Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director


Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sure that on this day, you will all want to click through this link to remind yourselves about the health benefits of chocolate.

This week our Technology and Ethics group will hear from Heidi Ravven (Religious Studies, Hamilton) on “The Self Beyond Itself: Exploring the Moral Extension of Ourselves into Others, Environments, and Our Technologies.” The talk is at the usual time (Wednesday, 4:15) but in a new venue (100 Wall Street., Room 120).

Our upcoming talk on the ethics of the global water crisis by environmental ethicist Christiana Peppard (Fordham) has been pushed back from the original date of February 26 and re-scheduled for April. We’ll have more details closer to the new time.

Several Bioethics Center affiliates have new books to celebrate:   Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (Environmental Ethicists-in-Residence, Executive Committee members and Summer Institute lecturers) have  just published Ecology and Religion (Ireland Press, 2014). J. Baird Callicott (past Environmental Ethicist–in-Residence and mentor to some of our Summer Institute students) has Thinking Like a Planet: The Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic (Oxford University Press, 2014). And Margaret Farley (founding co-director of the Center, Executive Committee member and Summer Institute lecturer) has a newly-revised edition of her Personal Commitments: Beginning, Keeping, Changing (Orbis Press, 2014). Congratulations to all!

If you’re interested in euthanasia for children in Belgium, or pregnant brain-dead women being kept on ventilation, or global health governance, or animals in medical research, check out my blog on bioethics, memorably entitled, A Blog On Bioethics. And if you have anything you’d like to see mentioned in this newsletter, send me the details at Stephen.Latham@yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” in your subject-line.
  BIOETHICS EVENTS
  Wednesday, February 19 at 4:15 PM
Technology & Ethics Group
Location: 100 Wall St, room 120
Speaker:
Heidi Ravven, Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College 
Topic: The Self Beyond Itself: Exploring the Moral Extension of Ourselves into Others, Environments, and Our Technologies

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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I thought I’d give you a different look at “love” and its many and various meanings:  YALEnews has published an article titled “Meditation helps pinpoint neurological difference between two types of love.”  Enjoy!

Camila Idrovo writes: “For those interested in nutrition education and the future of wellness policies for children, here is the research paper I wrote last summer for the State Early Childhood Development Coordinating Council and CentroNia.  If we are to reverse the obesity epidemic and create an environment of wellness and health for our future generations, we ought to start with the youngest ones. There is an undeniable need for further development of nutrition platforms at childcare centers and pre-schools across the country because the first years of life are a critical period for development of food preferences and will essentially determine eating habits and food demand in the long run.”  (Thank you Camila!)

Theo El Sayed Omar writes: "Just delivered my first kid on labour ward after 10 hours!  His middle name is Theo.  Happy days for medical training!"  (Congratulations Theo!)

Agata Bloswick writes: “I saw you like the picture of our snowless snowman (on Facebook), and I thought I will give you an update on our community actions. It all started with graffiti painting, when we thought that we could work on a grassroots community building, teaching soft-skills to students, and building a volunteer group that is willing to give back to the community. Yesterday's action was a family picnic for people in low-income social housing.  They have a problem with vandalism in the buildings and a sense of being left-out of a community, so we thought about showing them that they can get together, can talk to each other about their problems, and that there is only a small minority of them that don't care about how they live.  We wanted it to be a winter-themed party, making a snowman, but as the snow disappeared, we had to get more creative and came up with a cardboard craft project.  We ended up with 6 pretty snowmen, built by kids, their parents, and our volunteers. The whole picnic showed us that even with free food, coffee, and fun for kids, it is not enough to reach a difficult community like that.  We had to knock at their doors and persuade them to show up, to talk about their fears and problems.  We let them talk, and then we promised to come back in the Spring, with paint buckets and another picnic, to do some painting on their walls and cover over the vandalism.  All 40 guests promised to come and help, and they started to believe that something can change in the place they live. It wasn't an easy experience.  We feared a fiasco, as they did not show up at first.  We were worried that we would have to eat the cakes and drink the coffee ourselves.  But then they slowly came around.  One by one, they started to believe that together we can build a community -- even in a place where they don't have any hope for a better future. We had some cakes left, so at the end of the picnic, we walked around the apartments and gave the cakes to those who did not come down to see us.  Some of them were clearly hungry and took more than one cake; some did not want any, and some were so surprised to see that we cared about them -- and we specifically wanted them to show up the next time we gave a party. It was an amazing meeting, and in a few months, we'll do it again. They are, after all, our neighbors, and we really want to brighten their lives. The budget for the meeting was $52. We were able to feed and entertain a group of 50 people for 3 hours. Yes, $1/per person. Isn't it amazing? Pictures from the picnic, as well as from some previous actions by the group, you can see in the link. English-speaking local TV Youtube clip is here (talking about previous actions); and an article also about a previous action in English is here. Wow, life's worth living!”  (Thank you Agata!  Wonderful work you and your group are doing!  For a few more pictures, please click here.  And if anyone wants to donate, let me know.  I’ll give you Agata’s e-mail address.)

