Daily Archives: July 19, 2012

Zimmerman Attributes His Execution of Travyon Martin To Sky Daddy, Says He’d Shoot Him Again

George Zimmerman has made the claim that it was “God’s Plan” for him to kill Travyon Martin last March in Florida, and that he would do the same thing again had the incident been replayed. He said this in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Hmmm…I wonder if that paragraph should have come with two or three trigger warnings…

Anyway, Zimmerman says he is sorry that it happened. He says he loves his own children. (He has no children.) He prays for the parents of the man he murdered every day. Note the interesting editing in the following extended segment from the interview. Continue reading Zimmerman Attributes His Execution of Travyon Martin To Sky Daddy, Says He’d Shoot Him Again

Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp: ineffective, too expensive, and dangerous?

The Washington Post has an article out (an “exclusive”) about three drugs used to treat anemia that their investigative reporting seems to show are less effective and more dangerous than people thought. Here’s the dramatic intro from the WP’s article:

On the day Jim Lenox got his last injection, the frail 54-year-old cancer patient was waiting to be discharged from the Baltimore Washington Medical Center…. a nurse said he needed another dose of anemia drugs.

His wife, Sherry, thought that seemed odd, because his blood readings had been close to normal, but Lenox trusted the doctors. After the nurse pumped the drug into his left shoulder, the former repairman for Washington Gas said he felt good enough to play basketball.

The shots, which his cancer clinic had been billing at $2,500 a pop, were expensive.

Hours later, Lenox was dead.

This is a very interesting article, and it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Big Pharm is the bad guy, The Taxpayers are getting bilked, and innocent bystanders like Mr. Lenox are the victims. This could be a very important piece of journalism which will change the world in a positive direction, or it could be a misunderstanding of the way drugs and the drug industry and related medical practice all work. The implications, accusations even, that are being made are pretty serious. Drug companies engineered the pricing and dosage so that doctors would make money if they prescribed these drugs, and this kept the drugs flowing despite evidence that maybe they should be used less or not at all. Even “beaurocrats” and Congress were in on the conspiracy. Drug makers ….

…offered discounts to practices that dispensed the drug in big volumes. They overfilled vials, adding as much as 25 percent extra, allowing doctors to further widen profit margins. Most critical, however, was the company’s lobbying pressure, under which Congress and Medicare bureaucrats forged a system in which doctors and hospitals would be reimbursed more for the drug than they were paying for it.

… and so on and so forth.

I worry about this kind of finding for two reasons. First, all the usual bad guys are the bad guys and all the usual victims are the victims, so everyone is going to get all breathless and bent out of shape over this, even if there is really no story here. That’s one reason I worry. The other reason is that this could all be real…there could be a problem exposed here that needs to be fixed, but because it looks like the usual bashing of the medical profession, wagons will be drawn into circles and smart looking medical professoinals are going band together to convince, for example, the skeptical community that this is just a bunch of yellow journalism.

In other words, I suspect we are about to see an all out tribal war. What we really need, of course are facts and reasonable interpretations.

I’m looking forward to the input of Science Based Medicine bloggers on this.

Boehner Joins Bachmann Pile-on

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann. I can see her Congressional district from my front porch.

This is very strange. Michele Bachmann has said batshitcrazy stuff before and there was never a push back by the GOP party stalwarts. But there is now, following her remarks about top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Is there something about calling for the investigation of a particular individual who happens to be a Democrat working for the Obama administration that is worse, in the minds of Republicans, than calling for the investigation of every Democrat in Congress?

Or, is there something going on with Bachmann right now that is causing this unusual negative reaction to Bachmann’s claims. For example, is the Muslim Brotherhood in cahoots with the GOP? (Don’t laugh, it is quite possible.) Or is there talk by the Romney Campaign that Bachmann could be considered as a running mate pick (laugh all you want, but that is even more possible) and establishment Republicans want to make sure that doesn’t happen either to avoid a Palinesque disaster or because they have someone else in mind? Or has the time come, in the Republican Party (and the time always comes for this, eventually) for them to start eating their own? That, I think, is unlikely becuase one usually eats one’s own when one is on the ropes or totally in charge, and it is not clear that they are quite in either state at the moment.

