Corrections said it will begin using a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital to carry out court-ordered death sentences. It had been using pentobarbital to sedate inmates before injecting pancuronium bromide to paralyze them and then potassium chloride to stop their hearts.
They announced this change the day before a man was sentenced to die…can you believe it?
Georgia inmate Warren Lee Hill had been set to be executed Wednesday evening, but authorities said that execution has now been rescheduled for Monday.
Hill’s attorney, Brian Kammer, expressed concern about the switch to a single-drug procedure even as he waged legal efforts to spare the inmate. “I think it is troubling to be confronted with a significant change in the execution protocol a day before the scheduled execution of my client,” Kammer said in an email.
Georgia began using pentobarbital as part of its three-drug combination last year after another drug, sodium thiopental, became unavailable when its European supplier bowed to pressure from death penalty opponents and stopped making it. But pentobarbital is now in short supply after its manufacturer said it would try to prevent its use in executions.
The article gives some statistics on how many people have been put to death using the pentobarbital alone. You can read the rest if you like…but the parts that I have quoted above give you the main part of the story I wanted to share with you this morning.
I have three more articles that are full of numbers…and since my mind is a bit off lately, we will just post quick links and no commentary.
Brent slips below $104 as Bernanke offers no signal on stimulus | Reuters
Brent crude slipped below $104 a barrel on Wednesday, snapping five days of gains as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered no signs of further monetary stimulus to boost growth in the world’s top oil consumer.
Oil also slipped as a 16 percent increase in prices from the the lows for the year touched last month prompted some investors to book profits. Broader markets, from Asian shares to the euro, edged higher as Bernanke in his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee left the door open for more stimulus.
Brent crude slipped 67 cents to $103.33 a barrel by 0258 GMT, after settling 63 cents higher. U.S. oil slipped 40 cents to $88.82 a barrel after ending 79 cents higher.
“Bernanke’s comments were in line with the last set of minutes – examining ways of doing more should that be necessary,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “Oil has recovered from its June lows pretty close to its medium-term equilibrium and that is why we are seeing a bit of softening. There is some profit-taking.”
HARP Refi Numbers Not as Strong as Advertised | FDL News Desk
The Federal Housing Finance Agency engaged in a little back-patting yesterday for improved HARP figures, which they say are a direct result of their changes to the system to allow for more underwater borrowers to take advantage of low refinancing rates. The truth is a little murkier.
Be sure you read this FDL article by David Dayen. There are some links to charts and statements that even in my diminished capacity, I can understand.
This next link is something Dakinikat and MABlue may find interesting. Chart of the Day: Germany in breach of Maastricht Treaty in 8 of 10 years since 2002 | Credit Writedowns
A recent story in German magazine Der Spiegel highlights the efforts in 2005 of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to relax the penalties for deficits in breach of the euro zone’s stability and growth pact. It is a good review of the contemporaneous actions of the German government within a wider EU political context. However, I feel there is a lot missing to the article in giving the German context to the present European sovereign debt crisis. Therefore, I am giving you a few tidbits here.
And finally, just one quick observation. With the RNC being held in Tampa, FL…the place I was born and raised, this next link made me laugh…why? Because the restaurants that are mentioned are the big expensive places that your average person would not be able to afford. Ha, go figure. Locals Dish About Tampa’s Secret Eats | Heard on the Hill
The Republican National Convention has offered up its version of the culinary frontrunners it’s supporting during next month’s nominating soiree. But Tampa food scribes assure HOH there are certain off-menu specials conventioneers won’t want to miss.
Tampa Tribune food writer Jeff Houck eats his way around the local dining scene like it’s his job (it is) for “The Stew” blog. Which makes it all the more impressive that, come quitting time, he’s still inclined to darken Pelagia Trattoria’s door.
“My favorite thing is to go to Pelagia Trattoria and ask the chef to make whatever he wants. That place is amazing,” Houck tells HOH, adding that he demanded just such a spontaneous tasting menu for an anniversary celebration.
