Serious News Stories

Dog and Cat Food Recall

On the off chance anyone reads this, and has dogs or cats to whom they feed "wet" food, there has been a major recall of Iams and Eukanuba products. The source of the illness is not clear, but purchases from Kroger, Safeway, Wal-Mart, and PetSmart were affected. Read more about it from CNN:

Pet Food Recall

Heart Attack Fatalities More Likely on the Weekend

In news that surprises no one, people are more likely to die of a heart attack on the weekend. Surprised? And it's not just because Bubba McFatty's blood pump couldn't handle the stress of his home team's double OT loss as he stuffed himself with the KFC value meal. No, the real reason Bubba McFatty is more likely to die is because doctors like having their weekends off too. And, contrary to popular opinion, doctors are real people too. It takes longer to get cathed, the hospital is running with a lighter staff so the waits are longer, etc. So please, try not to have a heart attack on the weekend. You might die.

Weekend Heart Attacks

More Homeowners Defaulting on Mortgages

The New York Times has an article today about how more homeowners are defaulting on their loans. Per the Times,

"Industry experts and officials believe the current rise in default rates is a function of looser lending practices by mortgage companies in the last few years and the end of the housing boom last year, rather than the more traditional economic weakness that drove up defaults in the past.

As sales fell, the number of homes on the market rose and home prices began to weaken last year, borrowers had a harder time selling or refinancing their properties. Some, though experts say it is hard to say exactly how many, probably also experienced payment shock from the resetting of adjustable rate mortgages."

Mortgage Default

Mortgage Aid

Here's an interesting story about a program in North Carolina designed to help government workers buy their first home. It's a great idea, and obviously the woman quoted in this article is overjoyed. I do wonder, however, why there is such an emphasis on government workers and not on people who might be more financially underprivileged. For example, government workers who make up to 65k would qualify for this plan. First Home Mortgages, on the other hand, sounds like a great idea and they cover all citizens with low income. Perhaps with the recent increase in mortgage defaults, home prices will continue to drop and citizens with low income (but good credit) will able to fulfill their dreams of owning a home.

Check it out at Mortgage Aid Efforts

Doobie Doobie Dubai

In the "your tax dollars at work" department, Halliburton today announced they will be moving their headquarters from Houston to Dubai, UAE. Halliburton, well known for winning an astonishing number of no-bid contracts from the U.S. government, reported a 40% decrease in profits this last quarter. But they're still rich enough to move to Dubai, where they'll enjoy a large break on taxes. Wait, they had that in Houston. So why Dubai? The climate man, the climate.

Doobie Doobie Dubai

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What's the highest BMI you've heard of?

How about 137? This woman, Renee Williams, had a BMI of 137. 137! I suppose it's no surprise she had a post-surgical heart attack and died. When someone lets themself get to 800+ lbs, there's not a lot anyone can do for them, surgeons or otherwise. I watched a documentary a few weeks ago about people like her, I think it was called something like "I am eating myself to death". Anyhow, the thing that struck me was that none of these people went out of their homes (obviously, they wouldn't fit through the door) and thus relied on other people to bring them their food. Stop! Easy solution. Family members, friends, delivery people, stop feeding these people. Especially in the case of the family members. They would complain about the weight of their son/daughter/brother/sister but continue serving up great heaping piles of calories. None of them seemed familiar with the term enabler.

RIP Renee Williams

Scooter Libby found guilty on 4 of 5 counts

Just announced:

Found guilty of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury. Ouch. Sentencing to be announced June 15th.

More details at www.cnn.com.

Max sentences of 25 years in prison and variously being reported 1 to 1.5 million in fines. According to most pundits, it's unlikely that Libby will see anything close to those numbers.

One must question (in hindsight now) the decisions to not have Libby or Vice President Cheney take the stand in the defense's case. I can't say I'm broken up about this though...

MIT online classes

(unless the server crashes)

Here's some pretty cool news. MIT has unveiled plans to make their entire curriculum online by the end of the year. Over 1800 courses (so far they're a bit over 1500).

Per the article from the CSM via CBS, "The MIT site, along with companion sites that translate the material into other languages, now average about 1.4 million visits per month from learners "in every single country on the planet," Ms. Margulies says. Those include Iraq, Darfur, "even Antarctica," she says. "We hear from [the online students] all the time with inspirational stories about how they are using these materials to change their lives. They're really, really motivated."

MIT Education Online.

News Article.

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On a More Serious Note

How messed up is health care in America? Pretty damned messed up, I'd say. Check out this story about an inner city kid who died from a toothache that developed into a brain abscess. Now, universal healthcare, socialized medicine and all that is a sticky situation. There's no guarantee that this child would have been saved in another country with universal coverage where it can take months to get an appointment. But presumably, somewhere along the line, some DDS, MD, DO etc...someone would have realized that this kid was in trouble. By the time they did, it was too late.

More irony: this ended up costing about $250,000 all of which could have been better spent on preventative medicine. And as an added bonus, the kid would still be alive. I do believe investing in preventative medicine is a sound investment and would actually help us get out of the current morass our health care system finds itself in.

Read the article about the toothache here.

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