Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Census Bureau to Survey Nation's Spending Habits

TT Note: Beware, my friends, now Big Brother is coming to a location in your home so he can watch how you're spending your precious money. I'm wondering how one can politely say no thanks when the federal person shows up and says, "Hey, You've been selected to tell us everything." And all this is done by a third party hired hand who is to come into my home to do this survey on a regular basis? Will they demand proof of purchase?

This comes on top of the recent letter sent home to students saying Big Brother has to know their race. What other big plans is Big Brother putting in place to monitor our every move? Will we all be tagged soon with GPS?


/PRNewswire / -- In April 2009, U.S. Census Bureau field representatives will collect information about how much Americans spend for groceries, clothing, transportation, housing, health care and other items from a sample of households across the country.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program consists of two parts:

-- The Interview Survey - Throughout the year, about 28,000 households
will be interviewed once every three months over five calendar
quarters to obtain data on relatively large expenditures and also for
those expenditures that occur on a regular basis (such as rent and
utilities).


-- The Diary Survey - During the year, another 7,000 households will keep
two consecutive one-week diaries of smaller, more frequent purchases
that may be difficult for respondents to recall later (such as a
fast-food purchase at a drive-through window, a soda or candy bar from
a vending machine, or a carton of eggs from the supermarket).


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics then calculates and publishes integrated data from the two surveys - providing a snapshot of our nation's economy and spending habits. Government economists use the survey results to update a "market basket" of goods and services for the Consumer Price Index, our nation's most widely used measure of inflation.

"The Consumer Price Index," said George Grandy Jr., director of the Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office, "helps businesses around the country keep wages, salaries and pensions in line with increases in the cost of living."

Before the CE interviews begin, households will receive a letter from the Census Bureau director informing them of their selection to participate in the survey. Census Bureau field representatives will visit these households to conduct the interview. The field representative must display an official photo identification before proceeding with the interview. Federal law ensures survey respondents' personal information and answers are kept confidential.

The following data on the amount spent on health care are an example of CE results.

Household Expenditures for Health Care: 2006-2007

Average annual amount Percentage of total
Area spent for health care expenditures

United States $2,810 5.7

Northeast $2,618 5.2
Boston 2,809 5.1
New York 2,674 4.7
Philadelphia 2,175 4.5

South $2,788 6.2
Houston 3,293 5.9
Dallas-Fort Worth 2,967 5.5
Washington, D.C. 2,641 4.0
Baltimore 2,431 4.6
Atlanta 2,355 5.0
Miami 2,167 4.7

Midwest $2,957 6.3
Minneapolis-St. Paul 3,705 6.2
Cleveland 3,293 6.9
Chicago 3,020 5.3
Detroit 2,307 4.8

West $2,857 5.0
San Francisco 3,224 4.6
Seattle 3,127 5.3
Phoenix 3,058 5.3
San Diego 2,613 4.8
Los Angeles 2,324 3.8

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Study reveals conflicting attitudes about electronic monitoring

TT Note: Do the crime, pay the time. I guess the question becomes where you pay it?

Minority college students have significantly different attitudes about electronic monitoring devices used to punish criminal offenders than white students, according to a new study by Brian Payne, chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Georgia State University.

Payne, who surveyed 599 students at two universities in southeastern Virginia, found that while white students believe that the tracking device is too lenient, black students are more likely to agree that electronic monitoring is a severe punishment that turns the home into a prison.

“In these tough budget times there have been some states that have looked at jails and prison populations and say we are letting you out in 90 days, but we’re putting you on electronic monitoring,” Payne said. “It’s a growing type of technology and it would help if the public had a better understanding about the sanction and saw it as a viable tool that would assist with the reintegration of offenders at some point and not something that was a slap on the wrist.”

Matthew DeMichele of University of Kentucky, Nonso Okafo of Norfolk University, and Payne surveyed students with questions such as whether electronic monitoring deters crime or if the tool ensures that an offender is punished.

Among the findings, the researchers revealed that 45 percent of white students were more likely to agree that electronic monitoring deters misconduct, as compared to 37 percent of blacks.
Many of the attitudinal differences among the students can be attributed to perceptions about the inequality that minorities see in the application of the electronic monitoring, Payne said. For instance, nearly half of the black students said that the punishment was unfair because wealthier offenders stay in nicer arrangements. Black students also agreed that electronic monitoring perpetuates a racist system, discriminates against the poor and is more likely to be given to wealthy offenders.

Payne, who has been studying electronic monitoring for more than a decade, has also studied offender perceptions of being on parole with a tracking device.

“Offenders that we talked to said that it was better than jail, but it was like jail,” Payne said. “But since then there have been studies interviewing people who were in prison, and those people were saying they prefer to be in prison than on probation. Particularly minorities and those who had prior experience in the criminal justice system were the ones that tended to see prison more favorably than sanctions like electronic monitoring.”