Or, maybe it has to do with Money. Continue reading Boehner Joins Bachmann Pile-on

Presidential Science Debate: What to ask the candidates?

Science Debate is an organization that has been trying to get the presidential candidates to directly address important science policy issues. After several months of meeting and convening and conversing among top science organizations and seeking public input, Science Debate Dot Org has nailed down what questions they feel should be asked at a presidential debate. Without further ado, here is the press release from that organization just as it came to me moments ago:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—JULY 19, 2011

Organizations List Top Science & Environmental Questions Obama, Romney Should Tackle

Fifteen of the top U.S. science and engineering organizations today released a list of the most important science policy questions that presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should be debating on the campaign trail. The group, organized by the non-profit grassroots science advocacy organization ScienceDebate.org, says that because science now affects every aspect of modern life, presidential candidates should develop and release their science positions earlier in a campaign.

The participating organizations include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geosciences Institute, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, The American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, The American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society of Chemical Engineering, the Council on Competitiveness, the US Institute of Electricians and Electronics Engineers, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, ScienceDebate.org, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. ScienceDebate.org’s media partner for the project is Scientific American magazine.

“This should be a no-brainer at this point,” said Shawn Lawrence Otto, CEO of ScienceDebate.org and author of the book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. http://bit.ly/fool2 “Candidates debate the economy even though they are not economists, foreign policy even though they’re not diplomats or generals, and faith and values even though they are not priests or pastors. They should also be debating the big science questions that have equal or greater impact on voters’ lives.”

The list includes questions about innovation and the economy, climate change, energy, improving science education, protecting food and fresh water, requiring vaccinations, managing the Internet, competing in research, preventing pandemics, improving ocean health, exploring space, securing rare natural resources, and improving scientific integrity in the federal government. It is available online at http://www.sciencedebate.org/questions.html

The group said the fourteen questions are the most important science questions the candidates and voters should consider in the 2012 election cycle.

ScienceDebate.org asked thousands of scientists, engineers and other supporters to submit questions online for a possible science debate to be held among the leading candidates. The group then recruited the science and engineering organizations to help refine the questions and shape them into a fair and nonpartisan list.

Otto said the most impressive thing about the list is the universal consensus. “The fact that these diverse science and engineering organizations came to a universal consensus shows just how important they feel it is that Americans – and the candidates for president – pay attention to these critical problems,” said Otto.

Otto said the group has asked the Obama and Romney campaigns the address the questions by mid August.

3,215 high-temperature records broken or tied in the US

In June.

Bill McKibben has an important piece in Rolling Stone about climate change: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

We probably are having the warmest year ever recorded by science, and one of the warmest years in a couple/few hundred thousand years as recorded by proxyindicators. Bill’s piece talks about three “terrifying” numbers: 2 degreec Celsius, 565 Gigatons, and 2795 Gigatons.

And there are other numbers too:

…The week after the Rio conference limped to its conclusion, Arctic sea ice hit the lowest level ever recorded for that date. Last month…Tropical Storm Debby dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Florida – the earliest the season’s fourth-named cyclone has ever arrived. …the largest fire in New Mexico history burned on, and the most destructive fire in Colorado’s annals claimed 346 homes in Colorado Springs – breaking a record set the week before in Fort Collins. …scientists issued a new study concluding that global warming has dramatically increased the likelihood of severe heat and drought – days after a heat wave across the Plains and Midwest broke records that had stood since the Dust Bowl, threatening this year’s harvest….In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can’t do if temperatures remain off the charts.

Go read it.

So, what did Michele Bachmann do this time?

Michele "Batshit Crazy" Bachmann, Member of Congress.
Huma Abedin is a well respected, experienced foreign affairs expert and aide to Secretary Hillary Clinton. A few days ago, Michele Bachmann and a handful of other Tea Party members of Congress claimed that Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and is, essentially, a plant presumably put in a high position in the American government in order to carry out nefarious acts at a later time.

That’s pretty normal for Bachmann.

What is not typical, however, is the negative reaction she’s received for her batshit crazy accusations. Sure, we expect Anderson Cooper to say what he said. Continue reading So, what did Michele Bachmann do this time?