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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Anti-Vaxxers must defend first measles death in 12 years

Anti-Vaxxers are stoking conspiratorial fear among the public about the unproven risks of childhood vaccines.  

Meanwhile, children's deaths from vaccine preventable diseases have plummeted to near zero, because of the success of immunization  programs, to protect public health.  

Infectious diseases, like whooping cough, mumps, measles, and the virus caused by polio have become nearly extinct, thanks to vaccines. Unfortunately, the success of vaccines has given rise to conspiracy theories, leading many to believe it's safer to develop a passive immunity to infectious disease by allowing the infections to make people sick.  Anti-vaxxers claim the vaccine preservatives are toxic and contribute to the onset of autism, but there's no proof of this correlation. On the other hand, there is an absolute inverse correlation between disease and vaccines.  In the absence of vaccines, the infections they prevent will increase. They will return and cause epidemics, because the population will not harbor enough immunity to withstand the disease organisms.

Now, Washington state confirmed the first US measles death in the US in 12 years. CNN Dana Ford reports:

Measles is a vaccine preventable illness. Apparently, the community immunity, where the death occurred, was not sufficient to protect the person who contracted the disease from becoming ill. Moreover, the person who died had a suppressed immune system.

Washington state has reported the death.

(CNN)The Washington State Department of Health reported Thursday what it said was the first confirmed measles death in the United States since 2003.

Authorities did not identify the woman, but said she was likely exposed to measles at a local health facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County.

She died in the spring. The measles infection was discovered during an autopsy.

"The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system. She didn't have some of the common symptoms of measles such as a rash, so the infection wasn't discovered until after her death. The cause of death was pneumonia due to measles," the health department said.

It stressed that no one who had contact with any of the known cases remains at risk.

5 things to know about measles

So far this year, 11 people have been diagnosed with measles in Washington state, including six in Clallam County, according to the health department.

"The last active case of measles in Washington this year was reported in late April. Within about three weeks of exposure to someone with measles, it's possible to develop the disease. Since more than three weeks has already passed since the last active measles case, no one who had contact with one of the known cases is any longer at risk for developing measles from those exposures," it said.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It causes fever, red and sore eyes, runny nose, cough and a rash. It can cause deadly health complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis. It is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing or sneezing. It can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

While once widespread in the United States, cases dropped significantly because of vaccines. In 2000, health authorities declared that measles had been eliminated in the United States, which meant it was no longer native but continued to be brought in by international travelers.

In 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2014, there were more reported measles cases compared with previous years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC attributes this to two things: more measles cases coming into the United States, and more spreading of the disease in communities with pockets of people who are not vaccinated.

Just this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation outlawing a family's personal and religious beliefs as reasons to exempt their children from school vaccinations.

The controversial proposal, arising partly from concerns over this year's Disneyland outbreak, would allow medical exemptions deemed appropriate by the state Department of Public Health.

From January until May 29, 173 people in 21 states and the District of Columbia developed measles, and 117 of those cases were linked to Disneyland in Orange County, California, according to the CDC.

In my Mainewriter opinion, zealots who use fear, to prevent parents from having their children immunized, are responsible for the morbidity and mortality of anyone who is not immunized and who subsequently become ill with vaccine preventable illnesses.  

Let's commend and follow the lead of California by protecting all people from vaccine preventable illnesses.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Maine's governor Paul LePage has not delivered on the state's economy

Maine's summer weather attracts millions of tourists who're enjoying the state's gorgeous coastline and other natural beauty. Nevertheless, the fact is, tourism notwithstanding, there's not much economy remaining for the locals after the visitors leave, in the fall.

Meanwhile, Maine's government is trying to balance a fiscal policy that balances paying for essential services while reducing the tax burden. This high wire fiscal act is complicated because, frankly, there hasn't been much investment in Maine, in recent years. Instead, the state's population has remained stagnant, workforce recruitment has been challenging, professional jobs are mostly found in the health care or service sector and the population is the oldest, per capita, than any other American state.  In other words, Mainer's are old.

