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An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All | Magazine This whole thing is well worth a read.
So what has this award-winning 58-year-old scientist done to elicit such venom? He boldly states — in speeches, in journal articles, and in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets — that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them. He supports this assertion with meticulous evidence. And he calls to account those who promote bogus treatments for autism — treatments that he says not only don’t work but often cause harm. As a result, Offit has become the main target of a grassroots movement that opposes the systematic vaccination of children and the laws that require it. McCarthy, an actress and a former Playboy centerfold whose son has been diagnosed with autism, is the best-known leader of the movement, but she is joined by legions of well-organized supporters and sympathizers. This isn’t a religious dispute, like the debate over creationism and intelligent design. It’s a challenge to traditional science that crosses party, class, and religious lines. It is partly a reaction to Big Pharma’s blunders and PR missteps, from Vioxx to illegal marketing ploys, which have encouraged a distrust of experts. It is also, ironically, a product of the era of instant communication and easy access to information. The doubters and deniers are empowered by the Internet (online, nobody knows you’re not a doctor) and helped by the mainstream media, which has an interest in pumping up bad science to create a “debate” where there should be none.

October 18, 2009

Joe Arpaio doesn't care what the federal government thinks

Arizona sheriff conducts migrant sweeps despite curb | U.S. | Reuters
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona sheriff known for cracking down on undocumented migrants is conducting an immigration and crime sweep around Phoenix, less than a day after federal authorities curbed his powers to make immigration arrests. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio dispatched deputies on a two-day "crime suppression" operation in the western Phoenix valley on Friday, stopping and arresting at least eight people for minor offenses who could not prove that they were in Arizona legally. Arpaio, whose sweeps have led to allegations of racial profiling, said he is carrying out the operations under Arizona state laws targeting smugglers and another federal law he says allows him to detain illegal immigrants. "Nothing has changed," Arpaio said while overseeing the operation in a suburb northwest of Phoenix. "We're still going to be doing what we've been doing tonight and during the last two and a half years. I don't take orders from anyone."

October 15, 2009

Louisiana official refuses to marry interracial couples

Interracial couple denied marriage license in La. - Yahoo! News
HAMMOND, La. – A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long. Neither Bardwell nor the couple immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press. But Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house," Bardwell said. "My main concern is for the children." Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

Guardian Insurance cancels entire line of coverage to avoid paying for one man's treatment

Think Progress -- Insurance company executive refers to high-cost patients as ‘dogs.’
In the state of New York, insurers are legally prohibited from discriminating against individuals who submit large claims. So when Guardian, a major insurance company, was faced with the high-cost claims of 37 year-old muscular dystrophy patient Ian Pearl, it decided to cancel its entire line of coverage in the state of New York rather than pay for Pearl’s claims. In an e-mail obtained by The Washington Times, it was revealed that one executive at the company refers to patients like Pearl as “dogs” that the company can simply “get rid of”: Legally barred from discriminating against individuals who submit large claims, the New York-based insurer simply canceled lines of coverage altogether in entire states to avoid paying high-cost claims like Mr. Pearl’s. In an e-mail, one Guardian Life Insurance Co. executive called high-cost patients such as Mr. Pearl “dogs” that the company could “get rid of.” A federal court quickly ruled that the company’s actions were legal, so on Dec. 1, barring an order by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Pearl will lose his benefits.