Greetings from Stephen Latham, Director


This week: a special ISPS event on the Future of Medicare on Tuesday at noon! The all-star cast includes ISPS Director Jacob Hacker, David Brooks of the New York Times, Yale Public Health economist Zack Cooper, the National Journal’s Matthew Dowd, Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post, and former Medicare/Medicaid Director Thomas Scully. Details appear in the link and below. On Thursday, John Rossi (Public Health, Drexel) will speak in our Animal Ethics Forum on “What Should We Eat? Food choices and our obligations to the public’s health.” Note that this event, which is co-sponsored by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, will be held at 4:15 at the Rudd Center, 309 Edwards Street, and not at ISPS! Again, details in the link and in the listings below.
 

Next week, on Tuesday the 9th, our Center and the Medical School’s Center for Biomedical Ethics are co-hosting a special event on Alzheimer’s and Advance Directives, at the Anlyan Center, 300 Cedar St., from 4:30 to 7:30. Bonnie Steinbock (Philosophy, Albany) will speak on Alzheimer’s, Advance Directives and Physician Aid-in-Dying; Paul Menzel (Philosophy, Pacific Lutheran) will speak on Advance Directives, Severe Dementia and Withholding Food Assistance, and Dr. Jane Givens (Harvard Medical and Hebrew SeniorLife) will speak on End-of-Life Care in Advanced Dementia. Dinner will be served, so it is necessary to RSVP to Karen.Kolb@Yale.edu. And on Wednesday the 10th, our Technology and Ethics group will host a talk on “Geoengineering” by David Keith (Applied Physics & Public Policy, Harvard) at 4:15 at ISPS.

We’re pleased to announce that our Summer Institute, organized by our Associate Director Carol Pollard, has admitted another outstanding student body ready to start learning about bioethics from our outstanding faculty in June. This summer’s students hail from universities all over the US, as well as from Japan, Spain, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Australia, Canada, France, India, Poland, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, China and the Czech Republic.  

Let us know about news you’d like to see in this newsletter by emailing me at Stephen.Latham@Yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” included in your subject-line.

  BIOETHICS EVENTS
  Thursday, April 4 at 4:15 PM
Animal Ethics group
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker: John Rossi, John Rossi, V.M.D., M.Bioethics, Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Program for the Study of Public Health Ethics and History Drexel University School of Public Health
Topic: How Should We Eat? Food choices and our obligations to the public's health

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*To those of you who celebrate Passover and Easter, I hope your celebrations are meaningful and full of the love of the season.

*Gala Vega writes: “I guess you have already started to organize everything for this summer's bioethics program!! Some of the students that are going this summer are my classmates (European University of Madrid), and they are so excited and looking forward to going to Yale. That makes me remember all the good times we spent there together and makes me want to go again!! Ha Ha!” (Good Luck with your studies, Gala.  Come to the Banquet??)

*Jonathan Anthony writes: “I hope everyone at the Center is doing well!  I just received the updated version of the Newsletter, and it inspired me to send my own update.  First off, I am getting married to my fiancé Erin Schwartz this July in Los Angeles!  I also just finished my graduate studies at Penn (University of Pennsylvania) in their bioethics department and wrote a thesis on publication bias and clinical trial results disclosure in industry-sponsored research.  I have also been busy working in clinical research ethics and compliance for a non-profit health system in Washington, DC.  However, I will be leaving my position in July to begin medical school!  There has been a lot going on between school and wedding planning, but I do hope to return to the Center one day to say hello.  Again, give my best to everyone.” (Congratulations and Best Wishes on all fronts, Jonathan!) 

*Chelsea Rutherford writes: “I just wanted to quickly write to give an update.  I was recently elected as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Law and Medicine at Boston University School of Law, which is a very exciting responsibility.  I am currently a 2L at BU Law, and will be working at Partners Healthcare here in Boston this summer.  I'm very excited to be using my bioethics masters (Columbia University) with my burgeoning law experience in these ways!  Love reading about the updates at the Center.”  (Congratulations Chelsea!)

