God tells me to copy and paste, so you can't stop me. -- Kate

"You know, I could run for governor, but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business ..." -- G.W. Bush

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo Galilei

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Founding Fathers could have left this a little less to the imagination.

Article [V.]
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

What I want to know; are the 87 year old woman and her neighbors going to be compensated for the old inexpensive home in the lousy neighborhood they are being moved out of or will they be compensated for having to move into a more expensive home?

Justices Uphold Taking Property for Development

Published: June 24, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 23 - The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, in one of its most closely watched property rights cases in years, that fostering economic development is an appropriate use of the government's power of eminent domain.

The 5-to-4 decision cleared the way for the City of New London, Conn., to proceed with a large-scale plan to replace a faded residential neighborhood with office space for research and development, a conference hotel, new residences and a pedestrian "riverwalk" along the Thames River.

The project, to be leased and built by private developers, is intended to derive maximum benefit for the city from a $350 million research center built nearby by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company.

New London, deemed a "distressed municipality" by the state 15 years ago, has a high unemployment rate and fewer residents today than it had in 1920.

The owners of 15 homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, including one woman who was born in her house 87 years ago and has lived there since, had resisted the plan and refused the city's offer of compensation.

After the city condemned the properties in November 2000, the homeowners went to state court to argue that the taking would be unconstitutional. The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the use of eminent domain in a ruling last year.
Can’t buy them outright, just condemn them and take them away. It’s nice to know that the government is still taking property away from property owners just like they did the American Indians.
In affirming that decision, the majority opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens resolved a question that had surprisingly gone unanswered for all the myriad times that governments have used their power under the Fifth Amendment to take private property for public use. The question was the definition of "public use."

The homeowners, represented by a public-interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, which has conducted a national litigation campaign against what it calls eminent domain abuse, argued that taking property to enable private economic development, even development that would provide a public benefit by enhancing the tax base, could never be a "public use."

In its view, the only transfers of property that qualified were those that gave actual ownership or use to the public, like for a highway or a public utility.

But the majority concluded on Thursday that public use was properly defined more broadly as "public purpose." Justice Stevens noted that earlier Supreme Court decisions interpreting the public use clause of the Fifth Amendment had allowed the use of eminent domain to redevelop a blighted neighborhood in Washington, to redistribute land ownership in Hawaii and to assist a gold-mining company, in a decision by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1906.
How handy, let’s just redefine “public use” to mean “public purpose.” It’s fine as long as some of the public is helped by taking people’s property and a happy coincidence that a large corporation like Pfizer is helped by poor people being removed from their homes.

Just wondering, why can’t PFizer pay to compensaate these people? Pfizer is going to own the building and private developers are going to rent out other property. What chance is there of the city coming along later and making Pfizer move or make the private developers give up their property? Industrial parks are a type of urban blight too.
"Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government," Justice Stevens said, adding, "Clearly, there is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose."
”Traditional and long accepted” huh? That’s interesting. During the previous BRAC the government said it wasn’t their business to assist communities economically. If jobs went away and the community went under when bases were closed, it was up to the community to deal with it and fix it. The government wasn’t in the business of economic development a few years ago.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor objected that "the words 'for public use' do not realistically exclude any takings, and thus do not exert any constraint on the eminent domain power."

Justice O'Connor said, "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded."

Justice Stevens, examining the New London plan in light of the majority's general analysis, said the plan "unquestionably serves a public purpose," even though it was intended to increase jobs and tax revenue rather than remove blight.

He described the plan as "carefully formulated" and comprehensive. Sounding a federalism note, Justice Stevens said that state legislatures and courts were best at "discerning local public needs" and that the judgment of the New London officials was "entitled to our deference."
I guess Justice Stevens has never heard of the “old boys club” and “pay for play” among other games people in government play.

I’m sure that no one has ever come up with an economic plan that just happens to give preference to friends and party financers? Do I hear someone saying “Haliburton?” I know there’s lots more but I can’t think of them right now. Maybe you can add them to the comment sections. I’m sure there are bunches I’ve never heard of.
Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy and David H. Souter joined the majority opinion in Kelo v. City of New London, No. 04-108. Justice Kennedy also wrote a separate concurring opinion to emphasize that while there was no suggestion in this instance that the plan was intended to favor any individual developer, "a court confronted with a plausible accusation of impermissible favoritism to private parties should treat the objection as a serious one and review the record to see it if has merit."

Justice O'Connor's dissenting opinion was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. She wrote that rather than adhering to its precedents, the court had strayed from them by endorsing economic development as an appropriate public use.

