Copenhagen climate summit: Five possible scenarios for our future climate (The Guardian)
Concise summary of what we can expect for each increase of one degree Celcius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in global temperature. Here are a few of the health implications.
1C: “Most of the world’s corals will die, including the Great Barrier Reef. Glaciers that provide crops for 50m people with fresh water begin to melt and 300,000 people are affected every year by climate-related diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea.”
2C: “The heatwaves seen in Europe during 2003, which killed tens of thousands of people, will come back every year. … More than 60 million people, mainly in Africa, would be exposed to higher rates of malaria. Agricultural yields around the world will drop and half a billion people will be at greater risk of starvation. … Glaciers all over the world will recede, reducing the fresh water supply for major cities including Los Angeles.”
Are celebrities crossing the line on medical advice? (USA Today)
“Many doctors say they’re troubled by stars who cross the line from sharing their stories to championing questionable or even dangerous medical advice. … Actress Suzanne Somers– already well-known for her diet books and ThighMaster products — in October released her 18th book, Knockout, which experts describe as a catalogue of unproven or long-debunked alternative cancer ‘cures.’ … [Celebrities] ‘can spread misinformation much faster than the average person with a wacky theory. … Correcting that misinformation — even with a mountain of evidence — can be a challenge. … ‘It’s much easier to scare people than to unscare them.’ ”
Hard Choice for a Comfortable Death: Sedation, (The New York Times)
“Among those [end-of-life] choices is terminal sedation, a treatment that is already widely used, even as it vexes families and a profession whose paramount rule is to do no harm. Doctors who perform it say it is based on carefully thought-out ethical principles in which the goal is never to end someone’s life, but only to make the patient more comfortable.”
Part two of this post discussed disillusion with the idea of progress and a yearning for a higher purpose. How did we end up in this unsatisfactory situation and is there hope that things will change for the better?
I recently read Robert Reich’s book Supercapitalism. I was impressed with the clarity with which he described economic history, from the “Not quite Golden Age” (between the end of World War II and the 1970s) to the supercapitalism that followed.
Supercapitlaism refers to the technological, globalized, deregulated, and privatized economy of the present. Under supercapitalism, politics is dominated by business firms and financiers who successfully lobby government to act in their narrow interests. Meanwhile, this leaves no one responsible for the broader public interest.
Part one of this post noted Paul Krugman’s take on the health care legislative process and the political practice of soliciting money in exchange for votes. Beneath these surface issues, however, there’s a deeper sense of disillusion with 20th century progress and with a lack of purpose to modern life.
We may tinker with a dysfunctional political process – whether it’s the filibuster or corporate lobbying – but our efforts may amount to little more than putting a finger in the dyke. Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with the inability of their government to be effective. The problem is not simply a matter of two political parties with opposing ideologies and the influential economic interests that politicians represent.
After all these months of acrimony and hand-wringing, it appears there will be something called health care reform. It may be equally disappointing to both supporters and opponents, but that comes as no surprise.
It’s now abundantly clear that the legislative process is hopelessly inadequate when it comes to things like health care, climate change, and economic inequality. New York Times editorialist Paul Krugman considers the Senate, with its filibuster, “ominously dysfunctional.”
Consider what lies ahead. We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that — or, I’m tempted to say, any of it — if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate?
Some people will say that it has always been this way, and that we’ve managed so far. But it wasn’t always like this. Yes, there were filibusters in the past — most notably by segregationists trying to block civil rights legislation. But the modern system, in which the minority party uses the threat of a filibuster to block every bill it doesn’t like, is a recent creation.
Every “aye” vote in the Senate remains critical for the final passage of health care reform, and Senator Byrd’s health is described as fragile. Earlier this year he spent six months in the hospital with a staph infection, and he has used a wheelchair for his recent trips to the Senate to cast important votes.
The New York Timesreports on the Senator’s most recent vote on health care reform:
“When the roll was called Thursday morning, the mood was solemn as senators called out ‘aye’ or ‘no.’ Senator Robert C. Byrd, the 92-year-old Democrat from West Virginia, deviated slightly from the protocol. ‘This is for my friend Ted Kennedy,’ Mr. Byrd said. ‘Aye!’ ”
When did we start calling the whole day before Christmas “Christmas Eve?” I thought Christmas Eve was the evening before Christmas. But no. Senators voted on health care reform at 1:00 AM on Thursday December 24th. To me, that’s still Wednesday night, but it was widely reported as happening on Christmas Eve. Perhaps publishers want to save ink. Or we live in such fast times that it takes too long to say “The day before Christmas.”
Anyway, here’s a flock of interesting stories I’ve come across recently.
