Friday, November 18, 2005

This and That

I'm listening to CSPAN right now. Wild and crazy times in the House right now as they debate and hash out the Republican Withdraw Now But Not Really Bill, designed to prove Democrats as, what? Cowards? Wrong? Call their bluff?

Alot of harsh rhetoric. Is it all talk, or is the Democratic party going to continue on its path of showing a bit of backbone? At least Pelosi has called for the Democrats to vote no on this ridiculous, pathetic, and manipulative vote.

Writing with one ear to CSPAN, there's much in the news about avian flu this week. A little noted Citigroup strategy report mulled over the possible economic winners and losers should even a mild pandemic (is that oxymoronic?) strikes. Particular losers would be the airlines, businesses than can ill afford further loses. Didn't appear that the report gave suggestions on how to limit loses, though. Oh, good. Something more to worry about.

There's some concern being raised by the FDA about the use of Tamiflu in children. Tamiflu is one of the few drugs that appears useful in fighting the flu and can be used against the avian flu. Apparently, there have been a number of cases of psychiatric disturbances among children using Tamiflu. The FDA has already flip flopped, 24 hours after this was reported, and is now saying it doesn't have enough evidence to say that Tamiflu is causing these problems after releasing a memo detailing its concerns about the drug.

If I remember correctly, there is also some evidence that Tamiflu may not work so well against the avian flu, that it may be mutating to become resistant to it. But this would still be, obviously, a problem if it pans out. Of course, since the FDA plans to send it back to a committee to continue monitoring it for a few years, it probably won't keep kids from taking it. Or its manufacturer, Roche, from benefiting from the millions of vaccines being ordered right now. How timely. And how interesting that the possibility of resistance to Tamiflu got so little play in the press.

Last in my pandemic possibility update, the righteous religious right wingnuts ought to be having a field day with the news that AIDS victims may unwittingly cause the bird flu to mutate and become easily passed from human to human. If I get this, the deal is that those with AIDS hold onto flu viruses for long periods of time, acting as incubators for new mutations. So, not only would those with AIDS be more likely to come down with avian flu, they'd be more likely to pass it on and more likely to make pass-on-able forms of it.

Something to look forward to as bird flu marches across Europe and eventually on to Africa, home of the most AIDS victims world-wide.

Per my rant about the SCOTUS decision this week, NYTimes came out with a great editorial agreeing with me. Naturally. :-) Best quote:

"The court's ruling ignores the clear advantages that school districts almost always have over parents who challenge their decisions. The districts have the money, and many have lawyers and rosters of experts on their payrolls. But many of the families cannot afford legal representation at all. With less pressure to justify themselves, the schools can simply stand pat - even when their educational plans have proved disastrous for the disabled children in question. This was clearly not the outcome that Congress intended when it passed this landmark law, and deliberately expanded the rights of disabled children and their parents."

Oooo. Back to CSPAN. Steny Hoyer is talking about "the magnitude of his contempt" and "the rankest of politics and the absence of shame". And he ain't talking about the Democrats.

Speaking about the rankest of politics and the magnitude of my contempt, a filibuster we're missing right now is that on the renewal of the Patriot Act. The current plan is to renew an act that still includes the liberty-sucking "National Security Letters" that allow the FBI to demand the library records of anyone without permission of a court of law, and that gags those who have received these letters. See my blog for further info on this.

Apparently, there's a bi-partisan group against renewal of this act. Thank god. We'll see if sane minds can pull this off and keep the Patriot Act for injuring more patriots and just plain citizens. Think it's no big deal? 30,000 of your fellow Americans might disagree with you.

Back to CSPAN. Pelosi is up, defending Murtha. "Murtha has delivered the mighty blow of truth to Bush's Iraq policy." Or something like that. Nice. Way better than Rep Smith calling him a coward. Real nice touch when discussing a Purple Heart recipient.

Until tomorrow,


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