"Who among us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive use of her property?" Justice O'Connor asked.

She added: "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory."

Both Justice O'Connor and Justice Thomas, who also filed his own dissent, said the decision's burden would fall on the less powerful and wealthy.

"The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more," Justice O'Connor said. "The founders cannot have intended this perverse result."

Justice Thomas, who called the decision "far reaching and dangerous," cited several studies showing that those displaced by urban renewal and "slum clearance" over the years tended to be lower-income minority residents.

"The court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution," he said.

In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens said, "The necessity and wisdom of using eminent domain power to promote economic development are certainly matters of legitimate public debate."
Ok, I can agree that using government ". . . power to promote economic development are certainly matters of legitimate public debate." The problem is that the debate is rarely public. People who don’t have the money and influence are usually kicked out of the debate or not even given a chance to debate. A small number of well-to-do people, like the Supreme Court get to make the decision and the people effected are for the most part left out of the debate.

Let’s face it, Justice Stevens would be screaming bloody murder if state officials came along and said they want his property so a business can use it for a new facility and access roads. Oh, and there’s a good plan that shows the local economy will prosper , so he and his family should just move on out.
The court did not "minimize the hardship that condemnations may entail," he said, despite the fact that the homeowners will receive "just compensation."

Justice Stevens said that states remained free to place restrictions on their own use of eminent domain power through their own constitutions and laws, as many have; California, for example, has a law restricting to blighted areas the use of eminent domain for economic development.
That’s handy for Justice Stevens and all wealthy land owners. I’m sure they don’t live in a “blighted area” so they will never have the specter of eminent domain bothering them.
Scott G. Bullock, the lawyer who argued the case for the New London homeowners, said in an interview that his organization, the Institute for Justice, would accept the court's invitation and "continue the fight in the state supreme courts." As a result of the decision, he said, "we are going to see more eminent domain abuse and a growing grass-roots rebellion against this type of government action."

Allan B. Taylor, a partner in the Hartford law firm Day, Berry & Howard who filed a brief on New London's behalf for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and organizations of cities in 31 other states, said an opposite outcome in this case would have ushered in an "extraordinary revolution."

If the court had not upheld the Connecticut Supreme Court, he said in an interview, "it would greatly limit what cities and towns all over the country could do." Mr. Taylor said he read the opinion not as a green light for the wholesale use of eminent domain, but as "a green light for continuing to do careful and responsible planning."

The decision was a clear defeat for the long-term effort by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia to limit government control over private property. Although a series of decisions from the mid-1980's through the early 90's had appeared to indicate a major shift in the court's traditional deference to government land-use policies, that effort has stalled in recent cases.

By the same token, the decision was the latest success for Justice Stevens, the 85-year-old senior associate justice, who appears to be having one of the most productive terms in his 30 years on the Supreme Court.

The New London case was among the final decisions the court was expected to make in this term. The court indicated that Monday would be the final day of the term.

I know it’s just the way I read the Fifth Amendment but it doesn’t say anything about your basic citizen. Most of it is about a person accused of a crime. Could it mean that an accused criminal should be compensated for seized property. Like I said, the Founding Fathers could have made that a little more clear.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Here we go again. Someone going to try to make birth control for men. I was told in high school that there would be birth control for men within about 5 years. 25 years later it’s still at least 5 years away.
Team Working on Birth Control for Men

The Associated Press --- Tuesday, June 21, 2005; 8:20 AM

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Four decades after the birth control pill became available to women, researchers at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center are working to develop a similar contraceptive for men.

The researchers plan to test about a half-million chemical compounds to find a pill that does not involve hormones that men could take weekly or monthly. They also hope to find something that is close to 100 percent effective and has no risky side effects.

The research is being conducted with a $7.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Scientists will test compounds at a high-tech laboratory on the university's Lawrence campus.

It will be at least five years before clinical trials could be conducted on men.
. . .

"Half of the population has been ignored," said Joseph Tash, a reproductive biologist at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Only 27 percent of women who practice contraception rely on their partners to use condoms or have vasectomies, according to data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

"I think some couples would like to have that option," said Gunda Georg, lead researcher on the project. "There's been a shift in attitude. Some men would like to share more in that responsibility."
. . .

Male contraceptives being tested in China and Europe are hormone-based, involving either large injections of a male hormone similar to testosterone or a combination of testosterone and a female hormone.

Preliminary studies have shown hormonal contraception to be effective and that men regain their fertility after several months, said Douglas Colvard, associate director of Conrad, a nonprofit organization at Eastern Virginia Medical School that promotes research on reproductive health. But testosterone injections raise concerns about side effects, such as elevated cholesterol levels and promoting cancer growth, Colvard said.

