Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

I begin by taking this rare opportunity to use the Friday Newsletter to wish you a happy Thursday. Now, on to some events:

The first lecture in our new Environmental Ethics series is happening at 12:30 this Wednesday, April 23, in the RSV Room of the Yale Divinity School. Christiana Peppard (Theology, Fordham) will speak on Just Water: Theology, Ethics and the Global Water Crisis. Pizza and tap water will be served!

Our animal ethics group wants to notify you of a forthcoming talk by Christine Korsgaard (Philosophy, Harvard) on "The Claims of Animals and the Needs of Strangers: Two Cases of Imperfect Rights.” Korsgaard will address the Law School’s Legal Theory Workshop on Thursday, April 24 at 4:15 p.m. in the YLS faculty lounge.

Our friends at the Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling team have notified us of a special opportunity for a private screening of the new Helen Hunt film entitled “Decoding Annie Parker.” The film tells the story of a cancer survivor and how her life intersects with that of the scientist who discovers the BRCA1 gene. The screening is provisionally scheduled for Friday, May 9 at 5pm at the Criterion Cinemas at 86 Temple St., but it will occur only if 80 people reserve tickets before April 26th. Tickets are available exclusively online at http://gathr.us/screening/7789. There will be no tickets available at the time of screening or at the box office. So sign up now to ensure that the screening happens, and then go enjoy the film!

Congratulations to Bioethics Visiting Scholar Matthew Weed on his interview, earlier this month, with Channel 8’s Ann Nyberg. The 20-minute interview deals, in part, with Matthew’s remarkable life story, but also with  his current work on improving the exposure of health professionals to the real-world needs of people with chronic health problems, and with his forthcoming book on community engagement and volunteerism.

If you have an event or an achievement you’d like to see mentioned in this Friday Newsletter, email me about it at Stephen.Latham@Yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” in your subject-line.

  Wednesday, April 23 at 12:30 PM
Environmental Ethics lecture
Location: Yale Divinity School, RSV room
Speaker: Christiana Peppard, Fordham University
Topic: Just Water

  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*Happy Easter!  Happy Passover!  I hope those of you who are celebrating experience the joys inherent in this season of rebirth and redemption.

*Juan Carmona sent some pictures of his wedding on April 5th.  Please click here to see one of them.  Again, Congratulations Juan!  And we hope to see you this summer as part of our administrative staff and as a discussant in some of the afternoon seminars.

*Claire Dennis continues her quest for an Olympic medal in sailing.  “I have had an exciting couple of months back in San Francisco since returning from Florida: 1st Place 2014 Laser Radial Midwinter’s West and Crew in the Baldwin Cup (Team Racing) for Yale Corinthian YC.  Check out the regatta results here. To follow along with my sailing on a more regular basis, please visit my website, www.clairedennis.org.”  (Congratulations Claire!)

*Ramona Fernandez writes: “My talk at this year's ADEC conference (Association for Death Education and Counseling) with be part of a small selection that is being webcast to be more accessible to an international community.  It will be on April 24, 2014, and details are at: http://www.adec.org/Webcasting.htm” (Congratulations Ramona!)

*Jessica Hahne, a student from last year’s Summer Program who is coming back to help in July, wanted to pass on this article to our incoming summer students, but I also thought you’d appreciate it.   The article deals with issues involving “emotional intelligence.”  (Thank you Jessica!)

*Past Summer Seminar Leader Christiana Peppard, now assistant professor at Fordham University, will be back on Yale’s campus on April 23rd speaking about issues in her new book titled Just Water: Theology, Ethics and the Global Water Crisis.  Her lecture will be in the RSV Room of the Yale Divinity School at 12:30 pm and is free and open to the public.  Please click here for the poster.  Pizza (and tap water!) will be served.  The Divinity School’s Student Book Supply will be selling copies of Christiana’s book at the event.  (Congratulations Christy!)