Enter Governor Paul LePage.  In his second gubernatorial term, Governor LePage should've had Maine's future in the palm of his hand. All LePage had to do was to "get along" with the legislature and he could've probably created a new Maine order.  

Instead of the governor using his clout to initiate a progressive agenda, LePage began to fire key people, just because he could  

Indeed, the passion LePage had for putting key professional people out of work, by simply eliminating them from their positions, was obsessive. Now, it seems like the Maine legislature is about to put Governor LePage out of work. 

It's possible the Maine legislature, with bipartisan agreement, will try to remove the governor from his position, because he clearly abused his authority on several occasions. Most recently, the governor caused the removal of the Speaker of the House Mark Eves from his new job as the president of the Goodwill-Hinckley School. In other words, Governor LePage forced the board to fire Eves by threatening to withhold state money if they did not do so. 
Eves said the governor's actions was "blackmail" illegal act.

Although the Maine legislature has been upset with Governor LePage because of his "my way or the highway" executive style, the fact is, the state was stuck with him until the end of his second term.  Except.....Governor LePage hasn't delivered.  Rather than build Maine's economy, the plan LePage had in mind was to cut taxes. Obviously, with Maine being the oldest and among one of the poorest American states, there's no way the governor's tax cutting plan could sustain the state's infrastructure, social services safety nets or the educational programs necessary to support a viable workforce. Maine people are dying at the same rate as they are being born.  Professional people are unable to find jobs.  There hasn't been a successful investment of industrial growth and development in Maine, in the recent memory. Bath Iron Works (BIW), a heavily subsidized defense ship building company, is the state's largest employer, but the prospect of every contract becomes a federal cliff hanger.  There's no way of knowing exactly how many more ships BIW can build in the next 20 years, especially when the same work can also be performed in Mississippi.   

In other words, Governor LePage has a problem much bigger than his "mouth".  Rather, Governor LePage has not delivered.  

Rather than waste his time creating circus style media events and consuming the media with his blatantly rude misstatement, all Governor LePage had to do, to be successful, was to simply get along with people.  Instead of creating acrimony, he should have been photographed taking investors on tours of BIW, or welcoming new employees to Maine's businesses.  

Instead, LePage put up a stupid Christmas tree outside of his office, so he could hang pictures of Maine legislators he didn't happen to like as the ornaments.  He even allowed pictures to be taken of himself squeezing a rubber like pig to emphasize how the Maine budget included spending known as "pork".  This imagery hasn't engage people who are interested in opening Maine businesses.  

Now, LePage is a governor without a platform, because he lost his budget "battle", in short order, with the Maine legislature.  

Indeed, LePage has very little support from either political party in the legislature.

(The New York Times reported LePage is a "Party of One"). He's increasingly isolated from his political foes and partisan allies.  

Governor LePage seems to feel entitled to his authority. Okay, let's give the governor his authority. Except, his inability to fix Maine's economy has failed. Therefore, if Governor LePage is eventually impeached for his abuse of authority, the fact is, his punishment will really be caused by his inability to fix Maine's economy.  

As a matter of fact, the governor's brashness, bluntness, or even his abrasive and rude abuse of authority are not the root of his political turmoil. Rather, Governor LePage is a victim of ineptness. He hasn't delivered on improving Maine's economy. Evidently, he has now run out of time and his clout has evaporated into political acrimony. In fact, LePage has passed the point of no return. Although Maine is stuck with the governor for about 3 more years, unless he is impeached or resigns, his term is essentially over.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Maine Governor Paul LePage and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Maine's Governor LePage

Maine's Governor Paul LePage and the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are like dysfunctional bookends. 

Of course, if the two Republicans were really bookends, we could put both of them in a drawer or behind a pile of files, so they would be out of harm's way. Nevertheless, both LePage and Christie apparently thrive on creating controversy.