Understanding the differences in the way that different groups perceive electronic monitoring can aid policymakers to develop public awareness campaigns and counter misconceptions, Payne said. The study may also help probation officers better understand the way perception plays a role in how offenders experience punishment and how cultural influences may dictate the probation or parole experience.

“Like other kinds of sanctions electronic monitoring is sometimes used when it shouldn’t be used,” Payne said. “It’s not a perfect kind of sanction and it shouldn’t be expected to solve problems on its own. It requires a great deal of effort from probation parole officers and it’s just one tool that they have available.”

Payne’s study was published in the Journal of Criminal Justice. He is currently working on a study about the use of global positioning systems and sex offenders.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Federal Court Rules FDA Must Reconsider Plan B Decision

/PRNewswire / -- Today, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York rejected the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to limit over-the-counter access to the emergency contraceptive Plan B to women over 18, ruling that it was based on politics and ideology, rather than science. The court ordered the agency to reconsider its decision. It also ordered the FDA to act within 30 days to extend over-the-counter access, which is currently limited to 18 year olds and over, to 17 year olds.

"Today's ruling is a tremendous victory for all Americans who expect the government to safeguard public health," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the suit against the FDA.

"The message is clear -- the FDA should put medical science first and leave politics at the lab door. We are encouraged that the agency, now under new leadership, will take that message to heart."

The Center for Reproductive Rights sued the FDA in 2005 for failing to grant over-the-counter status to Plan B against the advice of scientific experts and in violation of its own procedures and regulations. In 2006, the FDA agreed to make Plan B available without a prescription, but only to women over 18 and only behind the pharmacy counter. The Center continued to pursue its lawsuit, Tummino v. von Eschenbach, to ensure that Plan B would be granted true over-the-counter status and made available to all women, including young women who might benefit most from this form of contraception.

"According to the FDA's own rules, the only legitimate criteria for making a drug available without a prescription are safety and efficacy," said Northup. "Emergency contraception is proven safe and effective and today, all women -- including young women for whom the barriers and the benefits are so great -- are one step closer to having the access they need and deserve."

The Court found that the FDA "acted in bad faith and in response to political pressure," "departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures," and engaged in "repeated and unreasonable delays." In addition, the court found that the FDA's justification for denying over-the-counter access to 17 year olds "lacks all credibility," and was based on "fanciful and wholly unsubstantiated 'enforcement' concerns."

Before its action on Plan B, the FDA had never restricted a non-prescription drug based on a person's age, nor had the Bush Administration ever been consulted by the FDA about an over-the-counter drug application. Depositions of senior FDA officials by the Center in 2006 indicated that the Bush Administration sought to unduly influence the agency during the Plan B application review process. Testimony also indicated that officials involved in the decision-making process were concerned about losing their jobs if they did not follow the Administration's political directives.

Other evidence uncovered during the lawsuit showed that the agency repeatedly departed from its own established procedures during the FDA case, from filling the reproductive health committee with political "operatives" to making a decision to reject over-the-counter access to Plan B before completion of the standard review.

The Center's battle to make Plan B available over-the-counter to women of all ages began in 2001, when it filed a citizens' petition with the FDA on behalf of over 70 medical and public health organizations to grant the drug over-the-counter status. On January 21, 2005, the Center filed Tummino v. von Eschenbach in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP); National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; individuals from a grassroots advocacy group, the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy; and parents who seek over-the-counter access for their daughters. On March 30, 2007, the Center asked for summary judgment in the case, arguing that the evidence gathered during discovery made it unnecessary for the court to hold a trial and that the court should order the agency to make Plan B available without a prescription to all women.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Toxic Chemicals in Children's Bath Products Trigger International Outcry

/PRNewswire/ -- The governments of China and Vietnam are conducting their own safety tests on some baby bath products found to be contaminated with formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in a report issued March 12 by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Some major Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese retailers have pulled these products from their shelves. The Israeli Health Ministry has stated that U.S. baby products with carcinogenic contaminants are not sold in Israel.

In the U.S., Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) have called for greater oversight of the $50 billion cosmetic industry in response to this report. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has demanded that FDA investigate contaminants in personal care products marketed for babies and young children. In a press release, Gillibrand says, "As a mother of two young children, I expect the baby and child products my family uses to be safe. I find it to be unacceptable that the FDA does not regulate personal care products, as it does food and drugs."

Contrary to industry statements, the U.S. has no safety standards for formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in personal care products, nor does it limit the amount of these chemicals in products or require that they be listed on labels. The European Union has banned 1,4-dioxane from personal care products and has recalled products found to contain the chemical. Formaldehyde is banned from personal care products in Japan and Sweden, and restricted in the EU and Canada.

"Once again, the U.S. is lagging when it comes to protecting children's health," said Lisa Archer of the Breast Cancer Fund and coordinator of the Campaign. "The lack of safety standards in the U.S. is disadvantaging American companies. We need updated laws to ensure that American products meet the highest bar of safety and are free of toxic chemicals."

The Campaign's report is the first to document the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in children's bath products, including Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Sesame Street Bubble Bath.

