Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Health Care Debate,8599,1926833,00.html

This article discusses the state of health care in West Virginia. A public option is wanted, but it is worried that by offering a public option private insurers will be put out of business. The Senate Finance Committee voted and the public was voted down 15 to 8 originally, but with an amendment including reimbursements to medicare rates, 2 democrats joined support and it was voted down 13 to 10.

Maine Republican Olympia Snowe has offered an amendment that calls for public health insurance only if private insurers don't do enough to offer affordable coverage. This would be determined on a state-by-state basis and private insurers would be able to change before a public option took hold.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abortion Fight Complicates Debate on Health Care

The article is about a proposal to ban the use of subsidies to fund abortions. They say that people will be free to purchase additional "rider" insurance that covers abortions. States will all have to have at least one plan that covers abortions (private) and one that doesn't .

The is abortion debate is frustrating to me. In this instance especially, it's flat out discrimination. In these economic times, many people don't have the means to pay extra for abortion coverage. If they can't afford to get an abortion, it's going to be very hard to raise a healthy happy child.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

I've just finished reading the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. The book goes from Christopher's first short runs that always resulted in injuries, to his first 50 mile run through the sweltering hills and canyons of rural Mexico.

As a journalist, McDougall is able to see some of the worlds greatest runners, and watch the greatest races. He becomes curious about the Tarahumara (or "running people") who reside in secluded caves in Mexico. He searches for a man named "Caballo" and together they compile a small race for some of the worlds greatest, most diverse ultra runners.In attendance are the Tarahumara; runners from a near-by village of Urique; Scott Jurek - a vegan and one of the worlds best ultra marathoners; "Barefoot Ted" - a man who always runs barefoot through any type of terrain; Jenn Shelton and Billy Barnett - young and fast Californian partiers; and a few more.

The book goes into depth about things such as the physics of running shoes, the "persistence hunting" theory about humans being able to run animals to the death, and the best things to eat as runner. It's all very factual and subjective - not preachy- like some of these topics often are.

The book is very interesting, and hard to put down. I recommend it to anyone who is a runner, interested in running, and, in particular, interested in ultra marathons.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

For the first time, AIDS vaccine shows some success

An AIDS vaccine was tested on volunteers in Thailand. Half were given placebo's, and the other half the vaccine. Of the 16,000 volunteers, 74 given placebo became infected, and only 51 given the vaccine did.

The vaccine is a combination of two other, previously tested vaccines that did not have any effects on humans. Scientists say they do not know why this vaccine was more effective.

Even though the effectiveness of the vaccine is small, it is a huge step in the right direction.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grocery Wars

Cub, Rainbow, and Lund's/Byerly's had been the top three grocers in the Twin Cities, but recently non-unionized discount grocers have been moving in and making gains. Super Target, Aldi, and Walmart are all fairly new to the Twin Cities, but Super Target has already moved up to #2 and Walmart is #4.

Similar scenarios have happened before - "In the long run, though, this battle will drive someone out of business. That's always been true in the Twin Cities. The 1950s neighborhood grocers that grandma shopped gave way to Red Owl and Del-Farm, then Applebaum's and Country Club, then Cub and Rainbow."

Long time cashiers and Cub can make up to $22/hour, where at Super Target few make more than $10/hour.

Walmart has avoided the Twin Cities because of the union stronghold. They waited for other non-unionized businesses, such as Aldi and Target, to move in before following.

Discount stores are able to sell groceries like produce at below cost because they save on wages, benefits, and sell large amounts of non-perishables. Stores like Kowalski's are unable to do that because a large portion of their money is going to their employees.

Monday, September 14, 2009

At Least 19 Killed in Ramadan Food Stampede

It is traditional for Muslims to give away food for the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. Due to extreme poverty, people rushed to receive their food. 19 women were killed in the stampede and at least another 25 women were injured.

When a parent "I love you" means "do as I say"

This was an interesting article about the top of "conditional" vs "unconditional" parenting.

Conditional parenting is when a parent scolds a child or withholds "love" from the child when they misbehave, or do poorly in school. In unconditional parenting, the parent will address what the child did wrong, but not make them feel as though they are less loved because of it.

The article said studies have shown that positive conditional parenting (praising a child more when they do well) has both positive and negative effects. The child may do what the parent wants, but often they have a feel of being controlled or motivated by an outside source, instead of feeling as though they achieved something on their own. Negative conditional parenting has shown no positives and only increases children's dislike of their parents.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Care Reform and "American Values"

People on both sides of the aisle are using incorrect terms, such as "uniquely American", "Canadian" and "British" to describe our current health care, and health care to come.

The premise is that "American values" point to one form of health care - private insurance.