If Lepage and Christie were a vaudeville act, they'd be like Alphonse and Gaston, both trying to enter the political arena through the same door. Obviously, the two men can hardly fit in the same back seat of a car, never mind make a political entrance through the same door.  
Gov. Chris Christie with his nemesis "Bridgegate"

Both men are in over their heads with political controversy.  

Nevertheless, in fancifully political delusional thinking, each believes there's enough political capital to support their ambitious goals. 

Christie wants to be President of the United States.  Oh paaaaleeeze..!! electing a Macy's parade balloon. Bridgegate, the George Washington Bridge traffic jam controversy, will follow
Christie, like the dust hanging over the Charlie Brown "Pig Pen" character.

On the other hand, LePage wants to run the state of Maine like he's a dictator. His tyrannical gubernatorial behavior continues to upstage his entire administration.  Governor LePage is the prototype for Humpty Dumpty.  His behavior exemplifies the last line of the rhyme.  "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put LePage together again."

New Jersey has Macy's parade balloon and a prophetic nursery rhyme is leading Maine. These political bookends really should be sold off in a yard sale.

Nevertheless, Maine is now at a political crossroads. The legislature has joined in an unprecedented decision to slam dunk the state's budget, proposed by Governor Paul LePage. 

Rather than debate the governor's tax reform and budget, the state's legislature decided to write its own version of the budget. When the governor vetoed 64 line items in the legislature's budget, it caused both the House and the Senate to quickly override every veto. As a result, the governor then vetoed the entire budget.  No problem!  Today June 30, the Maine legislature voted to override the governor's veto, again. 

“When you’re sitting there poking the yes button every 15 seconds to override 128 vetoes, it’s hard to feel like you’re contributing a lot to moving the state forward,” said State Senator Roger J. Katz, a Republican (from Augusta) who has been an occasional LePage ally, but more often a critic. “The atmosphere here is one of depression,” he said.

Moreover, Maine's governor used his executive power to systematically fire a litany of state officials, without apparent cause. 

Now, the Maine legislature is considering actions to fire the governor by launching impeachment proceedings.
This political acrimony is totally unprecedented for Maine. In fact, Maine's Governor LePage doesn't "get" that his behavior has now passed the point of no return. He's a political Humpty Dumpty.

Governor Christie is no better off.  Unbelievably, Christie thinks he's qualified to be president of the United States!  What he doesn't get is that his support for LePage, during the governor's Maine re-election campaign, put him into bad company. It's like your mother told you, when your high school friends caused trouble. "Be careful who your friends are...."  Governor LePage and Governor Christie are bad company.  Stay away from their cafeteria lunch table.   

The New York Times Reports:
AUGUSTA, Me. — When Paul R. LePage, Maine’s combative governor, was seeking re-election last year, he told voters that his days of intemperate remarks were over. At a debate, Mr. LePage, who is of French descent, memorably said: “Even a Frenchman can be taught to cool down.”

And he can apparently heat up again, too.

In the last few weeks, Mr. LePage’s pugnaciousness has surprised even his critics, and prompted some to raise the specter of impeachment.

In a standoff that began with differences over tax policy, Mr. LePage has alienated just about the entire Legislature, including his fellow Republicans and erstwhile allies. He has called them names and gone on a veto spree, canceling a record number of bills in a flurry that would rival any Maine blizzard; in turn, the Legislature has responded with an override spree, reviving many bills unanimously.

On Monday, Mr. LePage is expected to veto the $6.7 billion, two-year state budget; the Legislature will return Tuesday, when it is expected to override the veto.

But the governmental dysfunction has become a sideshow to an even bigger controversy over Mr. LePage’s actions regarding a charter school for at-risk youths. The school had hired Mark Eves, the Democratic speaker of the House and a LePage foe, as its next president, starting Wednesday. Mr. LePage said Mr. Eves was unfit to lead the school, and threatened to withhold more than $500,000 in annual state money unless the hiring was rescinded; the school, a nonprofit fearing the loss could threaten private matching funds and lead to its closing, did so.

