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Posted by on Jun 24, 2010 in Breaking News, Economy, Health, International, Law, Places, Politics, Science & Technology, Society | 0 comments

Postcards From Blogtopia

Alison Kilkenny makes a discovery:

Huh. Here I was, thinking the only way to stop nations from unloading their cargo is to murder nine people, wound dozens, and imprison hundreds more. Turns out, you can do it in a totally peaceful manner.

Oil from the ongoing Gulf Coast disaster has already reached the beaches of Pensacola, and is on schedule to enter the Atlantic Ocean within the next six months. The exact timetable depends on the behavior of an eddy that has broken off of the Loop Current off the coast of Florida:

The Loop Current circulates clockwise off the southwestern coast of Florida. About once or twice a year, it pinches off an eddy that either wanders around the gulf before dying out, or eventually reattaches with the main Loop Current.

The unusual thing about the Loop Current this year, Peacock says, is that it was located much more to the south and east than usual when it pinched off its new eddy. Eddies have popped off in this location twice before in recent years, she says. One of those times the eddy wandered to the west, toward Texas, before dissipating. The other time it reattached with the Loop.

Where the new eddy goes will strongly influence exactly where the oil ends up, she says. When it does reach the Atlantic, she notes, the oil will not necessarily wash ashore on beaches in a goopy mess. The oil might stay far out to sea, or be extremely diluted by the time it gets to the Atlantic.

One of the many species that is threatened by the oil mass is the Atlantic bluefin tuna, for which the Gulf waters are an important breeding ground. Commercial overfishing has already brought the global bluefin tuna population to the brink of extinction. Now, the oiled-up Gulf of Mexico might finish the job.

The United States once again has come in first on health care costs and last on health care quality, compared to the six other G7 nations:

The U.S. health system is the most expensive in the world, but comparative analyses consistently show the United States underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. This report, which includes information from the most recent three Commonwealth Fund surveys of patients and primary care physicians about medical practices and views of their countries’ health systems (2007–2009), confirms findings discussed in previous editions of Mirror, Mirror. It also includes information on health care outcomes that were featured in the most recent (2008) U.S. health system scorecard issued by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

Among the seven nations studied—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last overall, as it did in the 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity. The Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the U.K. and Australia. The 2010 edition includes data from the seven countries and incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences and ratings on various dimensions of care.

This is why limiting expanded health insurance coverage to U.S. citizens is such a stupid policy idea:

After the deaths of five infants, California health authorities declared an epidemic of whooping cough in the state on Wednesday, urging residents — particularly those of Latino background — to get vaccinated against the disease.

The announcement came after authorities noticed a sharp spike in reports of pertussis, the scientific name for whooping cough, which often is mistaken for a cold or the flu and is highly contagious. All told, 910 cases have been confirmed, with several hundred more under investigation. If the pace keeps up, the outbreak could be the largest in the state in 50 years, the California Department of Public Health reported.

Dr. Gilberto Chavez, the deputy director of the department’s Center for Infectious Disease, said health officials had seen a fourfold increase compared with 2009. And the worst may be to come.
[…]
Dr. Chavez said that lack of information and inoculations in agricultural regions in the state’s Central Valley — home to many Latino farm workers — might be a culprit in the high incidence in that community. And indeed, Fresno County — in the heart of the valley — has the highest number of cases in the state, with 72 reported in May alone.

John “I never met a war I didn’t like” McCain plans to use Gen. Petraeus’s confirmation hearings to push against Pres. Obama’s withdrawal timeline plan.