Archive for August 8, 2008

My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots

From The Wall Street Journal’s Op Ed page:

As a congressman, senator and one-time Democratic nominee for the presidency, I’ve participated in my share of vigorous public debates over issues of great consequence. And the public has been free to accept or reject the decisions I made when they walked into a ballot booth, drew the curtain and cast their vote. I didn’t always win, but I always respected the process.

Voting is an immense privilege.

That is why I am concerned about a new development that could deny this freedom to many Americans. As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor.

The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and I am sad to say it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement. Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who would speak.

The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are formed and recognized. Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as “card-check.” There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.

Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.

There’s no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that protect individuals from unfair treatment. They have been a friend to the Democratic Party, and so I oppose this legislation respectfully and with care.

To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress — including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts — have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees in our country.

I worry that there has been too little discussion about EFCA’s true ramifications, and I think much of the congressional support is based on a desire to give our friends among union leaders what they want. But part of being a good steward of democracy means telling our friends “no” when they press for a course that in the long run may weaken labor and disrupt a tried and trusted method for conducting honest elections.

While it is never pleasant to stand against one’s party or one’s friends, there are times when such actions are necessary — as with my early and lonely opposition to the Vietnam War. I hope some of my friends in Congress will re-evaluate their support for this legislation. Because as Americans, we should strive to ensure that all of us enjoy the freedom of expression and freedom from fear that is our ideal and our right.

Mr. McGovern is a former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate.

Mr. McGovern, the Democrat party has gone from being a champion of the working man to the champion of the man who will not work. They get large contributions from union labor and could care less whether some poor dissenting person that does not want to pay union dues meets with an “accident” involving him or her and family members. They have their eyes on the big increase in funds labor unions will send their way in payment for services rendered.

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Researchers find cancer-inhibiting compound off the coast of Key Largo


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Pharmacy researchers have discovered a marine compound off the coast of Key Largo that inhibits cancer cell growth in laboratory tests, a finding they hope will fuel the development of new drugs to better battle the disease.

The UF-patented compound, largazole, is derived from cyanobacteria that grow on coral reefs. Researchers, who described results from early studies today (Aug. 7) at an international natural products scientific meeting in Athens, Greece, say it is one of the most promising they’ve found since the college’s marine natural products laboratory was established three years ago.

An initial set of papers in the Journal of the American Chemical Society also has garnered the attention of other scientists, and the lab is racing to complete additional research. The molecule’s natural chemical structure and ability to inhibit cancer cell growth were first described in the journal in February and the laboratory synthesis and description of the molecular basis for its anticancer activity appeared July 2.

“It’s exciting because we’ve found a compound in nature that may one day surpass a currently marketed drug or could become the structural template for rationally designed drugs with improved selectivity,” said Hendrik Luesch, an assistant professor in UF’s department of medicinal chemistry and the study’s principal investigator.

Largazole, discovered and named by Luesch for its Florida location and structural features, seeks out a family of enzymes called histone deacetylase, or HDAC. Overactivity of certain HDACs has been associated with several cancers such as prostate and colon tumors, and inhibiting HDACs can activate tumor-suppressor genes that have been silenced in these cancers.

Although scientists have been probing the depths of the ocean for marine products since the early 1960s, many pharmaceutical companies lost interest before researchers could deliver useful compounds because natural products were considered too costly and time-consuming to research and develop.

Many common medications, from pain relievers to cholesterol-reducing statins, stem from natural products that grow on the earth, but there is literally an ocean of compounds yet to be discovered in our seas. Only 14 marine natural products developed are in clinical trials today, Luesch said, and one drug recently approved in Europe is the first-ever marine-derived anticancer agent.

“Marine study is in its infancy,” said William Fenical, a distinguished professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, San Diego. “The ocean is a genetically distinct environment and the single, most diverse source of new molecules to be discovered.”

The history of pharmacy traces its roots back thousands of years to plants growing on Earth’s continents, used by ancient civilizations for medicinal purposes, Fenical added. Yet only in the past 30 years have scientists begun to explore the organisms in Earth’s oceans, he said. Fewer than 30 labs exist worldwide, and research dollars have only become available in the past 15 years.