*Past Summer Seminar Leader Christiana Peppard writes: “After my TED-Ed series came out in February, the Microsoft VP of Global Education invited me to be interviewed/featured on his "Daily Edventures" blog. They asked a few questions, wanted a photo and some links, and voila--it turned into a chance to reflect on what I do,  and why, and how, at this point in time, in a format that I can share.  I thought you might be interested in one or another parts of it! http://dailyedventures.com/index.php/2013/03/25/christiana/" (Congratulations Christy, who is now an Assistant Professor of Theology, Science and Ethics at Fordham University!)

Carol

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This Week on Campus

Monday, April 1

History of Science and Medicine Lecture
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 333 Cedar St, room L215
Speaker: Lara Freidenfelds, PhD
Topic: Without Choice or Life: The Impact of the Abortion Debates on Experiences of Early Pregnancy Loss since Roe v. Wade

Tuesday, April 2

Dwight H. Terry Lecture
Time: 4:15 PM
Location: 63 High St, room 102
Speaker: Philip Kitcher, Columbia University
Topic: Secular Humanism: Mortality and Meaning

Wednesday, April 3

School of Forestry Lecture
Time: 12 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Richard Howarth, Dartmouth College
Topic: Uncertainty and the Social Cost of Carbon

Thursday, April 4

Latin American & Iberian Studies Lecture
Time: 12 PM
Location: 10 Sachem St, room 105
Speaker: Elizabeth F. S. Roberts, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan
Topic: God's Laboratory: Assisted Reproduction in the Andes

Friday, April 5

Agrarian Studies Colloquium
Time: 11 AM
Location: 77 Prospect St, room B012
Speaker: Rachel Schurman, Sociology, University of Minnesota
Topic: Managing the Next Green Revolution for Africa

Zigler Center Lecture
Time: 11:30 AM
Location: 100 Wall St, room 116
Speaker: Aisha Yousafzai, PhD, Assistant Professor, Aga Khan University, Pakistan
Topic: Integrating Early Child Development in Community Based Health Care in Pakistan: Lessons Learned to Build Effectiveness and Capacity

Environmental Law & Policy Lecture
Time: 12:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 128
Speaker: Jedediah Purdy, Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law
Topic: The American Environmental Imagination

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

7th International Conference on Ethical Issues in Biomedical Engineering, April 20-21, 2013. For more information visit the website http://www.downstate.edu/orthopaedics/bioethicsconf2013/.

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Second Annual Conference on Medicine and Religion, May 28-30, 2013, The Westin Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL. At the heart of medicine is care. Medical care, surgical care, nursing care, wound care, palliative care, even spiritual care—almost everything health professionals do is advanced as a form of care. But how much care is actually in health care, and how does health care fit into a faithful life, as understood in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? The second annual Conference on Medicine and Religion will provide a forum for scholars and health care professionals to ask what it means to care and how the traditions and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam inform possible answers to this pressing question.  What is the care that faith requires with respect to one's patients, colleagues, and oneself? How are professionalized forms of care related to, and potentially at odds with, the care provided in other contexts? What sort of care does contemporary medicine propose to provide versus actually provide? What can we learn from paradigmatic expressions of care found within religious texts and historical or contemporary religious communities? How do illness experiences and health care practices inform and shape religious norms and practices?  How do religious traditions and practices challenge or propose an alternative to conventional health care norms and practices? For more information and to register please visit: http://pmr.uchicago.edu/2013-conference.