Aging, end-of-life, and death
The Breadth of Hope, Selling Hope, and More on Quelling Thanatophobia, (Pallimed: A Hospice & Palliative Medicine Blog)
One unspoken message behind the “sell hope for a cure” ads is “we will not only cure your cancer so that you can avoid death, but we’ll also make it so it’s a non-issue in your life so that you can return to the way things were before. It’ll kind of be like getting your car’s air conditioner recharged.”
Last week it looked like Big Pharma had won the latest skirmish over importing low cost drugs from Canada and other countries. But the battle isn’t over yet. As FiercePharma told its drug company readers today: “And you thought you could stop worrying about re-importation.”
Senator Dorgan’s amendment to the health care reform bill went down to defeat on Tuesday, but on Sunday David Axelrod, senior political advisor to President Obama, told CNN that “the president is committed to moving forward” on this issue. “Let me be clear,” he said. “The president supports re-importation … safe re-importation of drugs into this country. … There’s no reason why Americans should pay a premium for the pharmaceuticals that other people in other countries pay less for.”
Prescription drugs are much more expensive in the US than they are in other countries. Americans pay 36 percent more than Canadians, on average. We pay 39 percent more than Europeans and 43 percent more than the Japanese. Mevacor, a commonly prescribed statin for lowering cholesterol, costs $200 for 100 pills in the US. In Mexico, the cost is $8-$10. By charging US customers the highest price the market will bear, the US subsidizes the low cost of drugs in other countries.
At least once a year, some brave Senator proposes an amendment that would allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. Spokesmen for pharmaceutical companies, such as Glaxo and Merck, readily admit that the drugs they manufacture and sell in the US are the same as those they sell outside the US. Whenever the issue of importing drugs comes up, however, they cry: “Imported drugs aren’t safe! We have to protect the public!”
Warm Up o Michael Buble – I’ve got you under my skin o Jamie Cullum – These are the days o Linda Ronstadt – That’ll be the day Stretch o Willie Nelson – Stardust o Willie Nelson – Georgia on my mind Circle o Greencards – The Ghost of who we were o Keb Mo – Closer Across the Floor o Madonna – Holiday o Ritchie Valens – La Bamba On the Floor o Ben Webster – Someone to watch over me o Ben Webster – Stardust o Ben Webster – Over the rainbow o Ben Webster – Where are you o Ben Webster – You better go now
Ellen O’Neill-Stephens is an attorney in Washington state. Her background includes prosecuting crimes against children – sexual assault, neglect, abuse and other serious crimes.
Back in 2003, her household included her son Sean, who has cerebral palsy, and Jeeter, a trained service dog and companion to Sean. There were days when Sean was with a caregiver, which left Jeeter alone at home. So she started bringing Jeeter with her to juvenile drug court.
One day a fellow prosecutor asked if Jeeter could help calm two young girls. They were scheduled to testify against their father in an emotionally charged sexual abuse case. “During cross-examination the kids and the defense attorney were stroking Jeeter,” recalls O’Neill-Stephens. “It was just people having a conversation around a dog, and it worked for everyone.” Jeeter made such a difference that the juvenile department decided to add a “full time” service dog to its staff. There are now four courthouse dogs in Washington state.
Warm Up o Elton John – Blessed o Renee Olstead – On a slow boat to China o Rod Stewart – It had to be you Stretch o Caccini – Ave Maria o Kitka – Tikho Nad Richkoyu Circle o Bello Veloso – Toda Sexta-Feira o Jehro – Continuando o Otis Spann – I got a feeling Across the Floor o Steve Tyrell – On the sunny side of the street o Jimmy Reed – Found love o Taj Mahal – Keepin out of mischief now o Linda Ronstadt & Ann Savoy – The one I love is gone On the Floor o Bach – Suite No. 3 in D, Air ‘on the G String’ o Bach – Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F minor/ Largo o Bach – Concerto in C minor for violin, oboe and orchestra/Adagio o Bach -Violin concerto in D minor/Largo ma non tanto o Bach – Violin concerto No. 2 in E/Adagio
Warm Up o The Ink Spots – My Prayer o Rod Stewart – Embraceable you o Jason Mraz – I’m yours Stretch o Ella Fitzgerald – Reach for tomorrow o K D Lang – Hallelujah o K D Lang – After the gold rush Circle o Liz Wright – Stop o Blues Etilicos – Canceriano sem lar o Paulina Rubio – Alma en Libertad Across the Floor o Los Enanitos Verdes – Tan solo un instante o Los de Abajo – El Indio o Guy Lombardo – Three o’clock in the morning On the Floor o Steve Erquiaga – Pavane for a dead princess o Steve Erquiaga – Two Preludes (Chopin) o Steve Erquiaga – Arioso (Bach) o Steve Erquiaga – Under the Tuscan Sun o Steve Erquiaga – If Dreams Could Dance