Policy

On Morning Joe today, Mike Barnicle asked Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson what he would do about Aleppo. Johnson's reply was, “What is Aleppo?” We're done here. Johnson should withdraw from the race, go home, and never show his face in public again. When did running for President become a big joke? When did it become something you do on a whim, just because? The Libertarian Party is receiving more attention than usual this year since they have a superficially serious ticket, and since the two main candidates are unpopular. Turns out, though, that Johnson has managed to…
It's been nearly two weeks since a new "right to try" bill (AB 1668) passed the California legislature with overwhelming support and was sent to Governor Jerry Brown's desk to be signed. Thus far, he has not signed it, which is good, but neither have I seen a story that he has vetoed it either. In the meantime I learned some more about a federal version of the bill, which I will discuss after a brief recap of why right-to-try is such bad policy, which will lead into a discussion of the federal bill. For those unfamiliar with right-to-try, such bills claim to allow terminally ill (or, in some…
The AP is breathlessly reporting that 85 out of 154 people coming from private interests (as opposed to governmental functionaries) who met with Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State were also donors to the Clinton Foundation. The headline: “Many Donors To Clinton Foundation Met With Her At State.” Perhaps you are wondering why this is news. Big donors to the Clinton Foundation are generally major players in world affairs, and those are precisely the kind of people the Secretary of State will naturally meet with. Were the people in question unworthy of a meeting with the…
Are We Feeling Collective Grief Over Climate Change? Astrophysicist wins Twitter burn of the year with her reply to climate change skeptic The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here Dazzling blue lakes are forming in Antarctica — and they’ve got scientists worried The Galileo gambit and other stories: the three main tactics of climate denial Greenland Melt Could Expose Hazardous Cold War Waste Time for the hard work on meaningful climate policy Effective climate change regulation: Let’s transform Canadian cars Suncor and province discuss “stranding” some oilsands…
As hard as it might be to believe, almost as long as there have been vaccinations, there has been an antivaccine movement, and as long as there has been an antivaccine movement, there have been parents who refuse to vaccinate. Indeed, in the 1800s, there were even groups with names like the Anti-Vaccination Society of America and the National Anti-Vaccination League. These days, antivaccine groups tend to hide their true nature with names like the National Vaccine Information Center and Generation Rescue, but the opposition to vaccinations is the same, just with different evils attributed to…
The 5-3 Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt last week was a welcome step for women's health, but resulted in the removal of only some of the barriers many US women still face in accessing abortion services. At issue in the case was Texas law HB 2, which required abortion facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a facility. In the opinion of the Court, Justice Breyer explains "neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon…
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled this month that breast cancer can be considered work-related under the country’s workers’ compensation law. The 7-1 ruling supported the case of three women who were employed as lab technicians at a hospital in British Columbia. Over a 20 year period, exposures in their work environment included solvents known to be carcinogenic and emissions from incinerated medical waste. Four other workers in the hospital lab also develop breast cancer. The women filed claims for workers’ compensation arguing that their exposure to carcinogens on-the-job was a factor in…
The inevitable has now occurred. Barring something earth-shattering, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President. She is the first woman to become the nominee of a major political party. In fact, she is the first woman even to be a serious candidate for President. In her speech tonight, Hillary took time out to make a gracious mention of Bernie Sanders and all that he has accomplished in his campaign. Her audience cheered. Bernie, for his part, made only a brief, classless mention of Hillary (making hey of the fact that it was she who called him). His audience booed…
I'll be attending upcoming Canadian Library Association National Forum, a kind of sunset conference as CLA reimagines and recreates itself. The idea is to take the pulse of Canadian librarians on the important issues in the library-related landscape. I'll be curating the session on Canada's National Digital Strategy, including presentations by me and two others, Emily Landriault and Bobby Glushko. The details are below.   Digital Strategy and the Government of Canada Presentation speakers Emily Landriault: Open Government and Open Data Bobby Glushko: Cyberbullying and Doxing John Dupuis:…
Last week, the World Health Organization stopped short of declaring a yellow fever outbreak centered in Angola to be a public health emergency of international concern, but its emergency advisory committee “emphasized the serious national and international risks posed by urban yellow fever outbreaks.” Angola has reported more than 2,000 suspected cases of the disease and nearly 300 deaths. Cases among travelers from Angola have also been reported in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya. Like Zika, yellow fever is a flavivirus spread by Aedes mosquitos. Typical symptoms include…
