Sunday, 05 July 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Mar 18

The Theory of "Herd Immunity"

By Marco Caceres, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Because of the recent outbreaks of measles in the United States and the re-energized public debate about vaccines and vaccination policy, we're again starting to hear references to the theory of "herd immunity." The theory is the foundation for the mass vaccination campaigns around the world. It currently stipulates that in order to provideimmunity to a population against contagious diseases like measles you must vaccinate at least 95% of the population. Theoretically-speaking, with a vaccination rate of 95%, the diseases should be eradicated.

In an epidemiological review paper titled "Herd Immunity: History, Theory, Practice," written by Paul E. M. Fine and published in 1993, the author notes that the first "published use" of the term herd immunity "appears to have been" in a paper titled "The spread of bacterial infection: the problem of herd immunity," written by W. W. C. Topley and G. S. Wilson and published in 1923. From Fine's paper, it seems that the theory of herdimmunity was originally developed based on some observations with mice and some "simple mathematical formulations," but the paper is unclear about whether the theory was ever validated through some of sort scientific peer review process - as is commonly the case with theories that eventually come to be widely accepted as "proven science."

"Medicine Lake is a sacred place and it needs to be protected at all costs," said Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill. "We're trying to preserve our culture and Medicine Lake is part of the beginning of our people. If we allow these corporations to come in and frack, we could lose that chance to bring back that part of our culture. So we're asking the Calpine Corporation to step back and leave the Medicine Lake Highlands alone." 

On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration. 

House of Cards presents a hidden agenda against social security. President Frank Underwood says "entitlements" are killing the country - and everyone watching House of Cards takes his words as fact. And besides, if it weren't for social security, our streets would be littered with elderly people. 

Having looked in the last two posts at access and affordable costs of care five years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we now examine its impact on quality of care, the third leg of the stool that defines the structure and performance of a health care system.

The ACA took several initiatives to improve quality of care, most importantly by expanding access to care through subsidizing insurance through the exchanges and expanding Medicaid in those states that participated. Other initiatives include providing preventive services without cost-sharing, pay-for-performance (P4P) changes, accountable care organizations, expanded use of electronic health records, and establishing the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Let's look at what each has accomplished.

Thousands of trade unionists and seventy-five local and national unions participated in the Peoples Climate March in New York in September — a quantum leap from any previous labor participation in climate action. Climate protection has become a critical concern for many in organized labor. Conversely, cooperation with organized labor has become a critical need for the climate protection movement. Yet organized labor can be difficult and confusing for climate protection advocates — and even for union members themselves — to navigate.

Little Rock, Arkansas - Arkansas House Rep. Mark Lowery has introduced a bill that would protect employers engaged in fraudulent, abusive and illegal practices. HB1774 would make it illegal to record any "oral communications" if the recording party is in an employment relationship with the other party, unless all parties have granted consent.

This would stifle the ability of employees who are victims of harassment or forced to work in unsafe conditions, or those who uncover fraudulent activity that the state of Arkansas has sought to protect with its existing Whistleblower Protection Act. Brought to committee the same day it was introduced, this bill is on the fast track in the Arkansas House.

There have been a couple of recent attacks on U.S. Right to Know, so I thought it might be useful to sketch out who is behind them.

A March 9 article in the Guardian criticized us for sending Freedom of Information Act requests to uncover the connections between taxpayer-paid professors and the genetically engineered food industry's PR machine. All three of the article's authors are former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But the article failed to disclose their financial ties.

On February 21, 2015, Christina Tobin, founder and chair of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, interviewed historic Civil Rights leader, Amelia Boynton Robinson. In this earth shattering interview, Amelia leads a discussion that sheds vivid and intimate knowledge of an era largely characterized by struggle, perseverance, and bold leadership in the face of tyranny: the American Civil Rights Movement. Amelia's resiliency is magnified by her ability to articulate key moments in history with absolute conviction, honor, and self-awareness.

Christina engages Amelia on many powerful and emotional topics that span Amelia's beautiful 103 years of life. The interview begins with a brief introduction of Amelia's landmark accomplishments.

Oakland, CA - Every spring for the last fifteen years, the World Bank has organized the "Conference onLand and Poverty," which brings together corporations, governments and civil society groups. The aim is ostensibly to discuss how to "improve land governance."

Whereas the 16th conference will take place in Washington D.C. from March 23 to 27, hundreds of civilsociety organizations are denouncing the World Bank's role in global land grabs and its deceitful leadership on land issues.

Mar 16

We Need More President Borens

By Michelle Buggs, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Empathy. Understanding. Decisiveness. These are a few of the terms evoked by the leadership of University of Oklahoma President David Boren in his swift action to reject and correct the racist behaviors put on display by that campus' now-former chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

At a time when it is so much easier to stand in the shadows, making excuses for racism or acting as if it isn't as acute as it really is in the United States, as polls show, Boren is appreciated not only for aiming directly at the perpetrators of a racist chant, but also those across the country who are misusing our right of free speech to cause even more damage in an already unstable racial climate.

