Dallas County district attorney Susan Hawk's life fell apart after she took office: divorce, depression and thoughts of suicide. After she fired some of her most experienced staff and amid allegations of erratic or unstable behavior, she vanished from public view in late July. Nine weeks later, she re-emerged to announce that she had undergone two months of treatment at a mental health facility for Major Depressive Disorder. She says she’s ready once again to serve. Is she up to the job? (Some links in this post discuss suicide / suicidal ideation. Some readers may find linked content disturbing.) [more inside]
California Gov. Jerry Brown signs new vaccination law, one of nation's toughest "The bill, one of the most controversial measures before the Legislature this year, was introduced because of concern about low vaccination rates in some communities and an outbreak of measles at Disneyland that ultimately infected more than 150 people." (LA Times) [more inside]
A Republican panel of the D.C. Circuit has ruled [.pdf opinion] in the case of Halbig v. Burwell that a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies exclusively to state-based exchanges and not to federally-facilitated ones, even while subjectively intending to provide subsidies in both cases. The ruling threatens to take away federal subsidies for insurance sold on Obamacare exchanges in 36 states.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
"India's supreme court has ruled against Swiss drug giant Novartis in a landmark case that activists say will protect access to cheap generic drugs in developing nations." [more inside]
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
The GOP’s woman problem is that it has a serious problem with women. Frank Rich on George Stephanopoulos's unanswered question, how the Republicans have shifted to being the party of misogyny since the 70s, and why Mitt Romney would be just as bad as Rick Santorum.
SCC approves safe injection sites. The Supreme Court of Canada today ordered the federal government to stop its efforts to shut down a safe injection clinic in Vancouver, opening the door to more clinics opening across the country. [more inside]
An experiment done in the 1990s exposed children to various levels of lead. The lawsuit filed in 2001 by the parents of over 100 participants accuses the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the scientists knowingly used the kids as test subjects in toxic dust control study. [more inside]
Army vet with PTSD sought the treatment he needed by taking hostages – but got jail instead. "Fifteen months of carnage in Iraq had left the 29-year-old debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder. But despite his doctor’s urgent recommendation, the Army failed to send him to a Warrior Transition Unit for help. The best the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer was 10-minute therapy sessions — via videoconference. So, early on Labor Day morning last year, after topping off a night of drinking with a handful of sleeping pills, Quinones barged into Fort Stewart’s hospital, forced his way to the third-floor psychiatric ward and held three soldiers hostage, demanding better mental health treatment." [Via] [more inside]
"Melissa" (name changed for privacy) is a transwoman who was badly injured in a car accident and is in hospital in critical condition. While in treatment, some of the medical staff and her family decided that since she still had a "male" body, to make things "less confusing", they will erase 4 years of her female identity by referring to her as a man and taking her off her hormone therapy. (Warning: possible triggers) As little light puts it:
And if she woke up as from a deep sleep, she’d wake up into a world where her best friend was dead, where her body had been forcibly edited back to its pre-transition state and given a few more years of the influence of testosterone to boot, where her memory and self were hazy and confusing and nobody was calling her by the right name and pronouns, they were in fact pretending four years of her life, the four years she finally got to be honest and true to herself, those had never happened, and shh, she’s just confused, shhhh, calm down, let’s work on fixing your memory some more.[more inside]
Robin Prosser was a former concert pianist and systems analyst who suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus for over 20 years. The disease left her in constant pain and made her allergic to most pharmaceutical painkillers. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but last spring the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide on October 18th. [Via Andrew Sullivan.]
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin. This Saturday will mark this article's four year anniversary. Frankly, I was mildly surprised not to have found it mentioned before in MeFi. It's a good read about a sad state of affairs; how our government is turning its own people into outlaws, because freedom has been traded in for an illusion of security. ...but then we already knew that. Don't we?
Recognizing Pain Management as a Fundamental Human Right. These pieces from the journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society argue that under-treated chronic pain is becoming a public health crisis which must be addressed. But a warning to pain doctors in the U.S. who prescribe opioids in doses that seem high to narcotics agents and prosecutors: “Be afraid.” [Via Hit & Run and TalkLeft.]
