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Environmental Scientist

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Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- When Clowns turn scary

Rise in Early Cervical Cancer Detection Is Linked to Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON — Cancer researchers say there has been a substantial increase in women under the age of 26 who have received a diagnosis of early-stage cervical cancer, a pattern that they say is most likely an effect of the Affordable Care Act.

Starting in 2010, a provision of the health law allowed dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. The number of uninsured young adults fell substantially in the years that followed. The share of 19- to 25-year-olds without health insurance declined to 21 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from 34 percent in 2010 — a decrease of about four million people, federal data show.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society wanted to examine whether the expansion of health insurance among young American women was leading to more early-stage diagnoses. Early diagnosis improves the prospects for survival because treatment is more effective and the chance of remission is higher. It also bolsters women’s chances for preserving their fertility during treatment. And women with health insurance are far more likely to get a screening that can identify cancer early.

Researchers used the National Cancer Data Base, a hospital-based registry of about 70 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. They compared diagnoses for women ages 21 to 25 who had cervical cancer with those for women ages 26 to 34, before and after the health law provision began in 2010. Early-stage diagnoses rose substantially among the younger group — the one covered by the law — and stayed flat among the older group.


Washington D.C. pot arrests at near zero after legalization

After one full year of legalizing cannabis in the nation’s capital, arrests for marijuana possession have dropped to single digits.

Data provided by the Metropolitan Police Department shows that they have conducted only seven arrests for marijuana possession this year, dropping a staggering 99.2 percent from 895 in 2014, the Washington City Paper reports.

“I’m not policing the city as a mom, I’m policing it as the police chief—and 70 percent of the public supported ,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in February, according to the Daily Beast. “All those arrests do is make people hate us.”

Despite the uncommonly small number of pot arrests in D.C., public consumption of marijuana is still considered illegal.


Home, Sweet Kleptocracy

By Rebecca Gordon

A top government official with energy industry holdings huddles in secret with oil company executives to work out the details of a potentially lucrative “national energy policy.” Later, that same official steers billions of government dollars to his former oil-field services company. Well-paid elected representatives act with impunity, routinely trading government contracts and other favors for millions of dollars. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens live in fear of venal police forces that suck them dry by charging fees for services, throwing them in jail when they can’t pay arbitrary fines or selling their court “debts” to private companies. Sometimes the police just take people’s life savings leaving them with no recourse whatsoever. Sometimes they steal and deal drugs on the side. Meanwhile, the country’s infrastructure crumbles. Bridges collapse, or take a quarter-century to fix after a natural disaster, or (despite millions spent) turn out not to be fixed at all. Many citizens regard their government at all levels with a weary combination of cynicism and contempt. Fundamentalist groups respond by calling for a return to religious values and the imposition of religious law.

What country is this? Could it be Nigeria or some other kleptocratic developing state? Or post-invasion Afghanistan where Ahmed Wali Karzai, CIA asset and brother of the U.S.-installed president Hamid Karzai, made many millions on the opium trade (which the U.S. was ostensibly trying to suppress), while his brother Mahmoud raked in millions more from the fraud-ridden Bank of Kabul? Or could it be Mexico, where the actions of both the government and drug cartels have created perhaps the world’s first narco-terrorist state?

In fact, everything in this list happened (and much of it is still happening) in the United States, the world leader -- or so we like to think -- in clean government. These days, however, according to the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International (TI), our country comes in only 17th in the least-corrupt sweepstakes, trailing European and Scandinavian countries as well as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In fact, TI considers us on a par with Caribbean island nations like Barbados and the Bahamas. In the U.S., TI says, “from fraud and embezzlement charges to the failure to uphold ethical standards, there are multiple cases of corruption at the federal, state and local level.”

And here’s a reasonable bet: it’s not going to get better any time soon and it could get a lot worse. When it comes to the growth of American corruption, one of TI’s key concerns is the how the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the pay-to-play floodgates of the political system, allowing Super PACs to pour billions of private and corporate money into it, sometimes in complete secrecy. Citizens United undammed the wealth of the super-rich and their enablers, allowing big donors like casino capitalist -- a description that couldn’t be more literal -- Sheldon Adelson to use their millions to influence government policy.



Bernie Sanders is the Most Popular Senator in America

uesday, November 24, 2015
BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 24 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the most popular senator in America according to a Morning Consult survey of more than 75,000 voters in all 50 states. Sanders has the highest approval rating of any United States senator among his own constituents at 83 percent.

Senate Democrats had an average approval rating of 54 percent in the survey, while Republicans averaged a 51 percent approval rating.


Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest





Tuesday Toon Roundup 2: Refugees

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1: The Instigators

U.S. steps up Ukrainian combat training

Yavirov, Ukraine — The United States began combat training for Ukrainian Army forces on Monday, expanding its effort to help Ukraine defeat Russian-backed separatists.

Until now, U.S. trainers had only worked with Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, and officials say the shift to regular army training signals President Barack Obama’s growing commitment to Ukraine’s defense against the aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama remains dug in against the advice of many senior officials who favor sending weapons to Kiev. But the administration considers the training regimen an effective alternative that won’t provoke a dangerous response from Russia, even as officials in Moscow denounce the program.

“This is arguably more important than any of the equipment we’re giving ,” said Evelyn Farkas, who departed as the top Pentagon official for Russia and Ukraine this fall. “We’re teaching them how to prevail against a further incursion of their territory.”



Federal Appeals Court Dropkicks Scott Walker's Bogus Abortion Law Into the Sun

A federal appeals court has ruled that Wisconsin’s law requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital—effectively and deliberately shutting down clinics in the state—is unconstitutional, reports the Associated Press.

2013 Wisconsin Act 37 was enacted in July of 2013, and while it is purportedly designed to serve the safety and peace of mind of women seeking abortions, its real purpose is to make getting an abortion as grueling and inconvenient as possible. Section 2 includes the infamous “informed consent” provision, which requires that pregnant women receive an ultrasound prior to the procedure. Section 9 explicitly allows the “grandparents” of the “unborn child” to sue the abortion provider for “emotional and psychological distress.” Act 37 is a bullcrap law.

The law also said that all abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a hospital “within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is to be performed.” Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services—two organizations who provide abortions in Wisconsin—sued the state, arguing that this particular provision “amounts to an unconstitutional restriction on abortion.”

From a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report:

In a statement, Planned Parenthood said only four health centers provide abortions in Wisconsin. If the law took effect, the group said, the largest of those centers would be forced to close immediately, leaving the remaining three unable “to absorb the unmet need.”

The group argued that would amount to restricting access to abortions in Wisconsin. State attorneys contended the mandate will ensure continuity of care for women hospitalized with abortion complications.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel found the state’s “continuity of care” argument unconvincing, according to the AP report


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