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This Week on Campus

Monday, April 21

History of Science and Medicine Lecture
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 333 Cedar St, room L215
Speaker: Bridget E. Gurtler, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Health & Wellbeing, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University
Topic: Reproduction (Re)Conceived: Artificial Insemination, the Science of Conception, and the Transformation of Family in America

Tuesday, April 22

School of Forestry Panel Discussion
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, G01
Topic: Health and Access to Nature

Wednesday, April 23

Climate/Energy/Environment/Business Lecture
Time: 12 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Jason Rooks, President, Clean Energy Strategies LLC; Government Affairs Director, Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association
Topic: Solar Politics & Strategy in the Southeast

Pediatric Grand Rounds
Time: 12 PM
Location: 330 Cedar St, Fitkin Amphitheatre
Speaker: Brian Carter, MD, Professor, Pediatrics, Bioethics Center & Division of Neonatology, UMKC, Children's Mercy Hospital
Topic: Pediatric Palliative Care: A State of the Art Report for 2014

Thursday, April 24

Human Rights Workshop
Time: 12:15 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 129
Speaker: David C. Fathi, Director, ACLU National Prison Project
Topic: Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, Jails, and other Places of Detention

South Asia Lecture
Time: 2 PM
Location: 34 Hillhouse Ave
Speaker: Jennifer Miller, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University
Topic: Tiger and Leopard Hunting Behavior and Patterns of Attacks on Livestock in India

Legal Theory Workshop
Time: 4:15
Location: 127 Wall St, faculty lounge
Speaker: Christine Korsgaard, Harvard University Philosophy Department
Topic: The Claims of Animals and the Needs of Strangers: Two Cases of Imperfect Rights

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona Film Screening
Earth Day Tuesday April 22 at 7 PM
Romita Auditorium in Ryan Library
Iona College 715 North Avenue New Rochelle, NY 
Queen of the Sun is a profound, alternative look at the tragic global bee crisis. Juxtaposing the catastrophic disappearance of bees with the mysterious world of the beehive, Queen of the Sun weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heart-felt struggles of biodynamic beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world. Featuring Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva, Queen of the Sun reveals both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.
In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, a scientist, philosopher & social innovator, predicted that in 80 to 100 years honeybees would collapse. His prediction has come true with Colony Collapse Disorder where bees are disappearing in mass numbers from their hives with no clear explanation. In an alarming inquiry into the insights behind Steiner’s prediction Queen of The Sun examines the global bee crisis.  On a pilgrimage around the world, 10,000 years of beekeeping is unveiled, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices, and the urgency of our remembering how to live in grateful protection of this critically important pollinator. All are welcome for this important screening and dialogue. Guest Offering: $5. Directions and Parking Information:   www.iona.edu

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On Thursday, April 24, 4-5pm Eastern Time, Unite For Sight’s Global Health University will host a “Tools for Responsible Engagement” webinar.  The webinar will include guidance and advice from five panelists, as well as ample opportunity to ask the speakers questions about responsible global engagement for students and professionals.  Learn about the complexities of international work, the critical aspects of cultural competency and respecting local communities and professionals, and ethical considerations of participating abroad.  This webinar is ideal for students and professionals interested in global health, as well as university advisors and faculty. Attendance at the free webinar on April 24th requires advanced registration by April 22nd. Please RSVP at http://slate.uniteforsight.org/register/globalengagement, and you will thereafter receive participation instructions by email, as well as an opportunity to submit your questions for the panelists. The expert webinar panelists include: Ned Breslin, CEO, Water For People; Michael Fairbanks, Fellow, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University; Tricia Morente, COO, Kangu; Natacha Poggio, Assistant Professor, Visual Communication Design, Hartford Art School, University of Hartford; Founder, Design Global Change; Aron Rose, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine; Associate Clinical Professor, Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing, Yale University School of Nursing

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the posting of the Request for Applications for the GRO Undergraduate Fellowships program.  It is offering undergraduate fellowships for bachelor level students in environmentally-related fields of study, with the goal of providing support for their junior and senior years of study, and an internship at an EPA facility during the summer of their junior year.  College sophomores should apply now in order to be eligible to receive financial support for their junior and senior years.  Subject to the availability of funding and other applicable considerations, EPA plans to award approximately 34 new fellowships in the summer of 2014.  The fellowship provides up to $20,700 per academic year of support and $8,600 of support for a three-month summer internship. The GRO Fellowships program is in line with the EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) Research Program.  EPA’s SHC Research Program provides useful science and tools for decision makers at all levels to help communities advance sustainability as well as achieve regulatory compliance.  SHC is collaborating with partners to conduct research that will result in science-based knowledge to guide decisions that will better sustain a healthy society and environment in America's communities.  The research is intended for decision-makers at the federal, regional, state, and community levels. Title: 2014 EPA Great Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study URL: http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2014/2014_gro_undergrad.html Open Date: 04/10/2014 - Close Date: 05/27/2014

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Articles

Lupkin, Sydney. French lab loses SARS vials. ABC News. 16 April 2014.
A French lab has lost more than 2,000 vials containing fragments of the deadly SARS virus, which killed nearly 800 people in a 2003 epidemic across four continents. The Pasteur Institute in Paris, France announced this week that it realized it was missing the vials and contacted the country’s National Security Agency of Medicines and Health Products to conduct an investigation on April 8, according to a news release. Continue reading...