New Justices, New Rules: How the Supreme Court's Validation of the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Affects Women's Constitutional Liberty and Equality. A two-part FindLaw analysis of Gonzales v. Carhart.
Drug-resistant TB strain raises ethical dilemma. A man in Arizona who has a virtually untreatable strain of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) has been locked up indefinitely because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others, even though he has not commited a crime. The new strain of TB is described as a nightmare by health officials, and though mainly found in Africa and Asia, it is slowly beginning to spread in the U.S. [Via Technoccult.]
Washington State Legislature to Allow Dogs in Bars. And some people are just not happy about it. Dogs in bars. What's the big deal? Is it a health issue? In more civilized places, like Paris, they have been doing it for years - plague free.
Death by firing squad is imminent (timeline) for a Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting 426 girls and boys at the al-Fatah Hospital in Benghazi with HIV, after having the sentence lifted a year ago and sent to retrial. Libya stands accused of using the children as diplomatic pawns and torturing confessions out of the health workers. Nature has published a series of articles refuting the dubious evidence provided by Libyan researchers, which many think was concocted to cover up the poor hospital hygiene that likely caused the infections in the first place. [previously]
Doctors suing patients Are you angry and upset because of what a doctor did or did not do during a medical procedure? Did you express your anger online? Now doctors are suing patients for expressing their anger online.
Anything goes. A Libyan court began hearing an appeal by five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who face the death penalty for allegedly infecting 380 children with the AIDS virus, in spite of testimony from Luc Montaignier, the French doctor who first isolated the HIV virus, and Swiss and Italian colleagues, that the epidemic was due to a lack of hygiene. Tripoli has said that in exchange for the freedom of the nurses, it wants compensation equal to that paid by Libya to relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie plane bombing carried out by its secret service in 1988. (Yahoo/AFP news)
Conscience Clauses and Health Care --"Yes, we need to respect individual freedom of religion. But at what point does it cross the line of not providing essential medical care? At what point is it malpractice?" she asked. "If someone's beliefs interfere with practicing their profession, perhaps they should do something else." The Protection of Conscience Project feels differently: Protection of Conscience Laws are needed because powerful interests are inclined to force health care workers and others to participate, directly or indirectly, in morally controversial procedures, while NARAL says: ... Many of these clauses go far beyond respecting individuals' beliefs to the point of harming women by not providing them with full information or access to medical treatment. Medicine, not ideology, should determine medical decisions.
The Freeloader Registry. When an employer pays low wages and doesn't provide health care benefits, its employees often end up getting free care through state and federal programs. How much does this cost you, and which companies benefit from the practice? A new Massachusetts state law will provide detailed information about top corporate welchers. (This follows recent discussion of the topic in the context of Wal-Mart.) Via Good Jobs First.
Ling Chan gave up everything to come to America. "Chan arrived in the United States with no knowledge of English, no support network, and a dependent child...she was happy to land a janitorial job with AXT Inc., a Fremont, California semiconductor manufacturing firm...on a four-person cleaning crew, scrubbing the boxes used to ship semiconductor wafers around the factory...after a few weeks, her colleagues -- mostly Chinese immigrants, like herself -- whispered that this was no ordinary dust: It could give you cancer." [via Fark, of all places]
The war on drugs is unfairly targeting doctors who prescribe legal pain medication to their patients who suffer from chronic pain, according to a spokeswoman of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. She was speaking at a press conference of patient and physician advocacy groups, sponsored by the Pain Relief Network, in support of Dr. William Hurwitz. Dr. Hurwitz has been indicted and imprisoned for prescribing high doses of opioid pain relievers, as have other pain-management doctors. But these crackdowns may end up doing more harm than good to patients in chronic pain. [More inside.]
Pot in Canada may soon be a click away with the launch of a home-delivery service for medical marijuana over the Internet (more info on Canada's medicinal pot laws here ).
A bill is currently being pushed through Congress that will give health care providers, including those that are federally funded, the right to refuse to perform abortions or administer contraceptive medication for personal moral reasons. Next week: firefighters allowed to let houses burn down because they hate the color of the curtains.
Anchors away! Abortions at sea. Another example of people trying to evade the confines of national laws.