And this is considered “gossip” according to The Hill website…
The open-ended invitations have spawned all manner of gustatory whimsy, including Kumato tomatoes showered with goat cheese “snow” (frozen and hand grated), tripe fritters partnered with pizzaiola sauce, juniper-marinated squab escorted by pickled white cherries and sweet corn polenta and a “coffee and cigars” closer featuring espresso panna cotta and chocolate tuiles inundated with Bailey’s Irish Cream.
“Tasting Tampa” food blogger Todd Sturtz offered up two under-the-radar gems surreptitiously served at the award-winning Bern’s Steak House: the house-made steak sandwich and burger.
According to Bern’s chef de cuisine, Habteab Hamde, the sandwich weaves together 4.5 ounces of chargrilled tenderloin served plain, fully loaded (cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, apple-smoked bacon, sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions) or anywhere in between, all on a whole-wheat bun. He described the burger as an 8-ounce patty forged from freshly ground 80/20 USDA Prime flap meat, which is then cooked to order and dressed accordingly.
Hamde confirmed that neither item appears on any menu, while noting that bar patrons have been savoring both for years.
Houck certainly has.
“The Bern’s sandwich tastes like God intended beef to taste,” he raves. “And in a setting where you don’t expect to get a burger, which always makes it fun.”
Ah, so this is what Romney probably is used to when it comes to that all American burger? No pink slime for you people…they leave that crap for the serfs.
You know, there are many good, no strike that, fabulous restaurants in Tampa that aren’t reserved for the rich and GOP millionaire class. And I can bet the owners of these “dives” are part of that group of people who would appreciate some business thrown their way.
Yeah…I know that Romney and the rest of them are rich, but it is attitudes like this link above that makes their obvious lack of understanding even more apparent when it comes to us real folks out there. Wish I could afford beef the way “God” intended it to taste, unfortunately I am one of the little people who don’t get to experience life the way “God” intended it to be…by that I mean the way these 1%ers do. Anyone up for a 99 cent Whopper, made the way you like it? I’ll have my the way God likes it…all the way, with everything!
Posted: June 3, 2012 Filed under: 2012 elections, Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, Criminal Justice System, Democratic Politics, Diplomacy Nightmares, Egypt, Elections, Foreign Affairs, Greece, income inequality, Injustice system, morning reads, prison population, racism, Republican politics, The DNC, the GOP | Tags: 9/11 World Trade Center, Florida, Golden Dawn party, Gov. Rick Scott, Hosni Mubarak, Income Inequality, National September 11 Memorial Museum, Neo-Nazis, Racism and Imprisonment, Voter discrimination, voter purge, WTC Memorial Museum
Yesterday I spent some time watching movies with my son, first we saw Sergeant York, with Gary Cooper, and after that we saw Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom and Eva Green. It felt good to sit a few hours watching these films, and while we were watching, my son would ask me about things…like historical accuracy…or sometimes he would comment on the actors, and the way the scenes were shot.
The reason I bring all this up is because there is a line in that movie Kingdom of Heaven, when the character of Balian surrenders the city of Jerusalem to Saladin…
What is Jerusalem worth? Nothing….Everything
I thought that line was fabulous, and while looking for articles to feature in this morning’s post, it seemed like an interesting shadow of a theme.
Not all of today’s articles will relay a message of nothing and everything, but some will.
Former Dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced yesterday to life in prison, or as the Judge described… “30 years of darkness.” After the sentencing, Egyptians protested in the streets. There is an op/ed In the Independent by Robert Fisk that you should take a look at. Robert Fisk: Mubarak will die in jail, but that’s no thanks to us
Twenty-five years is death, isn’t it, if you’re 84 years old? Hosni Mubarak will die in jail. And Habib al-Adli, his interior minister, 74 years old, maybe he will be killed in jail if he doesn’t live out his life sentence. These were the thoughts of two old Egyptian friends of mine yesterday. And Mubarak was sentenced for the dead of the 2011 revolution. That’s 850 dead – 34 people for each year of his term. Quite a thought.
Of course, we were not asking about the death sentences at the military courts in the 1980s and 1990s – and we can’t, can we, when the military is still in power in Egypt. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the field marshal who runs the country, never suggested these courts – and their death sentences – were wrong. Mubarak was fighting “terror”, wasn’t he? On our behalf, I believe. For he was a “moderate”, a friend of the West, and maybe that’s why Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, got off. Will they leave the country? Will they quit Egypt? No doubt.
