Daily Archives: February 3, 2007

Muslim leader: It’s like Nazi Germany

Birmingham Post | Feb 3, 2007  

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In Germany, they first came for the Communists and

I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t in a union.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me

and by that time

no one was left to speak up.

-Pastor Martin Niemoller

An Islamic community leader today compared the political situation in Britain with that of Nazi Germany.

Dr Mohammad Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, said Muslims were being labelled as a threat like the Jews were under Adolf Hitler. Speaking to reporters outside the mosque before Friday prayers, he said: “The German people were told Jews were a threat. The same thing is happening here.”

Dr Naseem said Britain was turning into a police state and accused the Government of “picking on” the Muslim community to pursue a political goal. He said the terror arrests in the city were an example of the Government justifying its political agenda and anti-terror laws.

He said: “This is a persecuting course of action that the Government has taken. They have invented this perception of a threat. To justify that, they have to maintain incidents to prove something is going on. There is dismay and people feel they are being persecuted unjustly.

‘Father of gene therapy’ gets 14 years for molesting girl

Dallas Morning News | Feb 3, 2007 

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Dr. William French Anderson was Time’s runner-up for Man of the Year in 1995.

70-year-old convicted of abusing employee’s daughter over 4 years

A world-renowned geneticist was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison for molesting an employee’s daughter who took martial arts classes at his home.
 
Dr. William French Anderson was Time’s runner-up for Man of the Year in 1995. Many people, including a Nobel Prize winner, wrote letters in support of Dr. William French Anderson, Time magazine’s runner-up for Man of the Year in 1995. But Judge Michael E. Pastor said he caused “incalculable” emotional damage to a victim he described as an insecure and trusting immigrant. The abuse began when she was 10 and continued for four years.

“Because of intellectual arrogance, he persisted and he got away with as much as he could,” the judge said.

Dr. Anderson, 70, was convicted in July of child molestation. The sentence could have been as much as 22 years.

Dr. Anderson has been called the “father of gene therapy” for his work on a promising but controversial experimental medical treatment that involves injecting healthy genes into sick patients. He claimed to be the first person to successfully treat a patient with the therapy in 1990, though the claim has been disputed.

Organic seal may soon mean ‘clone-free,’ too

MSNBC | Feb 2, 2007 

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With no label required for foods from cloned animals, the USDA seal marking organic products will help concerned consumers find clone-free milk and meat.

Meat, milk from cloned animals won’t get their own warning label

When the government approves food from cloned animals, expected in the next year, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t plan special labels. Government scientists have found no difference between clones and conventional cows, pigs or goats.

However, shoppers won’t be completely in the dark. To help them sort through meat and dairy products, one signal is the round, green USDA organic seal, says Caren Wilcox, who heads the Organic Trade Association.

While many people choose organic to avoid pesticides or antibiotics, Wilcox says the U.S. Department of Agriculture label also means clone-free.

Pentagon Demands Record $622 Billion Budget

New York Times | Feb 3, 2007 

The Bush administration is seeking a record military budget of $622 billion for the 2008 fiscal year, Pentagon officials have said. The sum includes more than $140 billion for war-related costs.

The administration is also seeking $93 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, to pay for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the officials said.

The requests are part of the annual budget request to Congress for all federal spending programs. The budget is to be made public on Monday, and Congress will revise it in the coming months.

Together with money for combat operations this year already approved by Congress, the new request would push spending related to Iraq and Afghanistan to $163 billion.

“It is the highest level of spending since the height of the Korean War,” said Steven Kosiak, a military budget expert with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a policy analysis organization here.

Mr. Kosiak said that in 1952 the United States spent the equivalent of $645 billion in today’s dollars, factoring in inflation, and that in the Korean War military spending exceeded 13 percent of the gross national product. The figure is now 4 percent.

FBI’s ‘full-pipe’ surveillance may be illegal

ZDNet News | Jan 31, 2007 

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In an initiative that is reminescent of the National Security Agency’s widespread Internet monitoring and seems to exceed the much-criticized Carnivore surveillance system, the FBI is compiling huge databases of Internet users’ online behavior, two law professors charged Friday at syposium at Stanford Law School.

News.com reports that the approach is utilized when the FBI obtains a subpoena for an individual’s records and the ISP can’t isolate the individual or IP address.

Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials. That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords.

