Bush Appoints Birth Control Opponent To Family Planning Post

Continuing to further the agenda of the evangelical right, Bush has appointed Eric Keroack, an OB-GYN doctor who believes that contraceptives are "demeaning to women," as the deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sound like news from Bizarro World? It gets worse. This isn't just a token policy position:

Keroack ... will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are "designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons."

Federally Funded Anti-Abortion Efforts

It seems the crusade against abortion goes beyond the courts for the Bush Administration. It has been alleged that the "Compassion Capital Fund", which is managed by the White House as part of their Faith-Based Initiatives program is responsible for some $30 million in funding so called "pregnancy resource centers."

These centers are alleged to be providing false and misleading information to women about abortion, particularly the risks:

Some center personnel suggested, contrary to scientific evidence, that abortion would lead to increased risk of suicide, cancer and psychological trauma.

That's not all this administration does to tie money to abortion. While they give money in the U.S. to the aforementioned centers, they withhold foreign aid to any international family planning group unless they agree to not offer abortions or abortion counseling.

Fewer Calories Equals Longer Life

Research involving rhesus monkeys at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center has produced some interesting findings.

It seems that monkeys given a diet with 30% fewer calories than their peers, but with an eye toward ensuring proper intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, are aging slower.

U.S. Lax In Product Safety

While countries around the world move toward tighter restrictions on products that contain toxic chemicals, the U.S. Is falling behind to the point of accepting imports of products that cannot be sold in their country of origin. L.A. Times quote:

Destined for American kitchens, planks of birch and poplar plywood are stacked to the ceiling of a cavernous port warehouse. The wood, which arrived in California via a cargo ship, carries two labels: One proclaims "Made in China," while the other warns that it contains formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical.

Because formaldehyde wafts off the glues in this plywood, it is illegal to sell in many countries — even the one where it originated, China. But in the United States this wood is legal, and it is routinely crafted into cabinets and furniture.

Extremely Resistant TB Strain Found

This story in the Observer discusses a new strain of tuberculosis that resists every drug doctors can throw at it.

In South Africa, 52 of 53 patients diagnosed with the disease have died. Of greatest risk to the disease are the some 4.5 million AIDS patients in South Africa who already have compromised immune systems.

Big Tobacco Gets Off Easy

In 1999, the Clinton Administration began suing Big Tobacco on the grounds that they were deceiving the public in their packaging and what remained of their marketing efforts. In a recent ruling at the District Court level, they got a slap on the wrist as a result.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes as "low tar," "light," "ultra light" or "mild," since such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them.

The judge stopped short, however, of granting the $10 Billion (down from $130 Billion) the Justice Department had sought as funding for a national smoking cessation campaign.

The press, typically, is billing this as a loss for the Tobacco companies. How this cannot be viewed as a win for them escapes me. These companies sell a product that kills people and cost taxpayers tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars every year; and, their penalty is to change their packaging to be less deceptive?

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