HDACs are already targeted by a drug approved for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma manufactured by the global pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Inc. However, UF’s compound does not inhibit all HDACs equally, meaning a largazole-based drug might result in improved therapies and fewer side effects, Luesch said.

Since 2006, Luesch and his team of researchers have screened cyanobacteria provided by collaborator Valerie Paul, head scientist at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce. They check the samples for toxic activity against cancer cells and last year encountered one exceptionally potent extract — the one that ultimately yielded largazole.

To conduct further biological testing on the compound, Luesch and his team have been collaborating with Jiyong Hong, an assistant professor in the department of chemistry at Duke University, to replicate its natural structure and its actions in the laboratory.

Luesch said that within the next few months he plans to study whether largazole reduces or prevents tumor growth in mice.

Luesch has several other antitumor natural products from Atlantic and Pacific cyanobacteria in the pipeline.

“We have only scratched the surface of the chemical diversity in the ocean,” Luesch said. “The opportunities for marine drug discovery are spectacular.”

Source: University of Florida News

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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! National Enquirer Right, John Edwards Lied

I just listened to David Perel, National Enquirer editor-in-chief, give details about the Edwards affair. He also expressed extreme doubt about Edwards dismissing the child as his. Well, Edwards always did look like a self-obsessed POS to me, so it doesn’t surprise me one tiny little bit that he denies parentage of the little girl.

From ABC News:

In an interview for broadcast tonight on Nightline, Edwards told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff he did have an affair with 44-year old Rielle Hunter, but said that he did not love her.

Oh, well, he was just using her as a sperm receptacle, so that makes everything okay.

Edwards also denied he was the father of Hunter’s baby girl, Frances Quinn, although the one-time Democratic Presidential candidate said he has not taken a paternity test.

Interesting. I wonder why he was sneaking around to visit this woman (and the baby) at hotels late at night if the affair was over and the baby wasn’t his? I know it doesn’t take 5 hours to write a check or hand over cash.

And speaking of disgusting behavior, I think that the newspaper and television reporters (or their managers) who refused to cover this story and would have had him potentially picked by Obama as a VP candidate or, if Obama settled on another VP pick and actually won the election, attorney general, have done Obama a huge disservice by hiding Edwards’ atrocious behavior from Obama and from the American people. I don’t suppose that they ever stopped to think what the voters’ reaction would be to potentially having a VP candidate who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife, lied about it, and engaged in a huge cover up, perhaps even using PAC funds to pay her bills. Perhaps they knew all too well, and were hoping to keep it hidden until AFTER the election.

There are a lot of people in this country, registered to vote, that actually have moral standards.

Edwards’ political career is over.

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Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor Take Warning

When I awoke at dawn, the sky was blood red. Of course, I knew immediately what that meant. It meant that if I hurried up and hung the clothes on the line, I could get that glorious line-dried fresh smell to the shirts because surely it would never rain while I was off getting my hair styled.

That old saying has now been officially updated to read “red sky in the morning, don’t put any damn shirts on the line to dry. And go back to sleep.”

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Official Obama Gesture of Veneration

Whenever Obama appears, his followers are going to make big ol’ zeroes with their hands in a gesture of supplication and surrender. I encourage them in this endeavor. I suspect that we will be better off if their hands are in the air where we can keep an eye on them.

I’m not so sure that “please don’t hurt me, I give up!” attitude will help if they come up against PUMA at the Democratic Convention. I believe PUMA’s gesture of support for Hillary includes a baseball bat and an Obama delegate.

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Dames Point Bridge to Close on Saturday

The Dames Point bridge will be closed at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 9, for about 30 minutes to move one of those giant cranes into its new home at Jaxport.

I would LOVE to go watch it being moved carefully under the bridge except for the not having any parking issue.

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Europe is Noticing Jacksonville’s Benefits

One of Europe’s largest cold storage logistics companies is expected to announce its plans to make Jacksonville its North American distribution headquarters by the end of the year. Aside from three to five senior management positions, the more than 100 employees, with annual salaries averaging $50,000, will be sought domestically.