So that’s the story. Let’s not mention Bashar al-Assad here. The Egyptian court was meant to be a lesson for him. Kofi Annan was down in Qatar, talking about the Syrian government’s sins yesterday. But, then, there are some problems, aren’t there? Didn’t Mubarak receive a few “renditioned” prisoners from George W Bush; tortured them, too, at Washington’s behest? And didn’t Damascus also torture a few “renditioned” prisoners – the name Arar comes to mind, a Canadian citizen, sent off from JFK for a touch of torture in the Syrian capital? Yes, our “moderate” Arabs were always ready to help us, weren’t they?
Read the rest at the link…and think about the nothing, everything quote.
Meanwhile, in Greece there have been some arrests involving recently elected MPs from the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, who were arrested over a racist attack.
Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, led by Nikos Michaloliakos, won 21 seats in last month’s election. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP
Two newly elected MPs from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were among six people arrested over an attack on a Pakistani man in Athens, in the latest in a series of incidents that have raised fears that Greece‘s immigrants are being targeted in the runup to this month’s crucial elections.
Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis were briefly held alongside the daughter of Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, but were later released. According to police, the attack took place late on Friday when a group involved in a protest turned on a 31-year-old Pakistani bypasser.
Golden Dawn confirmed two of its MPs had been held, but denied they took part in the attack. “[They] could not have been involved because they were miles away,”it said in a statement.
Golden Dawn caused consternation across Europe after winning 7% of the vote in Greece’s elections in May, giving them 21 seats. It is the first time the far right has sat in parliament since the fall of the military junta in 1974. With their neo-Nazi insignia, violent rhetoric and calls to expel Greece’s immigrants, Golden Dawn’s leaders are hoping to exploit political instability in Greece to gain further ground in elections called for 17 June after no party was able to form a government following last month’s vote.
This group ran disturbing ads prior to the first election,
…with the campaign slogan, “Let’s rid this country of the stench.” On election night Michaloliakos dedicated their success to “all the brave youngsters who wear black T-shirts with Golden Dawn written in white”. Unemployment in Greece now stands at at 22%, and 52% among young people, and the party has sought to capitalise on a mood of fear across a country that is struggling to come to terms with rising crime, falling living standards and a feeling that it is on the brink of economic and political meltdown.
Greece’s 1 million immigrants have become an easy target for neo-Nazi and other far-right groups, who regularly parade through Athens chanting racist slogans.
Connie mentioned this group in the comments a couple months ago when the Greek election results came in. I had no idea they were so “out there” with their hate. I mean, look at that campaign slogan…wait a minute, that sounds like something one of the GOP Border Patrol candidates would say.
Now, I am going to bring it back to the US…and another op/ed. This time from Charles M Blow in the New York Times. Darkness in the Sunshine State
Florida ought to know better. And must do better, particularly on the issue of voting and discrimination.
But, then again, we are talking about Florida, the state of Bush v. Gore infamy and the one that will celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, with a statewide holiday on Sunday.
What am I getting at? This: Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida.
Voter interference is very prevalent with the GOP, and it seems that the Dems aren’t speaking up loud enough against the purge going on in the Sunshine State. You are all well aware of the anniversary this past week, when Florida’s Democrat voters were disenfranchised by their own party.
I can’t quote the whole Blow op/ed, so again I will encourage you to read the entire post at the link above.
Some of what Blow touches on in his piece is the type of voter this tactical discrimination is aimed at, poorer minorities.
So, I think this next article about Income Inequality, Racism and Imprisonment sure seems to be a good follow-up to the Blow link. It has both the US rates and foreign country rates, but I will just quote the US ones.
Rates Increased in Unequal States.
The average rate of incarceration in the U.S. is 576 people in prison for every 100,000 people. Just as there are fewer persons per 100,000 in Japan (40 per 100K) who are in prison, there are differences between U.S. States in rates of imprisonment: Louisiana has an incredibly high rate, above 700 people per 100,000. Compare that to Minnesota, below 200 per 100,000. Maybe a difference of five or six times the percentage of people locked up between Louisiana and Minnesota. The chart below shows that these differences are correlated to income inequality differences in each State:
The article describes the way researchers came up with these graphs, but it also brings other things into the discussion.