Mr. Eves accused the governor of blackmailing the school and threatened to sue him.

The governor’s actions have infuriated many who say he overstepped his executive authority; a group of Democrats and independents in the Legislature is researching how and whether to impeach him. Democratic leaders are taking a cautious approach, but have said nothing is off the table. An anti-LePage rally is being planned here for noon on Tuesday.

“Things have gone way off the rails, and there’s a real question about whether he’s fit to govern,” said Phil Bartlett, chairman of the state Democratic Party. “I support legislators getting to the bottom of this and making sure there’s accountability.”

Lawmakers say they are exhausted and frustrated.

For one thing, Maine’s problems, like its lagging economy, are not being addressed.

Mr. LePage declined an interview request. But Rick Bennett, chairman of the state Republican Party, defended the governor as a change agent, someone who provided “a disruptive energy,” in a good way, and who had “shaken Augusta to its roots.”

“He doesn’t have a lot of patience for people who don’t see the urgency for reform that he does,” said Mr. Bennett, who described the atmosphere as “acrid.”

The animosity dismays many who are proud of Maine’s tradition of civility and bipartisanship.

“Right now, we have an absurd, vitriolic, vindictive state of affairs,” said Amy Fried, a political scientist at the University of Maine.

Mr. LePage was emboldened by his election in November to a second term. While he failed to win a majority, he exceeded expectations by winning 48 percent of the vote, five percentage points ahead of his Democratic challenger. Republicans also recaptured control of the Senate, with 20 of 35 seats, and trimmed the Democratic majority in the House to 78-68 (with five independents).

“The governor could claim a mandate and had a tremendous amount of political capital, but in the last six months it has seemingly slipped away,” Mr. Katz said.

The problems began with Mr. LePage’s desire to eliminate the income tax by increasing and broadening the sales tax. 

But, he failed to engage his own party in advance, and Republican legislators balked.

Among them was Senator Tom Saviello. “The governor is a businessman, a former C.E.O. whose method is to do what he wants,” Mr. Saviello said of Mr. LePage, who was the general manager of a 14-store discount chain. “But I have to figure out what’s best for the people of Franklin County.”

Mr. LePage also has refused to release money for bond issues approved by voters. And he declared that he would veto every bill sponsored by a Democrat until Democrats supported his proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate Maine’s income tax. Democrats said the governor had no plan for filling the $1.7 billion hole that eliminating the income tax would create.

In mid-June, after the Legislature passed a budget that did not include his tax-cut proposals, the governor showed off a Christmas tree outside his office. It was adorned with the pictures of legislators he said had loaded up the budget with wasteful spending projects, often called pork. He produced a pink plastic pig and squeaked it.

And he extended his veto threat to include any bill sponsored by Republicans, saying they had conspired with Democrats to pass the budget.

“I want to show that for five months they wasted our time, and this time I’m going to waste a little of their time,” said Mr. LePage, who went on to veto 64 line items in the budget.

Mr. Bennett, the Republican Party chairman, said Mr. LePage felt justified in taking these steps because the budget “didn’t reflect the reason he got re-elected.”

The effect has been to unify the Republicans and Democrats.

“Right now, the Legislature is united in lock step and opposed to the governor,” said Mark Brewer, a political scientist at the University of Maine. “They view this as an institutional fight rather than a partisan fight.”

All of this set the stage for the fury that erupted last week when Mr. LePage threatened to halt state financing to the Good Will-Hinckley charter school if it allowed Mr. Eves to become its president.

“Speaker Eves has been an ardent foe of charter schools for his entire political career; then he turns around and gets hired to run a charter school — whose board is chaired by Eves’s own State House employee — for a cushy job worth about $150,000 in total compensation,” Mr. LePage said in a statement explaining his actions.