Since the report release last Thursday, at least 20,000 people have contacted their congressional representatives to demand strengthened FDA oversight and regulation of the cosmetics industry. To date, no action has been reported on the part of the U.S. government or retailers.

Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known to cause cancer in animals and are listed as probable human carcinogens by the EPA. Formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in people who are sensitive to the chemical, at levels found in many of the products tested for the study. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that babies are 10 to 65 times more vulnerable to cancer-causing chemicals than adults.

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Sports Concussions: Common and Preventable

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sports and recreation related concussions impact an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million individuals in the U.S. each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow or jolt to the head and can range from mild to severe. It is important to note that even if you do not lose consciousness after a fall, it is possible to have a concussion.

Symptoms of concussion can include headache, nausea, dizziness, and visual changes, but it is important to note they are different for every individual and are not always immediately evident. In fact, it can take days or weeks before symptoms are present. Therefore it is important to seek medical attention immediately following any type of blow to the head.

"Recovery from concussion and brain injury never really stops, so even if an injury occurred in the past, it is not too late to seek medical advice," according to Patrick Walsh, Psy.D., Marianjoy Director of Psychology and Brain Injury Program Coordinator. "It can be a very slow process and usually requires long-term rehabilitation."

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month; this year the focus is on sports and concussions. It is important to wear protective gear -- including a helmet -- when engaging in physical activities such as snowboarding, skiing, bicycling, rollerblading or contact sports.

Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital is proud to have received full accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for its inpatient brain injury program. Its experienced staff is dedicated to improving the outcomes of patients with brain injury by addressing their physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral challenges. The Marianjoy Brain Injury Team works with the patient to optimize the patient's life skills that are necessary to transition home and integrate back into the community.

In addition to offering an acute inpatient brain injury program, the Marianjoy Post Concussive Institute Program offers treatment for individuals experiencing physical, cognitive or emotional difficulties following a mild head injury.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Research Finds Popular Household Pets Transmit Dangerous Parasites to Humans

/PRNewswire/ -- A study by the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University Medical Center links Toxoplasma, a cat-borne parasite, to neurotic behavior in infected men and women. Between 25 and 50 percent of the world's human population - and 30 percent of the U.S. population - may be infected.

Toxoplasma eggs are shed in an infected cat's feces and then passed to humans when changing cat litter, gardening and petting.

In 2000, studies revealed Toxoplasma takes over the brain's main fear center in infected rats, making them fearless of their predators.

There are over 100 types of parasites. In addition to cats, sources include insects, blood transfusions, and contaminated foods, including undercooked meats, and fruits and vegetables improperly washed.

Dr. Frank Nova, Chief of the Laboratory for Parasitic Diseases of the National Institute of Health, warns, "In terms of numbers there are more parasitic infections acquired in this country than in Africa." Why? Zoltan P. Rona, MD, author of numerous health books, says, "because of increased international travel, contamination of the water supply and the overuse of chemicals, mercury and prescription antibiotics."

Parasites range in size from microscopic to several feet long, but regardless of size, parasites can cause illness and death. To stay healthy and avoid infection cook food well, thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, and wash your hands frequently.

Dr. Clark Store provides a hand sanitizer spray that helps eliminate bacteria from hands and under fingernails. Hand sanitation is essential after changing a diaper, working in the garden, after bathroom use, and before meals. The spray can also be used to sterilize kitchen countertops.

They also sell Food Sanitizer, an iodine solution that when mixed with water creates a Food Sanitation Solution; it can also be used as a food supplement.

Dr. Clark Store produces herbal cleanses, sanitation and personal care products that meet the requirements set forth in Hulda Clark, Ph.D.'s public research.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Consumer Reports Poll: 66% of Americans Blindsided by Cost of Drugs; Many Not Taking Needed Medications

/PRNewswire/ -- Sticker shock is taking a toll on Americans when they fill their prescriptions: 66% of those polled by Consumer Reports said they found out the cost of a drug when they picked it up at the pharmacy counter, while just 4% said they had a conversation with their doctor about the cost of a drug. And 28% of Americans told Consumer Reports they'd taken potentially dangerous actions to save money, such as not filling prescriptions, skipping dosages, and cutting pills in half without the approval of their doctor.

Cutting Corners, Not Complying With Prescriptions

"We were surprised by the extent to which consumers are cutting corners and the risks they're taking as a result of belt-tightening. Most importantly, patients need to talk to their doctors about the cost of drugs and let them know when they have difficulty paying for prescriptions," said Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. In a separate poll of Hispanic consumers, Consumer Reports found that half of Hispanic Americans are not following through on their doctors' prescriptions and nearly 3 in 10 had decided against filling a script for cost reasons.

New Magazine Identifies Proven, Cost-Effective Alternatives

The poll is being released in conjunction with Consumer Reports Best Drugs For Less, a 60-page magazine that rates more than 200 prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines for more than 20 conditions including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and depression. Best Drugs for Less can be purchased by visiting www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org, where the ratings can be accessed for free. The ratings are part of a larger initiative by the newly launched Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center to provide consumers with health ratings based on independent and unbiased review of the best scientific evidence available.

