Monday, April 12 Nine Circles of Hell!

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We could be short 150,000 doctors by 2025
The Wall Street Journal
(4/12/10)

Medical Schools Can’t Keep Up

The new federal health-care law has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors.

Experts warn there won’t be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

That shortfall is predicted despite a push by teaching hospitals and medical schools to boost the number of U.S. doctors, which now totals about 954,000.

The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.

The U.S. has 352,908 primary-care doctors now, and the college association estimates that 45,000 more will be needed by 2020. But the number of medical-school students entering family medicine fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007.

A shortage of primary-care and other physicians could mean more-limited access to health care and longer wait times for patients.

Proponents of the new health-care law say it does attempt to address the physician shortage. The law offers sweeteners to encourage more people to enter medical professions, and a 10% Medicare pay boost for primary-care doctors.

Meanwhile, a number of new medical schools have opened around the country recently. As of last October, four new medical schools enrolled a total of about 190 students, and 12 medical schools raised the enrollment of first-year students by a total of 150 slots, according to the AAMC. Some 18,000 students entered U.S. medical schools in the fall of 2009, the AAMC says.

US General says peak oil could hit in 2015
The Independent
(4/11/10)

US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: “While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China andIndia.”

The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with “an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.”

The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

Militarily, can Obama be worse than Bush?
The Guardian
(4/11/10)

The ‘Obama doctrine’: kill, don’t detain

In 2001, Charles Krauthammer first coined the phrase “Bush Doctrine”, which would later become associated most significantly with the legal anomaly known as pre-emptive strike. Understanding the doctrine with hindsight could lead to a further understanding of the legacy that the former administration left – the choice to place concerns of national security over even the most entrenched norms of due process and the rule of law. It is, indeed, this doctrine that united people across the world in their condemnation of Guantánamo Bay.

The ambitious desire to close Guantánamo hailed the coming of a new era, a feeling implicitly recognised by the Nobel peace prize that President Obama received. Unfortunately, what we witnessed was a false dawn. The lawyers for the Guantánamo detainees with whom I am in touch in the US speak of their dismay as they prepare for Obama to do the one thing they never expected – to send the detainees back to the military commissions – a decision that will lose Obama all support he once had within the human rights community.

Worse still, a completely new trend has emerged that, in many ways, is more dangerous than the trends under Bush. Extrajudicial killings and targeted assassinations will soon become the main point of contention that Obama’s administration will need to justify. Although Bush was known for his support for such policies, the extensive use of drones under Obama have taken the death count well beyond anything that has been seen before …

A further twist to the Obama Doctrine is the breaking of a taboo that the Bush administration balked at – the concept of treating US citizens outside of the US constitutional process. During the Bush era, the treatment of detainees such as John Walker Lindh, Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla showed reluctance by officials to treat their own nationals in the way it had all those of other nationalities (by, for instance, sending them to Guantánamo Bay and other secret prisons). The policy of discrimination reserved for US citizens showed that there was a line the US was not willing to cross.

At least, today, we can strike discrimination off the list of grievances against the current president. The National Security Council of the US has now given specific permission to the CIA to target certain US citizens as part of counter-terrorism operations. Specifically, Anwar al-Awlaki has been singled out for such treatment, as it has been claimed that he was directly involved in the planning of the Major Hasan Nidal killings and the Christmas Day bomber attacks. Indeed, it is claims such as this that bring the entire concept of targeted assassinations into question. The US would like us to believe that we should simply trust that they have the relevant evidence and information to justify such a killing, without bringing the individual to account before a court.

Republican Party becoming ‘increasingly reckless, anarchic and strident’
The Guardian
(4/11/10)

The Republicans are like frat boys in Animal House

In the classic teen movie Animal House there comes a moment when the ne’er-do-well students of the Delta fraternity finally realise their pranks have gone too far. Faced with expulsion from university, the most violent, antisocial drunkard of the group, Bluto Blutarsky (John Belushi), gives one last rousing, rambling speech to his crestfallen comrades. “Nothing is over until we decide it is,” he yells. “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!”

The other students look on confused. Bluto leads a charge but nobody follows. However, they soon fall in line after the fraternity’s leader, the far more respectable, presentable, all-round-cad, Otter (Tim Matheson), backs Bluto’s call to arms against the university authorities. “Bluto’s right,” he says. “Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards … I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.”

The Republican party, in particular, and American conservatism in general, have taken to operating in a similar manner to the Delta fraternity – increasingly reckless, anarchic and strident. Faced with defeat they respond with desperation. Only where the Deltas were motivated by ribaldry, conservatives are driven by rage.

On the one hand there are the Blutos – characterised by their contempt for even the most basic facts. Their assertions are often not only verifiably false but patently ridiculous. The very people who claim that Obama is a Muslim were the ones who fumed about his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his pastor in Chicago. Muslims don’t have pastors. Last year the Investor’s Business Daily claimed that if the renowned scientist Stephen Hawking were British he would be dead: Hawking is British and alive.

These falsehoods are not limited to the fringes. A recent Harris poll reveals that a majority of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim and a socialist who “wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government”. A Daily Kos pollin January showed that about two-thirds of Republicans either believe or are not sure that Obama is “a racist who hates white people”, and more than half believe or are not sure that he was not born in the US and that he wants the terrorists to win.

So long as these people breathe the ever more fetid air of their own ecosystem – oxygen provided by Fox News – then these contradictions are of little concern or consequence to them. Cognitive dissonance is not the exception but the rule. But there is menace in this madness. A few weeks ago, shortly before the passing of the healthcare vote, conservative blogger Solomon Forell tweeted: “We’ll surely get over a bullet 2 Barack Obama’s head!” He added: “The Next American with a Clear Shot should drop Obama like a bad habit. 4get Blacks or his claim to be Black. Turn on Barack Obama.” Last week a man was detained for issuing death threats to Democratic senator Patty Murray. Speaking in Phoenix on a Tea Party tour, Joe the Plumber, recently spelt out his plan for dealing with illegal immigration: “Put a fence in and start shooting.”