Texas Governor Has Ties to Merck

Food Consumer | Feb 2, 2007

The governor’s order comes as a surprise as Mr. Perry is recognized as a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells.   His political base is said to count on the religious right.   News media has early predicted that it would be impossible for Texas to pass any bill to force girls to receive the HPV vaccine as many lawmakers are considered conservative enough to reject such legislation.

Is Perry’s order politically motivated?  No one knows.   But, USA Today has reported today that Perry has several ties to Merck, the maker of the HPV vaccine, and Women in Government, a not-for-profit organization comprised of state woman regulators, which some watchdog has claimed is too cozy with Merck.

Media has reported that Women in Government is quite active in promoting the Merck’s vaccine, which analysts say is positioned to make Merck more than billion dollars a year.   According to USA Today, Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff, serves as one of the drug company’s three lobbyists in Texas. Perry’s current chief of staff’s mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a head of Women in Government.

“Perry also received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee during his re-election campaign,” USA Today says.

Conservative and right groups have made it clear that they oppose any bill that requires young girls to receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer as they are concerned that such a mandatory requirement could be equivalent to giving a free license for young girls to have premarital sex, which is prohibited in many conservative families.   They also say such a requirement would interfere with the family’s right to raising their girls in their own way.

Texas has today decided to require that all school girls age 11 and 12 receive Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine known as gardasil in an effect to prevent cervical cancer induced by the virus.

The decision does not come from the state lawmakers.  It is Republican Gov. Rick Perry who issued an executive order directing the state’s Health Human Services Commission (HHSC) to get ready to administer the HPV vaccine in girls at noted ages before they enter sixth grade.

The order, effective September 2008, also directs HHSC and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to “make the vaccine immediately available to eligible young females through the Texas Vaccines for Children program for young women ages 9 to 18, and through Medicaid for women ages 19 to 21,” says the statement of the governor’s office on its website.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease.   The overwhelming majority of men and women are expected to contract the virus in their life.  It does not cause any harm except in rare cases in which cervical cancer may develop because of the infection. In 2006, there were 1,169 new cases and nearly 400 deaths from cervical cancer in Texas, according to a statement issued by the Governor’s office.   This is compared to 11,000 new cases and 3,300 deaths from the disease per year nationwide.

The governor’s order comes as a surprise as Mr. Perry is recognized as a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells.   His political base is said to count on the religious right.   News media has early predicted that it would be impossible for Texas to pass any bill to force girls to receive the HPV vaccine as many lawmakers are considered conservative enough to reject such legislation.

Is Perry’s order politically motivated?  No one knows.   But, USA Today has reported today that Perry has several ties to Merck, the maker of the HPV vaccine, and Women in Government, a not-for-profit organization comprised of state woman regulators, which some watchdog has claimed is too cozy with Merck.

Media has reported that Women in Government is quite active in promoting the Merck’s vaccine, which analysts say is positioned to make Merck more than billion dollars a year.   According to USA Today, Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff, serves as one of the drug company’s three lobbyists in Texas. Perry’s current chief of staff’s mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a head of Women in Government.

“Perry also received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee during his re-election campaign,” USA Today says.

Conservative and right groups have made it clear that they oppose any bill that requires young girls to receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer as they are concerned that such a mandatory requirement could be equivalent to giving a free license for young girls to have premarital sex, which is prohibited in many conservative families.   They also say such a requirement would interfere with the family’s right to raising their girls in their own way.

But Mr. Perry likens HPV infection to polio although HPV is transmitted via sex contact whereas polio infects people without requiring people to have any contact.   Right groups say HPV is behaviorally avoidable and a state mandate is not warranted. But Perry says the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children against polio.

“The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” says Perry. “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs.”

Mr. Perry says it makes sense to use the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer which would otherwise cause a large burden on medical expenditure.   But does this mandatory inoculation of the HPV vaccine really save medical costs?

On average, a 5-year treatment for a case of cervical caner would cost $11,000, early studies show.   For a 5-year span, about 5800 new cases of the disease are expected to be diagnosed in Texas, which means the medical cost for five years is 63.8 millions or 12.8 million a year.

In Texas, there are about 6.31 millions people now under age 18, meaning the number of girls who are required to receive the HPV vaccine each year is about 0.35 million.   The total number of girls to receive the vaccine is 1.76 million, meaning that Merck can rake in 630 million dollars in five years or 126 million dollars in the vaccine sales in Texas alone with Mr. Perry’s order. 