"By every measure, and certainly through our extensive polling, it is clear that our long term economic crisis will only be solved by also fixing our nation's health-care system," said Consumers Union President Jim Guest. According to Guest, Consumers Union has been a strong advocate of increased federal funding for comparative effectiveness -- the task of comparing different options for treating a medical condition -- which received $1.1 billion in stimulus funding and is being looked at by Congress for additional funding. "Comparative effectiveness research helps patients and doctors make better choices, and will help improve our broken health-care system," said Guest.

Misgivings About Generics

When generic versions of a brand name drug are available, they are as safe and effective as the original. For brand name drugs, where a generic version is not available, in many cases doctors or pharmacists can substitute the generic version of an older drug with equivalent effectiveness (and often a longer safety record).

-- Nearly half of Americans polled (47%) had reservations or
misconceptions about taking generic drugs.
-- Forty-six percent of Americans polled by Consumer Reports said their
physician never or sometimes recommended generics.
-- Accurate information about generics is not reaching the consumers who
could benefit the most, such as those spending more than $50/month on
prescription drugs (52%).
-- In a separate Consumer Reports poll of Hispanic consumers, 43%
expressed misgivings about generics, saying they sometimes or never
work.

Americans Heeding Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising

"The pharmaceutical industry undermines generic drugs very effectively through advertising and free samples of brand-name drugs, while using more subtle tactics to tell patients and doctors that generics are something to be afraid of," said Dr. Santa.

-- One fifth of people who regularly take a prescription medication have
requested a drug from their doctor that they had seen in a drug ad and
the majority (67%) said their doctor wrote the prescription.
-- Eighty percent of the same group said they had received free drug
samples from their doctors.

Americans Perceive Undue Influence of Pharmaceutical Industry

-- Consumers perceive the undue influence of pharmaceutical companies on
their doctors. Those practices raising the greatest concern among
consumers were rewarding doctors who write a lot of prescriptions
(82%); receiving fully paid trips (77%) or gifts worth more than $50
(76%); and paying for doctors' attendance at meetings (67%).

Washington, D. C., Campaign For Comparative Effectiveness

To underscore the point that some pills work better than others -- and hence the need for rigorous comparisons -- Consumer Reports is staging a display at Union Station in Washington, D.C., from Tuesday, March 17th to Thursday, March 19th. The display at the station's main hall will be easy to spot: Just look for the giant pills running on treadmills. Copies of Consumer Reports Best Drugs For Less will be distributed at Union Station, in addition to four key metro stops, as part of a weeklong Washington D.C. campaign to raise awareness about comparative effectiveness.

Poll Methodology

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. A total of 2,004 interviews were completed among adults ages 18+ and interviewing took place January 15-19, 2009. The margin of error is +/-3.4% points at a 95% confidence level.

The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Bee Stings for Your Health?

How many times have you been stung by a bee? Like most people, you can most likely account for each sting over the years. They were painful. There also seemed to be a mad rush to find just the right ingredient to minimize the pain associated with the sting. Memories of ice and wet tobacco seem to come to mind.

Now, there is a movement afoot to use bee stings for your health. Before I give you the buzz on the sting, this treatment option is not for anyone who is allergic to insect stings.

Bee stings are used by some doctors as a treatment to reduce pain in some patients. Don't laugh too hard. Tis true.

It would appear the neurotoxin found in the bee sting acts as an anti-inflammtory agent. The patients who experience constant pain such as in found in multiple sclerosis, arthritis and fibromyalgia are great candidates, according to the docs who prescribe this therapy.

As for the pain of the sting, they say it's no problem as ice is used to deaden the area before the sting.

I don't know if this works or not, and I most likely won't be finding out anytime soon. I just don't know if I could be in enough pain to ask for a bee sting.

If you need a nest of bees in case you want to experiment, just check outside as our plants begin to flower. There's usually a group buzz going on.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trying Times for Local Newspapers Across America

TT Note: It seems impossible. Our nation which has relied on the printed newspaper for so long is saying goodbye to many of them. Long gone are the days of the young boy standing on the street corner shouting "Extra, extra, read all about it."

My dad's first job as a young teen was standing outside a huge theatre in a large city shouting those words and selling the paper. He remembered those days fondly as it was really cool to see the large acts like Lawrence Welk and the Big Bands come through town.

Gone are the days of young boys on their bicycles delivering newspapers throughout the neighborhoods. Do our youth of today even know they existed?

It is sad to see so many newspapers go down. The economy has certainly played its role in adding nails to the coffin. But I wonder how many editors contributed to their own demise by focusing on extreme sensationalism or negative news? Just a thought.

As Cities Go From Two Papers to One, Talk of Zero

By Richard PÉREZ-PEÑA
Published: March 11, 2009

The history of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer stretches back more than two decades before Washington became a state, but after 146 years of publishing, the paper is expected to print its last issue next week, perhaps surviving only in a much smaller online version.

