Hospital made legal guardian for Amish girl with cancer

An Ohio appellate court has appointed a hospital representative as the legal guardian in the case of a 10-year-old Amish girl who has cancer…The Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled Friday in favor of Akron Children’s Hospital over the girl’s parents…

Court documents show that Sarah Hershberger, 10, was receiving chemotherapy, but the girl’s parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, stopped the treatment after their daughter began having harsh side effects. They opted to treat the girl with natural medicine instead.

Hospital officials have said that the girl will likely die without chemotherapy, but has an 85 percent chance of surviving if she continues with the treatment.

Previously, Medina County Probate Judge John J. Lohn twice ruled in favor of the girl’s parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger.

However, the appeals court said Lohn’s ruling wasn’t “based on competent, credible evidence.”

“While we have no doubt that the parents are acting in according with their principles, beliefs and honest convictions and that their goal may be a laudable one,” the appellate court said, “it does not justify or nullify the right of the state and the probate court to protect the health and wellbeing of a child.”

Maria Schimer, a registered nurse and attorney at the hospital, was granted “limited guardianship” over Sarah, which allows her to make medical decisions for the girl.

Fortunately – and I don’t say that easily – you’re not always afforded the right to love your child to death. I’m one of those who relies to a small extent on natural and folk remedies that seem to have some efficacy in my family’s history. Never for potentially terminal illnesses. Science and the latest in modern medicine get a significant edge there. Just too much data supporting good sense.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I blog a fair piece about medicine and science. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with science [yes, and science fiction] and I’ve lived and worked in and around medical facilities long enough to witness dramatic changes wrought by advances in modern medicine.

Do I have criticisms of the profit structure, especially of corporate pharmaceutical giants? You betcha! That doesn’t affect the systems used to evaluate treatment, chemical or otherwise. It’s why I’m pleased to admit to being a volunteer in human trials in at least one beneficial vaccine – last trial phase before approval. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

American adults lag the world in literacy, math and computer skills – just not quite as bad as our kids

Policymakers and politicians who wring their hands about the mediocre performance of U.S. students on international math and reading tests have another worry: The nation’s grown-ups aren’t doing much better.

A first-ever comparison of adults in the United States and those in other democracies found that Americans were below average when it comes to skills needed to compete in the global economy.

The survey…measured the literacy, math and computer skills of about 5,000 U.S. adults between ages 16 and 65, and compared them with similar samples of adults from 21 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Americans are “decidedly weaker in numeracy and problem-solving skills than in literacy, and average U.S. scores for all three are below the international average and far behind the scores of top performers like Japan or Finland,” said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, the data collection arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

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New NSA $2 billion snoop center has chronic meltdowns


$2 billion of your tax dollars – and it still doesn’t work

The National Security Agency’s new $2 billion Utah data center keeps suffering from costly meltdowns and government officials are not sure of the cause, Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal reports.

Since August 2012, there have been 10 electrical surges that have prevented the NSA from using computers. One official described them as “a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box.”

Each meltdown caused as much as $100,000 in damage. The center requires about 65 megawatts of electricity to run, at a cost of more than $1 million a month, and the surges are probably connected to the electrical system’s inability to simultaneously run computers and keep them cool.

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), which is overseeing the data center’s construction, disagrees with contractors on a number of issues, noting that the causes of the meltdowns “are not yet sufficiently understood” despite contractors’ assertions the “root cause” had been uncovered.

In a report, an ACE team notes that the government has incomplete information about the design of the electrical system. It also found that regular quality controls in design and construction were bypassed in an effort to “fast track” the Utah project…

One…report said that the center has the potential to store as much as 5 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 billion terabytes = 1 trillion gigabytes). With just 1 zettabyte (1024 exabytes) of space, the NSA can store a year’s worth of the global Internet traffic (which is estimated reached 966 exabytes per year in 2015).

Gorman notes that the agency currently “collects the phone records of nearly all Americans and has built a system with telecommunications companies that provides coverage of roughly 75% of Internet communications in the U.S.”

I’ve blogged about the construction of this spy center before. Interesting – but not surprising – to learn all the stupidity of the Bush administration has carried over from design to quality control in construction.

Useful standards for building data centers have been around since the first telephone/alarm system control centers. Skipping QC to keep the biggest snoop in the world ahead of the curve is the sort of foolishness we’ve come to know and love from the paranoid right-wing in America.

Six myths about vaccination – and why they’re wrong


Same myths stateside as in Oz – same silly anti-science culture

Recently released government figures show levels of childhood vaccination have fallen to dangerously low levels in some areas of Australia, resulting in some corners of the media claiming re-ignition of “the vaccine debate”…

Well, scientifically, there’s no debate. In combination with clean water and sanitation, vaccines are one of the most effective public health measures ever introduced, saving millions of lives every year.

1. Vaccines cause autism

Thiomersal or ethyl-mercury was removed from all scheduled childhood vaccines in 2000, so if it were contributing to rising cases of autism, you would expect a dramatic drop following its removal. Instead, like the MMR in Japan, the opposite happened, and autism continues to rise.

Further evidence comes from a recently published exhaustive review examining 12,000 research articles covering eight different vaccines which also concluded there was no link between vaccines and autism.

Yet the myth persists and probably for several reasons, one being that the time of diagnosis for autism coincides with kids receiving several vaccinations and also, we currently don’t know what causes autism. But we do know what doesn’t, and that’s vaccines.

2. Smallpox and polio have disappeared so there’s no need to vaccinate anymore

It’s precisely because of vaccines that diseases such as smallpox have disappeared…

The impact of vaccine complacency can be observed in the current measles epidemic in Wales where there are now over 800 cases and one death, and many people presenting are of the age who missed out on MMR vaccination following the Wakefield scare.

In many ways, vaccines are a victim of their own success, leading us to forget just how debilitating preventable diseases can be – not seeing kids in calipers or hospital wards full of iron lungs means we forget just how serious these diseases can be.

3. More vaccinated people get the disease than the unvaccinated

Although this sounds counter-intuitive, it’s actually true, but it doesn’t mean that vaccines don’t work as anti-vaxers will conflate. Remember that no vaccine is 100% effective and vaccines are not a force field. So while it’s still possible to get the disease you’ve been vaccinated against, disease severity and duration will be reduced…

So since the majority of the population is vaccinated, it follows that most people who get a particular disease will be vaccinated, but critically, they will suffer fewer complications and long-term effects than those who are completely unprotected.

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NYC strip club stopped showing Giants games – too many losses


UPI /John Angelillo

With the New York Giants going 0-5 so far this season, having the game on is a bit of a buzzkill — especially in a strip club…Apparently there are people that watch sports in strip clubs, and having a losing streak does nothing for business.

Rick’s Cabaret in New York City has implemented a new policy: No more Giants games on the TVs this season. The strip club will continue to air other teams’ games, though…

Rick’s Cabaret Girl Alexandra discussed the Giants/Eagles game. “There’s like a hundred sexy topless girls here and everyone was exceedingly happy until it became clear during the second half that Eli Manning and the Giants were going to lose again.”

Rick’s Cabaret Girl Yvonne said, “I’ve been showing off my new 34Ds and getting compliments all the time, except right after Giants games — the guys are sort of deflated — they take that football stuff too seriously!”

You’d think they could sell more of those 5-dollar beers for fans to drown their sorrows.