Of Note:

*On January 31, 2014, the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethics Issues published a request for public comment on behalf of the Presidential Commission.  They seek to collect information from a wide range of stakeholders on ethical issues related to neuroscience.  For further information, please see bioethicsgov@gmail.com

*“Defining Death,” Blog, Bioethics.com, February 7, 2014

*“The Real World Is Not an Exam,” Abigail Zuger, MD, The New York Times, Blog/Hard Cases, February 10, 2014

*The Journal of Consumer Research has scheduled an article for publication in its June 2014 issue titled “Aging and Maximizing Happiness (8 studies): Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences,” by Amit Bhattacharjee and Cassie Magilner.  Please click here for excerpts.

*“The U.S. Hypocrisy over Russian’s Anti-Gay Laws,” Ian Ayres and William Eskridge, The Washington Post, January 31, 2014.  (Ayres and Eskridge are law professors at Yale University.)

*“In A Stunning Win For Open Science, Johnson & Johnson Decides To Release Its Clinical Trial Data To Researchers” Matthew Harper, Forbes, January 30, 2014.

-Carol

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This Week on Campus

Monday, February 17

Zigler Center Lecture
Time: 9 AM
Location: 230 S Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium Distance-Learning Center
Speaker: James F. Leckman, M.D., Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics
Topic: Formative Childhoods: A path to peace and resilience?

Mars Lecture in Business Ethics 
Time: 4 PM
Location: 77 Prospect St, room A002
Speaker: Sarah Knuckey, Director of the Initiative on Human Rights Fact-Finding at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (NYU School of Law); Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions
Topic: Corporate Accountability for Human Rights Abuses: A view from the field

Tuesday, February 18

Global Justice Lecture
Time: 12 PM
Location: 128 Wall St, Sterling Memorial Lecture Hall
Speaker: Dr.  Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University
Topic: Sustainable Development Goals: The Emerging Global Agenda

Wednesday, February 19

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker: Walter Gilliam, PhD, Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University
Topic: International Collaborations in Early Childhood Development in the United Arab Emirates and China

Environmental Economics Seminar
Time: 4 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, room 321
Speaker: Namrata Kala, Yale FES
Topic: (Robust) Learning and Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from Indian Agriculture

Schell Center Lecture
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 120
Speaker: Dr. Anna Neistat, Associate Director, Program and the Emergencies Division, Human Rights Watch
Topic: Human Rights Abuses During the Ukraine Protests

Thursday, February 20

Forest Forum Lunch
Time: 12 PM
Location: 360 Prospect St, Marsh Rotunda
Speaker: Lincoln Bramwell, Ph.D., Chief Historian, USDA Forestry Service
Topic: Residential Development and Wildfire on the Forest Edge