And it is not alone.....http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/business/media/12papers.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&hp

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dating Abuse Affects One in Five Teens

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Studies show that one in five teenagers in a serious dating relationship reports being physically abused by their partner. This issue is so serious that several states have passed laws specifically addressing teen dating abuse.

Hazelden Publishing, the leading publisher of evidence-based violence prevention programs for students in first grade through 12th grade, understands the significance of preventing dating violence and has published Safe Dates, the only evidence-based program that addresses this important issue. Safe Dates helps teens recognize the difference between caring, supportive relationships and controlling, manipulative, or abusive dating relationships.

"There are schools all over the United States that are implementing Safe Dates," said Sue Thomas, expert on prevention and anti-bullying products, Hazelden Publishing. "When implemented with fidelity, research shows that schools and community organizations can see a significant reduction in physical and sexual dating violence."

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teens involved in an abusive dating relationship are more likely to do poorly in school and often engage in unhealthy behaviors, including drug and alcohol use.

Dr. Rodney Hammond, director of the CDC's division of violence prevention, stated, "Reducing dating abuse requires effective prevention tools that are scientifically based. Recognizing the lack of such tools, CDC funded the development of the Safe Dates program. We hope that the lessons learned from the program can be used by other communities in their efforts to prevent violence."

An ideal component to any middle or high school curriculum or community-based program, Safe Dates targets attitudes and behaviors associated with dating abuse and violence and works to change those attitudes and behaviors. Safe Dates was selected for the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), and received high ratings on all criteria.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Midwestern and Southern States Receive Least Federal Funding for Disease Prevention

TT Note: Looking at the states' rankings based on the amount of federal dollars, that is, your and mine tax dollars, there appears to be an unequal distribution. Wonder if the new and improved tax revenues by the new administration will allow for those states who receive less federal help have lower taxes than those who dip mightily? Oops, sorry. Guess the caffeine isn't making my brain work too well. Of course not. We will all have to dig deep for the money.

/PRNewswire/ -- Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today released a new report that found Midwestern and Southern states received less funding from the federal government than Northeastern and Western states did in fiscal year (FY) 2008 for disease prevention programs, which can amount to millions of dollars in differences. The Shortchanging America's Health: A State-By-State Look at How Federal Public Health Dollars are Spent also examines how the economic downturn could lead to serious cuts to disease prevention and emergency preparedness programs at the state level.

The report found that states receive $17.60 per person on average from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to spend on public health. Midwestern states received an average of $17.69 per person and Southern states received $18.43 per person, while Northeastern states received $22.49 and Western states received $23.94 per person from the CDC.

"Even in better economic times, the country's investment in keeping the public healthy and safe is a tiny fraction of what we spend on treating people after they've become sick. Our priorities are upside down. And now in tough times, this balance could get worse, but we shouldn't forget that cutting public health programs to try to solve short-term budget problems will result in long-term negative financial and health consequences," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Public health programs help keep disease rates down, which in turn keeps health care costs down. It's going to be hard to get the economy healthy again if our workers and our health care system are both sick."

Alaska received the most funding from CDC of any state at $52.78 per person in FY 2008, while Indiana received the least at $12.74 - a $40 difference. Approximately 75 percent of CDC's budget is distributed through grants or cooperative agreements to states and communities to support programs to prevent diseases and prepare for health disasters.

Public health programs are supported through a combination of federal, state, and local resources. State funding is expected to drop significantly as state governments face severe budget crises. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), at least 46 states are facing shortfalls to their 2009 and/or 2010 budgets. CBPP estimates that combined budget gaps for states in the remainder of 2009, 2010, and 2011 could total more than $350 billion.

Some health programs at-risk for cuts include:

-- Cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic disease prevention;
-- HIV/AIDS, MRSA, TB, and other infectious disease prevention;
-- Food and water safety;
-- Environmental health improvement; and
-- Bioterrorism and health emergency preparedness.


In addition, more than 11,000 state and local public health jobs have already been cut, and another 10,000 may be cut, according to surveys conducted by state and local health departments.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided an additional $1 billion for public health programs for next year, which will help provide additional support in many communities.

"The financial crisis makes it more important than ever for the country to make prevention a top priority," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Even in these troubled times, prevention is an investment we can count on to deliver a big payoff - sparing millions of people from developing preventable diseases while saving billions in health care costs."

The full report includes state-by-state pages of key health statistics and funding information and is available on TFAH's Web site at www.healthyamericans.org. The report was supported by a grant from RWJF.

Rankings of CDC Funds for States (Based on Fiscal Year 2008)

1=Most funds; 50=Least funds. Funds are listed on a per person basis.
The national average CDC funding is $17.60 per person.