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2013 Treuman Katz Pediatric Bioethics Conference, July 19-20, 2013, Seattle, WA. There are cases that test our moral values, raising complicated ethical issues in our day-to-day care of individual patients.  Frequently, as they search for the proper course of action, clinicians and families seek advice from ethics committees or consultants.  Yet, even when these situations are resolved, they may leave us feeling unsettled and uncertain.  Did we do the right thing?  Did we act in the best interests of all concerned? Could we have done more? Plan to attend the Ninth Annual Seattle Children’s Pediatric Bioethics Conference as we explore “Cases That Keep Us Awake at Night: Challenges in Pediatric Bioethics.”  A distinguished panel of experts will address a range of challenging ethical issues: Should a teenager be allowed to refuse a lifesaving blood transfusion on religious grounds? Should an organ transplant be performed over a family’s objections?  Should Child Protective Services be encouraged to intervene when a family fails to address the eating habits of a morbidly obese child? Should healthcare professionals withdraw medical interventions against the wishes of a family? Join us in the picturesque city of Seattle as healthcare providers and bioethicists from around the country share insights and opinions. To learn more and to register, visit: seattlechildrens.org/pediatric-bioethics-conference.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

The Hastings Center seeks applications for the full-time position of managing editor, reporting jointly to the editor, Hastings Center Report, and editor, IRB: Ethics & Human Research. The managing editor works with the editors to produce and publish the journals, which includes assisting with the manuscript review process, reviewing and editing manuscripts, overseeing online publishing services for the Report, and providing additional administrative support to the editorial department (e.g., maintaining departmental files). The position requires excellent editing skills, strong word processing and organizational skills, and an ability to communicate effectively with scholars who come from a variety of disciplines. The ideal candidate need not have a background in bioethics but will bring an interest in scholarly publishing. Experience with the software program InDesign is helpful but not necessary. Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. Salary will be commensurate with experience; please indicate salary requirements in a cover letter. Good benefits. AA/EOE. To apply, send a letter, CV, three writing samples, and an example of copyediting if one is available to jobs@thehastingscenter.org. Indicate “Managing Editor Search” on the subject line. Candidates selected for interview will be contacted by the Center; please, no calls. For more information about The Hastings Center, visit our website at www.thehastingscenter.org.

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

Shaping Identity: The Ethical and Legal Implications of Medical Interventions for Individuals with Disabilities.  Within the context of ongoing debates about medical and social models of disability, the Journal of Philosophy, Science, and Law invites authors to submit new manuscripts that address the ethical and legal implications of interventions aimed at modifying the bodies of individuals with physical or mental impairments or disabilities.  Topics suitable for this Call for Papers include but are not limited to ethical and legal issues emerging from: The use of bionic eyes; the use of cochlear implants; Prosthetics for everyday use or competitive sports; “Normalizing” surgery for individuals with Down Syndrome; Limb lengthening surgeries (e.g., for individuals with achondroplasia); the use of growth hormones; the use of “neuroenhancement” drugs (e.g., to improve focus, memory, or other cognitive functioning); Laws that influence decision making on behalf of disabled children (e.g., the Swedish law requiring parents to consult with member of the Deaf community prior to agreeing to cochlear implant surgery for their child); Growth attenuation procedures; Familial or community pressure to modify or refuse modifications of one’s body. Manuscripts submitted for inclusion in this special issue must be original work and should not be under consideration with any other journal. The word count for submitted manuscripts, including references and notes, should not exceed 5000 words.  Manuscripts should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 200 words.  Authors should adhere to the Journal’s publication guidelines:  http://www.miami.edu/ethics/jpsl/submission.html.  Authors should submit their manuscripts and abstracts via email attachments no later than June 1, 2013 to Dr. Yvette Pearson: ypearson[AT]odu[DOT]edu. Please write “JPSL Disability” in the email subject line. Accepted manuscripts will be published online in October 2013.

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Other Items of Interest

The Humane Society of the United States’ Faith Outreach program, in collaboration with Humane Society University, is looking for an instructor to develop a course on Animals & Religion.  The course would be a non-credit, self-paced course involving four to eight lesson folders.  Multi-media is encouraged as an element of the course.  Depending on the number of lesson folders, HSUS will pay up to $1,000.  Please visit the following links for a sample of course offerings (http://humanesocietyuniversity.org/academics/sce/) or a Faculty Application (humanesocietyuniversity.org/files/faculty_application.docx). The course will ideally include a brief history of animals and religion including major leaders and important moments; a survey of the American religious landscape; a look at recent developments and available resources; and strategies for approaching religious leaders and communities.  The last item can be developed in partnership with the Faith Outreach program.    

