Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Torture, yea or nea?

Some (but not enough) Democrats in the Senate are showing some interest in turning the Gonzales hearings and vote into a referendum on torture. I say not enough D’s not only because I’d like to see Gonzales sunk but also because I’d be genuinely interested in knowing what the result of an up-or-down vote on torture in the United States Senate would actually be.

Bush picks one of those failed judicial appointees, Claude Allen, to be his domestic policy adviser. Allen (whose record I discussed here) admitted during his confirmation hearings having used the word “queers” but said he didn’t mean it in a bad way.

Evidently for several decades in Israel, Shin Bet could veto the hiring of any Palestinian teacher, a fact Ha’aretz describes as a “well-known secret.” They’ve just abolished that.

Scientists scanning the brains of shepherds in the Canary Islands find that Silbo, a system of communicating via whistling they have used for centuries, utilizes the same parts of the brain as spoken Spanish. In other words, it’s a language, albeit a limited one. (Nature article.)

And here are a bunch of doctors (you can tell by the fact that they’re all wearing white lab coats) preparing to scan the brain of a test monkey to see if it utilizes any part of its brain when giving a speech on medical liability reform:

One thing missing from a speech dealing with malpractice law: any mention of actual victims of medical malpractice. Thus Shrub says that “lawyers”--not patients, not survivors--“are filing baseless suits against hospitals and doctors” (he also blamed juries at one point). Lots of stories about doctors whose premiums are rising, pregnant women losing their OBGYNs, but no mention of victims of botched diagnoses, etc, and certainly nothing about how you can scale down the punishment for incompetence and laziness on the part of doctors without creating a rise in incompetence and laziness on the part of doctors. By the way, most of the rise in malpractice insurance premiums is due to the tanking of their investments in the stock market during the economic downturn, not rising jury awards.

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