Eisler, Peter. Doctors, medical staff on drugs put patients at risk. USA Today. 16 April 2014.
America's prescription drug epidemic reaches deep into the medical community. Across the country, more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians and other health professionals struggle with abuse or addiction, mostly involving narcotics such as oxycodone and fentanyl. Their knowledge and access make their problems especially hard to detect. Yet the risks they pose — to the public and to themselves — are enormous. Continue reading...


Greenfieldboyce, Neil. Climate change adjustments must be fast and major, U.N. panel says. NPR. 13 April 2014.
A new report from the United Nations' panel on climate change says major action is needed, and fast, if policymakers want to limit global warming to acceptable levels. There's an international target to control climate change: keeping the global temperature rise to just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now says it's technically possible to meet that goal. But doing so will require rapid, large-scale shifts in energy production and use. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Quist-Arcton, Ofeibea. The Ebola survivors: reborn but not always embraced. NPR. 11 April 2014.
They have recovered from the deadly virus that is ravaging Guinea. They feel blessed by their good fortune. But family and friends are often afraid to welcome them back with open arms. Continue reading...

Ornstein, Charles. Medicare kept paying indicted, sanctioned doctors. NPR. 16 April 2014.
In August 2011, federal agents swept across the Detroit area, arresting doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals accused of running a massive scheme to defraud Medicare. The following month, several of those arrested, including psychiatrist Mark Greenbain and podiatrist Anmy Tran, were suspended from billing the state's Medicaid program for the poor. But the indictment and Medicaid suspensions didn't deter Medicare from continuing to allow the doctors to treat elderly and disabled patients — and didn't stop the physicians from billing taxpayers for their services. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Saint Louis, Catherine. Surge in narcotic prescriptions for pregnant women. The New York Times. 13 April 2014.
Doctors are prescribing opioid painkillers to pregnant women in astonishing numbers, new research shows, even though risks to the developing fetus are largely unknown. Continue reading...

McNeil Jr., Donald. It pays to pay addicts to get vaccinations. The New York Times. 14 April 2014.
Paying heroin addicts the equivalent of $50 each to have a series of three injections in a month was very effective in getting them fully vaccinated against hepatitis B, a new British study has found. Not only were the paid addicts far more likely to get all three shots, but 80 percent of them showed up for their appointments on time, the authors said. Continue reading...

Mental Health

Schwarz, Alan. Idea of new attention disorder spurs research, and debate. The New York Times. 11 April 2014.
With more than six million American children having received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, concern has been rising that the condition is being significantly misdiagnosed and overtreated with prescription medications. Yet now some powerful figures in mental health are claiming to have identified a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children. Continue reading...

Carey, Benedict. Suicide prevention sheds a longstanding taboo: talking about attempts. The New York Times. 13 April 2014.
The nation’s oldest suicide prevention organization, the American Association of Suicidology, decided in a vote by its board last week to recognize a vast but historically invisible portion of its membership: people who tried to kill themselves but survived. About a million American adults a year make a failed attempt at suicide, surveys suggest, far outnumbering the 38,000 who succeed, and in the past few years, scores of them have come together on social media and in other forums to demand a bigger voice in prevention efforts. Continue reading...


Marcarelli, Rebekah. PET imaging could determine if comatose patients will wake up with 74 percent accuracy. HNGN. 16 April 2014.
A "functional brain imaging technique" could help predict whether or not a comatose patient will wake up. The technique, known as positron emission tomography (PET), was tested on its ability to assess the potential for a patient in a vegetative state to recover consciousness for the first time, a Lancet news release reported. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Baker, Robert. Against Anonymity. Bioethics. May 2014.
In 'New Threats to Academic Freedom' Francesca Minerva argues that anonymity for the authors of controversial articles is a prerequisite for academic freedom in the Internet age. This argument draws its intellectual and emotional power from the author's account of the reaction to the on-line publication of ' After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?' - an article that provoked cascades of hostile postings and e-mails. Reflecting on these events, Minerva proposes that publishers should offer the authors of controversial articles the option of publishing their articles anonymously. This response reviews the history of anonymous publication and concludes that its reintroduction in the Internet era would recreate problems similar to those that led print journals to abandon the practice: corruption of scholarly discourse by invective and hate speech, masked conflicts of interest, and a diminution of editorial accountability. It also contends that Minerva misreads the intent of the hostile e-mails provoked by 'After-birth abortion,' and that ethicists who publish controversial articles should take responsibility by dialoguing with their critics - even those whose critiques are emotionally charged and hostile. Continue reading…

