It is rare for anybody to find a political party with which they find their actions and policies to be in compete agreement. In fact, this is probably a logical impossibility given the fact that there is self-contradiction in virtually any full policy platform. And one problem that grassroots Labour members such as myself have had with the actions of the party both in Opposition and in government is their cheerful willingness to erode our civil liberties, and in particular our rights to privacy. Ed Miliband, who has the nerve to describe himself as a ‘civil libertarian’, has just pledged the Parliamentary Labour Party’s support for a revived Communications Bill: I shall explain the implications of this later.
Not that the Coalition parties are any better. They might have canceled the nightmarish National Identity Cards scheme (isn’t it strange how Blairites dislike the state restricting freedoms for businesses and the…
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While many in Europe and North America are distracted by economic distress and insecurity, Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, domestic scandals and myriad other curiosities, this issue persistently looms ominously.
The Chinese Premier has used his visit to the German city where Allied terms of surrender were dictated to Tokyo, to send a stark message on recent territorial disputes.
“We should not allow anyone to destroy or deny the postwar peace order,” Li said in the German city of Potsdam, site of the 1945 conference that helped define national boundaries after the Nazi defeat. It was also where terms of surrender were dictated to Japan.
Li stressed that the Potsdam agreement reaffirmed Japan should return all territory stolen from China. Specifically, he said: “Japan must return the islands they have stolen, including the islands in northeastern China and Taiwan.”
Li’s statement comes amid rising tension over…
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Growing up in Milwaukee, hummingbirds were no more than a rumour, so it was with glee and excitement I encountered some for the first time while spending the last half of 2003 in Albuquerque. That summer the partner of a cousin of mine was putting the finishing touches on a new house he was building in the hills about 40 odd miles southeast of town. On one occasion, while helping him with painting, I recall a hummingbird drifting in through the front door, hover briefly in the sitting room and drift out the garden door. Pure magic.
They’re small, graceful, marvels of engineering. They’re also altogether evil. O.K. that last part is a bit of an overstatement but, really, who knew these delightful little creatures were so vicious?
Every spring hoards of hummingbirds descend on U.C. Santa Cruz to harvest nectar from its Arboretum’s blooming buds. We followed them there entirely unprepared for what we’d find. Prior to this excursion we had only encountered solitary birds at artificial feeders, and even then, only rarely. To say that we knew little of them or their ways really gives us more credit than we deserve.
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Not even a whisper in this piece regarding price, but, as they say, “If you have to ask the price,…”
Well, who’d have thought it?
Basically, Google X is investing in a big kite, with some kudos attached. Given recent controversy over Google’s tax arrangements across the globe, they can only benefit from the positive PR.
As is so often the case, a matter of public concern, indeed, public health, is somewhat more complicated than you might gather if your sole source of information is the daily press, printed or broadcast. Here we have issues of class, workplace flexibility, and access to health care, to name a few…
Journalist Megan McArdle, in a 2011 post for The Atlantic, opined: “We spent most of the last century trying to stamp out the infectious diseases that used to cripple and kill hundreds and thousands of people every year. Sometimes it seems like the bobo elites plan to spend the 21st century bringing them all back.”
These “bobo elites” are fair targets, especially if you live somewhere like Marin County, California, whose schools granted “personal belief exemptions” to 7 percent of kindergartners in 2010—enough to compromise what epidemiologists call herd immunity. Some of these vaccine resisters refuse shots outright, while others opt for alternative vaccination schedules that delay and stagger shots. This increasingly popular system minimizes kids’ exposure to supposedly harmful vaccine ingredients—but it also leaves them more vulnerable to outbreaks.
Yet the vaccine resisters and delayers are not the only parents whose kids miss out on shots. Far more children are undervaccinated for reasons unrelated to personal beliefs, according to a January 2013 study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study found that an astonishing 49 percent of toddlers born from 2004 through 2008 hadn’t had all their shots by their second birthday, but only about 2 percent had parents who refused to have them vaccinated. They were missing shots for pretty mundane reasons—parents’ work schedules, transportation problems, insurance hiccups. An earlier CDC study concluded that children in poor communities were more likely to miss their shots than those in wealthier neighborhoods, and while that may not be too surprising, it’s still a dangerous pattern. “If you’re going to delay one or two vaccines, it’s not going to make a huge difference,” says the new study’s lead author, Jason Glanz, an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research. “But you could also think of it like this: If a million kids delay their vaccines by a month, that’s time during which a disease could spread.”
That’s no mere hypothetical. In 1990, for example, an outbreak of measles killed 89 kids in the United States—most of them from poor families who said they couldn’t afford the vaccine. A 2008 outbreak in San Diego resulted in 12 cases, this time among kids whose parents had refused the vaccine—but authorities had to quarantine an additional 48 who were too young to be vaccinated. The episode cost taxpayers an estimated $10,376 per case.
Shannon Stokley, the acting associate director of science at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told me that many parents simply need a reminder. “You have so many things to remember when you have a child, and vaccines can just slip your mind,” she said. Indeed, sending out reminder texts has been shown to increase vaccination rates. Making shots convenient also helps. In response to a whooping cough outbreak last year, the state of Washington sought to get more teens and adults vaccinated. It plastered buses and billboards with ads; in some harder-hit counties, health departments sent out mobile inoculation units—if people couldn’t make it to a clinic, health workers would bring the shots to them. Within a year of the campaign, the adult vaccination rate had doubled.
To be sure, access to vaccines has been improving nationwide. The federal government now offers free shots to children who aren’t otherwise covered. But the program doesn’t cover adult vaccines, most of which cost from $20 to $100, even for diseases that are easily passed from adults to kids, like whooping cough—which can kill infants.