Racism and Imprisonment.
TheSentencing Project graphs (see the bottom of page 4) show how the rate of incarceration for blacks is 6.70 times the number compared to the rate of incarceration of white people. The New Jim Crow book demonstrates how people of color are being persecuted and exterminated through the misuse and abuse of the U.S. courts and prison systems. The link to the Wikipedia summary is comprehensive and informative. Stop and Frisk laws routinely sweep communities of color, arresting and imprisoning urban youth from impoverished communities. The war on the poor and people of color in the U.S. make manifest the extreme income inequality and deprivation of the class system in the U.S.. Racism is the penultimate expression of the worst, most oppressive but essential dynamic of income inequality. The American imprisonment of people of color on a massive, genocidal scale is a direct outcome of a class based, extremely unequal society. In the U.S. a person of color is 6.04 times more likely to be in prison than a white person. In the courts, black youth are more likely to receive a harsher sentence than their white peers.
Again, I suggest going to the link and reading the whole thing. (And are you keeping that quote up top in the back of your mind…)
This next link is very personal…connected to me and my family. As you are all aware, my husband is a survivor of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. I completely disagree with the people below who feel that no mention should be made of the hijackers that flew the airliners into the Twin Towers. They must be made part of the museum, because truth must be told.
It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles
. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.
The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.
New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. A New York Post editorial called the idea “appalling.” Groups representing rescuers, survivors and victims’ families asked how anyone could even think of showing the faces of the men who killed their relatives, colleagues and friends.
The anger took some museum officials by surprise.
“You don’t create a museum about the Holocaust and not say that it was the Nazis who did it,” said Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation.
This anger surprised me too.
James Estrin/The New York Times
The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Such are the exquisite sensitivities that surround every detail in the creation of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which is being built on land that many revere as hallowed ground. During eight years of planning, every step has been muddied with contention. There have been bitter fights over the museum’s financing, which have delayed its opening until at least next year, as well as continuing arguments over its location, seven stories below ground; which relics should be exhibited; and where unidentified human remains should rest.
Even the souvenir key chains to be sold in the gift shop have become a focus of rancor.
But nothing has been more fraught than figuring out how to tell the story.
It is a very long article…like most of the links today, I hope you take the time to read it.
The “Tribute in Light” memorial is in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, in honor of the citizens who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. The ÃTribute in LightÃ memorial was first held in March 2002. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, New Jersey on September11, 2006, the five year anniversary of 9/11. USAF photo by Denise Gould.
My husband saw first hand the “body parts that littered lower Manhattan.” He smelled the death and burning for months after the buildings fell. The suit he wore to work that day is covered in dust…remains of those who were killed…remains of friends he saw everyday.
This is not something that should be portrayed with kid gloves. The horror of the attack must be shown for what it was. So many people have put that day out of their minds, and I think it is wrong to sugar coat the facts and hide the truth.
Yes, I get that the Memorial should be a solemn place for remembrance. I am not talking about that…I am talking about the Museum, which is something that needs to be frank in its representation of that day. Everything must be laid out.
The quote up top comes through my mind once again….with the museum that depicts the tragedy of that September day…What is it worth? Nothing…Everything.
Posted: April 22, 2012 Filed under: Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, health, medicine, Mental Health, Middle East, morning reads, prison population, Reproductive Health, science, Women's Healthcare | Tags: Art and Design, breast cancer, Daniel Greene, Depression, Georgia Pardon and Paroles Board, LSD, Moffitt Cancer Center at USF, Prozac, Tashi Mannox, Troy Davis
Good Sunday Morning
I hope your weekend has been a happy one.
Today is one of those days that makes me want to relax. I really don’t want to read anything that will get me depressed, or angry. My guess is there are many readers who feel the same way I do.
So….this morning I have some interesting links for you, think of it as a taking a break.
First, I would like to send a message to one of our readers, she calls herself a lurker…but she is way more than that.
Picture by Green Renaissance, click photo for link.
HT, I saw this photo on Kathy’s, aka Delphyne, Facebook page and immediately thought of you. Your personal strength far outshines the massive force of nature this image represents. Woman, you are amazing and I am very lucky to know you.
