1) You don't want your kid vaccinated? That decision affects more than you and your kid, a writer at Slate.com notes:
Ordinarily I wouldn't question others' parenting choices. But the problem is literally one of live or don't live. While that parent chose not to vaccinate her child for what she likely considers well-founded reasons, she is putting other children at risk. In this instance, the child at risk was my son. He has leukemia.
Update 11:03 a.m. -- MPR's Nate Minor reminds me of a This American Life segment called "Ruining it for the rest of us."
Measles cases are higher in the U.S. than they've been in a decade, mostly because more and more nervous parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids. Contributing Editor Susan Burton tells the story of what happened recently in San Diego, when an unvaccinated 7-year-old boy returned home from a trip to Switzerland, bringing with him the measles. By the end of the ordeal, 11 other children caught the disease, and more than 60 kids had to be quarantined.
2) I saw a press release yesterday that demanded the same health insurance premiums for women as those for men. It was the latest evidence that people really don't understand how insurance works. Reporter Sarah Varney looked into this, and explains how age and gender affects rates:
For companies with more than 1,000 workers, insurers are more likely to base their rates on historical claims data. But for smaller companies, health plans rely more on age and gender.
"In the private market, group insurance is really social insurance," Kaplan says. "In a typical employer group, roughly half the employees will have no claims in a given year, and they are paying a premium. And there's some people in that workforce who are going to have $100,000 in claims."
As a younger, healthier person, I may subsidize the older workers at my company who need more medical care. But I also get something out of it -- my co-workers who don't have kids help subsidize coverage for my family. And that's the point of group health insurance: We all take our chances together.
3) How far are you willing to go to save your home? I'm not talking about foreclosure, I'm talking about risking you or your families life, or crossing a dictator. The BBC profiles a documentary about Ben Freeth, the Briton "along with his Zimbabwean family has for the past few years been in a tug of war for land with President Robert Mugabe, the country's strong and ruthless leader."
4) News you can use. Or not. I stumbled across Air Now today, a Web site that provides air pollution information in real time. As it so happens, today in central and southeast Minnesota, we're full of bad air. Try the animation. Even more interesting: The Air Compare feature that lets you compare health concerns of three states. But there's no explanation for why Olmsted County had the most "unhealthy days" for heart disease in the state in 2008.
5) Oh, Public Radio, you've changed so over the years. Why, there was a time that the mere mention of Dolly Parton would set y'all to giggling.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Health care reform update.
Second hour: Why do we need pundits, and what makes a good one?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, discusses the history and future of investigative journalism.
Second hour: Historian Taylor Branch speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California about former president Bill Clinton. Branch is the author of "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President."
Talk of the Nation (1 - 3 p.m.) - First hour: Helen Thomas.
Second hour: Abigail Pogrebin, author of "One and The Same," about being an identical twin.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - The stimulus package's nine-month COBRA subsidy (which pays 65 percent of the premium) is going to start running out for some laid-off workers. How successful has it been and should Congress keep it going beyond its expiration date? MPR's Annie Baxter has the story this evening.
NPR will have details on a study coming out this afternoon that reveals how Massachusetts doctors think that state's universal health care program is working... or not.(6 Comments)
If the recent reports of thwarted terrorist plots are true, two questions come to mind: How is it authorities are able to intercept these things and how many plots are out there that haven't been intercepted?
The latest case is unfurling today in Boston where a Massachusetts man has been arrested for plotting to attack shopping malls.
"Federal prosecutors say Tarek Mehanna and his conspirators tried to get automatic weapons for a mall attack, but their plans were foiled when they could not get the weapons," the Associated Press reports. This brings up another question: If drug dealers and other low-lifes have no trouble getting automatic weapons, how is it these terrorists-in-waiting seem to have such a difficult time? This person allegedly has been planning the attacks for seven years!
Mehanna is also accused of distributing videos of dead American soldiers being abused and mutilated in Iraq. Not exactly a good way to lay low while plotting an attack.(2 Comments)
Having been away for a few weeks, I'm catching up on some older "news" now, including the winner of the Ukraine's Got Talent contest.
It's a sand artist depiction of Ukraine's history.
(Kseniya) Simonova's sand story portrays the human loss after the German invasion in 1941. The opening scene shows a couple sitting on a bench under a starry sky. Warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated to be replaced by crying faces. Then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again, but war and chaos return and a young woman becomes an old widow, before the image turns into an obelisk - the Ukrainian monument to its Unknown Soldier.
Simonova has returned to ordinary life in the Crimean seaside town of Evpatoria, where she has used her £80,000 prize to buy a modest house and set up a children's charity.