Dr. Allan S. Brett says that when politicians use the term "American values", they are assuming all Americans have the same values.  They are also assuming these values mean the same thing to the different people. Freedom could mean freedom to choose what health plan a person wants, it could also mean freedom from worrying about being able to afford health care if they became too sick.

Choices of physicians and where to go to the doctors are increased in a single payer system, because there are no insurance restrictions.

In the past twenty years, patients have been more and more able to get whatever test or procedures they want done.  Doctors think less about how effective they will actually be, and a lot of money is wasted.

Dr. Brett says that one uniquely American thing about our health care system is that we deny coverage to a portion of our population.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama Health Care Speech

This article looked at Obamas speaking skills, and how he is using them to win over congress, and a country that has seemed to be loosing faith in him.

He addressed the issue of health care in a more articulate and simplified manor, talking not just to congress, but also to the American people watching him on their televisions.

He has used his speaking before to come back after difficult times, like after accusations of racism came out because of comments made by his former pastor.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hatoyama Stands By Campaign Vow For Sharp Cut In Japans Emissions

Japans presumptive prime minister is stand by his campaign promises to cut emissions from 1990 levels by 25%.  Though he said that his promises were contingent on other countries making similar goals.

The European Union has promised to cut emission by 20% for 1990 levels, and 30% if other countries follow.  In the United States, congress is debating over a bill that would cut emissions by 6%.

Some are worried a 25% cut would be too harmful to the economy of Japan, and thousands of jobs would be lost. 

There is also concern that the Obama administration will not have time to win congresses support on reduction of carbon emission.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stimulus-Assisted Schools Still Facing Crippling Cuts

Schools across the countries had to cut lay-off thousands of teachers and give pay cuts to others. 

Schools were given a stimulus so they could afford to hire back teachers.  Most of them still received pay cuts.

One of the problems schools are facing is no way of testing the quality of teachers, and laws that force them to lay teachers of based on seniority, instead of how good they are.  Schools are getting stuck with not enough teachers, and those they do have, aren't always the best.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech

Some conservative parents do not want their children to watch Obama speak in their schools about the importance of staying in school.

The republican chairman in Florida said he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”

And Chris Stigall, a Kansas City talk show host, said, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

Some parents want schools to offer alternative classes for children to attend.  Others say they don't see how listening to the president of out country speak is damaging our children.

I do agree that President Obama is sending a socialist message by urging kids to stay in school.  Public schools are one of the few social programs we have in America!  I don't understand why people who are already conforming to this would worry about there children being indoctrinated.  They've already given the same message to their children themselves! 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sleep: Natures Time Management Tool.

Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA argues that sleep has evolved to optimize the use of time.  It keeps animals safe when the hunting, fishing, or scavenging is scarce or risky. In this view, differences in sleep patterns, including periods of insomnia, are not seen as problems but adaptations. 

There is opposition to almost ever idea offered about sleep.  Some believe it consolidates memories, others think sleep is needed to repair neural damage. Critics also point out that sleeping animals are less alert to predators than waking ones.

Siegel points out that sleepers are less vulnerable than they appear, being highly sensitive to certain sounds such as thumps, voices, or a babies whine. He also argues that the need for sleep is diminished in the most important waking hours - killer whales migrating for weeks on end, fully alert, with no sleep, is an example.

Siegel says that the elderly, who general sleep much less than young adults, may not be sleep deprived because of less sleep. They no longer have the need grow, and they have more of a need and ability to do things for themselves.

Siegel comes to the conclusion that people simply may not sleep well, or at certain hours because there is work to be done.

Obama Simplifies Health Plan

Obama plans to address a rare joint sessions of congress to get support for his health bill.

Obama is going to be more detailed in outlining his health plan, instead of leaving it broad for congress to fill in the details.

Obama has not given up on a proposal for a government run competitor to the private insurers.

He is going to focus on areas of potential agreement - such as regulation of the private companies, to prohibit them from denying coverage, or charging them more for pre-existing conditions.  Also, subsidies to make health care affordable for lower income people.

Obama is losing support for his health plan, but still prefers a public option of health care to compete with the private providers. He has to cut some things from his plans in attempts to gain support.  Some things that may be dropped are proposals requiring the government to create school based health clinics, and collect nation wide date on race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

If he doesn't gain enough support he may have to change his plan from one that requires all Americans to have health insurance, to one where all children, or families with children to be insured.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Japanese opposition set for victory; PM quits as party head

The Japanese Prime Minister announced his resignation as the head of the party that has governed Japan for decades, after it was defeated in the Japanese elections on Sunday. 

The Democratic Party of Japan won against the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.

The DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama has been compared to Barack Obama, and is touting a message of change. He is attracting large crowds in support.  

The LDP has been in continuous power of the Parliament for more than 50 years, but it is expected that the power will shift to the DPJ.  If the DPJ wins majority, it will be the first time it will govern the country.