The cost for the first year would be double the price tag as girls both at age 11 and 12 will receive the vaccine.   The calculation is based on the price of the vaccine at $360 per girl.  

It seems that this state mandatory vaccination can save about 700 women’s lives a year in Texas at a cost of 126 million dollars a year spent on the preventive vaccine. These 700 women would otherwise need 7.7 million dollars for treatment of their cervical cancer.

Perry’s order can save some women’s lives, but it does not save money.

To comfort those who are concerned, the order allows parents to opt out of inoculations by filing an affidavit objecting to the vaccine on religious or philosophical reasons. In addition, the governor’s executive order directs DSHS to ease the opt-out process by providing exemption request forms online.

Still, conservative groups say the HPV vaccine requirement interferes with parents’ right to making medical decisions for their children.

Texas Governor Orders Schoolgirls to Submit to Forced Vaccination

Kansas City Star | Feb 2, 2007 

they_live_obey

Gov Rick Perry, when you put the glasses of discernment on.

Cathie Adams, who heads the Texas Eagle Forum, said she was “very sad” that Perry issued the order and warned that state health officials and executives with Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the vaccine marketed as Gardasil, are usurping the role traditionally played by parents.

“I am absolutely opposed that Merck and the state government are planning to inject young girls with a cancer-causing virus,” Adams said. “And I don’t think the opt-out provision is the way to go. Parents who want to should be able to opt in on behalf of their children; no one should be forced to have to opt out.”

Texas is poised to become the first state in the nation to require 11- and 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated for the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

Gov. Rick Perry on Friday ordered state health officials to enforce the rule requiring girls entering the sixth grade to be vaccinated for the human papillomavirus, known as HPV. Parents who have religious or conscientious objections may opt out of the requirement, which is scheduled to take effect at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year.

“The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said in a statement. “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs.”

Perry’s order tracks the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has advised that the vaccination be given to all girls ages 11 and 12. The Atlanta-based centers estimate that 3,700 women in the United States died of cervical cancer in 2005.

In his statement, Perry said HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., with about 20 million people infected. Texas has the second-highest number of women with the virus. About 400 Texas women died of cervical cancer last year.

The order was met with harsh criticism from one of the Republican governor’s most conservative allies and with praise from organizations that have often criticized Perry’s policies.

“Today’s decision by the governor is not just a positive step forward in efforts to promote women’s health, it is also an important acknowledgment that health and science should not be held hostage to politics and ideology,” said Kathy Miller, who heads the liberal-leaning Texas Freedom Network.

Planned Parenthood of North Texas also supports efforts to make the vaccine required.

But Cathie Adams, who heads the Texas Eagle Forum, said she was “very sad” that Perry issued the order and warned that state health officials and executives with Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the vaccine marketed as Gardasil, are usurping the role traditionally played by parents.

“I am absolutely opposed that Merck and the state government are planning to inject young girls with a cancer-causing virus,” Adams said. “And I don’t think the opt-out provision is the way to go. Parents who want to should be able to opt in on behalf of their children; no one should be forced to have to opt out.”

Although some conservative and religious organizations have expressed concern that ready access to a vaccine aimed at a sexually transmitted disease might promote promiscuity, Adams said such fears are secondary to the health and parental-rights issues.

“Sure, there’s a moral concern,” she said. “But as a parent and a grandparent, my biggest concern is what the state is planning for our children.”

Joann Jaquez of Fort Worth, Texas, said she plans to ask her doctor about the vaccine for her 11-year-old daughter.

“If it’s something to help her not get cervical cancer then I would consider it, but I would like more information,” she said. “But I would not like to be told it’s mandatory for her to enter the sixth grade. I would like to make that decision myself.”

Arlington, Texas, pediatrician Maria Fisher said that parents are asking for the vaccine. About half of the pediatricians in Arlington are giving it, she said.

“It sounds like an excellent vaccine since the greatest cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus, and it’s preventable with the vaccine,” she said.

Fisher brushed aside the idea that the vaccine might encourage sexual activity, saying that girls can be exposed to the virus even if it is not their choice to be sexually active.

“With 1 in 4 women sexually abused, that’s another big reason the vaccine should be given,” she said.

The state will set aside $29 million to ensure that girls and young women up to age 21 without access to private health insurance can obtain the vaccine.

Krista Moody, a spokeswoman for the governor, rejected assertions that heavy lobbying by Merck representatives in Austin or that a campaign contribution from the company’s political action committee played any role in the decision to issue the order.