May 25, 2012 |
Every day, about 3,800 American kids try a cigarette for the first time. A thousand of them will grow up to to have a daily smoking habit, and nearly 300 will wind up dead due to a smoking-related disease. Those statistics would be depressing under any circumstances. But they are all the more so considering that states and the federal government collect billions of dollars every year in cigarette taxes and funds from the 1998 tobacco industry settlements. In 2010, that added up to almost $24 billion, according to a study in Friday's edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. And how much of that $24 billion was used to fund tobacco prevention programs, smoking cessation services and other public health interventions?
February 7, 2012 |
The Texas attorney general has reached an agreement with some minority groups on a plan aimed at resolving a stalemate over redistricting and minority representation in the state. At least seven minority groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, known as MALDEF, agreed to the plan that they said minimized changes to the original redistricting maps drafted by the state's Republican-run Legislature. Those maps were tossed out last year by a panel of federal judges, who ruled that the congressional and legislative district boundaries did not reflect the growth of the Latino population.
November 3, 2011 |
Republicans usually enter a presidential campaign with a built-in advantage on at least one issue: national security. Historically, voters trust the GOP to be tougher than Democrats on defense and foreign policy. Not this time. President Obama has robbed the Republican Party of its usual foreign policy edge, thanks to his surprisingly enthusiastic prosecution of the war against terrorism. The death of Osama bin Laden in May didn't give Obama much of a bump in opinion polls overall; unluckily for the president, the economy is still the overriding issue in voters' minds.
September 9, 2011 |
You can almost understand Republican lawmakers standing firm on matters of economic stimulus and debt reduction. Whether or not you agree with their positions, at least it can be argued that they're guided by good-old-fashioned conservative ideology. But when it comes to consumer protection, the Republicans are merely pandering to their deep-pocketed corporate cronies and opposing anything President Obama supports, no matter how reasonable or meritorious it may be. This week's confirmation hearing for Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made clear that the GOP won't help beleaguered consumers until it's ensured that the new watchdog agency is more bark than bite.
January 11, 2011 |
In Mike Leigh's "Another Year," Ruth Sheen plays Gerri, a compassionate therapist/mom/wife whose household flows with cheer, food and wine. But toward the end of the film, lonely colleague Mary steps out of line by flirting with Gerri's (much younger) son, then snipes at his new girlfriend. Gerri gives her a quiet but searing what-for. The reaction to that scene has surprised Sheen. "Lots of people have said to me they thought Gerri was very unkind to Mary ? because Mary was, in a sense, pathetic ?
December 12, 2010 |
Some of the world's most glaring health problems affecting impoverished girls and women are also some of the easiest to address. The fact that we consistently fail to do so is puzzling. Take female genital schistosomiasis. This infection, caused by a parasitic worm, affects at least 200 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and in as many as 50 million African women, schistosomiasis produces ghastly and acutely painful ulcers of the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract. Women who suffer from the disease are stigmatized, and they are often socially isolated and depressed.