Actually, there are so many strong women (and men) who are part of the Sky Dancing family, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this blogging community.
Alright! Now for your morning reads, it seems that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has granted a pardon to a man who was scheduled for execution this month. Remember as you read the next couple of articles, this is the same board that refused to grant a pardon or commute the death sentence for Troy Davis.
Pardons board grants clemency to condemned Ga. man
The Georgia pardons board made the rare decision on Friday to spare the life of a condemned man who was set to die this week for the 1991 murder of his ex-classmate.
The move by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reduce Daniel Greene’s death sentence to life in prison without parole came days after the board stayed his execution. Greene was initially set to die on Thursday for the murder of 20-year-old Bernard Walker, who was fatally stabbed as he tried to help a store clerk attacked by Greene.
This is the fourth time the board has commuted a sentence of death since 2002. What could be the reason for this pardon?
…it came after an outpouring of support for the Taylor County man by community members, a change of heart by the prosecutor who tried the case against him and a powerful plea for mercy from the condemned man himself.
“I think Daniel’s remorse is very apparent. He’s led an exemplary life before and since these incidents,” said his defense attorney, Jeff Ertel. “It was an aberrant act surrounded by 20 years on each side of an outstanding life.”
Let me say I am against the death penalty. (Personally, living a life out in a small prison cell without a chance for parole is punishment enough.) So anytime a death sentence is commuted, there is only one response…this is a good thing.
My only thought is why could they not do this for Troy Davis? (Click this link to some of our previous posts on the topic of Troy Davis: troy davis —SkyDancingBlog.com
Anyway, here is more background for you:
Greene, 42, has been on death row for almost 20 years. His crime spree began on Sept. 27, 1991, when he robbed clerk Virginia Wise at her Taylor County convenience store and then stabbed her through the lung. She survived the attack.
Moments later, Walker entered the store and tried to help Wise. Greene stabbed his former classmate through the heart before fleeing, leaving Walker to die in the store’s parking lot. Greene then went on to attack an elderly couple in nearby Macon County and another store clerk in Warner Robins before he was arrested.
A standout defensive lineman in high school, Greene had to be tried in Clayton County because of all the media coverage in his hometown. He was convicted in December 1992 of murder, robbery and assault and was sentenced to death.
This “crime spree” was attributed by Greene supporters as a…
Former Taylor County Sheriff Nick Giles called him a “beloved son” of the community, and a former corrections officer who knew Greene in prison said he was “as fine a man as I have ever met in my life.”
Greene also sent in a letter to the board expressing his remorse for the pain and suffering he caused Walker’s family.
“I was on drugs at the time, but I took the drugs with my hands, and I take the responsibility. That choice to do drugs and what I did after were the worst mistakes of my life,” he said in the letter. “I do not blame the drugs. I blame myself for everything.”
Again, I am happy his sentence was commuted…but there is a bit of something in the pit of my stomach…this board pardoned a man who admitted his crime, and is remorseful, yet they approve killing a man who protested his innocence and who was convicted of the crime by eyewitness testimony from a witness who may have been the actual murderer.
From another article, Georgia pardons board spares condemned killer Daniel Greene:
“We want to thank the board so much for their courage in this case,” one of Greene’s elated attorneys, Lindsay N. Bennett, said in a phone interview from Atlanta.
Greene, who had spent two decades on Georgia’s death row and already ordered his last meal, received the news Friday and appeared to be in shock, Bennett said.
There have been many reactions to the board’s decision.
Bob Bacle, the former Reynolds police chief who addressed the paroles board on behalf of the victims and planned to attend the execution, condemned the decision, saying justice had been subverted.
“What good was it to have a trial 21 years ago and then 21 years later five folks on the board of pardons can second-guess a jury?” Bacle said. “That’s what we’ve got a system of justice for. What does this tell criminals out there coming along now?”
Former Taylor County Sheriff Nick Giles offered a more neutral reaction.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Giles, who had advocated capital punishment in the case when Greene was arrested. “The parole board, they know more about what the past 21 years has been like than I do.”
Bacle obviously does not hold the same opinion as many who read this blog…and we heard lots of similar arguments when Troy Davis was hours from death.