Although sizable, it will pale in comparison with Deutsche Bank’s recent arrival, which is bringing 1,000 jobs to the area. Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

I expect that when the expanding port facilities are completed, there will be many additional overseas firms taking advantage, bringing additional jobs to the area. Jacksonville was never a tourist attraction and consequently has had to rely on developing other sources of income for the population.

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Daymon Heard Cleared of Involvement in Lake City Clerk Murder

The murderer of Linda Raulerson, a convenience store clerk in Lake City, is still out there. She was murdered for $47.

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Pathogen that Causes Johne’s Disease in Cattle May Be Implicated in Crohn’s Disease in Humans

Research urgently needed to evaluate potential risks to humans

People with Crohn’s disease (CD) are seven-fold more likely to have in their gut tissues the bacterium that causes a digestive-tract disease in cattle called Johne’s disease. The role this bacterium may or may not play in causing CD is a top research priority, according to a new report released by the American Academy of Microbiology. The reports points out that the cause of CD is unknown, and the possible role of this bacterium—which could conceivably be passed up the food chain to people—has received too little attention from the research community.

The report, Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis: Incidental Human Pathogen or Public Health Threat?, summarizes conclusions and recommendations from a colloquium convened by the American Academy of Microbiology in June 2007 that brought together experts in microbiology, medicine, veterinary pathology, epidemiology, infectious diseases, and food safety. Colloquium participants described the state of knowledge about the relationship between Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) and CD and developed a research agenda to move the field forward.

Scientists largely agree that multiple factors cause CD, including an environmental stimulus, a genetic propensity, and an overactive inflammatory and immune system triggered by an unknown event. There is mounting evidence that the unknown trigger may be infectious in origin, with several bacteria currently under consideration. “This complicated network of causation has confounded efforts to understand CD, says Carol Nacy, Ph.D., CEO of Sequella, Inc., who chaired the colloquium and is the report’s co-author. “MAP may be one of the causes of CD,” Nacy adds, “since, among other things, multiple studies identified the pathogen in tissues of CD patients. Treating some of these patients with antibiotics that target Mycobacteria provided relief from symptoms.”

Johne’s disease is a severe and fatal bacterial infection that strikes cattle, sheep, and other livestock. MAP has long been identified as the cause of Johne’s disease. Despite efforts to limit the spread of MAP, roughly 68% of cattle herds in this country are infected, meaning one or more animals in the herd carry the bacterium and may develop Johne’s disease or spread the infection to other animals. MAP has been found in some dairy products—milk and cheese—and beef on supermarket shelves.

The critical steps for research now, according to the report, are to determine whether humans are exposed and infected with MAP by eating infected meat and dairy products and whether MAP causes or incites CD or whether it is only incidentally present in those afflicted with the disease. The prospect that MAP could play a role in the incitement or development of CD is a sobering one, and, once the situation becomes clearer through research, there could be important changes in store for agriculture, food safety, and public health. It is in the best interest of the public that the possible connection between MAP and CD be explored exhaustively, according to the report.

The research agenda, however, is seriously hampered by the lack of reliable methods for isolating and indentifying MAP and for diagnosing people with MAP infection. Public health laboratories and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratories have made it clear they cannot grow MAP in the laboratory—an inability that hinders diagnosis and screening. The report recommends establishment of a task force to develop a specific road map for improved methods for MAP detection and diagnosis.

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A full copy of the report and further recommendations can be found on the Academy website at http://www.asm.org/colloquia/ext.

The American Academy of Microbiology is the honorific leadership group of the American Society of Microbiology. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientific excellence, as well as foster knowledge and understanding in the microbiological sciences. For more information about the American Society for Microbiology, contact Barbara Hyde at 202-942-9206 or visit http://www.asm.org.

Source: EurekAlert

Sigh. I hope somebody, somewhere, has the key to growing MAP cultures in the laboratory. In the meantime, if you suffer from Crohn’s disease, you may just want to try a prophylactic course of antibiotics that target Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis.

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