aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
A surge of black & young voters for Obama in GA
Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel has released the race, age and gender breakdowns for the February primary.
- Democrats cast nearly 53 percent of the 2,007,544 ballots counted on Feb. 5.
â€” Within the Democratic primary, African-Americans cast 55 percent of the vote. This is the first time that’s happened. White voters made up just a tad less than 40 percent of the Democratic vote.
- White voters made up 96 percent of the Republican presidential primary vote.
â€” African-Americans cast 30 percent of all votes on Feb. 5. In November 2006, with gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor at the top of the Democratic ticket, black voters cast only 24 percent of all ballots. This is the number causing Republicans to lose sleep.
- In addition to juicing turnout among black voters, the Feb. 5 primary showed signs of a shift in party preference among the state’s youngest voters. You read above that Democratic voters accounted for 53 percent of all ballots.
But 61 percent of voters 24 and under picked up a Democratic ballot.
- Young voters are notoriously unreliable, but young African-American voters - 24 and under - had a voter turnout rate of 26 percent. That’s remarkably strong. Turnout among young white voters was 22 percent - again, not too shabby.
Scientists Putting Their Names on Papers Written by Companies
Papers that bear academic scientists’ names as authors, but are ghostwritten by for-profit companies, may be disturbingly common in medical journals, a new study indicates. Some of the scientists accused of being involved in that practice deny any wrongdoing, but journal editors are already outlining measures to prevent future breaches of academic integrity.
In the new issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association,four scientists have published the results of a search of court documents related to the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx, which has been withdrawn from the market because of concerns about its safety, and which has been the subject of hundreds of lawsuits.
The search revealed mentions of many articles that were published under academic researchers’ names but appear to have been written by others. And those others were employees of Merck & Co. Inc., which is the developer of Vioxx, or of medical publishing companies.
In one example, the JAMA authors compare the draft and published version of a paper about a clinical trial; the draft lists only Merck authors along with “External author?” as first author. The published paper has three external authors: one from the University of California at San Diego, one from New York University, and one from a contract research organization. (The Chronicle was unable to reach the New York University scientist, Steven H. Ferris; the researcher from San Diego, Leon J. Thal, died last year.) An e-mail message from one Merck scientist to another said, “I think you should be the first author since you have done virtually all of the writing.”
In an editorial accompanying the article, Catherine D. DeAngelis and Phil B. Fontanarosa, the editor in chief and executive deputy editor of JAMA, respectively, call researchers’ guest authorship “unprofessional and demeaning to the medical profession and to scientific research.”
The JAMA researchers, led by Joseph S. Ross, an instructor in geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, searched a database of millions of documents provided by Merck for two Vioxx product-liability cases. (All four of the researchers had served as consultants to the plaintiffs in the cases.) Dr. Ross then analyzed individually each of the 20,000 documents that came up relating to authorship.
The researchers examined 96 articles that had been discussed in internal Merck documents before they were published. They found that papers reporting the results of clinical trials or reviewing data from multiple studies sometimes appeared to be written by employees of Merck or of publishing companies, and only later were given the names of academic authors.
As we credential up the academy, we dumb down the scientist, making them reliant on companies seeking to cash in on academic cache. Like the politicians who are not writing their own legislation—industry lobbyists are—and don’t know what’s in it, more and more scientists are relying on companies to do their research!
Dr. Ross, quoted again later in the piece:
“This is a widespread practice,” he said. “These just happen to be people whose behavior we had witness to because of the litigation documents. The point is that physicians in the scientific community need to come together and agree, This is wrong; this is not how science is conducted.”
Doubt it if you will but science has already been dangerously watered down. This trend has got to be stopped.
Sick Around The World
...isn’t afraid to talk about the problems in other countries. In England, the film notes, patients frequently wait for elective services; in Germany, physicians are unhappy that they don’t get paid more; in Japan, the government’s hyper-aggressive price controls have led to chronic underfunding. And yet the new film also puts these drawbacks in their rightful context. Every system the film portrays has its problems, but overall each one seems to deliver a better total package than the one in the U.S.
The most interesting case study is probably Taiwan. A few years ago, when Taiwan decided to revamp its health care system, it studied other countries to determine which system might work best. Its conclusion? A single-payer system - one in which the government insures everybody directly - made the most sense.
