Tuesday Reads: Goolsbee Gone, Hotel Workers Heckle Strauss-Kahn, Cancer Drugs, and a Confession

Good Morning!!

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee will soon resign to return to teaching at Milton Friedman Institute the University of Chicago.

“Since I first ran for the U.S. Senate, Austan has been a close friend and one of my most trusted advisers,” President Obama said….”Over the past several years, he has helped steer our country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and although there is still much work ahead, his insights and counsel have helped lead us toward an economy that is growing and creating millions of jobs. — He is one of America’s great economic thinkers.”

Maybe … if you favor NAFTA and cutting Social Security. And where are those “millions of jobs” Obama is talking about–China?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has been accused of sexual assault on a hotel maid was jeered by NYC hotel workers yesterday outside a Manhattan courthouse.

Lawyers for the maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of criminal sexual assault in a New York hotel room served notice yesterday that she will testify at his trial and “tell the world” what he inflicted upon her, as the former IMF chief was met with a chorus of heckling from hotel workers outside a Manhattan courthouse.

The warning, delivered minutes after Mr Strauss-Kahn entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the seven charges filed against him, is the latest indication of how ferocious the trial is likely to be with the defence, the prosecution and now lawyers for the accuser all aggressively preparing to engage in battle.

[….]

Theatrics outside the court yesterday were further stoked by hotel maids pushing against police barriers jeering Mr Strauss-Kahn as he, accompanied by his defence team and his wife, Anne Sinclair, arrived for his formal arraignment. The hotel employees, bussed in by their union and most dressed in uniforms they usually wear to work, cried “shame” as he walked past. Wendy Baranello, a hotel union organiser, called the charges “outrageous” and said the accuser “is a hard-working woman… just doing her job.”

As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) left the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference this past weekend, he was approached by a young Catholic man who asked Ryan:

“Why did you choose to model your budget off the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than values of basic economic justice in the Bible?” James Salt of Faithful America asked Ryan, the author of the Republican budget, before offering him a Bible to read.

Ryan ignored Salt’s questions and briskly walked away.

Faithful America has launched a campaign to encourage Ryan to put down the conservative writer Ayn Rand, who advocated selfishness, and pick up the Bible. The group said his budget plan “reflects Ayn Rand’s love of greed and contempt for the weak by giving huge tax breaks to millionaires while making deep and harmful cuts to programs that protect seniors, struggling families and the middle class.”

Finally the U.S. Supreme Court has done something we can cheer. From Raw Story:

The US Supreme Court gave the green light Monday to a group seeking to bring a class-action lawsuit against US oil services firm Halliburton for alleged fraud.

The nine judges unanimously decided that the plaintiffs, a group of investors, do not need to prove a direct relationship between Halliburton’s alleged fraudulent statements and the investors’ financial losses in order to pursue the lawsuit.

Halliburton is accused of making a series of false statements about its business dealings that artificially inflated its stock price.

Afterward, Halliburton disclosed corrections that then caused stock prices to drop at the loss of investors.

The suit is on behalf of all investors who purchased Halliburton stock between June 3, 1999 and December 7, 2001.

During that time Dick Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO.

There is some “big news in the fight against cancer.”

Two new studies report dramatic progress in treating advanced melanoma and lung cancer.

Both of these treatments use an approach that is creating a lot of excitement among doctors –tailoring drugs to the genetic makeup of individual patients, and the results can be remarkable

A few years ago, Bill Schuette was preparing for the end.

But then he heard about something new: an experimental drug that targets a certain type of lung cancer based on its genetic makeup. Tests showed he was a candidate.

His rare form of non-small-cell lung cancer has a genetic mutation called ALK that fuels cancer growth. The new drug, Crizotinib, works by blocking this abnormal gene, causing tumors to shrink.

Skin cancer treatment: Biggest breakthrough in 30 years – The New Scientist

Two new drugs for metastatic melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – are being hailed as the biggest breakthrough therapies for cancer in the last 30 years. The drugs reduce tumour size, significantly increasing survival rates.

Although melanoma can be cured if caught early enough, individuals in the late stages of the disease are only expected to survive for an average of six months. One of the two drugs – vemurafenib – works by inhibiting the effects of a mutated form of the BRAF gene, which is thought to accompany around half of the cases of malignant skin tumours.

[….]

In a study presented this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Chapman’s team compared both drugs on 672 patients with late stage, inoperable melanoma and a mutation in the BRAF gene.

The group found that 48 per cent of those receiving vemurafenib responded to the treatment, while only 5 per cent of patients responded to dacarbazine. At 6 months, survival was 84 per cent in the group taking vemurafenib compared to 64 per cent in those taking dacarbazine.

A new drug for breast cancer: Aromasin a major breakthrough in fight against breast cancer, cutting risk by 65 percent

Doctor Harvey Greenberg is the director of University Community Hospital’s Cancer Program. He said, “There’s been some suggestion that women are reluctant to take Tamoxifen due to the potential side effects,” which reportedly include developing blood clots, or developing uterine cancer.

A study was conducted to see if a different class of medicines could be used for the prevention of breast cancer. Study results just released show the estrogen blocker Aromasin reduced the chance of developing breast cancer by 65 percent in post menopausal women at high risk.

The study, which was sponsored by Pfizer — the company that makes this drug — broke the participants into two groups: one that got the drug and one that got the placebo. There were 11 invasive breast cancers reported in the group that got the drug compared to 32 cases in the group that got the placebo.

Doctor Greenberg says, “The most important take away is that there is now another class of medicines that can be helpful in preventing breast cancer in high-risk women. The second take away is if there are women who have been identified as possibly benefiting from Tamoxifen but they won’t take it, here’s a substitute.”

For those of you who have read this far, I’m going to make a confession. I’ve been horribly depressed by the political news lately, and for the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching the trial of Casey Anthony, a young woman accused of murdering her 2-1/2 year-old daughter.

I know, I know … tabloid stuff. But I’m telling you, it’s more interesting than watching Law & Order, CSI, and Criminal Minds all rolled into one. Yesterday, there was testimony from an researcher on human decomposition from the “Body Farm” at Oak Ridge National laboratory.

Dr. Arpad Vass testified that he detected human decomposition in the air from the trunk of Casey’s car. It’s the first time a jury has heard testimony about the controversial air tests. The evidence has never been used in a criminal case before.

Prosecutors say the tests prove Caylee’s [Casey’s daughter] body was in the trunk of Casey’s car.

“I can find no other plausible explanation other than that to explain all the results we found,” said Vass.

Vass testified that a machine called a “gas chromatograph” can identify chemicals that are unique to human decomposition.

“Those are the chemicals that a cadaver-locating dog could smell,” Vass said.

Yesterday there was testimony from an FBI forensic expert about a hair found in the truck of Anthony’s car that showed signs of human decomposition.

In addition to the opportunity to learn about the latest methods in forensic science, the trial offers a chance to observe Casey Anthony’s amazing lack of affect as she listens to testimony about her allegedly killing her child. She has to be one of the most evil human beings I’ve ever encountered. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you can watch the trial streamed live on-line at a number of sites. Here’s one. Frankly, I find it much less depressing than observing American political culture.

So … what are you reading and blogging about today?