Lanktree, Matthew B. Positive perception of pharmacogenetic testing for psychotropic medications. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental. May 2014.
Introduction: Pharmacogenetics attempts to identify inter-individual genetic differences that are predictive of variable drug response and propensity to side effects, with the prospect of assisting physicians to select the most appropriate drug and dosage for treatment. However, many concerns regarding genetic tests exist. We sought to test the opinions of undergraduate science and medical students in southern Ontario universities toward pharmacogenetic testing. Methods and Results: Questionnaires were completed by 910 undergraduate medicine and science students from 2005 to 2007. Despite students' concerns that the results of genetic tests may be used for other purposes without consent (71%) or lead to discrimination (78%), an overwhelming number of students were in favor of pharmacogenetic testing (90%). Discussion: To our knowledge, this study is the first to survey a large sample for their attitude toward pharmacogenetic testing for psychotropic medications. Our results indicate that, although concerns remain and scientific advancements are required, respondents were in support of pharmacogenetic testing for medications used to treat schizophrenia. Continue reading…

Liu, Min. A Proposed Approach to Informed Consent for Biobanks in China. Bioethics. May 2014.
Biobanks are potential goldmines for genomics research. They have become increasingly common as a means to determine the relationship between lifestyle, environmental exposures and predisposition to genetic disease. More and more countries are developing massive national scale biobanks, including Iceland, the UK and Estonia. Now several large-scale regional and national biobanks are planned in China, such as Shanghai Biobank, which is defined as a key-element in Shanghai's twelfth five-year Development Plan of Science and Technology. It is imperative that the authors who are in charge of the ethical aspect of Shanghai Biobank discuss the ethical aspects of these biobanks up front. Currently there is a great deal of heterogeneity in the approaches to informed consent taken by different countries. In the article, after briefly introducing the biobanks in China, we focus on the three most common approaches: classical informed consent, tiered consent, and one-time general (or blanket) consent, and propose a version of the latter for China, based on compelling arguments. Continue reading…

Strong, Kimberly. Savior Siblings, Parenting and the Moral Valorization of Children. Bioethics. May 2014.
Philosophy has long been concerned with 'moral status'. Discussions about the moral status of children, however, seem often to promote confusion rather than clarity. Using the creation of 'savior siblings' as an example, this paper provides a philosophical critique of the moral status of children and the moral relevance of parenting and the role that formative experience, regret and relational autonomy play in parental decisions. We suggest that parents make moral decisions that are guided by the moral significance they attach to children, to sick children and most importantly, to a specific sick child (theirs). This moral valorization is rarely made explicit and has generally been ignored by both philosophers and clinicians in previous critiques. Recognizing this, however, may transform not only the focus of bioethical discourse but also the policies and practices surrounding the care of children requiring bone marrow or cord blood transplantation by better understanding the values at stake behind parental decision making. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Gitig, Diana. Twins’ immune systems look like those of complete strangers. April 12, 2014.
Our adaptive immune system, the one that responds to specific pathogens, relies on T cells and B cells. These cells make proteins that have a key job: distinguish between the harmless proteins in all of our cells and foreign proteins that may be harmful. In T cells, these molecules are creatively called T cell receptors (TCRs), and in B cells they are antibodies. Continue reading…

Johnson, Scott K. IPCC finally weighs in on how to avoid further climate change. April 14, 2014.
If you were collecting sections of the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, you can now complete your set. Following the release of the section on the physical science of climate change in September and the section on the impacts of, and adaptations to, climate change just two weeks ago, the section on how to avoid future warming was finally released over the weekend in Berlin. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Is US biomedical research heading for a break down? April 16, 2014.
It's no secret that biology research in the US is facing a number of challenges. After years of rapid growth, the funding for biomedical research has dropped by 25 percent in real dollar terms since 2003, leaving researchers scrambling to keep their labs running. Meanwhile, the system is still training far more graduates than there are faculty positions to fill. But it's tempting to think that taking care of the first by increasing the funding would help take care of the second. Continue reading…