Virtually alone among health care commentators in the U.S. - a category that includes me - Paul Krugman has been touting Taiwan for a while. The film makes it easy to see why. Today, the people of Taiwan have guaranteed access to health care - and, according to the film, it’s very good health care. There are no chronic waiting lists, like you find in Britain, and the care is very advanced. Among other things, Taiwan is among the world leaders in establishing electronic medical records - an innovation that should significantly improve care by keeping doctors and nurses better informed about patient histories and, no less important, avoiding potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Critics of national healthcare are always able to come up with reasons why the success of systems in other countries doesn’t mean they’d work here. The Japanese are healthier than us. Belgium is smaller than us. Sweden is more homogeneous than us. Germans are more willing to pay higher taxes than us. Etc. Etc. It’s always something.
But the opposite is true too. National healthcare, it turns out, is pretty effective in big countries (Germany, Japan), diverse countries (France, Britain), tax-phobic countries (Switzerland), and countries with health profiles similar to ours (Canada, Britain). And as [the reviewer] says, even warts and all, each one seems to deliver a better total package than the jury-rigged, pseudo-private mish-mash that we have here. So tell your skeptic friends to tune in tonight [watch online] and watch the show. Maybe they’ll start to understand that we can, indeed, do better if we put our minds to it.
Gay marriage: a tie that binds
You’ve got to love this. In those states where we can get married, if we move out of state, we can’t get divorced. Or something like that…
Try following this, from MSNBC:
Gay couples had to struggle mightily to win the right to marry or form civil unions in certain states. Now, some are finding that breaking up is hard to do, too.
In Rhode Island, for example, the state’s top court ruled in December that gays married in neighboring Massachusetts - the only state to allow the practice - cannot get divorced because state lawmakers have never defined marriage as anything but a union between a man and woman.
In Missouri, a judge is deciding whether a lesbian married in Massachusetts can get an annulment. [...]
Over the past four years, Massachusetts has been the only state where gay marriage is legal, while nine other states allow gay couples to enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer many of the rights and privileges of marriage. The vast majority of these unions require court action to dissolve.
Gay couples who still live in the state where they partnered can split up with little difficulty; the laws in those states include divorce or dissolution procedures for same-sex couples. But gay couples who have moved to another state are running into trouble.
Massachusetts, at least early on, let out-of-state gay couples get married there practically for the asking. But the rules governing divorce are stricter. Out-of-state couples could go back to Massachusetts to get divorced, but they would have to live there for a year to establish residency first. [...]
Getting a divorce could prove toughest in some of the 40 states that have explicitly banned or limited same-sex unions, lawyers say.
In Missouri, which banned gay marriage in 2001, a conservative lawmaker has urged a judge not to grant an annulment to a lesbian married in Massachusetts.
Broun instructs House on ‘proprer’ pledge technique
"There should not be a comma between ‘one nation’ and ‘under God,’” conservative Republican congressman Paul Broun instructed his colleagues on the floor of the House before beginning his rendition of a pause-free pledge Monday. Raw Story has more:
It may seem a minor issue, but some have argued that saying the pledge as Broun prefers—and as it was written when “under God” was inserted in 1954—implies a fealty to religion that is inappropriate in the US.
“Without a comma, the phrase indicates that the central characteristic of the United States as a political community is its subordination to God,” wrote history professor Matthew Dennis, after the Supreme Court rejected an attempt to strike “under God” as unconstitutional. “In short, the political community is defined by its religious charge. A pledge that states this becomes, in the words of the 9th Circuit, ‘impermissible government endorsement of religion,’ functioning to ‘enforce a religious orthodoxy of mono- theism.’”
The pledge had no reference to a diety until 1954, when Cold War fever saw its inclusion to separate Americans from “godless Communists.” The Supreme Court dismissed a case arguing that the phrase violated the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion because the plaintiff had no standing to argue the case, not because of any inherent legal justification for the phrase.
A Broun spokesman even said there should be no pause to emphasize there is “no separation or implied separation between nation and God.” So his House floor lesson may be more than just a penchant for details.
“As a Marine, clearly, he’s had to face a lot more difficult challenges than instructing Members of Congress on the proper way of saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” spokesman John Kennedy told Roll Call‘s Heard on the Hill column. “There is, in fact, no comma in that section. So correctly, it’s said, â€˜One nation under [God],’ no separation or implied separation between nation and God.”
A first-term lawmaker from the northeastern corner of Georgia, Broun’s House floor admonition was not his only attempt to insert God further into American life. Last November, he supported a resolution honoring a group promoting the Ten Commandments.
“I commend the Ten Commandments Commission for their efforts to remind Americans that we are, in fact, ‘one nation under God,’” he said at the time.
Here’s theC-SPAN video: