Patterico's Pontifications

8/24/2009

Swine Flu Season

Filed under: Health Care — DRJ @ 10:20 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology warns the swine flu could infect 30-50% of the population, hospitalize 1.8M and kill 30-90K Americans.

The CDC’s information page notes the swine flu does not seem to target as many people over age 64 as the seasonal flu. However, other populations that are traditionally sensitive to the seasonal flu also seem at risk to the swine flu, including people with “asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders and pregnancy.”

What should you do to avoid catching or spreading the swine flu? According to the CDC:

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

* If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

The CDC link lists guidelines for when adults and children should seek emergent care. It also recommends not to attend “swine flu parties”:

“Swine flu parties” are gatherings during which people have close contact with a person who has novel H1N1 flu in order to become infected with the virus. The intent of these parties is for a person to become infected with what for many people has been a mild disease, in the hope of having natural immunity novel H1N1 flu virus that might circulate later and cause more severe disease.

A vaccine may be available in late October.

— DRJ

Michael Jackson’s Death Ruled a Homicide

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 3:33 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Michael Jackson’s death has been ruled a homicide by the LA County Coroner due to lethal levels of the anesthetic propofol.

— DRJ

CDC May Recommend Universal Circumcision

Filed under: Government,Health Care — DRJ @ 3:10 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Recent studies show heterosexual African men can reduce their HIV infection risk by half if they are circumcised, because circumcision reduces the risk of infection from female partners – the main method of infection in Africa. As a result, the CDC is considering promoting universal circumcision of American male babies, even though the primary method of transmission in the U.S. is via men who have sex with men:

“For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent. But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the Centers for Disease Control’s division of HIV/AIDS prevention, said that any step that could thwart the spread of HIV must be given serious consideration.

He and other experts acknowledged that although the clinical trials of circumcision in Africa had dramatic results, the effects of circumcision in the United States were likely to be more muted because the disease is less prevalent here, spreads through different routes, and the health systems are so disparate as to be incomparable.

Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with HIV over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised. There is little to no evidence that circumcision protects men who have sex with men from infection. Another reason circumcision would have less effect in the United States is that some 79 percent of adult American men are already circumcised, public health officials say.”

The CDC is also considering voluntary circumcision for adult heterosexual males.

Thus, if this recommendation is approved, circumcision will be a recommended medical procedure for all male infants that will not have much impact on the problem it’s supposed to address. However, it lets the government claim it’s doing something about AIDS.

Who could object to that?

— DRJ

Justice Department Advises Prosecutors to Reopen CIA Investigations (Updated)

Filed under: Law,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 11:47 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

Department of Justice officials have recommended prosecuting “Central Intelligence Agency employees or contractors for harsh interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan that went beyond approved limits.” The decision is at odds with President Obama’s frequently stated position that he did not want to second-guess Bush Administration decisions:

“Obama has repeatedly said he wants to move forward rather than dwell on Bush administration actions after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. But the White House said the decision was up to Holder.

“The president thinks that Eric Holder, who he appointed as a very independent attorney general, should make those decisions,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. where Obama was on a weeklong vacation.

Republicans will likely accuse Obama of being soft on national security while some liberal backers will be upset if the probe is limited to those who conducted interrogations while excluding the officials who approved the policies.”

Classic Obama … “leading” from the rear. Unfortunately, as a result, some CIA employees will be the victims of costly, potentially politically-motivated prosecutions.

The Obama Administration also announced the formation of a special interrogation unit for high value detainees to be supervised by the White House. The Obama Adminitration apparently views this as an acceptable policy because President Obama, unlike his predecessor, can be trusted to make good decisions.

In fact, apparently Obama is so trustworthy and wise that it’s now appropriate to remove a layer of review and completely politicize the interrogation issue. The prior program, in effect since early 2002, was under the supervision of the CIA Director or senior personnel. Moving oversight into the White House not only makes this an even greater political hot potato, it also undermines the authority of the CIA Director. No wonder CIA Director Leon Panetta had a screaming fit last month at the White House.

A frequent topic of discussion is how to get good people to go into politics but I’m far more worried about getting good people into mid-level foreign and domestic policy areas — especially in the State Department, the CIA, and the military. Politically-motivated prosecutions won’t help recruitment or retention.

UPDATE – From Jim Geraghty’s Campaign Spot at National Review:

Eric Holder, back in January:

“Eric H. Holder Jr.’s confirmation as attorney general is speeding toward approval thanks in part to his private assurances to a key Republican senator that he does not intend to prosecute intelligence agency interrogators for their actions during the prior administration.”

Now we know what Eric Holder’s “private assurances” are worth.

— DRJ

Obama appointees: Plenty of empty seats, Plenty of thrones

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:28 am



[Posted by Karl]

The New York Times has noticed that after seven months in office, Pres. Obama has filled only 43 percent of the 543 policymaking jobs requiring Senate confirmation in four top executive ranks:

He is trying to fix the financial markets but does not have an assistant treasury secretary for financial markets. He is spending more money on transportation than anyone since Dwight D. Eisenhower but does not have his own inspector general watching how the dollars are used. He is fighting two wars but does not have an Army secretary.

He sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Africa to talk about international development but does not have anyone running the Agency for International Development. He has invited major powers to a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but does not have an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation. He has vowed to improve government efficiency but does not have the chief performance officer he promised.

But wait, there’s more:

No Obama appointee is running the Transportation Security Agency, the Customs and Border Protection agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Mr. Obama still does not have an intelligence chief at the Department of Homeland Security, nor a top civilian in charge of military readiness at the Pentagon.

Moreover, according to another recent NYT report:

President Obama has made health care his top priority. He says the cost of Medicare and Medicaid is “the biggest threat” to the nation’s fiscal future. But to the puzzlement of Congress and health care experts around the country, Mr. Obama has not named anyone to lead the agency that runs the two giant programs.

The suggestion in these reports is that the vetting process “had become so intrusive that many candidates declined to be considered.” Which is rather incredible considering that Obama Treasury Secretary Timmy Geithner is a tax cheat, and still got confirmed. As did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, despite all sorts of conflict of interest concerns.

However, concerns that Obama’s appointees might be so problematic that even the complacent Senate might object would explain the dozens of “czars” Obama has installed — some with ethical clouds, all undermining the Senate’s constitutional role advice and consent.

–Karl


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