Mark Shelnutt, a Columbus attorney who helped prosecute Greene, told the paroles board on Tuesday that a key factor in seeking capital punishment against Greene had been that life without parole was not an option for Georgia juries at the time.
“Obviously, life without parole is no slap on the hand,” Shelnutt said. “He’s never going to get out of jail.”
So, the board made the right decision this time. Good. I am glad. But why could they not make the right decision with Troy Davis? We cannot forget him…or forget the fact that a man was sent to death strictly on the basis of witness testimony, and without physical evidence that he was involved in the crime. No, let us not forget.
Moving on, there have been some recent studies regarding breast cancer that I feel is worth writing about. First we have an article that discusses how scientist have genetically mapped the disease which can lead to more accurate diagnoses and treatment. Breast cancer treatment gets boost
The treatment of breast cancer could be revolutionised with patients offered more accurate diagnoses and better-targeted treatments after a study in which scientists genetically mapped the disease.
The research found that rather than being a single disease, breast cancer can be classified into 10 distinct types. It also identified several new genes that determine the aggressiveness of the cancer.
The breakthrough had been hailed by charities as a step towards the “holy grail” of tailoring treatments to the needs of individual patients.
The findings of the research, in which scientists examined 2,000 tumours in the largest ever genetic study of breast cancer tissue, could help predict patients’ chances of survival more accurately and lead to the development of more effective drugs for each cancer type.
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “This is a landmark study that really changes the way we think about breast cancer – no longer as one disease but actually as 10 quite distinct diseases, dependent on which genes are switched on and which ones aren’t for an individual woman.
“What this research will help us to do is make a much more accurate, much more precise, diagnosis for every patient with breast cancer in the future.
“That will enable us to make sure that we really target the right treatment to the right woman based on those who are going to benefit, or if they’re not going to benefit, not exposing them to the side-effects associated with those treatments.
“That will enable us to make much more progress in breast cancer in coming years.”
Another link from Guardian describes the possibilities of new drugs for the fight against breast cancer. Breast cancer study could lead to new generation of drugs for the disease | Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK This article is written by Dr. Kumar, which was quoted above. He begins his essay with the advances we have seen in Breast Cancer survival rates and treatments.
Scientific research has been at the heart of this progress, and much of this improved survival is due to drugs that have emerged from laboratories worldwide. Hormone drugs like tamoxifen, and targeted treatments like trastuzumab (better known as Herceptin), have saved thousands of lives.
At Cancer Research UK we’re proud to have supported the clinical work that refined tamoxifen use, and the laboratory work in the 1980s that ultimately led to the development of Herceptin.
However, these drugs don’t work for some women: their tumours lack the molecules that make them susceptible. And others, whose tumours look like they should respond, don’t – and we don’t know why.
Clearly, our classification of breast cancers as hormone-positive or negative, and Her2-positive or negative, is far too simplistic.
Which brings us to today’s landmark announcement. Our researchers, working with colleagues in Canada, have completely redefined breast cancer into 10 entirely new categories. To achieve this, the METABRIC team, led jointly by Prof Carlos Caldas from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute and Prof Sam Aparicio from the British Columbia Cancer Centre in Canada, analysed tumours from nearly 2,000 women.
What makes METABRIC such a game changer is that they analysed so many different aspects of the tumours – gene mutations, gene amplifications, gene activity and more – and linked this information to the women’s treatment history, and their clinical fates. This is the first study of this level of detail and scale in the world.
And these results have significant meaning in the fight against breast cancer.
First, they confirm that our existing “breast cancer map” is outdated – there should be 10 “countries”, not four “continents” – and this is now territory we need to urgently explore. For example, one of the newly discovered types consisted of women with apparently aggressive cancers who actually did very well. Closer inspection showed that these women were rescued by their own immune systems. We urgently need to know how.
Second, the study identified a slew of new cancer genes, which will make excellent targets for a new generation of Herceptin-like drugs. We hope that, one day, drugs will exist for all these subgroups, so no woman will ever have to be told she has the “wrong” type of breast cancer.
And finally, the results suggest that some women have such a good prognosis that they could potentially be spared chemotherapy after their surgery.