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Responding to the Limits and Possibilities of the Body
March 7-9, 2014
Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile, IL
Medicine exists because of the limits and frailties of the human body, as well as its possibilities; and medicine is shaped by what we expect the body to be and do. As such, health care practices depend on and display answers to important questions about human embodiment: To whom does the body belong? How is one's body related to oneself? What is a normal human body? What, if anything, does the human body tell us about how medicine should respond to bodily suffering and death? What kind of knowledge about human embodiment can science give, vis-à-vis the great religions?  Keynote Speakers:
Baruch Brody, Rice University; Arthur W. Frank, University of Calgary; M. Therese Lysaught, Loyola University Chicago; Ingrid Mattson, Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario. Read more about our Keynote Speakers by clicking here. REGISTER HERE. Listen to audio recordings from last year's conference by clicking here. For more information, please visit: www.MedicineAndReligion.com . Conference Sponsors:  Program on Medicine and Religion, University of Chicago; Institute for Spirituality and Health, Texas Medical Center; and Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University. This conference is sponsored in part by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress is delighted to announce that they are currently accepting applications for The David B. Larson Fellowship in Health and Spirituality. This paid research opportunity at the Library of Congress is open to qualified scholars to apply for a post-doctoral fellowship designed to continue Dr. Larson's legacy of promoting meaningful, scholarly study of these two important and increasingly interrelated fields. The fellowship seeks to encourage the pursuit of scholarly excellence in the scientific study of the relation of religiousness and spirituality to physical, mental, and social health. It provides an opportunity for a period of 6 to 12 months of concentrated use of the collections of the Library of Congress, through full-time residency in the Library's John W. Kluge Center. Full information on eligibility, application procedures, and stipend is available on their website: http://www.loc.gov/kluge/fellowships/larson.html.

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

Call for Papers: Bioethics Education
The Hastings Center and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues announce a joint initiative: a special report for the Hastings Center Report to address current themes in bioethics education. Guest editors include Mildred Z. Solomon, president and CEO of The Hastings Center, and Lisa Lee, executive director of the presidential commission. We invite papers on the following topics: assessing the state of bioethics education; incorporating professional, clinical, research, and public health ethics education into medical and STEM education at secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels; methods for bioethics instruction; best practices in bioethics education. We encourage manuscripts from individuals teaching in traditional and nontraditional settings. Manuscripts will be subject to the standard peer review process by the Hastings Center Report.  The deadline for manuscript submission is March 10, 2014. Click here for more information.

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The 28th Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare will be held in Debrecen University, Hungary. 27-30. August, 2014.
The term “biopolitics” is either used as a philosophical or sociological term referring to the works of Negri, Agamben, Rose, or Foucault, who focused on the contemporary style of governing populations through biopower, or as an umbrella concept referring to public policies regarding applications of biotechnology and the life sciences. Both usages suggest, that biopolitics is a central concept for modern societies. At the same time bioethics has become increasingly interdisciplinary and ever more politicized. Bioethical issues figure in presidential campaigns and parliamentary elections. Bioethicists are advisors for governments and frame recommendations for public policies. Bioethics and biopolitics have become deeply interwoven activities. These developments call for reflection on the relation between bioethics and politics. If bioethics and biopolitics are highly interwoven, then how should we understand their relationship? Does politics corrupt bioethics? How does bioethics affect policy-making? How has bioethics been affected by its role in policy-making? Abstracts addressing these issues in the following categories will be favoured, although work on other topics can also be submitted: theories and concepts; historical and empirical aspects of biopolitics; the role of bioethics in biopolitics; biopolitical issues and bioethical perspectives. This conference will be organised by the European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare (ESPMH, see http://espmh.org) and the Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Debrecen, Hungary. The programme of the conference includes plenary sessions as well as parallel sessions. Anyone wishing to present a paper at the conference should submit an abstract (500 words maximum) before March 1 2014. The Conference Programme Committee will select abstracts for oral presentation. Please send abstracts by e-mail to: Professor Bert Gordijn, Secretary of the ESPMH, Institute of Ethics, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland (E-mail: bert.gordijn@dcu.ie).

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Articles of Interest

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In the News


Featured Article

Abend, Lisa. Marius The Giraffe Is Not The Only Animal Zoos Have Culled Recently. Time. 10 February 2014.
The killing of Marius the giraffe at a zoo in Copenhagen surprised many people around the world — and shocked quite a few — but it was no isolated incident. Also put down by European zoos in the name of genetic diversity in recent years: Zebra, antelopes, bison, pygmy hippos, and tiny Red River hog piglets. Although zoo officials may not publicize the fact, culling is often a normal part of a zoo’s breeding program and conservation efforts. But as those breeding programs become more successful — especially with popular animals like giraffes — euthanasia is also becoming more controversial. Continue reading...