Simonova has told interviewers she is happy to stay in Evpatoria and will not be travelling abroad to cash in on her growing global fan base. Her success has taken the young woman by surprise. "I only entered because there was a child I know who needed an operation and I wanted to help," she said. "I did not mean to make the whole country cry."
Meanwhile, on the American version of the show, some over-emoting singer is harpooning some bad song.
(h/t: Patrick Collins)(1 Comments)
What do the students at Yale Law School know that the kids at Villanova don't? A Princeton Review of major law schools in the country -- except for you, University of St. Thomas Law School -- revealed that Villanova law students study an average of 7 1/2 hours a day while the kids at Yale put in a grueling hour and a half.
The only regional school that bothered to report the figures was North Dakota, good for a little over 3 hours of work a day.(2 Comments)
We're six months into the outbreak of H1N1 flu and we still can't seem to get a clear picture of how serious the outbreak is.
True, some hospitals in the Twin Cities have turned away patients because they're overwhelmed with people who either have or think they have H1N1, but a CBS News investigation this afternoon claims the statistics are overblown.
It's impossible to know for sure because the Centers for Disease Control in July told states to stop testing patients for H1N1.
Had the states conducted the testing, CBS says, we would have found out that most people who have H1N1, really don't:
We asked all 50 states for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July. The results reveal a pattern that surprised a number of health care professionals we consulted. The vast majority of cases were negative for H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, despite the fact that many states were specifically testing patients deemed to be most likely to have H1N1 flu, based on symptoms and risk factors, such as travel to Mexico.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has set up a "flu hotline" for those people who think they've got the flu. The FluLine number is 1-866-259-4655.(4 Comments)
I've been able, up to now, to avoid the balloon-boy story as the trivia it is. Today, however, a CNN video on YouTube makes it impossible to do so:
I'd be inclined to think the significance of the moment is to ask, "what kind of way is that for a six-year-old to talk?" CNN doesn't think much of that angle, however.
When it first started 19 years ago, Hell House, a "haunted house" put on by a church in Texas was nothing if not shocking. Tour guides take visitors through rooms depicting botched abortions, or a mom who left her family for someone she met on the Internet (apparently, it happened to a church member).
Now? Less shocking, less sermon, more theatrical:
About seven years ago, a documentary about the church's Halloween effort was released. Here's NPR's Steve Inskeep's interview with the director:
"Despite our guffawing," he says, "these are very nice people. The people at this church needed this church, and they needed this community. If they were in New York, they would need therapy. But they don't have therapy."
Ira Glass also picks up the story as part of This American Life's theme on Saturday -- Devil on My Shoulder.(5 Comments)
The chances are pretty good that some high-priced airline careers ended earlier this week when a Delta Airlines 767 landed on a taxiway at the airport in Atlanta, rather than on the runway.
The relatively small amount of coverage of the incident does not accurately reflect the seriousness of the incident.
"Runway incursions," taxiing airliners straying onto runways, has been the #1 safety problem in the aviation business for several years. Imagine if one or two jets had been taxiing on the runway at the time.
But a news release this afternoon from the NTSB only adds to the head-scratching. It turns out a "check airman," they're the people who determine whether pilots are fit to fly, was on the flight:
According to preliminary information received from several sources, on Monday, October 19, 2009, at 6:05 a.m. EDT, a Boeing B767-332ER (N185DN) operating as Delta Air Lines flight 60 from Rio de Janeiro to Atlanta landed on taxiway M at ATL after being cleared to land on runway 27R. No injuries to any of the 182 passengers or 11 crewmembers were reported.
A check airman was on the flight deck along with the captain and first officer. During cruise flight, the check airman became ill and was relocated to the cabin for the remainder of the flight. A medical emergency was declared and the company was notified by the crew. A determination was made to land at the scheduled destination of ATL.
The flight was cleared to land on runway 27R but instead landed on taxiway M, which is situated immediately to the north and parallel to runway 27R. The runway lights for 27R
were illuminated; the localizer and approach lights for 27R were not turned on. Taxiway M was active but was clear of aircraft and ground vehicles at the time the aircraft landed. The wind was calm with 10 miles visibility. Night/dark conditions prevailed; twilight conditions began at about 7:20 a.m. EDT and the official sunrise was at 7:46 a.m. EDT.
Behind the scenes -- that is, on airline pilot forums -- the event has reopened an old wound that had barely scabbed over as regional airline pilots and their big-airline colleagues feud over who is the more professional.(3 Comments)