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Barclay, Eliza. Sequencing of HeLa Genome Revives Genetic Privacy Concerns. NPR. 26 March 2013.
Last week, scientists announced they had sequenced the full genome of the most widely used human cell line in biology, the "HeLa" cells, and published the results on the web. But the descendants of the woman from whom the cells originated were never consulted before the genetic information was made public, and thus never gave their consent to its release. Continue reading…

Disability

Joffe-Walt, Chana. Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America. NPR. 23 March 2013.
People who leave the workforce and go on disability qualify for Medicare, the government health care program that also covers the elderly. They also get disability payments from the government of about $13,000 a year. This isn't great. But if your alternative is a minimum wage job that will pay you at most $15,000 a year, and probably does not include health insurance, disability may be a better option. But going on disability means you will not work, you will not get a raise, you will not get whatever meaning people get from work. Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal. And it's a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for. Continue reading…

Drugs & Pharmaceuticals 

Ingram, Antony. Confirmed: Traffic Pollution Can Cause Asthma In Kids (Not Just Trigger It). Gren Car Reports. 22 March 2013.
It's long been suspected, but a new European survey confirms it: Children living near areas of heavy traffic are more at risk of asthma. Previously, it was thought that pollution from traffic might only be a trigger for the condition, but the Los Angeles Times reports on a European study that it can also be a cause. Continue reading…

Environment

Charles, Dan. Are Agriculture’s Most Popular Insecticides Killing Our Bees? NPR. 25 March 2013.
Environmentalists and beekeepers are calling on the government to ban some of the country's most widely used insect-killing chemicals. The pesticides, called neonicotinoids, became popular among farmers during the 1990s. They're used to coat the seeds of many agricultural crops, including the biggest crop of all: corn. Neonics, as they're called, protect those crops from insect pests. Continue reading…

Food

Hagan, Caitlin. Toddler Meals Swimming in Salt. CNN. 21 March 2013.
Most packaged meals and snacks marketed to toddlers have more than the recommended amount of sodium per serving, meaning children as young as one are most likely eating far too much salt early in life, according to one of several studies on sodium presented this week. Continue reading…

Health Care

Loyd, Janice. Studies: Residents Make More Errors On Shorter Shifts. USA Today. 25 March 2013.
A workplace regulation designed to limit hours worked by doctors in training to improve patient safety and enhance medical residents' well-being has backfired and needs to be re-evaluated, according to two reports out today. Continue reading…

Aizenman, N.C. Nurses can practice without physician supervision in many states. Washington Post. 24 March 2013.
For years, nurses have been subordinate to doctors — both in the exam room and the political arena. But aided by new allies ranging from the AARP to social workers and health-policy experts, nursing groups are pressing ahead in a controversial bid to persuade state lawmakers to shift the balance of power. Continue reading…

Rau, Jordan. Doubts Raised About Cutting Medicare Pay In High-Spending Areas. NPR. 22 March 2013.
Doctors and hospital administrators in parts of the country that are heavy Medicare spenders can relax their grips on their prescription pads and billing computers. An influential panel on Friday panned the idea raised in Congress to pay them less for Medicare services if their regions are heavy users of medical services. Continue reading…

Medical Ethics

Roberts, Michelle. ‘Most Family Doctors’ Have Given a Patient a Placebo Drug. BBC. 20 March 2013.
Most family doctors have given a placebo to at least one of their patients, survey findings suggest. In a poll, 97% of 783 GPs admitted that they had recommended a sugar pill or a treatment with no established efficacy for the ailment their patient came in with. Continue reading…

Research Ethics

Begley, Sharon. Test of Anthrax Vaccine in Children Gets Tentative Ok. Reuters. 19 March 2013.
A presidential ethics panel has opened the door to testing an anthrax vaccine on children as young as infants, bringing an angry response from critics who say the children would be guinea pigs in a study that would never help them and might harm them. Continue reading…