Environment

Harris, Richard. Economist Says Best Climate Fix A Tough Sell, But Worth It. NPR. 11 February 2014.
Yale’s William Nordhaus has been running the numbers on Earth’s climate troubles. He says charging a fair price for any dumping of carbon dioxide into the air is a cost-effective solution. But at least half the planet must cooperate, his math suggests, or it will be all pain, no gain. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

McCarthy, Claire. The Uncle Ben’s Rice Recall: An Important Warning and Lesson About Vitamins. Boston. 11 February 2014.
Getting extra vitamins sounds like a good idea, right? After all, vitamins are important — so why not add them to foods and take multivitamins? Actually, it's not always a good idea. The manufacturers of Uncle Ben's Flavor-Infused Rice learned this the hard way when 34 students and 4 teachers in Katy, Texas experienced burning rashes, headaches and nausea after eating the rice, leading to recall of the rice. The likely culprit? Vitamin B3, otherwise known as Niacin, which was added to the rice. Continue reading...

Rosenthal, Elisabeth. Apprehensive, Many Doctors Switch To Jobs With Salaries. The New York Times. 13 February 2014.
A growing number of primary care doctors and specialists in private practice are becoming employees of hospitals, though experts caution that the change may not yield better or cheaper care for patients. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Eckholm, Erik. “Aid In Dying” Movement Takes Hold In Some States. The New York Times. 7 February 2014.
Helping the terminally ill end their lives, condemned for decades as immoral, is gaining traction. Banned everywhere but Oregon until 2008, it is now legal in five states. Its advocates, who have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide,” believe that as baby boomers watch frail parents suffer, support for what they call the “aid in dying” movement will grow further. Continue reading...

Schultz, Teri. Belgian Proposal: Terminally Ill Kids Could Choose Euthanasia. NPR. 12 February 2014.
This week Belgium is expected to become the first country in the world to allow terminally ill children to choose euthanasia. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for those 18 and over, and the number of adults choosing a doctor-assisted death has been rising annually, reaching 1,432 in 2012. But a bill before Parliament would lift age restrictions and allow terminally ill children to ask to be euthanized if they are in unbearable pain and treatment options are exhausted. In addition, their parents and medical team would have to agree. Continue reading...

Knox, Richard. Judge Dismisses Assisted Suicide Case Against Pennsylvania Nurse. NPR. 12 February 2014.
A Pennsylvania county judge has thrown out an assisted suicide case against a 58-year-old nurse named Barbara Mancini, who was accused of homicide last year for allegedly handing her 93-year-old father a bottle of morphine. The decision is the latest in a series of recent developments signaling a reluctance of courts and state legislatures to criminalize medical care that may hasten death. Continue reading...

Pharmaceuticals

Tavernise, Sabrina. Drug Shortages Continue To Vex Doctors. The New York Times. 10 February 2014.
Despite efforts by the Obama administration to ease shortages of critical drugs, shortfalls have persisted, forcing doctors to resort to rationing in some cases or to scramble for alternatives, a government watchdog agency said on Monday. The number of annual drug shortages — both new and continuing ones — nearly tripled from 2007 to 2012. In recent years, drug shortages have become an all but permanent part of the American medical landscape. Continue reading...

Carey, Benedict. Prescription Painkillers Seen as a Gateway to Heroin. The New York Times. 10 February 2014.
The life of a heroin addict is not the same as it was 20 years ago, and the biggest reason is what some doctors call “heroin lite”: prescription opiates. These medications are more available than ever, and reliably whet an appetite that, once formed, never entirely fades. More people than ever now get a taste of opiates at a young age, and recovering addicts live in a world with far more temptations than there were a generation ago. Continue reading...

