Patterico's Pontifications

3/30/2008

More Medical News: LDL Cholesterol

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 5:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I’m in the medical mood tonight. Cardiologists have told us that it’s important to have low levels of LDL cholesterol, known as the “bad” cholesterol. However, a new report from Japan says that people with low levels of LDL have higher overall death rates than those with high levels:

“A health study by Japanese researchers has found that people with low levels of LDL cholesterol — often referred to as “bad cholesterol” — are more likely to die than those with higher levels.

The finding comes as Japan prepares to introduce special health checkups from April, which list high LDL cholesterol as a factor in deciding whether a person has metabolic syndrome. It is likely the results of the survey will stir debate over the designation of LDL cholesterol as “bad.”

Low LDL is still linked with decreased risk of stroke and heart attacks but it’s also linked with an increased risk cancer and respiratory ailments – hence the higher overall death rates. The study’s author suggests:

“… the appropriate LDL cholesterol level for men is between 100 and 180 milligrams per deciliter of blood. He suggests women should have a level of at least 120 milligrams.
***
“Excessively lowering an LDL level that is within an appropriate range is dangerous,” he said. “Cholesterol is needed in the body and immune function drops when it is low, and it is possible that the death rate rises as a result.”

Interesting. In politics and medicine, moderation is often the winner.

— DRJ

Study Heightens Concerns about Cell Phones

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 5:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

UK’s The Independent reports on a new study that says cell phones double the risk of brain cancer and may be more dangerous than smoking and asbestos:

“Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take “immediate steps” to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.”

The increased risks are estimated due to the larger number of people using cell phones compared to smokers. The study has been criticized as selective, unbalanced, and contrary to the results of other studies. However, it is being received with more seriousness because the author is highly regarded:

“Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.”

I think the jury is still out on cell phones but my guess is they probably do increase users’ risks of cancer. We’ll see how much in future years.

— DRJ

It’s Set: Final Four 2008

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 3:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 2008 NCAA Basketball Final Four is set. Memphis and Kansas joined UCLA and North Carolina, and it will be all-No 1 seeds at the Final Four. In today’s games, Memphis dominated the Texas Longhorns, winning 85-67, while Kansas squeaked by a valiant Davidson squad 59-57.

The Final Four begins Saturday, April 5, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. UCLA will face Memphis and North Carolina takes on Kansas. The winners of each game will play in the final Monday, April 7.

— DRJ

Hillary’s Campaign Slow in Paying Debts

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 11:54 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Politico reports that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is cash-strapped and has been slow in paying her bills, opting instead to make more media buys:

“Hillary Rodham Clinton’s cash-strapped presidential campaign has been putting off paying hundreds of bills for months — freeing up cash for critical media buys but also earning the campaign a reputation as something of a deadbeat in some small-business circles.

A pair of Ohio companies owed more than $25,000 by Clinton for staging events for her campaign are warning others in the tight-knit event production community — and anyone else who will listen — to get their cash upfront when doing business with her. Her campaign, say representatives of the two companies, has stopped returning phone calls and e-mails seeking payment of outstanding invoices. One even got no response from a certified letter.

Their cautionary tales, combined with published reports about similar difficulties faced by a New Hampshire landlord, an Iowa office cleaner and a New York caterer, highlight a less-obvious impact of Clinton’s inability to keep up with the staggering fundraising pace set by her opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.”

The article explains that, even though Clinton has $38M in the bank, she has far less available cash than Obama. In addition, she has failed to pay large and small vendors for event expenses, a fact that the Politico notes is a concern because word is getting around:

“In fact, about a third of the nearly 700 individual debts Clinton reported at the end of February were for various types of “event expenses,” including $319,000 for catering and venue costs, $420,000 for equipment, $11,000 for photography and $9,000 for security.

Event production is important to big-time presidential campaigns. It shapes how candidates look and sound, not just to the thousands of people who turn out to campaign speeches and rallies but also to the millions who catch snippets of them on television.

And word is getting around that Clinton’s campaign does not promptly pay those who labor to make her events look good, said an employee of the event production company Forty Two of Youngstown, Ohio.

“I feel insulted by the way that the campaign treated this company and treated us personally,” said the employee, who did not want to be named talking about a client.
***
“We worked very hard to put together these events on a moment’s notice and do absolutely everything to a ‘t’ to make it look perfect on television for her and for her campaign,” said the employee. “Sen. Clinton talks about helping working families, people in unions and small businesses. But when it comes down to actually doing something that shows that she can back up her words with action, she fails.”

It sounds like it’s time for another personal loan to her campaign. If one is not forthcoming, I think that will speak volumes.

— DRJ

Obama vs Clinton: “A Nightmare That is Only Getting Worse”

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 11:33 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reports that Democratic insiders are worried about the stalemate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:

“Many undeclared superdelegates express confidence that all will be well. Democratic voters will unite in the fall, they say, and the injuries that Obama and Clinton inflict on each other this spring will heal.

Privately, however, some party insiders worry that these superdelegates may be blithely marching toward a treacherous crossroad, where they will have to choose between a deeply wounded Obama and a soaring Clinton whose success was built on tearing down the party’s front-runner in terms of delegates.

A senior Democratic Senate aide, who would speak only on background because most members of Congress bar their staff members from being quoted by name, called it a nightmare that’s getting worse.

The Democrats’ optimism of February has been replaced by fear, this aide said, referring to the widely held view last month that Obama was coasting to the nomination after winning 11 straight contests. Clinton halted the skid in Texas and Ohio on March 4 and is favored to win the Pennsylvania primary on April 22.

If the New York senator also tops Obama in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6, West Virginia a week later, and Kentucky and/or Oregon on May 20, her supporters will argue that the dynamic has sharply changed in ways party leaders cannot ignore. Obama is no longer the sure-footed campaigner who piled up wins and delegates in February, they will say, and the superdelegates’ obligation to the party is to nominate the sprinting Clinton, even if it angers Obama backers.”

If Obama can halt Hillary’s momentum, he is all but assured of the nomination. But Democrats are still worried about what Hillary will do:

“Some Obama supporters question Clinton’s motives: They suggest she is counting on a stunning gaffe or shocking revelation to cripple Obama and hand her the nomination. Others float a more sinister possibility, which has found its way into mainstream news accounts: Clinton hopes to damage Obama so severely that he loses to McCain this fall, clearing her path to challenge McCain in 2012, when he will be 75.”

I believe in competition but it doesn’t seem to be agreeing with Democrats this year.

— DRJ

Michelle Obama on Money-Makers vs. Helpers

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:59 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Earlier this month, Michelle Obama campaigned in Zanesville, Ohio, where nearly a quarter of the residents live below the poverty line. She connected with locals who are feeling the economic pinch by sharing how hard it has been for the Obamas to give up money-making for helping:

“Michelle Obama stopped by the other day during a campaign visit and warned the locals to not go for the big money.

“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she told a group of women at a day-care center. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.”

Of course, the Obamas haven’t had to give up that much. Her “helping” salary from the University of Chicago Hospital increased $195,052 between 2004-2005 to over $300,000. In addition, what enabled them to finally pay off their school loans was a big dose of capitalism:

“Barack and I were in that position,” continued Michelle Obama, complaining about the college loans. “Up until a few years ago, we were struggling to figure out how we would save for our kids.”

And then, Shazam!, capitalism saved the day.

“The only reason we’re not in that position is that Barack wrote two best-selling books,” she explained. “It was like Jack and his magic beans.”

And the truckers in the “money-making industry” who delivered the books? They’re not in a “helping industry”? And they’re more greedy than a community affairs coordinator at a hospital, pocketing $316,962?”

The helping industry is important but the world needs more than nurses, teachers, and social workers. It also needs capitalists, entrepreneurs, and innovators with ideas that can help far more people than one helper can ever reach. Innovators and capitalists have made it possible for the world to have cars and airplanes, the assembly line, breakthroughs in crops and pasteurization, medical advances, computers, and more that have made the world an infinitely better place.

The US and the world benefits from helpers but, unlike Michelle Obama, we should also encourage people to be innovators and capitalists.

— DRJ

Measuring the Iraq War

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 9:42 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s frequently said that the Iraq War is a failure. Initially, the conventional wisdom was that it failed because of the chaotic situation in Iraq, but the surge has helped to bring stability to many areas of Iraq.

It has also been claimed that the Iraq War is a failure because the Iraqis have not embraced freedom and taken control of their country, but the Awakening and Prime Minister Maliki’s showdown with al-Sadr’s Shiites suggest that many Iraqis have chosen to participate in rebuilding Iraq.

The most recent theme of failure in Iraq has focused on American deaths – over 4000 to date. That made me curious about military deaths compared with prior years. The Congressional Research Service published statistics on active duty military deaths from the Revolutionary War through 2006. The following statistics are excerpted from Table 4 at page 10 at the link:

U.S. Active Duty Military Deaths, 1980 Through 2006

Year-Total Military-Deaths

1980 – 2,159,630 – 2,392
1981 – 2,206,751 – 2,380
1982 – 2,251,067 – 2,319
1983 – 2,273,364 – 2,465
1984 – 2,297,922 – 1,999
1985 – 2,323,185 – 2,252
1986 – 2,359,855 – 1,984
1987 – 2,352,697 – 1,983
1988 – 2,309,495 – 1,819
1989 – 2,303,384 – 1,636
1990 – 2,258,324 – 1,507
1991 – 2,198,189 – 1,787
1992 – 1,953,337 – 1,293
1993 – 1,849,537 – 1,213
1994 – 1,746,482 – 1,075
1995 – 1,661,928 – 1,040
1996 – 1,613,310 — 974
1997 – 1,578,382 — 817
1998 – 1,538,570 — 827
1999 – 1,525,942 — 796
2000 – 1,530,430 — 758
2001 – 1,552,196 — 891
2002 – 1,627,142 — 999
2003 – 1,732,632 – 1,228
2004 – 1,711,916 – 1,874
2005 – 1,664,014 – 1,942
2006 – 1,664,014 – 1,858

Snopes.com used this information to summarize the deaths by President:

Carter – 1980 – 2,392
Reagan – 1981-1988 – 17,201
Bush I – 1989-1992 – 6,223
Clinton – 1993-2000 – 7,500
Bush II – 2001-2006 – 8,792
Est. 2007-3/26/2008 – 1,114

For those who measure the value of the Iraq War and the greater War on Terror by military deaths, these are the numbers.

— DRJ

Chuck Philips And His Editors Overlooked Some Pretty Obvious Red Flags

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 12:48 am

This interview of Chuck Philips, done after his recent Tupac story was published, but before it was discredited, is notable for the numerous questions to which Philips had no answer:

DX: Your report was the first time I’d seen the name James Sabatino connected with this case. If he was intimately involved in a plot that left Tupac shot multiple times why is his name just now surfacing publicly in relation to this crime over 13 years after the shooting?

CP: Well, I don’t know the answer to that.

and this:

DX: I guess my question is really just Sabatino was so young at the time and so I’m just wondering what the magnet would be for these established artists to want a 19-year-old to be their manager?

CP: I don’t know the answer to that. It seems to me that would be… I don’t think he had any connections in the music business. I never heard of him. I mean, at the time when I was writing about all those people back then that name [never surfaced]. I’d never heard James Sabatino’s name until last year.

and this:

DX: Let’s flesh this out a little more though, if Sabatino knew Tupac and was allegedly in cahoots with Henchmen in the ’94 shooting, why then was Sabatino not named by ‘Pac as part of the plot in “Against All Odds”?

CP: I don’t know.

Maybe the most disturbing thing is his cavalier attitude about other questionable statements by the informant named in the documents. The interviewer expresses considerable doubt about the informant’s claim that Sabatino acted in association with Suge Knight, and Philips says: “That [part of the informant’s statement] wasn’t really that important to me. The main thing I was looking at was what [he said about what] happened in the Quad.”

So if the informant lied about something else, that’s just not important?

Many red flags were missed.

We’re not done with this story — not by a longshot.

Stay tuned.

3/29/2008

Obama Claims Win in Texas Pledged Delegates

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 7:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Austin American-Statesman blog reports that, even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Barack Obama claims he won the Texas pledged delegates after today’s state conventions. The Statesman also reprinted this Obama press release:

“With more than 56 percent of the results tallied from today’s 284 Democratic district conventions across Texas, Sen. Barack Obama currently is projected to earn a 38-29 pledged delegate win in the Texas caucuses, exactly as projected on the day after the March 4th precinct caucuses. The nine delegate margin in the caucuses means Obama will gain a net margin of five pledged delegates from Texas because Senator Clinton narrowly won the Texas primary by only four delegates, 65-61.”

As well as this dig against Hillary’s campaign from an Obama spokesman:

“Despite the Clinton campaign’s widespread attempts to prevent many Texans from participating in their district convention, the voters of Texas confirmed Senator Obama’s important delegate win in the Lone Star State,” said Obama spokesman Josh Earnest. “Today’s record-shattering turnout sends a clear message that the American people are ready for change in Washington and new leadership in the White House that will stand up for working families.”

Texas Democrats have established a system where delegates can upset the popular vote and national superdelegates trump both. This is not a good situation for the Democrats.

NOTE: This Houston Chronicle article has more details regarding this afternoon’s conventions.

— DRJ

UCLA Claims Final Four Spot (Update: & NC)

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 4:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

UCLA won BIG over Xavier to claim the first slot in next week’s Final Four:

“Surprise, surprise. UCLA is back in the Final Four.

After flirting with trouble for two rounds, the top-seeded Bruins blitzed Xavier 76-57 Saturday to earn their third straight trip to the Final Four and record 18th overall.”

Congratulations to UCLA and Bruins fans everywhere.

UPDATE: North Carolina held off a determined Louisville 83-73 to claim the second spot. The final two spots will be determined tomorrow.

— DRJ

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