Any good reasons why Florida hasn’t allowed in the CDC’s emergency response team to fight Zika?


Reuters/Paulo Whitaker/file photo

The state of Florida, the first to report the arrival of Zika in the continental United States, has yet to invite a dedicated team of the federal government’s disease hunters to assist with the investigation on the ground, health officials told Reuters.

Coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the state reported possible local Zika transmission on July 19 has been conducted largely at a distance, they said. That is surprising to some infectious disease experts, who say a less robust response could lead to a higher number of infections.

While Florida has a strong record of battling limited outbreaks of similar mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue and chikungunya, the risk of birth defects caused by Zika adds greater urgency to containing its spread with every available means, they say. Other states have quickly called in CDC teams to help track high-profile diseases.

You only have a small window. This is the window” to prevent a small-scale outbreak from spreading, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine…who expressed impatience with the pace of the Florida investigation.

Florida on Friday said that four cases of Zika in the state were likely caused by mosquito, the first sign that the virus is circulating locally, though it has yet to identify mosquitoes carrying the disease.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said the state health department was working with the CDC as it continues its Zika investigation…Dr Marc Fischer, a CDC epidemiologist, has gone to Florida at the state’s request.

But the state has not invited in the CDC’s wider emergency response team of experts in epidemiology, risk communication, vector control and logistics…

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said the agency has several teams ready for when states request help with Zika, including Florida…

“Florida does what Florida does,” said one public health expert familiar with the investigation. “If I were health commissioner, I would have asked for their (CDC’s) help immediately.”

Still Floriduh, ain’t it. Even more so with Rick Scott in charge.

Terrify a child with Republican, know-nothing, climate change inaction figures


Click to enlarge

You’ve likely heard about the new collectibles taking the world by storm: They’re cute, cuddly, and exist only in a virtual world that may be better than the real one. We’re talking about Climate Change Inaction Figures.

A project of the National Geographic Channel’s Years of Living Dangerously, these anti-heroes are known for their blind rejection of facts, logic, and science. All can be acquired via social media and include such conservative thought leaders as: John Boehner, James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell.

A veritable Rogues Gallery of incompetent examples of addiction to fossil fuel.

How Republicans lie about bankrupting state after state

This is a theme I have pounded on repeatedly over the past 5 years: The self-inflicted wounds of Kansas and Louisiana saddled themselves with; Coming soon, Great Britain.

In his editorial New Rule, Bill Maher makes the case that, if Republicans are going to call states the “laboratories of democracy,” they first have to stop replicating failed economic experiments.

Barry Ritholtz demonstrates the ethical good sense of a Recovering Republican.

Once again, federal court explains to Mississippi religious bigotry doesn’t trump constitutional law

A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law intended to allow people who object on religious grounds to same-sex marriage and believe gender is determined at birth to refuse wedding and other services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves found…that the wide-ranging law adopted this spring unconstitutionally allowed “arbitrary discrimination” against the LGBT community, unmarried people and others who do not share such views…

By citing…religious grounds, the law would have allowed people to refuse to provide a wide range of services from baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple to counseling and fertility services. It also permitted dress code and bathroom restrictions to be imposed on transgender people…

The Republican governor can be counted upon to waste even more taxpayer dollar$ on what he called “an aggressive appeal”. In bigot-speech, that means he is certain his best chance at winning more elections in Mississippi requires continuing the elevation of bigotry, hatred and religious foolishness to political gospel.

RTFA for details of this backwardness and corruption.

The Supreme Court rejects restrictions on women’s abortion rights

Reverberations from the U.S. Supreme Court’s major ruling backing abortion rights were felt on Tuesday as the justices rejected bids by Mississippi and Wisconsin to revive restrictions on abortion doctors matching those struck down in Texas on Monday.

The laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin required doctors to have “admitting privileges,” a type of difficult-to-obtain formal affiliation, with a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Both were put on hold by lower courts.

The Mississippi law would have shut down the only clinic in the state if it had gone into effect…

In addition, Alabama’s attorney general said late on Monday that his state would abandon defense of its own “admitting privileges” requirement for abortion doctors, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The laws in Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alabama are among the numerous measures enacted in conservative U.S. states that impose a variety of restrictions on abortion. But the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday in the Texas case, providing its most stout endorsement of abortion rights since 1992, could imperil a variety of these state laws.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s four liberals in the 5-3 decision…

Once again, sensible modern jurisprudence matches a population moving beyond ignorance. What’s left behind? True Believers and hate-filled conservatives, Republican and otherwise.

Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the action in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alabama is just the start of the fallout from Monday’s ruling.

“States have passed more than 1,000 restrictions on a woman’s ability to get an abortion. This means for many women the constitutional right to an abortion is still more theoretical than real and there is much more work to be done to ensure that every woman who needs an abortion can actually get one,” Dalven added.

The justices decided that the Texas law placed an undue burden on women exercising their right under the U.S. Constitution to end a pregnancy, established in the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Reactionary politicians, careerist time-wasters, are just as convinced that delaying opportunities for free choice will suffice when and where they fail at denying individual liberty altogether. It matters not what the rationale. Such politics deserve the contempt they receive from Americans who reject superstition and ignorance.

NM State workers falsified documents to deny food aid to poor

Five state employees testified in federal court Thursday that New Mexico Human Services Department officials falsified income information on emergency applications for people seeking welfare benefits, resulting in wrongly denied food assistance to the poorest citizens in the state.

At a daylong hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza that stretched into the evening, the state workers said they sometimes entered false asset information on emergency requests for food assistance as a part of a state policy created just as Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration came under federal scrutiny for its high rates of denying emergency requests for aid.

The New Mexico Human Services Department is required to fulfill emergency food requests within seven days of receiving an application for such assistance. Yet the employees, testifying under oath, said they sometimes altered the requests to reflect that those applying for the assistance had up to $400 in assets that did not exist, leading to the applications being denied or delayed…

Margaret Vasquez-Padilla, a family assistance analyst with the Human Services Department who processes applications for benefits, said her superiors changed her case notes on an application for emergency food assistance by putting down that the applicant had $400.

“This has happened before,” she said when asked why she had copied her original case notes. “I needed to keep copies for myself to make sure I was not implicated.”

She and other employees said management with the department’s Income Support Division pressured them in April 2015 to make sure the state’s data on emergency food requests did not reflect that the department was failing to fulfill the requests within seven days.

The employees called themselves whistleblowers, saying they fear retaliation for speaking out about the practice.

Governor Susana Martinez is the delight of Establishment Republicans who want to run her as Vice-Presidential candidate alongside the Trumpet. Presumably to prove the GOP doesn’t wage war on Hispanics, women, who make up a significant portion of New Mexico’s poor.

In practice, her War on the Poor is all-inclusive. Republican class warfare doesn’t need much specialization. Political opportunism just naturally lends itself to discrimination.

FDA agrees with doctors, not Republicans, on abortion pill.

On Wednesday, the medical abortion pill got a new label from the Food and Drug Administration—one that finally reflects the way doctors have been prescribing it for years. In the process, Republicans lost at least one strategy that they’ve used to block women’s access to abortion.

In the political tug-of-war over this pill — as in most every fight over abortion — legislators have inserted themselves into consummately routine aspects of medical practice. In this case, they interfered with the common and totally legal practice of off-label prescription, in which doctors use the most up-to-date medical information and their own best instincts to dictate how patients should use a drug, deviating from often outdated FDA guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 1 in 5 prescriptions written are for off-label use. That didn’t stop Republicans from banning it in the case of the abortion pill, mifepristone, when best practice evolved beyond the guidelines that the FDA wrote upon first approving the drug in 2000.

Mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) terminates pregnancy by blocking the necessary hormones; doctors prescribe it with a second pill, misoprostol, which induces contractions to start what resembles a heavy period. When the FDA originally wrote the protocol for the drug, it specified a dose of 600 milligrams. Over the years, however, doctors have found that a 200-milligram dose is just as effective and causes fewer unpleasant side effects… Republicans…passed laws in six states — still in effect in North Dakota and Ohio—that forced practitioners to stick to the FDA guidelines or stop offering the procedure altogether.

The new FDA guidelines vindicate doctors, embracing the 200-milligram regimen and reflecting several other changes in the way practitioners have been prescribing the drug that broaden women’s access to abortion…

The new label for mifepristone also says that the drug should be “ordered, prescribed and dispensed by or under the supervision of a healthcare provider who prescribes and who meets certain qualifications.” Crucially, the guidelines do not contain the word physician. Here, the FDA has given at least subtle backing to the argument that women’s health groups—and the World Health Organization—have been making for years: that midlevel providers, such as midwives and nurse practitioners, should be able to administer medical abortions….As abortion clinics across the country continue to close because of targeted GOP legislation, expanding the circle of who can prescribe this pill could be invaluable for many women.

Good news for everyone who wants their healthcare to be guided by modern medicine, sound science – instead of Republican politicians, pundits and populists mired in the backwaters of history and hysteria.