Month Archives: April 2009

Blogosphere Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 30, 2009

Here’s some of the buzz from the blogosphere today.

The 100 Days Blog Posts.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 30, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Maternal and Fetal Health Interim Guidance Concerning N1H1 or Swine Flu from the CDC

by Moira Gaul

April 30, 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide guidance and information on background, risks, suggested treatments, and other considerations for pregnant women and N1H1, or Swine Flu. The CDC currently reports, “Pregnant women are also known to be higher risk for seasonal influenza complications and during prior pandemics, and it is reasonable to assume that pregnant women are also at higher risk for swine influenza complications.

Excerpts:

Evidence that influenza can be more severe in pregnant women comes from observations during previous pandemics and from studies among pregnant women who had seasonal influenza. An excess of influenza-associated deaths among pregnant women were [sic] reported during the pandemics of 1918-1919 and 1957-1958. Adverse pregnancy outcomes have been reported following previous influenza pandemics, with increased rates of spontaneous abortion and preterm birth reported, especially among women with pneumonia. Case reports and several epidemiologic studies conducted during interpandemic periods also indicate that pregnancy increases the risk for influenza complications for the mother and might increase the risk for adverse perinatal outcomes or delivery complications.

Many pregnant women will go on to have a typical course of uncomplicated influenza. However, for some pregnant women, illness might progress rapidly, and might be complicated by secondary bacterial infections including pneumonia. Fetal distress associated with severe maternal illness can occur. Pregnant women who have suspected swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection should be tested (http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/specimencollection.htm), …. “…..”…fever in pregnant women should be treated.”

The CDC information goes on to include breastfeeding considerations and other ways to reduce the risk of infection of pregnant women..

One Hundred Days: Where Does it Come From?

by Robert Morrison

April 30, 2009

napolean.jpg

There’s a lot of media buzz about President Obama’s first “hundred days.” What’s so special about one hundred days? After all, he was elected to a term of four years. One hundred days surely is not very long in comparison to the more than 1,460 days of a Presidential normal term. (Those hardy souls who are already sporting 1.20.13 bumper stickers seem to all their fellow commuters to have jumped the gun.)

The media is also full of stories of how Americans are in love with our “hip” First Family. If Americans are in love with a father-headed, married-with-children model family, that is certainly a very good thing. If the Obamas can make marriage hip, then I’d say hip, hip, hooray.

But that hundred day thing has an odd origin for a free people to celebrate. It comes from the Emperor Napoleon. Talk about hip. Napoleon was the trend-setter and fashion-maker of Europe for fifteen years. The “Empire” style in women’s fine clothing, art, architecture, and home decor was all the rage. Napoleon’s massive Arc de Triomphe in the heart of Paris commemorated all his spectacular military successes-and France did have spectacular military successes guided by the strategic and tactical genius of the young conqueror.

 

Nor was Napoleon only a military swaggerer. He revised the laws of France. To this day, the Civil Code (or Code Napoleon) forms the bulk of French law. He reorganized civil administration and education. Napoleon was a tireless ruler.

Then, in 1812, he invaded Russia. He wanted to force the Russians to abide by his trade boycott against England. He entered the vast, forbidding steppes in June, 1812, with more than 600,000 men. By the time he retreated from Moscow, in December, he had only 10,000 men left, suffering some 97% in casualties. The temperatures-sometimes as cold as 60 below-were so severe that the antimony alloy of the soldiers’ greatcoat buttons cracked and crumbled. Their coats flapped open. Thousands succumbed to cold, starvation, and disease.

You would think the French would hate such a bloody ruler. You would think he would be run out of France when he returned from Moscow. Think again. He was defeated in 1814 by the allies, captured and exiled to the little Mediterranean island of Elba. There he plotted his return.

He landed on the shores of Southern France on March 20, 1815. Would the French troops of the unsteady French King Louis XVIII shoot the returning despot down? Napoleon bared his breast to the soldiers and invited them to kill him. They wept (they were French, after all) and went over to Napoleon en masse.

Napoleon swept on toward Paris to reclaim the imperial throne he had invented for himself. He gathered more than 100,000 troops. In June, he met a hastily-reorganized allied army of British and Prussians under the Duke of Wellington at a little Belgian town called Waterloo. There, on June 18, 1815, the Iron Duke crushed Napoleon utterly. Tens of thousands more of his brave young French troops died crying out Vive L’empereur! (Long Live the Emperor!) They truly were brave.