Technology

Roberts, Michelle. ‘Under the skin’ blood-testing device developed. BBC. 19 March 2013.
Scientists say they have developed a tiny blood-testing device that sits under the skin and gives instant results via a mobile phone. The Swiss team says the wireless prototype - half an inch (14mm) long - can simultaneously check for up to five different substances in the blood. Continue reading…

Naik, Gautam. Science Fiction Comes Alive as Researchers Grow Organs in Lab. Wall Street Journal. 22 March 2013.
Reaching into a stainless steel tray, Francisco Fernandez-Aviles lifted up a gray, rubbery mass the size of a fat fist. It was a human cadaver heart that had been bathed in industrial detergents until its original cells had been washed away and all that was left was what scientists call the scaffold. Next, said Dr. Aviles, "We need to make the heart come alive." Continue reading…

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In the Journals

Gikonyo, Caroline. Feedback of Research Findings for Vaccine Trials: Experiences from Two Malaria Vaccine Trials Involving Healthy Children on the Kenyan Coast. Developing World Bioethics. February 2013.
Internationally, calls for feedback of findings to be made an ‘ethical imperative’ or mandatory have been met with both strong support and opposition. Challenges include differences in issues by type of study and context, disentangling between aggregate and individual study results, and inadequate empirical evidence on which to draw. In this paper we present data from observations and interviews with key stakeholders involved in feeding back aggregate study findings for two Phase II malaria vaccine trials among children under the age of 5 years old on the Kenyan Coast. In our setting, feeding back of aggregate findings was an appreciated set of activities. The inclusion of individual results was important from the point of view of both participants and researchers, to reassure participants of trial safety, and to ensure that positive results were not over-interpreted and that individual level issues around blinding and control were clarified. Feedback sessions also offered an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-negotiate trial relationships and benefits, with potentially important implications for perceptions of and involvement in follow-up work for the trials and in future research. We found that feedback of findings is a complex but key step in a continuing set of social interactions between community members and research staff (particularly field staff who work at the interface with communities), and among community members themselves; a step which needs careful planning from the outset. We agree with others that individual and aggregate results need to be considered separately, and that for individual results, both the nature and value of the information, and the context, including social relationships, need to be taken into account. Continue reading...

Kamuya, Dorcas M. Evolving Friendships and Shifting Ethical Dilemmas: Fieldworkers' Experiences in a Short Term Community Based Study in Kenya. Developing World Bioethics. February 2013.
Fieldworkers (FWs) are community members employed by research teams to support access to participants, address language barriers, and advise on culturally appropriate research conduct. The critical role that FWs play in studies, and the range of practical and ethical dilemmas associated with their involvement, is increasingly recognised. In this paper, we draw on qualitative observation and interview data collected alongside a six month basic science study which involved a team of FWs regularly visiting 47 participating households in their homes. The qualitative study documented how relationships between field workers and research participants were initiated, developed and evolved over the course of the study, the shifting dilemmas FWs faced and how they handled them. Even in this one case study, we see how the complex and evolving relationships between fieldworkers and study participants had important implications for consent processes, access to benefits and mutual understanding and trust. While the precise issues that FWs face are likely to depend on the type of research and the context in which that research is being conducted, we argue that appropriate support for field workers is a key requirement to strengthen ethical research practice and for the long term sustainability of research programmes. Continue reading...

Miles, Steven H. The New Military Medical Ethics: Legacies of the Gulf Wars and the War on Terror. Bioethics. February 2013.
United States military medical ethics evolved during its involvement in two recent wars, Gulf War I (1990–1991) and the War on Terror (2001–). Norms of conduct for military clinicians with regard to the treatment of prisoners of war and the administration of non-therapeutic bioactive agents to soldiers were set aside because of the sense of being in a ‘new kind of war’. Concurrently, the use of radioactive metal in weaponry and the ability to measure the health consequences of trade embargos on vulnerable civilians occasioned new concerns about the health effects of war on soldiers, their offspring, and civilians living on battlefields. Civilian medical societies and medical ethicists fitfully engaged the evolving nature of the medical ethics issues and policy changes during these wars. Medical codes of professionalism have not been substantively updated and procedures for accountability for new kinds of abuses of medical ethics are not established. Looking to the future, medicine and medical ethics have not articulated a vision for an ongoing military-civilian dialogue to ensure that standards of medical ethics do not evolve simply in accord with military exigency. Continue reading...