Kumar continues to stress the need for more research, and the time involved in developing new treatments. But the over all feel is a positive one, in that we are moving in the right direction when it comes to breast cancer research.
I’ve got one more link for you about another study involving breast cancer. This time from my alma mater University of South Florida: Cancer therapies affect cognitive functioning among breast cancer survivors
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues at the University of South Florida and University of Kentucky have found that breast cancer survivors who have had chemotherapy, radiation or both do not perform as well on some cognitive tests as women who have not had cancer.
They published their study in the April 1 issue of Cancer.
“Survivors of breast cancer are living longer, so there is a need to better understand the long-term effects of cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation,” said study lead author Paul B. Jacobsen, Ph.D., associate center director for Population Sciences.
To carry out their study, the researchers recruited 313 women being treated by either chemotherapy or radiotherapy for early stage breast cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. Those who had undergone treatment for cancer were tested six months after treatment and then tested again 36 months after having completed treatment.
They also recruited a control group of women who did not have cancer. These participants were also tested at six months and 36 months.
Participants in all groups were within five years of age, and breast cancer patients were matched with non-cancer patients who lived in their same ZIP codes. Participants were tested cognitively with respect to processing speed (quick task completion under pressure), executive functioning (ability to shift cognitive sets and solve novel problems), the two domains expected to be most affected by chemotherapy. They were also tested with regard to verbal abilities.
“Our findings were partially consistent with prior research,” explained Jacobsen. “We found that chemotherapy-treated patients performed worse than non-cancer controls in processing speed, executive functioning and verbal ability. These domains may be the domains most affected by chemotherapy.”
Just a side note, Moffitt is an excellent research facility. My father was part of a study there when he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 1991, at the age of 44. Anyway, back to the study:
The also found test results for the radiotherapy group to be similar to the results of those in the chemotherapy group. Additionally, they discovered that the non-cancer group improved in these cognitive abilities over time while the chemotherapy and radiotherapy groups did not. There were no differences in performance between the radiotherapy and chemotherapy groups, noted the researchers.
The researchers commented that they were fortunate for having included the radiotherapy groups because their results were so similar to the chemotherapy group. Had that group not been included, conclusions could have been drawn to suggest that the cognitive differences between the non-cancer group and the chemotherapy group were specific to chemotherapy.
“Since patients report cognitive problems that interfere with their daily activities, early workups should include tests to determine cognitive functioning prior to treatment,” concluded Jacobsen. “Future research also needs to investigate factors that may affect both chemotherapy patients and those receiving radiotherapy. Providers may wish to communicate that such effects can accompany chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”
Just a few more links for you this morning, and since this is becoming a rather long post we will make them quick ones.
I am going to stick with the health issues theme for a little longer. Two articles for you from the New York Times.
The Science and History of Treating Depression -
Few medicines, in the history of pharmaceuticals, have been greeted with as much exultation as a green-and-white pill containing 20 milligrams of fluoxetine hydrochloride — the chemical we know as Prozac. In her 1994 book “Prozac Nation,” Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote of a nearly transcendental experience on the drug. Before she began treatment with antidepressants, she was living in “a computer program of total negativity . . . an absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest.” She floated from one “suicidal reverie” to the next. Yet, just a few weeks after starting Prozac, her life was transformed. “One morning I woke up and really did want to live. . . . It was as if the miasma of depression had lifted off me, in the same way that the fog in San Francisco rises as the day wears on. Was it the Prozac? No doubt.”
Like Wurtzel, millions of Americans embraced antidepressants. In 1988, a year after the Food and Drug Administration approved Prozac, 2,469,000 prescriptions for it were dispensed in America. By 2002, that number had risen to 33,320,000. By 2008, antidepressants were the third-most-common prescription drug taken in America.
Fast forward to 2012 and the same antidepressants that inspired such enthusiasm have become the new villains of modern psychopharmacology — overhyped, overprescribed chemicals, symptomatic of a pill-happy culture searching for quick fixes for complex mental problems.
Take a look at the rest of this interesting article by clicking that link above.