Napoleon’s second and last period in power was just one hundred days. That’s where the journalists got the term that they quickly applied to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first three months of furious legislative activity during the Great Depression. It was then that a rubber-stamp liberal Congress rammed through dozens of bills-many of which set up agencies and programs we still live with. Some were pretty good. But many were ill-considered (if they were considered at all). That was 1933. And, hold onto your seats, friends, there was the second Hundred Days in 1937. That’s when FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court. He overreached then and even his go-along gang in Congress choked. On that one, they handed him a stinging defeat.

The Napoleon thing is fascinating. Yes, he did have some solid achievements for France. But he was a tyrant. He ruled with the aid of an efficient and ruthless secret police. He rigged all the elections and controlled the press. He led millions of young men of Europe to their deaths.

The people of France, however, seemed not to mind. When his body was returned to France from St. Helena long after he died in exile, all of Paris turned out for his re-interment in a huge and impressive tomb in the historic Hotel des Invalides. It was to this incredible monument that the conquering Adolf Hitler was drawn during his five-hour whirlwind tour of Paris after his stunning victory over France in 1940.

A hundred days? Are we seeing a return of that kind of hero worship in our time? Despite all that we know about Napoleon, tens of thousands of selfless young people were quite willing to lay down their lives for him. It’s a sobering thought.

Men of intemperate minds cannot be free,” wrote the great Irish Member of Parliament, Edmund Burke, “their passions forge their fetters.” Burke was the great friend of liberty-and the implacable enemy of the French revolutionary disease.

Have we been stoking passions in this country-ever since the 1960s-that will forge our own chains of despotism? I pray it is not so. But even as we assess our own First Hundred Days, it is important not to give in to passion. We must remain cool and objective-if we would remain free.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 29, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Call to NPR in Los Angeles; Customers Misusing Plan B

by Chris Gacek

April 29, 2009

     Last week, the Obama Administration announced that it would not appeal a federal district court’s decision commanding the FDA to begin selling the Plan B contraceptive to 17-year-olds as an over-the-counter product.  Previously, the FDA and drug company set the lower age at 18.   Plan B’s  manufacturer-distributor, Teva, will have to submit an application to FDA which the agency will then approve.

     As we noted last week, the Family Research Council has been concerned that women might use Plan B frequently, repeatedly in the place of standard contraceptives.  The labeling contains no clear warning about such use.  FDA officials have pooh-poohed this argument, but one interesting anecdotal piece of evidence has come in on this topic.

     The changes to Plan B marketing were discussed on “AirTalk,” a public radio program broadcast by KPCC-FM, a station owned by Pasadena City College on April 23rd.  The guest-host was David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times, and he interviewed Dr. Susan Woods, former FDA official and Plan B supporter, and Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.  The show can be heard via this weblink.

     There was one extremely interesting caller who was referred to as “Steve from Diamond Bar.” (Steve start: 22min 05sec; Steve end: 23min 05sec.)  Steve is a co-owner of a pharmacy, and he explained that a few years ago 30-minute consultations were needed before the pharmacists could dispense Plan B over-the-counter in California. 

     Steve had occasion to notice the buying patterns of his customers.  He noted that many purchasers were responsible about using Plan B, but he also described a class of customer who came to the store “on a regular basis” and purchased Plan B “week after week.”  When David Lazarus asked him whether the repeat users “were a majority or minority of users,” Steve responded that they were probably half of the Plan B purchasers.
 
     Even if Steve from Diamond Bar did not remember correctly and inflated his estimate, it is clear that a substantial population of Plan B users were using this drug very frequently - as many have feared.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 27, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

How Now Gene-Sequenced Cow?

by David Prentice

April 27, 2009

HappyCow2.jpgA six-year effort by an international consortium of researchers has resulted in the genome sequence of the domestic cow. Published in the journal Science, this is the first full genome sequence of any ruminant (4-chambered stomach) species. Using a Hereford cow as the DNA source, they found that the cattle genome contains a minimum of 22,000 genes. The researchers note that the cow genome is more similar to that of humans than to the genomes of mice or rats, but appears to have undergone significant reorganization, perhaps due to domestication. Mooving immediately to milk the sequence information, a second article in the same issue used thousands of variations in the sequence at a single DNA base (called single nucleotide-polymorphisms or SNPs) to characterize the genetic diversity among different cattle breeds. The information offers udderly significant opportunities for cattle breeders to select for features that they want. Dr. Harris A. Lewin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign notes in an accompanying commentary that “The barnyard door is now open. We can expect that any animal with medically or agriculturally useful traits will be sequenced and resequenced.” Researchers will no doubt be rushing to steak their claims.

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