USAToday: ‘Embryonic Stem Cells Used On Patient For First Time’

 

USAToday.com:

 

For the first time, surgeons have injected a spinal cord injury patient with human embryonic stem cells in a federally approved experiment, a biomedical firm said Monday.

Food and Drug Administration officials approved the start of the privately funded safety trial in July, allowing a long-awaited test of the cells, which were grown from a single embryo to resemble forerunners to spinal cells.

The unnamed patient received the cells at the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta hospital specializing in brain, spine and related ailments.

 

Despite religious objection of some the benefits of embryonic stem cells are already being applied to better the lives of others. I see this as a victory over religious insanity and unthinking, arcane dogmas that serve no purpose in the modern world.

Just got myself CPR certified

Just got myself CPR certified at the local Red Cross. Good skills for everyone to have.

I was in a class with all women, when we got to section on choking I felt like announcing to the room “I won’t ask to touch any of you!”

They’re Not Cleaning It Up, They’re Covering It Up

Kindra Arnesen is not the only one appalled at this sham of a clean-up effort and the corporate whitewash media-blackout over the level of sheer disaster currently ravaging America at the hands of BP and Transocean.

Arnesen does not even touch on the toxic and hazardous dispersant (Corexit) that does nothing but add a poison that makes the oil harder to clean-up (and videotape / photograph) into the mix of all the other health hazards and environmental hazards already in play.

ProPublica.org:

The two types of dispersants BP is spraying in the Gulf of Mexico are banned for use on oil spills in the U.K.

As EPA-approved products, BP has been using them in greater quantities than dispersants have ever been used in the history of U.S. oil spills.

Reuters.com:

Oil-dispersing chemicals used to clean up the vast BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico carry their own environmental risks, making a toxic soup that could endanger marine creatures even as it keeps the slick from reaching the vulnerable coast, wildlife watchdogs say.

The use of dispersants could be a trade-off between potential short-term harm to offshore wildlife and possible long-term damage to coastal wildlife habitat if the oil slick were to reach land.

Paul Krugman: Health Care Now (+ Analysis)

This is the article and accompanying essay that drove me to talk about student peer review editing in a previous post.

Dr. Krugman explains his case on NYTimes.com:

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!

And then there is this college essay of mine:


Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, wrote an opinion piece appearing in The New York Times where he argues strongly for social reform of health care access and ensuring affordable premiums for all Americans. The central thesis of this paper being that Krugman effectively conveys a sense of urgency in the health care social reform agenda by using a combination of rhetoric, “considering counter-examples” and a series of rational arguments that are all valid in nature. Written at a time when the Obama White House had yet to reveal its presidential proposal on health care reform, Krugman uses the economic forecasting of both his own make and that of the Obama administration to predict of likely “prolonged unemployment,” and warns of a “looming health care disaster” upon the horizon. Krugman believes the U.S. alone will share in this fate of a “health care catastrophe” in which basic medical care will not be available to millions as unemployment persists and the recession continues forward.

Krugman argues the banks and lenders were essentially sick and the government gave them medicine in the form of financial assistance, what kind of medicine and how much he sets aside by stating “I have problems with the specifics,” which was the right thing to do and now the American people are sick or in danger of becoming extremely ill so the government must provide medicine in equal fashion to all and not only the wealthy few. Krugman feels a measure of fair treatment must be shown clearly to Americans who have not benefited from government bailouts or other recovery measures taken by the government.

Working on the assumption that some members of “Mr. Obama’s circle” are advising to place health care on a low priority policy agenda Krugman considers a series counterarguments that would be likely proposed from that perspective. Considering the perspective that crisis and turmoil are not the time for committing to social reform is one of three examples of “considering alternative examples” on behalf of Krugman. He argues that times of turmoil are in fact the best time to engage in social reform by citing the actions of F.D.R. in the Great Depression and also by “seeking informed sources” in quoting White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to assess the current mood in the White House of placing health care in a top priority who is quoted as saying, “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” One could argue against Krugman’s position by saying that the national economy is unstable at this time and that any budgetary measures not solely centered on spending cuts should be resisted until marked economic stability can be seen. Krugman assumes that the issue of cost to be one of the possible arguments against health care priority in the Obama White House.