The school said in response that the board chairman to whom the governor referred does not serve on the board that had hiring authority and had recused himself “from any even tangential involvement in considering Speaker Eves’s application.” 

It said the school conducted a rigorous national search for a new president and that the votes of its board of directors in hiring Mr. Eves were unanimous.

Mr. Bennett said that the governor had discretion over the use of the money in question and that he was well within his legal rights to withhold it.

Representative Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent, was among those who began researching impeachment proceedings last week on the grounds of abuse of authority, misuse of assets and unbecoming conduct.

“You can’t leverage state assets to intimidate a private entity,” he said.

The state’s biggest newspaper, The Portland Press Herald, has called for a House investigation of the Eves affair and said that, unless new information emerged justifying the governor’s action, he should be impeached and tried by the Senate.

So far, more than a dozen independents and Democrats have joined the impeachment effort, Mr. Evangelos said, but many more are holding back.

Mr. Katz, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, said on Friday that he expected the committee and the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability to begin an investigation of the episode.

He added with a sigh: “Summer can’t come soon enough.”
Correction: June 30, 2015

An article on Monday about the conflict between the governor of Maine and the State Legislature misstated, in some editions, the amount of a budget shortfall that Democratic lawmakers say would be created by a plan to eliminate the state income tax. It is $1.7 billion, not $1.7 million.

Governor LePage and Governor Christie are political bookends. 
Americans who want to know what kind of a US president Governor Christie would be should take a look at Maine. Both men are political failures.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

News about Puerto Rico must be more relevant than Greece - who knew?

Just how big a deal is this?

It seems to me, the US Stock Market uses the debt crises in Greece as a crutch, on which to blame the fluctuations in the market. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about Greece. In my opinion, Greece is irrelevant. Nevertheless, Wall Street investors will use anything to liquidate their assets.

However! Puerto Rico is relevant. Puerto Rico is a US territory and this island colony, says the Christian Science Monitor, is also in big fiscal trouble!  

Wow, So, while the main stream news is immersed in the Greece debt story, our US-Puerto Rico problem is looming on the USA's back door.

In my opinion, our US stock market fluctuations are easier to understand if they somehow relate to Puerto Rico's fiscal crises, than the volatility attributed to Greece.

Puerto Rico’s governor says that the territory’s $72 billion in public debt is unpayable (OMG!and that large-scale restructuring of the debt is required.

"There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math," Gov. Alejandro García Padilla told The New York Times.

The comments by the island’s chief executive came as a report was released Monday about Puerto Rico’s economy, laying out a grim picture of the island’s financial health. The report suggests, among other things, debt restructuring through bond exchanges.

No US state has had a large-scale debt restructuring of this type in recent memory. "There is no U.S. precedent for anything of this scale or scope," according to the report, whose lead author is Anne Krueger, a former chief economist at the World Bank.
While the debt restructuring would be unprecedented, some analysts are taking a measured approach to the situation.

Jose Villamil, a former United Nations consultant and CEO of an economic and planning consulting firm, says he believes that the news will have only a limited effect on financial markets, because it has been known for some time that Puerto Rico has been heading for debt restructuring or default.

"The last four administrations have kicked the can down the road," Mr. Villamil told theAssociated Press.
But the situation is now critical. "At this point, there is no more can to kick. So we're going to take some very strict measures and some very profound measures. It's going to hurt, but there's no way out," Villamil said, according to AP.

News of the crisis comes amid the high-profile economic challenges of Greece. That country’s government is scrambling to prevent a financial collapse.

In the United States in the past decade, a number of municipalities have defaulted – most notably Detroit in 2013. But even in comparison with Detroit, which holds the record for the largest US municipal bankruptcy, Puerto Rico has debt that is staggering. Its bonds have a face value roughly eight times that of Detroit’s bonds.