Technology

Lees, Kathleen. Is Technology Making Us Fat? Certain Luxuries Increase Risk of Obesity, Diabetes. Science World Report. 11 February 2014.
There's no doubt about it. Today's technological advances – whether it be a new flat screen TV or convertible – make our lives easier. Unfortunately, with everything, there is a downside. Particularly for those in low-income countries who can experience such luxuries, they may be more likely to become obese than those who do not have them, according to a recent study. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Calain, Philippe. Ethics and images of suffering and bodies in humanitarian medicine. Social Science & Medicine. December 2013.
Media representations of suffering bodies from medical humanitarian organisations raise ethical questions, which deserve critical attention for at least three reasons. Firstly, there is a normative vacuum at the intersection of medical ethics, humanitarian ethics and the ethics of photojournalism. Secondly, the perpetuation of stereotypes of illness, famine or disasters, and their political derivations are a source of moral criticism, to which humanitarian medicine is not immune. Thirdly, accidental encounters between members of the health professions and members of the press in the humanitarian arena can result in misunderstandings and moral tension. From an ethics perspective the problem can be specified and better understood through two successive stages of reasoning. Firstly, by applying criteria of medical ethics to the concrete example of an advertising poster from a medical humanitarian organisation, I observe that media representations of suffering bodies would generally not meet ethical standards commonly applied in medical practice. Secondly, I try to identify what overriding humanitarian imperatives could outweigh such reservations. The possibility of action and the expression of moral outrage are two relevant humanitarian values which can further be spelt out through a semantic analysis of ‘témoignage’ (testimony). While the exact balance between the opposing sets of considerations (medical ethics and humanitarian perspectives) is difficult to appraise, awareness of all values at stake is an important initial standpoint for ethical deliberations of media representations of suffering bodies. Future pragmatic approaches to the issue should include: exploring ethical values endorsed by photojournalism, questioning current social norms about the display of suffering, collecting empirical data from past or potential victims of disasters in diverse cultural settings, and developing new canons with more creative or less problematic representations of suffering bodies than the currently accepted stereotypes. Continue reading…

Petersen, Allen. From bioethics to a sociology of bio-knowledge. Social Science & Medicine. December 2013.
Growing recognition of bioethics' shortcomings, associated in large part with its heavy reliance on abstract principles, or so-called principlism, has led many scholars to propose that the field should be reformed or reconceptualised. Principlism is seen to de-contextualise the process of ethical decisionmaking, thus restricting bioethics' contributions to debate and policy on new and emergent biotechnologies. This article examines some major critiques of bioethics and argues for an alternative normative approach; namely, a sociology of bio-knowledge focussing on human rights. The article discusses the need for such an approach, including the challenges posed by the recent rise of 'the bioeconomy'. It explores some potential alternative bases for a normative sociology of bio-knowledge, before presenting the elements of the proposed human rights-focused approach. This approach, it is argued, will benefit from the insights and concepts offered by various fields of critical scholarship, particularly the emergent sociology of human rights, science and technology studies, Foucaultian scholarship, and feminist bioethics. Continue reading…

Rajtar, Malgorzata. Bioethics and religious bodies: Refusal of blood transfusions in Germany. Social Science & Medicine. December 2013.
The refusal of medical treatment is a recurrent topic in bioethical debates and Jehovah's Witnesses often constitute an exemplary case in this regard. The refusal of a potentially life-saving blood transfusion is a controversial choice that challenges the basic medical principle of acting in patients' best interests and often leads physicians to adopt paternalistic attitudes toward patients who refuse transfusion. However, neither existing bioethical nor historical and social sciences scholarship sufficiently addresses experiences of rank-and-file Witnesses in their dealings with the health care system. This article draws on results of a nine-month (2010, 2011-2012) ethnographic research on the relationship between religious, legal, ethical, and emotional issues emerging from the refusal of blood transfusions by Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany (mainly in Berlin). It shows how bioethical challenges are solved in practice by some German physicians and what they perceive to be the main goal of biomedicine: promoting the health or broadly understood well-being of patients. I argue that two different understandings of the concept of autonomy are at work here: autonomy based on reason and autonomy based on choice. The first is privileged by German physicians in line with a Kantian philosophical tradition and constitutional law; the second, paradoxically, is utilized by Jehovah's Witnesses in their version of the Anglo-Saxon Millian approach. Continue reading…

Salter, Brian. Bioethical ambition, political opportunity and the European governance of patenting: The case of human embryonic stem cell science. Social Science & Medicine. December 2013.
Scientific progress in the life sciences is dependent on the governance of tensions between the economic potential of the innovation and the cultural response from society. Ownership of the scientific innovation through patenting is a necessary part of the realization of its economic value yet, in the case of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) science, ownership of the human body and human life may offend fundamental cultural values. In the case of transnational patenting governance by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union (EU), cross-national cultural conflict in the field of hESC science has produced a political demand for a form of governance that can incorporate ethical as well as economic judgements in its decision making. This paper explores how bioethics has responded to this opportunity to establish itself as a form of expert authority for the negotiation and resolution of the cultural conflict. In so doing, it shows how the political struggle that has accompanied this bid for new governance territory has been influenced both by the political tensions between the EPO and EU systems of patenting governance and the resistance of competing experts in law and science to a bioethical presence. Continue reading…