Parker, Malcolm. Overstating Values: Medical Facts, Diverse Values, Bioethics and Value-based Medicine. Bioethics. February 2013.
Fulford has argued that (1) the medical concepts illness, disease and dysfunction are inescapably evaluative terms, (2) illness is conceptually prior to disease, and (3) a model conforming to (2) has greater explanatory power and practical utility than the conventional value-free medical model. This ‘reverse’ model employs Hare's distinction between description and evaluation, and the sliding relationship between descriptive and evaluative meaning. Fulford's derivative ‘Values Based Medicine’ (VBM) readjusts the imbalance between the predominance of facts over values in medicine. VBM allegedly responds to the increased choices made available by, inter alia, the progress of medical science itself. VBM attributes appropriate status to evaluative meaning, where strong consensus about descriptive meaning is lacking. According to Fulford, quasi-legal bioethics, while it can be retained as a kind of deliberative framework, is outcome-based and pursues ‘the right answer’, while VBM approximates a democratic, process-oriented method for dealing with diverse values, in partnership with necessary contributions from evidence-based medicine (EBM). I support the non-cognitivist underpinnings of VBM, and its emphasis on the importance of values in medicine. But VBM overstates the complexity and diversity of values, misrepresents EBM and VBM as responses to scientific and evaluative complexity, and mistakenly depicts ‘quasi-legal bioethics’ as a space of settled descriptive meaning. Bioethical reasoning can expose strategies that attempt to reduce authentic values to scientific facts, illustrating that VBM provides no advantage over bioethics in delineating the connections between facts and values in medicine. Continue reading...

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Opinion

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Livestock abuse: peril of ag-bills. March 27, 2013.
A California Assembly bill that would require anyone who videotapes, photographs or records incidents of animal cruelty to turn over the evidence to authorities within 48 hours — or be charged with an infraction of the law — sounds like a tough new measure to crack down on abuse. It's not. Continue reading…

Editorial. A happier fish story for California. March 25, 2013.
After years of depletion, California's fish populations appear to be bouncing back. A study this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that hauls by fishing boats, which had been down as a result of years of overfishing, have been growing, along with earnings. The agency credits catch limits that were mandated by law in 1996 and slowly implemented over the next 15 years. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Report card on health care reform. March 23, 2013.
Republican leaders in Congress regularly denounce the 2010 Affordable Care Act and vow to block money to carry it out or even to repeal it. Those political attacks ignore the considerable benefits delivered to millions of people since the law’s enactment three years ago Saturday. The main elements of the law do not kick in until Jan. 1, 2014, when many millions of uninsured people will gain coverage. Yet it has already thrown a lifeline to people at high risk of losing insurance or being uninsured, including young adults and people with chronic health problems, and it has made a start toward reforming the costly, dysfunctional American health care system. Continue reading…

Editorial. Hiding the smokes. March 20, 2013.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose antismoking policies have cut smoking rates substantially in New York City, now wants to ban open displays of cigarettes or tobacco in stores. It is hard to know whether hiding the products would really work to discourage smoking. But the hope is that keeping cigarettes out of sight could help prevent young people from developing this deadly habit. Continue reading…

Editorial. The sequester hits the reservation. March 20, 2013.
The Congressional Republicans who brought us the mindless budget cuts known as the sequester have shown remarkable indifference to life-sustaining government services, American jobs and other programs. So what do they make of the country’s commitments to American Indians, its longstanding obligations to tribal governments under the Constitution and treaties dating back centuries? Continue reading…