Instead of arguing the point that universal health care will save us money in the long term despite initial costs, instead the case is made that universal health care is costly indeed but compares that expense to other government expenditures in contrast against a prediction of the Commonwealth Fund of the cost of Obama’s campaign health care promises totaling $140 billion in federal spending. Krugman refers to $140 billion as “not a small sum,” but then compares this against the Bush-Obama recovery spending and cites this Commonwealth figure directly against that of the Obama stimulus small business tax cuts. I believe Krugman could have shown a contrasting numerical figure against the Commonwealth figure to enhance our ability to properly consider the “background rates” of the Obama stimulus tax cuts and the Bush recovery efforts in terms of the number of billions of federal dollars spent.

The third counterargument, and the one that Krugman suspects to be “the real reason” behind the then stalled health care agenda, is one of a political point of view that the people of America are focused on “the economic crisis” and it “is a bad time to pushing fundamental health care reform.” Citing the history of both the failure of Bill Clinton to complete reform and the success F.D.R. he calls this argument “precisely wrong.” He succeeded in strengthening his case by using “more than one example” of how a economic recession or depression is in fact the best time to do social reforms. This use of a fact based argument with multiple examples is a very sound and logical way to present his counterargument and effectively defeats this notion. In his saying “it’s possible that those of us who care deeply are reading too much into the administration’s silence,” there is a recognition of his strong personal investment in the matter thereby confronting the issue of personal bias possibly effecting the objectivity of the argument presented. This confronts the matter of “considering objections” and “making fundamental changes in advance” which is pivotal to weight of his argument as a whole.

By confronting the matter of objectivity outright and presenting this in his argument he clearly recognizes that “the truth as one sees it can still be biased.” Drawing upon a series of analogies between 1929 and 2009 which vary from extremely relevant to somewhat “relevantly similar examples.” First, he compares Social Security to the health care reform which is a strong analogy in that both are important life planning matters but not readily apparent in their importance such as basic needs like shelter or clothing. Second, he compares the current recession to the Great Depression which is a fair analogy to make for the two events in size and scope may differ greatly but the underlying global effects remain the same. Third, he compares financial bailouts and health care access which is relevant but less than concrete as the bailouts were a reactionary government measure while the “health care catastrophe” is yet to occur therefore the analogy is sound but lacks a concrete correlation between financial bailouts and working-middle class social safety nets in an absolute sense.

In conclusion, the argument for the priority of health care reform and the conveyance of a sense of urgency surrounding that agenda are presented in a logical and focused manner by Krugman. The credentials of the source of this argument combined with the use of historical arguments give a high level of validity to the position that Krugman is supporting. In a both tactile and ominous manner this case for reform resounds strongly with the reader for it is not a case of pure rhetoric, but rather a case of rhetoric backed by valid arguments and intelligent dissection of all plausible counterarguments to his thesis. Krugman’s diagnosis of the situation may be dire but the disturbing nature of the news does not make it any less important to listen to the doctor.

—————————————————————————-

Citation:

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments. 4th. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009. Print.

Swiss-Cheese Morality

The concept of “Swiss-cheese morality” is coined by Dr. John Van Epp in his book “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk” which he points out could be conversely titled “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerkette” for jerkdom knows no gender.

This matter get’s my goat, in that certain kind of way. Speaking from personal experience.

A person appears normal enough, polite and appealing, but with time you become aware that there are gaps between this person’s very moral fabric.

They might hold certain standards quite ardently but when it comes it other types of standards they simply lack any ability to recognize their callousness and lapse in values, or are in heavy stages of denial about it.

There are little early warning signs: the inability to admit personal faults or misbehavior, hiding friends and past relationships from you, not disclosing important things that you discover later in a less than pleasant manner.

We are looking for phrases like:

Actually, I was kind of less than honest about that. It was actually more like…

I was wrong, that was a stupid move.

I got upset there, I can get a little hot under collar / frazzled sometimes.

It’s not about seeking out people who just roll over and immediately take all the blame unto themselves. It is more about recognizing a person’s willingness or unwillingness to confront the reality of what they are putting out there. The ability to link their actions with consequences, not just sometimes but all of the time.

Anyone can make a mistake, but some people appear to have “Swiss-cheese morality” in terms of recognizing certain kinds of mistakes. It is as if they simply cannot imagine they have poor standards, so they simply declare to themselves that they do not. Therefore, they fail to learn from the mistakes that fall within the holes of their “Swiss-cheese morality.”