In his interview with the Times, Governor García Padilla said Puerto Rico would seek concessions from possibly all its creditors, which could take the form of debt deferments or extensions of payment timetables. He called on creditors to "share the sacrifices" of the island’s residents, who have shouldered some of the burden through tax increases.

Additionally challenging for Puerto Ricans, the island's constitution puts its commitment to pay creditors over all other concerns, including pension payments.

"This is a daunting agenda politically, legally, and organizationally," the so-called Krueger report states. "It is also an urgent one: the government’s cash balances can evaporate in the face of delays, reducing the room for maneuver and intensifying the crisis."

Puerto Rico’s problems started in the mid-2000s, when a federal tax subsidy for manufacturing on the island expired, leading to an exodus of employers and workers for the mainland.

Beset with issues like unemployment and revenue shortfalls, the government took to borrowing to balance the budget, until Puerto Rico’s credit level was downgraded to junk status last year. In 2000, its debt was about 63 percent of gross national product, whereas this year, it is projected to be 100 percent of GNP, according to the Krueger report.

In a further challenge, Puerto Rico cannot legally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection under US rules. The Kruger report looks to the federal government for help in dealing with this particular issue, calling on Congress to lift the exclusion of the island from the nation’s bankruptcy code.

(In my opinion, when Americans routinely become agitated about the needy number of people who, unfortunately, need income assistance, they should, instead, they should, rather, look to the problem of Puerto Rico.  I've maintained for decades- to no avail......the US must sell Puerto Rico! Do I hear a bid....?)

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

California vaccination legislation - protects public from infectious disease

California is a big state where the population is so diverse it could easily be an independent nation. 

Therefore, with so many transient, migrant and tourist communities, it makes sense to protect everyone from the risk of becoming ill from vaccine preventable diseases like polio, measles, influenza, chicken pox, pertussis (whooping cough) and mumps, to name a few.  Although libertarians and "anti-vaxxers" created an anti-vaccine fear conspiracy movement, the reality is that vaccines protect the public from contacting epidemic causing diseases. 

That's fact.  

Now, California's legislature has passed the nation's most comprehensive vaccination legislation in the nation.

Nevertheless, the anti vaccination movement continues to raise fear while the cause and effect of their unscientific response to vaccines is completely unfounded.  Meanwhile, vaccines continue to save lives.  Wouldn't it be ironic to see third world developing countries with healthier populations than the US, because they're more likely to implement effective vaccine distribution policies?  

California tightens vaccination exemptions for kids: how parents see it  (in my opinion, this article does not interview immigrant families).

California is moving to require that all children be vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption. Some parents say it's necessary, some say it's a violation of their rights. But there might be compromises that work.

By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Staff writer JUNE 26, 2015

A bill in California that requires children in schools and daycare to be immunized, even if parents have religious or philosophical objections, passed in the state Assembly Thursday and the question now is whether Gov. Jerry Brown will sign it.

The much-debated bill would make California only the third state to offer parents only medical exemptions for required vaccinations. It grew out of concerns among health professionals and advocates that some relatively large pockets of unvaccinated children were putting the most vulnerable children at greater risk for communicable diseases.

Forty-seven other states offer medical and religious exemptions, and about 21 states add a philosophical-objection category, says Mark Largent, a professor at Michigan State University.
Medical exemptions are generally thought to be necessary for up to 1 percent of the population. 

So if California’s law goes through, what kinds of choices might parents find themselves having to make if they have religious or other objections, or if they want to spread out the vaccinations in a way that differs from the recommended schedule? And are there other options for states that want to raise their rate of childhood immunization?

"There is a segment of the population who will pull their kids out from the eyes of public health officials in states with the strictest laws, by home schools", says professor Largent, author of a book on the vaccine debates.

Homeschooling may be an option for some families. But for most single parents and even in some two-parent families, that’s either not financially feasible or not something they feel well-equipped to take on. That unfairness is a potential unintended consequence of the bill in California, Largent says.

“This can price people out of the ability to make decision for their child,” he says.