Here is another link about mind altering drugs, this time the discussion focuses on How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death and how a study being performed by:
…Charles Grob, a psychiatrist and researcher at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center who was administering psilocybin — an active component of magic mushrooms — to end-stage cancer patients to see if it could reduce their fear of death. Twenty-two months before she died, Sakuda became one of Grob’s 12 subjects. When the research was completed in 2008 — (and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry last year) — the results showed that administering psilocybin to terminally ill subjects could be done safely while reducing the subjects’ anxiety and depression about their impending deaths.
Grob’s interest in the power of psychedelics to mitigate mortality’s sting is not just the obsession of one lone researcher. Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont Mass., a psychiatric training hospital for Harvard Medical School, used MDMA — also known as ecstasy — in an effort to ease end-of-life anxieties in two patients with Stage 4 cancer. And there are two ongoing studies using psilocybin with terminal patients, one at New York University’s medical school, led by Stephen Ross, and another at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where Roland Griffiths has administered psilocybin to 22 cancer patients and is aiming for a sample size of 44. “This research is in its very early stages,” Grob told me earlier this month, “but we’re getting consistently good results.”
Again, I urge you to read the entire piece.
This next link is from Time magazine…VA to Add 1,900 to Mental-Health Staff that is good news, however bittersweet…good news for soldiers returning from war, they will get the care they so desperately need…but with a touch of sadness that there experiences could have been avoided in the first place.
And now, we get to enjoy a couple of items from…
Minx’s Missing Link File: Okay, these are a bit on the “old” side, I had bookmarked the following articles before my surgery. However, they are still damn good. Just a tease from each…you can click the links to read further.
From Their Graves, Ancient Nomads Speak an article from the New York Times:
Z. Samashev/A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology, Almaty
PRESERVED Some of the most illuminating discoveries dispelling notions that nomadic societies were less developed than many sedentary ones are now coming from burial mounds, called kurgans, in the Altai Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan, near the borders with Russia and China.
Ancient Greeks had a word for the people who lived on the wild, arid Eurasian steppes stretching from the Black Sea to the border of China. They were nomads, which meant “roaming about for pasture.” They were wanderers and, not infrequently, fierce mounted warriors. Essentially, they were “the other” to the agricultural and increasingly urban civilizations that emerged in the first millennium B.C.
British postwar design: Immaculate conceptions – an article from The Independent:
How much has British design changed since 1948? The poster for the so-called Austerity Olympics in London that year showed a statuesquely naked athlete, coiled and about to release his discus towards Parliament. In 2012, the Olympic logo is designed to allow sponsors’ corporate colours to be used in the symbol. How did we get from a broadly civic, welfare-minded postwar design culture to 21st century design industries whose essential purpose is to make as much money as possible?
It’s a complicated story and the V&A’s new blockbuster show, British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age, is timely and ambitious. Its 300-plus exhibits sample the genetic material of design through this 64-year period, and Christopher Breward and Ghislaine Wood have curated a series of overlapping windows on tradition, modernity, subversion and latter-day innovation.
Your Easy like Sunday Morning link of the week: This too is from a couple of weeks ago. The artist Tashi Mannox, who has graciously allowed us to use his painting of Clouds as our blog’s banner, is also well-known for his calligraphy. Specifically the kind of art that expresses itself as tattoos. I recently commissioned a tattoo design from Tashi, and as I await the fun that is involved in the design process, I wanted to share with you a link to Tashi’s blog. He recently traveled to the Middle East to participate in an exhibition of Calligraphy artist.
RELATED TIBETAN SCRIPTS: Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial
Every two years the government of Sharjah holds a prestigious event called the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial.
For the second term running Tashi Mannox has been invited to exhibit his contemporary Tibetan calligraphy along-side not only Islamic calligraphy works from across Arab world but from other international destinations.
This year Tashi attended the opening celebrations where he met with eminent Sheikhs and other participants from Japan, Morocco, Norway and the USA.
More than a 100 works by 160 artists is showcased during the month of April 2012 at the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial that is located at the Calligraphy Square Museum and the Sharjah Art Gallery.
There are some cool pictures at the link, and Tashi has some wonderful observations he has written about as well…so please head on over and check it out.
Well, that is one hefty post for you…I am sure you can add more interesting links to articles you are reading about today….so, enjoy your Sunday morning and I will catch you later in the comments below!