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France and Germany ban smoking in bars

Smokers butt out in Germany and France - Yahoo! News

But that all changes on Tuesday when strict new bans take effect in two of Western Europe's final bastions for smokers, Germany and France. There was long and fierce resistance to the prohibitions on tobacco that other countries imposed.

. . .

Even though smoking bans led to increased pub and restaurant business in other countries, the argument seemed to fall on deaf ears in Germany and France, where any infringement of the right to smoke was sometimes viewed as an attack on freedom.

From January 1 smoking will be banned in pubs and restaurants in 11 of Germany's 16 states -- exemptions given only to those with separate closed-off rooms. Most other states will follow during the course of 2008.

In France, smoking in shops, offices and other public places has been banned since February 1, but a special exemption for bars and cafes has been in place until January 1.

Evil: Insurance company suddenly denies coverage for 3-year-old's only source of food

Insurance: Insurance Company Denies Coverage For 3-Year-Old's Only Source Of Nutrition

The Yorktown preschooler has a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, a severe food allergy that causes a type of white blood cell to congregate in the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach, damaging the tissue when she eats.

A doctor-prescribed formula has allowed Hannah to grow to a robust 40 pounds, a normal weight for a child her age. Without it, Hannah could wind up with a feeding tube.

But the insurance program that covers her family through her father's job as a New York City police lieutenant has stopped paying for the formula, which costs $1,200 a month. Food supplements and other over-the-counter items are not covered under the family's insurance, the prescription plan administrator said.

December 27, 2007

Deaf people demanding right to choose deaf embryos over hearing

Deaf demand right to designer deaf children - Times Online

Background: The UK wants to screen all embryos for disabilities and defects, and wants to make it illegal for parents to choose a defective/disabled embryo over a healthy one. The deaf are angry about this, as deafness is considered a disability. They would like to be able to screen their embryos, and choose to have a deaf child.

What do you think?

I believe it's a tough question, but that healthy babies are better for the culture as a whole. If this means the eventual elimination of deafness and deaf culture, I accept that.

My sister is deaf. Her husband is deaf. I see first hand how difficult life can be for them. But their beautiful daughter can hear, and I think that is amazing.

DEAF parents should be allowed to screen their embryos so they can pick a deaf child over one that has all its senses intact, according to the chief executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (RNID).

Jackie Ballard, a former Liberal Democrat MP, says that although the vast majority of deaf parents would want a child who has normal hearing, a small minority of couples would prefer to create a child who is effectively disabled, to fit in better with the family lifestyle.

Ballard’s stance is likely to be welcomed by other deaf organisations, including the British Deaf Association (BDA), which is campaigning to amend government legislation to allow the creation of babies with disabilities.

A clause in the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, which is passing through the House of Lords, would make it illegal for parents undergoing embryo screening to choose an embryo with an abnormality if healthy embryos exist.

December 25, 2007

Mass. approves school's use of shock collars on retarded students

State gives center one-year extension to use shock treatments - The Boston Globe

State authorities have given a controversial special education school in Canton a one-year extension of its authority to use electric shock treatments on students, provided the center makes a series of significant changes. more stories like this

Among them, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center must prove that it uses shock treatments only for the most dangerous and self-destructive behaviors and that the aversive therapy actually led to a reduction of those harmful actions.

The center must also stop electric shocks for "seemingly minor infractions," such as getting out of a seat without approval or swearing. And it must show greater commitment to phasing out shock treatments, especially for those about to leave the school to enter mainstream society.

Past reauthorizations have been for two years, rather than the one year given this time.

December 24, 2007

LohanWatch! "When you orgasm, your endorphins shoot up and it becomes a massive natural high."

Movie stars are so classy. News of the World |...

December 22, 2007

The very worst of Digg comments

Waxy calls it a trolls' paradise. dontcensorme.com | Digg comments...