The view from Mississippi

But it’s not as simple as making parents choose whether to home school or not, say some parents in Mississippi who have lobbied for more flexibility in their state’s strict law.

Some whose pediatricians agree they should get a medical exemption have struggled to get such requests approved by state health officials.

“We have an 80-acre farm and we almost had to sell and uproot from two sets of grandparents,” says MaryJo Perry, who had pediatrician letters of support but still dealt with red tape for five years before she finally got a permanent exemption for her son, who had a seizure after an immunization when he was 5.

Active with the group Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights, Ms. Perry has collected dozens of comments from families who say they’ve either left the state or refuse to move back even though they’d like to, because of the restrictive law.

“We’ve heard from parents whose doctors have said they are intimidated by the health department,” worried about pressure if they request too many medical exemptions, she says.

Parents have sometimes found it difficult to have their children accepted into a doctor’s practice, Perry says. She showed the Monitor a letter from one pediatric practice to a parent that explained consequences if they don’t get their child vaccinated, including the possibility of death, and read in part, “Should you refuse to vaccinate your children according to the [American Academy of Pediatrics] schedule, we will ask you to find another health care provider who shares your views.”

And religious families, including Christian Scientists, say they prayerfully consider every step they take for their child’s health care. Some have written testimonials about having to go against their deepest convictions in order to enroll their children in school.

“With my hand shaking, I signed the consent, and helped restrain my 6 year old daughter so that they could inject her with this vaccine. Clearly, our religious liberties were violated by the State of Mississippi,” wrote Amy Martin of Brandon, Miss.
The view from California

Advocates for Mississippi-style laws counter that offering non-medical exemptions would mean lower overall immunization rates and put more children at risk.

“We’re in crisis. We have children dying from communicable disease in California,” says Leah Russin, who helped start Vaccinate California, a group of volunteers supporting the proposed law, SB277.

Ms. Russin became concerned when her now 21-month-old was an infant and there was a whooping cough outbreak in her area. A mother in her playgroup had not immunized her child, who was about eight months old, and she had whooping cough, prompting Russin to believe that she may have exposed younger children to it.

That mother’s opposition to vaccination, in Russin’s view, was not based in the scientific consensus, but rather on Internet blogs full of anecdotes and opinions that the risks of vaccines are higher than the risks of the diseases they are meant to ward off.

“I started seeing that type of pattern – educated mothers disregarding, distrusting, eschewing science,” she says. She can see why some mothers object to the proposed law because, if they believe vaccines are toxic or may cause terrible side effects, the option of vaccinate or home school “is a horrible choice.” But ultimately, she says, the law should “protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us and protect the community at large.”

Many people point to Mississippi as an example because upon entering kindergarten, more than 99 percent of students are immunized. At younger ages, the state also ranks in the top 10 for immunization rates. Those rates are great, Largent says, “but it’s not just the law that is getting kids vaccinated. It’s significant funding” for Mississippi’s vaccination efforts.

If California passes a similar law but doesn’t invest in other improvements to vaccine accessibility and education of parents, it won’t necessarily raise the rates as much as advocates hope, he says.

A third way

There is another way. A number of states, including Michigan, have been tightening their exemption policies. As families get ready to go back to school in Michigan this year, they will have to sit through several education sessions if they want a vaccination waiver, instead of simply printing out a form and handing it in at school.

That policy shift is expected to cut the number of parents who get waivers by 30 to 50 percent, Largent says.

“We can use softer coercion methods and have warmer and more cooperative relationships between health care providers and parents…. I think that will lead to more people being vaccinated, but it’s harder. It requires continued investment and effort.”

Nationally, the waiver rate is at record highs, ranging from about 1 percent to 6 percent, and the rate of kids being fully compliant with vaccine requirements is also at record highs, ranging from 68 to 82 percent, Largent says.