The Kansas researchers are looking for a male pill that does not affect hormones. Instead, they are looking for chemicals that can disable a handful of enzymes that scientists have identified as critical to male fertility.
. . .

"Obviously, the goal is 100 percent effectiveness," Tash said. "The female pill is 95 to 99 percent effective. We hope to at least meet that level."
What I want to know is when are researchers going to come up with a non-hormonal pill that has no nasty side effects, like raising cholesterol or high blood pressure, for women?
Birth control pills have all kinds of annoying side effects for women including decrease in libido. What’s the point of taking a pill that lowers your interest is why your taking the pill in the first place? And what about increased chance of blood clots and heart attack?

Men don’t want to take the chance of side effects but women have to if they don't want to get pregnant. 73% of women who use contraceptives don’t expect their man to be involved with birth control, so they take the pill and deal with birth control and the side effects themselves. Essentially the birth control pill hasn't changed in 40 years; same hormones, lower strength.

I guess somebody thinks there will be a profit in birth control pills for men. I just wish researchers had the same type of side effect goals in a pill for women that they have for the male pill.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I’ve been considering going to a new dentist. My supervisor told me about her dentist. So, being too lazy to get up out of my chair to find a paper phonebook, I went on-line to find out about this guy. I found his address and phone number and an interesting website.

Dr. Oogle

What I need now is for everyone to go to Dr. Ooogle and review their dentists, then pass the website on to your friends and family and have them do reviews. Then maybe I’ll be able to find a new dentist. Thank you for your support.
I don’t know why but this song and video is addictive.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chilling statistics: 103,000 dead, 1 out of 20 made ill each year.

Isn’t this country supposed to be the most germ-phobic on the planet? So how come doctors, nurses and other folks who work in hospitals and who have been taught to know better, can’t stop passing disease around?

This is an interesting article especially if you or someone you know is in or going into the hospital. The one big thing this article taught me is that the 5-second rule DOES NOT count in a hospital. If it hits the floor use a tissue and toss it.

I didn’t want to cut anything out of the article so I’ve just bolded the really interesting stuff. If you just want to get the gist of it then you just read it. If you want more then read the bolded stuff and if you want everything read it all. Interesting stuff.

Coming Clean

By BETSY MCCAUGHEY --- Op-Ed Contributor
Published: June 6, 2005

INFECTIONS that have been nearly eradicated in some other countries are raging through hospitals here in the United States. The major reason? Poor hygiene. In fact, hygiene is so inadequate in most American hospitals that one out of every 20 patients contracts an infection during a hospital stay. Hospital infections kill an estimated 103,000 people in the United States a year, as many as AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined.

And the danger is worsening as many hospital infections can no longer be cured with common antibiotics. One of the deadliest germs is a staph bacteria called M.R.S.A., short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which lives harmlessly on the skin but causes havoc when it enters the body. Patients who do survive M.R.S.A. often spend months in the hospital and endure several operations to cut out infected tissue. In 1974, 2 percent of staph infections were from M.R.S.A. By 1995, that number had soared to 22 percent. Today, experts estimate that more than 60 percent of staph infections are M.R.S.A.

Hospitals in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands once faced similar rates, but brought them down to below 1 percent. How? Through the rigorous enforcement of rules on hand washing, the meticulous cleaning of equipment and hospital rooms, the use of gowns and disposable aprons to prevent doctors and nurses from spreading germs on clothing and the testing of incoming patients to identify and isolate those carrying the germ.

Too few hospitals in the United States are using these precautions, though where they are used they are highly effective. In a pilot program, the veterans hospital in Pittsburgh reduced M.R.S.A. 85 percent, and the University of Virginia Medical Center eradicated it. Unfortunately most hospitals have not shown the will to defeat infections.

More than half the time, doctors and other caregivers break the most fundamental rule of hygiene by failing to clean their hands before treating a patient. Gloves are not the answer because pulling them on with dirty hands contaminates the gloves.

Nearly three-quarters of patients' rooms are contaminated with M.R.S.A., which, according to experts, can be found on everything from cabinets to bedside tables. Once patients and caregivers touch these surfaces, their hands become vectors for disease. Ordinary cleaning solutions can kill these bugs, but surfaces need to be drenched in disinfectant for several minutes, not just sprayed and wiped quickly.

Frequently, stethoscopes, blood-pressure monitors and other equipment are contaminated with live bacteria. Yet doctors and nurses almost never clean the stethoscope before listening to a patient's chest.