it was less than a year ago that I described a bill wending its way through Congress called the 21st Century Cures Act “old vinegary wine in a new bottle.” The reason I characterized the bill that way was because it really was nothing new and it rested on a very old fallacy, namely that the only way to speed up medical “innovation” is to weaken the FDA and its standards for drug and medical device approval, which is exactly what the 21st Century Cures Act would do if passed into law. It’s basically the American cousin to the British Saatchi Bill, which in essence proposed to do very similar…
It is an unquestioned belief among believers in alternative medicine and even just among many people who do not trust conventional medicine that conventional medicine kills. Not only does exaggerating the number of people who die due to medical complications or errors fit in with the world view of people like Mike Adams and Joe Mercola, but it's good for business. After all, if conventional medicine is as dangerous as claimed, then alternative medicine starts looking better in comparison. In contrast, real physicians and real medical scientists are very much interested in making medicine…
I'm going to publish my full review of The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto closer to the publication date, which is June 7th. (I believe you can use the above link to pre-order the book.) But I just wanted to let you know the book exists, and is amazing, you will want to read it. You will definitely, absolutely, not want to not read it. It is a must read. This isn't just someone yammering about the lack of respect for science in America, or about the Republican Party's antiscienceosity, etc. Shawn's book is actually a history of…
[Note: Since this was written, Donald Trump won Indiana and Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign. This is why I changed the title of this post on Tuesday night. Meet your presumptive nominee, Republicans.] I haven’t written anything about Donald Trump and vaccines in a while. When last I did write about him, I enumerated his long, sordid history of making ridiculously pseudoscientific antivaccine statements linking vaccines to autism dating back at least to 2007. That was when I first discovered him and referred to him as the latest celebrity antivaccinationist drinking the Kool Aid of vaccine…
Voting is not party involvement. We hear a lot of talk these days about "voters" being repressed in their attempt to be involved in the Democratic primary process. There may be something to that, and it might be nice to make it easier for people to wake up on some (usually) Tuesday morning and go and vote in a Democratic or Republican primary or visit a caucus. But there is a difference between a desire for a reform and the meaningful understanding of that reform -- why we want it, how to do it, and what it will get us -- that makes it important to do what we Anthropologists sometimes call…
Reading over the list of 2016 Pulitzer Prize winners makes clear just how essential journalism's watchdog role is to public health. In 2015, news organizations devoted considerable resources to researching, reporting, and commenting on slave labor in international seafood supply chains; funding cuts resulting in dangerous conditions in Florida mental hospitals; and failures in justice systems across the country. Bringing public attention to these problems is a first step to fixing them, and in many cases, this reporting has gotten results. The Associated Press won the Public Service prize for…
A while back Vox produced a tax modeler that would tell you how your taxes would change with Sanders plan. It raised most people's taxes by a few thousand dollars. But the modeling was misleading because the same plan would probably reduce health care costs for those same individuals. I pointed that out back at the time but most of the response to me pointed out was the ridiculous recitation of completely wrong information (from both sides of the debate) so I dropped it because it really doesn't matter. President Sanders or President Clinton would not produce any tax plans. Not their job.…
... and why we never got the Equal Rights Amendment. Donald Trump is a very good Republican candidate. In terms of both style and substance, Trump does a good job of representing that part of the Republican Party that has been in charge of that party for several years, the Tea Party. The Republican Party has built itself up to become, effectively, the majority party in the US by pandering to this part of the base, along with gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. So, really, there is no reason that Republicans running for office around the country should be upset with the…
Though not enough. And for the wrong reasons. But this is still good news. Somewhere around 1990, but you could justify an earlier date if you like, science knew enough about global warming, the increase in the planet's surface temperatures caused by human release of greenhouse gas pollution and other human effects, to have initiated meaningful action to shift our energy supply away from fossil fuels. We didn't know exactly what would happen, but we knew stuff would happen. How long has it taken for this science to turn into effective policy to address global warming? We don't know, because…
I'm starting this post before any primary results are in, and I'll add the outcome of the primaries below, where I will also compare the results to my predictions and discuss what I think this means for the overall process of the Democratic primaries. But first, I wanted to get some thoughts down to contextualize my thinking on this. I'll publish this post now, at mid-day Tuesday, so look for an update late Tuesday night, or early Wednesday. I like Hillary Clinton, and I often think that her presidency would be better than a Sanders presidency, with an inaugural in 2017. This is based on…