1. Alaska ($52.78); 2. Vermont ($35.15); 3. Wyoming ($32.43); 4. Rhode Island ($32.09); 5. New Mexico ($30.94); 6. South Dakota ($29.12); 7. North Dakota ($27.45); 8. Hawaii ($25.55); 9. Delaware ($24.98); 10. Montana ($24.33); 11. Maine ($23.53); 12. Maryland ($22.92); 13. West Virginia ($21.78); 14. New York ($21.39); 15. Washington ($21.34); 16. Louisiana ($21.25); 17. New Hampshire ($21.07); 18. Idaho ($20.97); 19. Massachusetts ($20.85); 20. Nebraska ($20.54); 21. Mississippi ($20.04); 22. Nevada ($19.67); 23. Arkansas ($19.19); 24. Oklahoma ($19.10); 25. North Carolina ($19.00); 26. South Carolina ($18.69); 27. Georgia ($18.68); 28. Connecticut ($18.63); 29. Colorado ($17.92); 30. Arizona ($17.30); 31. Texas ($17.16); 32. Alabama ($16.95); 33. Illinois ($16.66); 34. Iowa ($16.37); 35. Oregon ($16.33); 36. California ($15.94); 37. Michigan ($15.76); 38. New Jersey ($15.75); 39. Utah ($15.73); 40. Minnesota ($15.66); 41. Kansas ($15.14); 41. Missouri ($15.14); 43. Wisconsin ($14.97); 44. Tennessee ($14.96); 45. Pennsylvania ($13.99); 46. Kentucky ($13.94); 47. Florida ($13.29); 48. Virginia ($12.88); 49. Ohio ($12.76); 50. Indiana ($12.74).

*Regions are based on the U.S. Census Bureau definitions. Midwestern states include: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Northeastern states include: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Western states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Southern states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Washington, D.C. was not included in the analysis.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

The Obama Trillion-Dollar Tax Hike and America's Charitable Sector

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Americans for Tax Reform today took a look at the provisions in Obama's budget outline that affect charitable giving:

One of the most controversial aspects of the Obama trillion-dollar tax hike is the effect that it will have on America's charities. America is built on a concept of "civil society." We don't expect government institutions to be the primary provider of care for those in need. We expect charities to do that. The Obama tax hike takes aim directly at charities, just at a time when America needs them the most.

Where charities currently stand. In 2006 (the latest year for which the IRS has data), families donated $187 billion to charities. Corporations donated another $16 billion. Foundations, trusts, and estates contributed $131 billion more. Charitable contributions are tax-deductible, and face very few restrictions in current tax law. According to the Office of Management and Budget, all these charitable contributions cut federal taxes by $58 billion every year.

The Obama Trillion-Dollar Tax Hike's Double Assault on Charities

-- The Obama trillion-dollar tax hike brings back the itemized deduction phaseout (Pease) in 2011 for married couples making $250,000 and single people making $200,000. Nearly all itemized deductions will have to be reduced by 3% of the extent that income exceeds this level. So, a married couple making $1,000,000 will see their itemized deductions (including charitable contributions) reduced by ($1,000,000-$250,000)*.03, or $22,500. The Pease limit can only reduce itemized deductions by 80%.

-- The Obama trillion-dollar tax hike also creates a new limit above and beyond Pease. No matter what tax rate you fall into, your itemized deductions (including charitable contributions) cannot benefit you any more than if you found yourself in the 28 percent bracket. Returning to our $1,000,000 taxpayer, he finds himself in Obama's new, higher 39.6 percent bracket (up from today's 35 percent, incidentally). If he gives an additional $1000 to charity, it won't reduce his income tax burden by $396, as one might expect. Rather, his income taxes would only go down by $280.

How will this assault on charitable giving change things in America?

Suppose families decide, on the aggregate, that they will give one percent less to charity as a result of this limitation. For every 1 percent decline in household charitable giving, that's nearly $2 billion less given to charity. The impact could be much greater if families decide to keep more of their money, rather than give it away. That's $2 billion that's not available for churches, shelters, and other worthy causes.

And all this because Obama wanted to "spread the wealth." The true victims of this tax increase will be America's poor. Potentially, they could be left to choose between no help at all, and a bureaucratic government handout. This should be seen as part of the larger Obama-Pelosi-Reid plan to get rid of civil society and have all altruism funded by the government.

Americans for Tax Reform is a non-partisan coalition of taxpayers and taxpayer groups who oppose all tax increases.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

In Some Georgia Counties, It's Still a Gas for Animals

TT Note: This story, recently covered by the Georgia Front Page on February 15, 2009, details the continued use of some Georgia counties and cities who still use the gas chamber for euthanizing animals. Do you consider this to be humane?

This plea was sent to the Georgia Front Page today by the Georgia Heartland Humane Society. Time to act is of the essence as next week is slated to be the "drop dead" date for this bill.

This concerns banning the use of the remaining gas chambers in Georgia animal shelters as a method of euthanizing animals. The more humane method is lethal injection. This is an issue that you can have a direct hand in changing. You can help put an end to this inhumane, cruel treatment of the least fortunate animals. PLEASE read the message and instructions below then make those calls and send those emails. We only have until Monday! Thank you so much.