Editorial. Watchman at the water’s edge. March 22, 2013.
Two bird-watchers moved camera-ready through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last week, grateful that the first ospreys had arrived at their familiar nests after flying 2,600 miles from winter roosts in South America. The fish hawks hungrily plied the bay’s resources as jetliners traversed the horizon across the way at Kennedy Airport. But the birders were more intent on investigating worrisome breaches in the refuge’s earthen walls caused by Hurricane Sandy. Would that affect the comings and goings this year of the multitudes of aquatic and meadow birds that favor the 13,000-acre preserve? Continue reading…

Editorial. Shrinking prisons, saving billions. March 23, 2013.
The mandatory sentencing craze that gripped the country four decades ago drove up the state prison population sevenfold — from under 200,000 in the early 1970s to about 1.4 million today — and pushed costs beyond $50 billion a year. Until recently, it seemed that the numbers would keep growing. But thanks to reforms in more than half the states, the prison census has edged down slightly — by just under 2 percent — since 2009. A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that the decline would have been considerably larger had the other states not been pulling in the opposite direction. Continue reading…

Editorial. Heightened scrutiny. March 23, 2013.
One of the central questions in the two gay marriage cases to be argued before the Supreme Court this week is whether gays and lesbians are a protected class under the Constitution. Under longstanding principles, government actions that fall heavily on “discrete and insular minorities” historically subject to prejudice and stigma are to be given particular scrutiny. Continue reading…

Slate

Oremus, Will. The myth of the superbaby. March 25, 2013.
Sexual reproduction is a genetic crapshoot. Out of hundreds of eggs and millions of sperm, one joins one to produce a baby whose natural endowments could reflect the best traits of both parents—or the absolute worst. To procreate through intercourse is to take a wild roll of the DNA dice. And the stakes could hardly be higher. One stray allele could mean the difference between a healthy baby and one with a debilitating disorder. Continue reading…

Weinreb & Trinitapoli. Good News on AIDS in Africa. March 27, 2013.
The latest news on AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemic’s epicenter, is good. New HIV infections have declined by 25 percent since 2001, AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 32 percent over the past 6 years, and there are expanded options for testing and treatment. After decades of doom-and-gloom news about AIDS in Africa, optimism is finally in the air. Continue reading…

Washington Post

Editorial. ‘Pay-to-delay’ pharmaceutical deals smack of illegal collusion. March 24, 2013.
In 2006 Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the testosterone-therapy drug AndroGel, settled a dispute with a group of generic pharmaceutical companies, agreeing to allow would-be competitors into the market in 2015, five years before the AndroGel patent expires. So how is this bad for consumers in search of cheaper drugs? Continue reading…

Editorial. The much needed end of Maryland’s death penalty. March 25, 2013.
Maryland is set to become the 18th state to scrap the death penalty, the sixth since 2007 and the first south of the Mason-Dixon line. The repeal, having now passed both houses of the General Assembly, is a major achievement for Gov. Martin O’Malley, who pushed hard for it, and for his fellow Democrats, who dominate the state ¬≠legislature. Continue reading…

Editorial. Connecting dots on child abuse to save lives. March 24, 2013.
Kaydence Lewinski, 5 months old, shaken and beaten to death; Angela Palmer, 4, burned to death; Brianna Blackmond, 23 months, beaten to death; Samuel and Solomon Simms, 6-year-old twins, strangled; Jaydon Hoberg, 17 months, raped and beaten to death; Chandler Grafner, 7, starved to death; Prince McLeod Rams, 15 months, drowned. Continue reading…

Editorial. Maryland farmers should report their use of hazardous pesticides. March 24, 2013.
Around this time every year, Maryland’s farmers spray pesticides on their lands to prepare for the growing season, and plenty of the stuff ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. But The Post’s Darryl Fears reports that scientists can’t gauge the effects of this on the marine environment with much certainty — could pesticides, perhaps, explain the bizarre appearance of intersex fish in the area? — in part because they don’t know how much of which chemicals farmers are spraying. A bill in Maryland’s General Assembly would change that. Continue reading…

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