Astoundingly, most hospitals in the United States don't routinely test patients for staph bacteria. Studies show that 70 percent to 90 percent of patients carrying M.R.S.A. are never identified.

Clothing is frequently a conveyor belt for infections. When doctors and nurses lean over a patient with M.R.S.A., their coats and uniforms pick up bacteria 65 percent of the time, and carry it to other patients.

Contaminated clothing is believed to be the culprit at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, which has recently struggled to control another type of infection called Clostridium difficile. This common and seldom life-threatening infection is often caused by fecal material from one patient entering another patient's mouth. Doctors at the hospital suspect that this infection spread because clinical nursing assistants wear the same clothes while doing two jobs: emptying bed pans and delivering food trays.

Hospital infections can be stopped, but most hospital administrators have not made prevention a top priority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also to blame. While the C.D.C. has made some efforts to curb hospital infections, they have failed to ask hospitals to follow the rigorous precautions that are working in other countries and in those American hospitals where they have been tried.

In 2003, a task force for the Society of Healthcare Epidemiologists of America chastised the C.D.C. for this failure, but the C.D.C. has still not acted. Every year of delay is costing thousands of lives.

Many hospital administrators say they can't afford to take the necessary precautions, but they can't afford not to. Infections erode hospital profits because rarely are hospitals fully paid for the added weeks or months that patients must spend in the hospital when they get an infection. Studies show that when hospitals invest in these proven precautions, they are rewarded with as much as tenfold financial return. These infections add about $30 billion annually to the nation's health costs. This tab will increase rapidly as more infections become drug-resistant.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that it will not support the growing demand to make hospital infection rates public. That's a shame because if you need to be hospitalized, you should be able to find out which hospitals in your area have the worst infection problems. This secrecy may allow some hospitals to save face, but it won't save lives or money.

Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, is the founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.
If hospitals and doctors want to avoid lawsuits then they can’t afford not to take precautions and clean up their acts.

By the way, gloves are one of those things that people seem to trust in without thinking about how they are used. Where I work, the cleaning staff wear gloves for everything. They pick up trash and clean the bathrooms then put their gloved hands on doors handles, tables, chairs, their cell phones and even food. I’m still amazed that they don’t get sick often. I guess they’ve really toughened their immune systems.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Contrary to popular belief, I have not forgotten about blogging. Heck, lately I haven’t been online much except for work and looking up medical stuff.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with various family members’ health and hospitalizations, my dental work and trying to get the garden to look less weedy. Too many hospitalizations and way too many weeds and I just hate going to the dentist. My dentist is very nice; the torture devices he uses are not.

I did find this story about oxytocin yesterday but figured it would be all over the news anyway so I didn’t bother to blog it yesterday and yes it was all over the news. Today I have to bring it up.

I swear they don’t read the whole story when they cover stuff like this on TV news. The research was done with a small amount of money, “Each participant was given 12 ‘points’, which was equal to about 50 cents.” That didn’t stop the local health news reporter from saying something like “people were willing to give away large amounts of money.” That was the reporter's emphasis not mine. She read something different from what I read.

As a long-winded aside, I’d like to say that I’ve learned a variety of things in the past couple of weeks.

That coumadin and a large variety of other medicines in an 83 year old man can be very very bad.

The Whipple procedure can be survived by a 70-something year old but the cancer will probably get you in the end.

You can get meningitis from a sinus infection.

That when you are going to have surgery on your hand and the doctor finds out that you’ve had a heart attack previously that you didn’t know about, that the doctor won’t tell you about the heart attack. He will say for you to go to your regular doctor to find out what the surgeon didn’t want to tell you. Oh, and you won’t get the surgery.

Kidney stones can cause lots of annoying problems and surgery.

Codeine can cause nightmares that make you dream about “a band of Mexicans” chasing you. Yes, I know it doesn’t say nightmares on the codeine page but I’ve been told on good authority that it happens.

There is no guy suing a "famous drill company" to make them take responsibility for his using a drill to get to an itch in his nose. The picture is kind of gross.

I also learned that there is no floating reef of condoms somewhere in the South Pacific. Snopes.com is a wonderful thing. :-)

I have rhododendrens in my yard and still can’t spell rhododendron correctly.

There are weeds and there are weeds and if I go by the definition of weed from this weed site:

The definition of a weed is "a plant out of place."
OK, if that's true, think about this for a second....
If a dandelion is a weed in a home lawn,
grass is a weed on a dandelion farm!
(where they grow dandelion greens)
There are weeds; the plants that must go like dandelions, and there are weeds; the plants that just need to be moved.

It has been a busy fun filled couple of weeks.

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