PLEASE CROSS POST TO PUSH "GRACE'S BILL" THROUGH!

We now have a bill in the House (HB 606) and the same bill in the Senate (SB 232). Two opportunities is better than one!

We have only until next Thursday the 12th for either bill to make its way "out of committee" and through a vote of the full House (or Senate). In other words, the bill (on either side) has to make it to the other side on or before the "crossover" date, which is the 12th. For example, if HB 606 doesn't make it out of the Agriculture Committee, it's dead. If it makes it out of the Ag Committee but doesn't pass a vote of the full House, it's dead. Same scenario on the other side, in the Senate.

The bill has to make through one side (before crossover date), then the other, then the Governor's approval to become a law.

A hearing of the Livestock, Poultry and Aquaculture Subcommittee (subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs) is set for HB 606 Monday 8:00 a.m. in room 403 of the Capitol.!

The Chairman of that subcommittee is Ellis Black.

We've been informed by lobbyists and legislative aides that phone calls are the most effective method of communicating your support of a bill to a legislator. So please help us start a campaign of phone calls to the offices of members of both Agriculture Committees (House and Senate).

Here's the link to the General Assembly with all legislators' contact information, bios, etc.:

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/

Here's the link to the House Committee on Agriculture:

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/house/Committees/agriculture/agIndex.htm

Here's the link to the Senate Committee on Agriculture:

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/senate/agriculture.php


Please call these individuals to express your support of HB 606 [leave messages with their assistants or interns]:

Subcommittee Chair, Ellis Black: (404) 656-0287

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/house/bios/blackEllis/blackEllis.htm

Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Tom McCall: (404) 656-5115

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/house/bios/mccallTom/mccallTom.htm

Vice Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Terry England: (404) 656-0183

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/house/bios/englandTerry/englandTerry.htm

Secretary, House Committee on Agriculture, Dr. Gene Maddox DVM (supports gassing!!): (404) 656-0152

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/house/bios/maddoxGene/maddoxGene.htm

Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, John Bulloch: (404) 656-0040

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/senate/bullochbio.php

Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Ralph Hudgens: (404) 656-4700

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/senate/hudgensbio.php

Secretary, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Lee Hawkins: (404) 656-6578

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/senate/hawkinsbio.php

If you prefer to email any or all of these folks, please do so. It's your choice. Their email addresses are on these hyperlinks.

What you can do also, in regards to the Senate bill, which is newer than the House bill, is thank Senator Steve Henson (D-Dekalb County) for his sponsorship of the bill [stevehenson@mindspring.com] and ask your own Senator to co-sponsor the bill.

Please take into consideration that the time and resources of the handful (10) of individuals (myself included) who are "heading" this campaign for the passage of this legislation are limited, as are your own. If you have ideas of how to further the campaign... if you want to draft and cross post something else... if you want to contact the media.... PLEASE DO! There is no proprietary interest in this campaign. It belongs to every resident of the State of Georgia. If you want to see this bill passed, then you do whatever you are able and willing to do to ensure its passage. There are no rules. You don't need anyone's consent. Each and every one of us is a free-thinking, tax-paying registered voter. You don't need anyone's permission or instructions on how to contact our State elected officials to express your opinions and make your requests. Just go for it! There's no time to waste.

Thank you for your active participation in this important and historic campaign for the welfare of Georgia's homeless pets.

Chamblee Abernethy in Dekalb County (678) 640-1177

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Important Deadlines Near for $21 Million Class Action Settlement That Provides Consumers With Money Back for Over 200 Prescription Drugs

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Important deadlines are approaching for class members of a proposed class action settlement related to the average wholesale prices of certain prescription drugs. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted preliminary approval of the Proposed Settlement in July 2008. In the lawsuit, In re: Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price Litigation, No. 01-CV-12257-PBS, MDL No. 1456, plaintiffs claimed that drug manufacturers unlawfully inflated the published average wholesale price of certain drugs, increasing what certain consumers and others paid. The defendants deny any wrongdoing.

Consumers who paid percentage co-payments or full payments for any of the covered drugs between January 1, 1991 and March 1, 2008 are eligible for money back. (A percentage co-payment varies with the cost of the drug; refunds are not available to those who paid flat co-payments.) Requests to be excluded from the Settlement and objections to the Settlement must be postmarked by March 16, 2009. Consumer Class Members must file claims by May 1, 2009.

The Proposed Settlement includes approximately $21.8 million for payments to consumers who file valid claims. Qualifying consumers can get a minimum of $35 by certifying under oath that they paid percentage co-payments for the covered drugs. Or, with receipts or bills for percentage co-payments for the covered drugs, they can receive more money back. For some of the drugs, the payment is up to three times the amount of the co-payment.

The approximately 200 covered drugs are used for the treatment of many medical conditions and are often, but not always, injected in a doctor's office or clinic. The drugs include those for treatment of cancer, HIV, asthma, allergies, infections, inflammation, pain, gastrointestinal, lung and blood issues, and other conditions.