“Over the past 10 years we’ve gotten better at compelling parents to make a choice between getting a waiver or getting their children fully vaccinated. That’s a tremendous public health victory,” he says.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

President Obama is now a proud member of his race

President Obama was raised on Hawaii by middle class white people.  He is half Negro and half Caucasian.  Today, at the funeral of his friend Clementa Pickney, President Obama has finally identified himself with his father's Negro heritage. 

Today, June 25, 2015, President Obama joined the Charleston community, as one of the congregation, when he eulogized their martyred Pastor Clementa Pickney, at the funeral with a packed congregation, in South Carolina.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney was carried through the streets of Columbia, South Carolina

Nine victims of the shooting were: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59.  Eight of the victims died at the scene, and the ninth victim died at a hospital.  

In a startling response to the murders, the families of the fallen, in an astounding act, responded by expressing forgiveness to the alleged killer, a 21 year old professed racist named Dylann Roof.  

President Obama knew the highest profile victim of the Charleston shooting personally.

Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama delivered a touching eulogy, a rousing political speech and a thoughtful meditation on race in America, when he traveled to Charleston, South Carolina on Friday to speak at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was gunned down last week by a racist terrorist during Bible study.

But the President's speech will be remembered for a moment at the end when he launched into a solo of "Amazing Grace," that at first stunned the mourners and then brought them to their feet as they joined him in song.

Obama's speech moved beyond just grief for the victims -- the President stepped directly into a national conversation about race in which he plays a central role.

He declared the Confederate flag a symbol of racial oppression, and praised the renewed urgency in removing it from the South Carolina State Capitol. (In my opinion, the red rag Dixie flag should have been removed before the victims' funerals.)

President Obama rightly explained: "Removing the flag from this state's capital would not be an act of political correctness," he said. "It would not an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong."

Although President Obama was raised by his Caucasian family, his eulogy for his friend Reverend Pinckney, in Charleston, finally brought him face to face with his proud heritage as a Negro, who's father was Ghanaian.

Perhaps today, in Charleston South Carolina, became the day in history when President Barack Hussein Obama finally became America's first Negro president of the United States.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Conservative Chief Justice Roberts has obviously read the Affordable Care Act - ACA

Congress supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA), when it passed, because it provided support for all Americans who wanted to afford to buy access to health insurance.  

Now, with the passing of the ACA law by Congress in 2010, and after two Supreme Court rulings upholding its Constitutionality, there's simply nothing left to fight about.  

Dear Justice Antonin Scalia (he's the Court's acrimonious dissenter) need to read the Affordable Care Act as though you don't have any insurance coverage.  

Republicans are acting furious because of today's Supreme Court ruling. In fact, the Justice Roberts court continued to uphold the ACA, in their June 24 ruling to protect the insurance subsidies. Nevertheless, Republicans haven't provided any alternative to cover the cost of providing health care. 

Instead, Republicans have favored insurance companies' profits over affordability of coverage.  

In the absence of an alternative insurance plan, the Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land. Republicans who oppose the ACA must find another incendiary issue to rally their right wing zealots who harbor a wrong minded mistrust of government (without cause).  "After 50 (IMO wasteful!) votes in Congress to repeal this law....." and two Supreme Court rulings, the law is here to stay.

Those on the loosing side of this argument before the Supreme Court, who were the opponents of the ACA, have yet to put forward an alternative plan.  It makes no sense for Representative John Boehner to tell Americans that the Affordable Care Act is broken, while he never offers an alternative.

It's difficult to understand how Republicans can criticize the Affordable Care Act without providing any alternative. Likewise, it's idiotic for Republicans to complain about the subsidies offered to those who want to pay for health insurance when the entire concept is based on free market insurance coverage to pay for the benefits.

Thankfully, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts really read the Affordable Care Act. He demonstrated an understanding about the important intent of the law....which means Americans can continue to access affordable health care insurance.

Let's stop wasting American tax money to unsuccessfully undermine a law that's clearly benefiting many millions of people.

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