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Opinion


Ars Technica

Timmer, John. Business as usual + sea level rise = losses of up to 9% of global GDP. February 10, 2014.
Things like extreme weather and droughts are the high-profile impacts of climate change—they are easy to see and understand. Sea level rise is much more subtle and slow-moving, but it's inexorable. Even if we stabilize our climate at a new, higher average temperature, the seas will continue to rise for centuries as the added warmth slowly melts ice and causes the water in the oceans to expand in volume. Continue reading…

Breen, Jessica. Carbon dioxide from exhaust can now be used to make new chemicals. February 13, 2014.
To limit climate change, most governments focus on reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) put into the atmosphere. But there are indications that such action won’t be enough —at some point, we will need to actively remove CO₂ from the air. Continue reading…

Johnson, Scott K. Methane burned vs. methane leaked: Fracking’s impact on climate change.
Fracking—the use of hydraulic pressure to crack layers of shale that hold oil and natural gas—is controversial. That’s one thing we know about a debate that mainly focuses on what we don’t know. The most common concern is the contamination of drinking water, either by the chemicals used in the fracking fluid or by liberated natural gas. And this issue has entered the public consciousness through media like the film Gasland and its imagery of flaming faucets —though almost 40 percent of people in the US say they’ve never heard of fracking. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. How to fix Obamacare. February 12, 2014.
The rules changed Monday for American businesses trying to decipher what they're supposed to do under Obamacare. That is, the rules changed again. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. To help rein in healthcare costs, give ‘narrow networks’ a try. February 7, 2014.
In an effort to cut costs, many insurers in the new state health insurance exchanges are offering plans with "narrow networks" that include fewer doctors and hospitals — particularly the costlier ones with famous names, such as Cedars-Sinai. The trade-off has sparked complaints from some policyholders who've had trouble seeing their favorite doctor or, in some cases, any doctor in the right specialty. Although regulators have to address those issues, narrow networks can actually be a good thing for patients if done the right way. Continue reading…

Gruber, Jonathan. Obamacare: It’s a net gain for the economy. February 9, 2014.
The recent Congressional Budget Office report on healthcare reform has lots of good news. Insurance premiums are lower than anticipated, the Affordable Care Act will cost $9 billion less than previously estimated and the provision designed to buffer insurance companies from risk will actually raise revenue, not function as any sort of federal government bailout. Continue reading…

Healey, Jon. Obamacare: Breathing new life into Obama’s broken promise. February 10, 2014.
Remember "If you like your health plan, you can keep it"? The Obama administration may try to breathe new life into that broken promise. Continue reading…

New Scientist

Berkely, Seth. Global child vaccination needs a data boost. February 10, 2014.
How many vaccines do you think it takes to fully immunise a child? One? Three? Perhaps five? By the World Health Organization's reckoning, that number is 11 – that's 11 key vaccines every child should have to protect them from a range of devastating diseases. So why then are we only using three to measure immunisation coverage? By doing so, we are not only giving ourselves a skewed perspective of the state of global childhood immunisation, but we are also in danger of thinking it's job done, when we still have far to go. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. India’s Air Pollution Emergency. February 13, 2014.
Last month, the Yale Environmental Performance Index ranked India 174th out of 178 countries on air pollution. According to India’s Central Pollution Control Board, in 2010, particulate matter in the air of 180 Indian cities was six times higher than World Health Organization standards. More people die of asthma in India than anywhere else in the world. Indoor air pollution, mostly from cooking fires, and outdoor air pollution are the third and fifth leading causes of death in India. Continue reading…

Editorial. Medicaid Expansion, Red-State Style. February 11, 2014.
Some 20 states have refused to expand their Medicaid programs to cover uninsured low-income people, an important element of the health reform law. Now several states that had been opposed, mostly for ideological reasons, are seeking to cover newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries through private insurance. Continue reading…

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