So much for the Blutos. Far from reining them in, the Republican leadership increasingly reflects their excesses. Absent any legislative agenda or coherent ideological approach, they have spent the last two years crafting “a really futile and stupid gesture … on somebody’s part” that Otter would be proud of. Small government is a legitimate philosophical and political position. But in the hands of people who voted to bloat the deficit and unleash a huge state-grab of civil liberties, it is shorn of credibility. It isn’t government they don’t like; it’s Democrats in government.

So congressmen scream “liar” at the president and “baby killer” at their colleagues; senators repeat myths about death panels; and legislators stoke up crowds from the balconies during the healthcare debate. On Friday at the Southern Republican Leadership conference, Sarah Palin repeated her slogan: “Don’t Retreat, Reload.” This time she insisted it was “not a call for violence”. The fact she would have to make that explicit tells us something about how dire things have become.

The potential for this kind of rhetoric to produce an unthinkable calamity should not be underestimated. Last year a Homeland Security report, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fuelling Resurgence in Radicalisation and Recruitment, concluded: “The economic downturn and the election of the first African-American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalisation and recruitment.”

Such people are on the fringes. But those fringes are growing. In any case, it only takes one angry person with a gun to make the difference. If such a person were to emerge, they would not be acting alone. Thousands of others, from the blogosphere to Congress, have colluded in creating an alternative reality that would explain, if not justify, their actions. After all, if Obama truly were a foreign-born, white-hating, terrorist sympathiser who has usurped the presidency, drastic action would make sense.

New order allows for mass arrests of Palestinians
Haaretz
(4/11/10)

IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

Given the security authorities’ actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip – people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children – or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinian …

Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as “a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit.” The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

The order’s language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given “the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people.”

Atheists say arrest pope for crimes against humanity
The Guardian
(4/11/10)

Richard Dawkins calls for Pope to be put on trial

Prominent atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are paying lawyers to investigate the possibility of prosecuting the pope for crimes against humanity, their solicitor confirmed today.

The pair argue that Pope Benedict XVI should be arrested when he visits Britain in September and put on trial for his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Last week a letter emerged from 1985 in which the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger urged that a paedophilic priest in America not be defrocked for the “good of the universal church”.

The Vatican has already suggested the pope is immune from prosecution because he is a head of state. But Dawkins and Hitchens believe that because he is not the head of a state with full United Nations membership, he does not hold immunity and could be arrested when he steps on to British soil.

This is the advice they have been given by their lawyers – solicitor Mark Stephens and human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC.

“I’m convinced we can get over the threshold of immunity,” said Stephens. “The Vatican is not recognised as a state in international law. People assume that it has existed for time immemorial but it was a construct of Mussolini, and when the Vatican first applied to become a member of the UN, the US said no. So as a sop they were given the status of permanent observers rather than full members.”

Falling glacier causes tsunami
Reuters
(4/12/10)

Peru glacier breaks up, causes tsunami

A huge glacier broke off and plunged into a lake in Peru, causing a 75-foot tsunami wave that swept away at least three people and destroyed a water processing plant serving 60,000 local residents, government officials said Monday.

The ice block tumbled into a lake in the Andes Sunday near the town of Carhuaz, some 200 miles north of the capital, Lima. Three people were feared buried in debris.

Investigators said the chunk of ice from the Hualcan glacier measured 1,640 feet by 656 feet.

“This slide into the lake generated a tsunami wave, which breached the lake’s levees, which are 23 metres high — meaning the wave was 23 metres high,” said Patricio Vaderrama, an expert on glaciers at Peru’s Institute of Mine Engineers …

It was one of the most concrete signs yet that glaciers are disappearing in Peru, home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical icefields. Scientists say warmer temperatures will cause them to melt away altogether within 20 years.

Finally, porn for the blind in print
The Telegraph
(4/12/10)

Pornographic magazine for the blind launched

A pornographic magazine for the blind has been launched – complete with explicit text and raised pictures of naked men and women.

The book, the brainchild of Lisa Murphy and called Tactile Minds, is designed to be ‘enjoyed’ by the blind and visually impaired – and is on sale for £150.

Among the 17 raised images include a naked woman in a ‘disco pose’, a woman with ‘perfect breasts’ and a ‘male love robot’ …

Between 1970 and 1985 Playboy printed copies of its famous magazine in braille – but without raised pictures.

Veggie burgers, soy ifant formula, laced with hazardous chemical
Mother Jones
(4/12/10)

Which Veggie Burgers Were Made With a Neurotoxin?

If you’ve heard about hexane before, it was likely in the context of gasoline—the air pollutant is also a byproduct of gas refining. But in 2007, grain processors were responsible for two-thirds of our national hexane emissions. Hexane is hazardous in the factory, too: Workers who have been exposed to it have developed both skin and nervous system disorders. Troubling, then, that the FDA does not monitor or regulate hexane residue in foods. More worrisome still: According to the report, “Nearly every major ingredient in conventional soy-based infant formula is hexane extracted.”

The Cornucopia Institute found that a number of popular veggie burgers were made with hexane. The list (pdf, page 37, and below) is longer than you might think:

Amy’s Kitchen

Boca Burger, conventional

Franklin Farms

Garden Burger

It’s All Good Lightlife

Morningstar Farms

President’s Choice

Taste Above

Trader Joe’s

Yves Veggie Cuisine

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Monday, April 12
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