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Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Mar 18

The Theory of "Herd Immunity"

By Marco Caceres, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Because of the recent outbreaks of measles in the United States and the re-energized public debate about vaccines and vaccination policy, we're again starting to hear references to the theory of "herd immunity." The theory is the foundation for the mass vaccination campaigns around the world. It currently stipulates that in order to provideimmunity to a population against contagious diseases like measles you must vaccinate at least 95% of the population. Theoretically-speaking, with a vaccination rate of 95%, the diseases should be eradicated.

In an epidemiological review paper titled "Herd Immunity: History, Theory, Practice," written by Paul E. M. Fine and published in 1993, the author notes that the first "published use" of the term herd immunity "appears to have been" in a paper titled "The spread of bacterial infection: the problem of herd immunity," written by W. W. C. Topley and G. S. Wilson and published in 1923. From Fine's paper, it seems that the theory of herdimmunity was originally developed based on some observations with mice and some "simple mathematical formulations," but the paper is unclear about whether the theory was ever validated through some of sort scientific peer review process - as is commonly the case with theories that eventually come to be widely accepted as "proven science."

"Medicine Lake is a sacred place and it needs to be protected at all costs," said Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill. "We're trying to preserve our culture and Medicine Lake is part of the beginning of our people. If we allow these corporations to come in and frack, we could lose that chance to bring back that part of our culture. So we're asking the Calpine Corporation to step back and leave the Medicine Lake Highlands alone." 

On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration. 

House of Cards presents a hidden agenda against social security. President Frank Underwood says "entitlements" are killing the country - and everyone watching House of Cards takes his words as fact. And besides, if it weren't for social security, our streets would be littered with elderly people. 

Having looked in the last two posts at access and affordable costs of care five years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we now examine its impact on quality of care, the third leg of the stool that defines the structure and performance of a health care system.

The ACA took several initiatives to improve quality of care, most importantly by expanding access to care through subsidizing insurance through the exchanges and expanding Medicaid in those states that participated. Other initiatives include providing preventive services without cost-sharing, pay-for-performance (P4P) changes, accountable care organizations, expanded use of electronic health records, and establishing the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Let's look at what each has accomplished.

Thousands of trade unionists and seventy-five local and national unions participated in the Peoples Climate March in New York in September — a quantum leap from any previous labor participation in climate action. Climate protection has become a critical concern for many in organized labor. Conversely, cooperation with organized labor has become a critical need for the climate protection movement. Yet organized labor can be difficult and confusing for climate protection advocates — and even for union members themselves — to navigate.

Little Rock, Arkansas - Arkansas House Rep. Mark Lowery has introduced a bill that would protect employers engaged in fraudulent, abusive and illegal practices. HB1774 would make it illegal to record any "oral communications" if the recording party is in an employment relationship with the other party, unless all parties have granted consent.

This would stifle the ability of employees who are victims of harassment or forced to work in unsafe conditions, or those who uncover fraudulent activity that the state of Arkansas has sought to protect with its existing Whistleblower Protection Act. Brought to committee the same day it was introduced, this bill is on the fast track in the Arkansas House.

There have been a couple of recent attacks on U.S. Right to Know, so I thought it might be useful to sketch out who is behind them.

A March 9 article in the Guardian criticized us for sending Freedom of Information Act requests to uncover the connections between taxpayer-paid professors and the genetically engineered food industry's PR machine. All three of the article's authors are former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But the article failed to disclose their financial ties.

On February 21, 2015, Christina Tobin, founder and chair of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, interviewed historic Civil Rights leader, Amelia Boynton Robinson. In this earth shattering interview, Amelia leads a discussion that sheds vivid and intimate knowledge of an era largely characterized by struggle, perseverance, and bold leadership in the face of tyranny: the American Civil Rights Movement. Amelia's resiliency is magnified by her ability to articulate key moments in history with absolute conviction, honor, and self-awareness.

Christina engages Amelia on many powerful and emotional topics that span Amelia's beautiful 103 years of life. The interview begins with a brief introduction of Amelia's landmark accomplishments.

Oakland, CA - Every spring for the last fifteen years, the World Bank has organized the "Conference onLand and Poverty," which brings together corporations, governments and civil society groups. The aim is ostensibly to discuss how to "improve land governance."

Whereas the 16th conference will take place in Washington D.C. from March 23 to 27, hundreds of civilsociety organizations are denouncing the World Bank's role in global land grabs and its deceitful leadership on land issues.

Mar 16

We Need More President Borens

By Michelle Buggs, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Empathy. Understanding. Decisiveness. These are a few of the terms evoked by the leadership of University of Oklahoma President David Boren in his swift action to reject and correct the racist behaviors put on display by that campus' now-former chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

At a time when it is so much easier to stand in the shadows, making excuses for racism or acting as if it isn't as acute as it really is in the United States, as polls show, Boren is appreciated not only for aiming directly at the perpetrators of a racist chant, but also those across the country who are misusing our right of free speech to cause even more damage in an already unstable racial climate.