Mexico in Crisis Today, America in Crisis Tomorrow

mexican-flag

(Flags of the World Database

According to the Public Broadcasting Station (affiliate: KQED) and the Mexican authorities an estimated 5,000 people have been killed in Mexico in the past year.

Kidnappings, public displays of carnage and executions are common place in areas where brave men and women speak out against the violent reign of the Cartels.

480 missing persons and kidnapping cases leave loving parents asking continually unanswered questions of the Mexican authorities.

A Cartel televised informant described a complete lack of any code of conduct in any of his experiences. He stated that Tijuana was the central focus of the Cartels for the drug trade, and launching point into the US.

The President of MexicoFelipe Calderon, was reported to say he saw “no escape” from a tail-spin into a corrupt culture of violence and drug lords in years to come.

The notion that the state of Mexican-national affairs will not ultimately effect American-national affairs is not supported by facts.

The likelihood of these events in Mexico between 2007 and 2008 effecting America in a highly negative fashion in years to come becomes more likely under any system that precludes the importance of action.

The danger posed by the Cartels and other violent organizations established in Mexico should be at the highest of priorities of border-state governors and all applicable agencies charged to such matters in our government.

 

 

Eric Lightborn

http://americapress.wordpress.com

http://twitter.com/EricLightborn

December 19th 2008

How Responsible is O’Reilly in Tiller’s Murder?

Crooks & Liars : Bill O’Reilly uses Private Long’s murder to try and justify his demonization of Dr. Tiller by John Amato

Raw Replay : Howard Kurtz excuses Bill O’Reilly’s incitement of violence against George Tiller by David Edwards

In terms of criminal responsibility to Bill O’Reilly or FOX Broadcasting in the murder of Dr. George Tiller, I can see none.

In terms of moral and civic responsibility, I see plenty. I believe it to a shameful state of affairs in America today that I am a ‘far left’ blogger for demanding responsible broadcasting and moral standards in addressing social issues like abortion and women’s reproductive health.

The crazies will do what they do.

Bill O’Reilly is not responsible when a lunatic reads his book and murders fourteen people in a church, nor is he responsible when a man watches his broadcasts and goes out and kills a man over it. In a legal sense this is true. In a moral sense Bill O’Reilly has blood on his hands for passing along biased and jaded perspectives on liberalism in America and his outrageously dangerous and slanderous coverage of Dr. Tiller.

The responsibility of a broadcaster is vapid in terms of serious social issues and FOX Cable News, not in anyway exclusive to The O’Reilly Factor.

Just tonight Geraldo Rivera made insinuations of vigilante violence against a child molester in Oklahoma in the course of denouncing vigilante violence himself.

The fact remains that the both the network and the broadcasters themselves have a responsibility to the public they serve to protect the lives of all citizens and protect the due process of law.

By calling Dr. Tiller a ‘killer’ repeatedly on the air Bill O’Reilly risked inciting violence.

By vaguely insinuating that the Oklahoma child molester might be killed and have his body dumped on the side of the road Geraldo Rivera risked inciting violence.

The responsibility to the community for news broadcasting that does not risk the incitement of violence in the nation is fundamental to our domestic security as a nation.

This entire issue has absolutely nothing to do with an individual political agenda on my accord and I am willing to retract my provocative statements in regards to Mr. O’Reilly provided he states clearly to the public that he will no longer use his media platform to play dangerous games with people’s lives and then follows through on this promise.

Mine is a cry for an end to irresponsible broadcasting coming from FOX News.

For whatever failures of bias to found on vast quantity both on MSNBC and FOX, there is only one network inciting violence and using radical right wing propaganda to do more than simply share an alternative perspective. Quite often the network is used as an agent for unscrupulous pundits to gamble with the safety of physicians and the liberal population of America.

Ultimately, I believe these people have become drunk off their own power and will never admit their own misdeeds let alone their own inability to recognize their contributions to a climate of violence in America.

As long as the public continues to support their ‘crusades’ they will remained deluded and ignorant to the harm they cause in their wake. When the veil of public approval is lifted it becomes clear that these men will say anything to get ratings and if that means risking inciting violence, then so be it.