Bush the Hero...?

The Great Krugman on Healthcare:

Most disturbing of all, the number of Americans without health insurance jumped. At this point, there are 47 million uninsured people in this country, 8.5 million more than there were in 2000. Mr. Bush may think that being uninsured is no big deal — “you just go to an emergency room” — but the reality is that if you’re uninsured every illness is a catastrophe, your own private Katrina.


Thompson, Bush Cave in to "Infant Formula" Lobby...

In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter, the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads.

And the meaty part:

The report did not assert a direct cause and effect, because doing so would require studies in which some women are told not to breast-feed their infants -- a request considered unethical, given the obvious health benefits of the practice.

Read it all here.

Run Your Home on a Prius?

Interesting story on potential energy:

Power to the People: Run Your House on a Prius

WHEN Hurricane Frances ripped through Gainesville, Fla., in 2004, Christopher Swinney, an anesthesiologist, was without electricity for a week. A few weeks ago, Dr. Swinney lost power again, but this time he was ready.

He plugged his Toyota Prius into the backup uninterruptible power supply unit in his house and soon the refrigerator was humming and the lights were back on. “It was running everything in the house except the central air-conditioning,” Dr. Swinney said.

Without the Prius, the batteries in the U.P.S. unit would have run out of power in about an hour. The battery pack in the car kept the U.P.S. online and was itself recharged by the gasoline engine, which cycled on and off as needed. The U.P.S. has an inverter, which converts the direct current electricity from the batteries to household alternating current and regulates the voltage. As long as it has fuel, the Prius can produce at least three kilowatts of continuous power, which is adequate to maintain a home’s basic functions.

This form of vehicle-to-grid technology, often called V2G, has attracted hobbyists, university researchers and companies like Pacific Gas & Electric and Google. Although there is some skepticism among experts about the feasibility of V2G, the big players see a future in which fleets of hybrid cars, recharged at night when demand is lower, can relieve the grid and help avert serious blackouts.

Willett Kempton, a senior scientist in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware, said the power capacity of the automotive fleet was underutilized.

Mr. Kempton is helping to explore the V2G capabilities of a fuel-cell bus and battery-electric vehicles. The technology is also well-suited for so-called plug-in hybrids, which are being developed by General Motors, Toyota and other automakers. Plug-in hybrids will use larger battery packs and recharge from a household outlet for 10 to 30 miles of electric-only driving. When modified, these cars can return electricity to the grid from their batteries.


Song for the Day: Drive By Truckers - "Dress Blues"

Povery Rising in the Valley

Poverty levels rising in Valley

Federal report shows 9.5% of population have lower incomes

Federal poverty statistics released Tuesday show the number of working poor in the Fox Valley continues to climb despite the country's rebounding economy.

The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey for 2006 indicates an estimated 34,863 residents in the Appleton-to-Oshkosh area, or 9.5 percent of the population, had incomes below the federal poverty level in 2006.

The number was up from 29,325, or 8 percent, in 2005 and 21,729, or 6 percent, in 2004.

Of those residents living in poverty, 14,478, or 3.97 percent, could be considered working poor, up from 11,948, or 3.3 percent, in 2005 and about 7,600, or 2.1 percent, in 2004.

"This is sad news," said Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley, "but I'm not surprised. It's what we've been telling people for five years now."

The rest is here.


Quote of the Day:

"I want to know why I'm planning a funeral while George Bush is planning a wedding."
Anika Lawal, of Maryland, whose daughter, an Army sergeant, was recently killed in Iraq