Johnson, Scott K. Why climate change hits the world’s poor harder. April 17, 2014.
You’re living in Sub-Saharan Africa during a drought entering its second year. The diminished harvests have left you without enough food, and your family is trying to figure out how to get by. You’ve settled on selling some of your livestock and securing a small loan to help cover the cost of food, confident that you’ll be able to recover quickly and repay your debt. Continue reading…

Johnston, Casey. Open source comes to farms with restriction-free seeds. April 17, 2014.
There are now 29 kinds of plant varieties that are available under an open source license, reports NPR. On Thursday, a group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison debuted the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), a set of seeds that can be used by anyone so long as they don't restrict use by others through patents or IP protection. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Medicare’s data release is welcome sunshine. April 10, 2014.
Federal officials released a huge trove of data Wednesday that shows what Medicare has paid to more than 880,000 doctors and other health care providers nationwide. There were some eye-popping stats: Continue reading…

Editorial. The peril of a plastic bag ban. April 14, 2014.
Chicago Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, 1st, makes a compelling argument that the city has a problem with plastic grocery bags. Look in the trees. Look at the street curbs. Bags waft through this city. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. The lethal injection debate: How much should death row inmates know? April 8, 2014.
It's hard to get executions right. This week, the Supreme Court denied appeals by Louisiana and Missouri death row inmates who argued that they were entitled to know the source of the drugs with which they are to be executed, and that denial of that information compromises their right to due process. It's unclear why the court refused to hear the cases, but the underlying argument remains potent. Another challenge is underway in Oklahoma, where two inmates are seeking stays of execution because state officials have revised protocols on the fly as the lethal drugs they usually use have become more difficult to obtain. Continue reading…

Editorial. Medicare’s real doctor payment problem. April 10, 2014.
The news that a small percentage of the country's physicians collected billions of dollars from Medicare in a single year may or may not be a testament to individual greed; some of the top recipients are under investigation for allegedly bilking the system, while others work long hours delivering costly care. But it is a powerful reminder that the program needs to stop rewarding doctors for the quantity of care they deliver rather than the quality. Happily, there's a bipartisan plan to do just that; unhappily, lawmakers haven't been able to agree on how to cover its cost. If Congress needed any further incentive to settle its differences, the fact that 1,000 doctors raked in $3 billion from Medicare should provide it. Continue reading…

Editorial. No need for a rush to judgment on Obamacare. April 16, 2014.
The first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act ended this week with roughly 7.5 million people obtaining policies through the new state insurance exchanges, including more than 1.3 million at Covered California. That's an amazing and welcome result, considering how badly many of the exchanges stumbled when sign-ups began in October. Nevertheless, it's far too early to judge the success or failure of the healthcare law, given that key tests of the program's sustainability have yet to be passed. Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Abusing Both Medicare and Politics. April 10, 2014.
Campaign finance reformers have long warned that the growing power of big money in politics would produce a giant scandal. But those scandals happen every day, and the trading of campaign donations for political favors has steadily eroded public trust in Washington. The latest illustration of that can be seen in the connection between Medicare fraud and “super PAC” abuse. Continue reading…

Editorial. Paying Extra for a Plastic Bag for Your Groceries. April 13, 2014.
I must contend there is very little right about this bill before the New York City Council. While the ultimate goal of the bill — to sharply decrease the number of plastic bags used in New York City’s retail and grocery stores — is a virtuous one, the means are far too harsh on residents to justify the end. To ask New York City residents, who already suffer with some of the highest taxes in the country, to pay 10 cents per bag (which for a family could easily amount to an extra $3 or $4 a week) is imprudent. Continue reading…

Editorial. Public Attitudes About Climate Change. April 14, 2014.
Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger (“Global Warning Scare Tactics,” Op-Ed, April 9) embrace uncritically what can be called the ultimate technocratic illusion: that whatever we human beings do to our habitat can be fixed by a rescue technology. Continue reading…

Editorial. Preventing Painkiller Overdoses. April 14, 2014.
The Food and Drug Administration earlier this month approved a hand-held device that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose and prevent deaths from opioid painkillers and heroin. The easy-to-use injector delivers a dose of the drug naloxone, a treatment that is typically delivered in hospitals but can now be used by family members or emergency responders at the scene of an overdose. Continue reading…

Editorial. China and the Toll of Smoking. April 17, 2014.
The World Health Organization released a report last week urging China to use graphic warnings on cigarette packages to fight the tobacco epidemic. It is a sensible and effective idea that China should heed. Continue reading…

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