The Defendants, 11 drug manufacturers, deny any wrongdoing, and have stated that while they believe they have strong defenses to the claims asserted, they have entered into the Settlement as a reasonable way to resolve the litigation and avoid the further expense, burden, and inconvenience that would result if they continued to litigate.

The Court will hold a Final Approval Hearing on April 27, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. to consider whether the Proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and the motion for attorneys' fees and expenses. For detailed information, including a list of all the covered drugs and a claim form, call toll-free 1-877-465-8136, visit www.AWPTrack2Settlement.com, or write: AWP Track 2 Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 951, Minneapolis, MN 55440-0951.

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Minnesota: Taxpayer-facilitated Sharia-compliant mortgages

Maybe we should all ban together and say our religion prohibits us from paying any interest on loans? I wonder if Minnesota allows some groups not to pay interest on mortgages will start an influx of discrimination cases by those of us who have to pay interest?

Minnesota: Taxpayer-facilitated Sharia-compliant mortgages

How does it work? "The state buys a home and resells it to the buyer at a higher price. The down payment and monthly installments are agreed to up front at current mortgage rates."

The state buys the home and makes the Sharia-compliant arrangements with the Muslim buyer. As Jihad Watch reader Paul, who kindly sent me this story, asks: "Establishment clause, anyone?"

"New Islamic mortgages now available in Minnesota," by Jessica Mador for Minnesota Public Radio, March 1 (thanks to Paul):
For many Minnesota Muslims, it's been virtually impossible to buy a home, because Islamic law forbids the paying or charging of interest.......
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025076.php

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Study suggests Surface Water Contaminated with Salmonella More Common than ThoughtS

A new University of Georgia study suggests that health agencies investigating Salmonella illnesses should consider untreated surface water as a possible source of contamination.

Researchers, whose results appear in the March issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, tested water over a one-year period in rivers and streams in a region of south Georgia known for its high rate of sporadic salmonella cases. The team found Salmonella in 79 percent of water samples, with the highest concentrations and the greatest diversity of strains in the summer and after rainfall.

“Streams are not routinely tested for Salmonella, and our finding is an indication that many more could be contaminated than people realize,” said Erin Lipp, associate professor in the UGA College of Public Health. “We found our highest numbers in the summer months, and this is also the time when most people get sick.”

Lipp, who co-authored the study with former UGA graduate student Bradd Haley and Dana Cole in the Georgia Division of Public Health, said that although contaminated water used to irrigate or wash produce has been linked to several well-publicized outbreaks of salmonellosis in recent years, the environmental factors that influence Salmonella levels in natural waters are not well understood. She said understanding how Salmonella levels change in response to variables such as temperature and rainfall are critical to predicting—and ultimately preventing—the waterborne transmission of the bacteria.

The team studied streams in the upper reaches of the Suwannee River Basin, which begins in south Georgia and flows into central Florida. The study area contains a mix of forested lands, row crops, pasturelands, wetlands and small cities. The researchers chose sampling sites near a variety of those environments but found little variation in Salmonella concentrations by location. The diversity of Salmonella strains, however, was highest near a farm containing cattle and a pivot irrigation system, suggesting that close proximity to livestock and agriculture increase the risk of contamination. The researchers also found a strong and direct correlation between rainfall for the two days preceding sample collection and the concentration of Salmonella, suggesting that runoff contributes to the contamination.

Salmonella can be found in the intestinal tracts of several species of animals and in humans. The bacteria are shed in feces, but Lipp said recent data suggest that they can persist and possibly grow in water if given the right conditions. Her study found that the diversity and concentration of Salmonella increased as temperatures increased. The highest concentrations and greatest diversity of strains were found in August, the warmest month of the year. Lipp adds that her study, which was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Joint Program on Climate Variability and Human Health, lends support to the idea that Salmonella illnesses could increase as a result of global warming.

Lipp notes that her study area had 58 cases of Salmonella illness per 100,000 people in 2007, the last year for which figures are available, compared to a state average of 22 cases per 100,000 people and a national average of 15 cases per 100,000 people. She said the exact mechanisms by which people in her study area are being exposed to environmental Salmonella are unclear, but the most commonly detected strain in the studied streams was among the top ten associated with human infections in the health district. The porous nature of the soil in the study area means that surface water and groundwater are prone to mixing, especially after rainfalls, and Lipp said that poorly sited wells might be a factor in many illnesses. Another possibility, especially common among children, is so called incidental exposure by which people become infected with the bacteria when playing in or near contaminated waterways.

“Understanding the environmental factors that contribute to salmonella illnesses can guide our efforts to educate people about how they can avoid being sickened through the proper construction and maintenance of wells, basic hygiene such as hand washing and good food safety practices,” Lipp said. “We also have the potential to decrease the likelihood of larger outbreaks related to produce, because in many cases contaminated irrigation water, and not the produce itself, may be the cause of the outbreak.”

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