Sunday, January 29, 2012

New device will detect infection, cancer in minutes

26/01/2012 8:02:29 PM
CBC News

Toronto's medical community is buzzing about an invention that could change the way health professionals screen for infectious disease and cancer.

"We've been working on this, really, for about a decade," said Dr. Shana Kelley, a scientist at the University of Toronto.
Kelley spoke as she held a small black device her hand, shaped like a smartphone but bulkier, with a microchip inside that Kelley says can determine in 15 minutes if you have cancer or an infectious disease.

The device works with a blood sample or swab placed on a microchip. It then reads - and recognizes - certain types of cells.

Kelley says eventually there will be a disposable cartridge that contains the sample.  Instead of days, or sometimes weeks, before patients get their results, with the new machine they're ready in minutes.
For those on health care's front-lines, the promise of an early diagnosis means more lives can be saved.

"Infectious disease is the medical condition where rapid turnaround is maybe most critical and our chip, coupled with portable instrumentation, are good at providing very fast answers," Kelley said.
It could also save the health care system millions. In the case of detecting prostate cancer it means no more lengthy, costly and uncomfortable biopsies.

"I think it's superb and very exciting," said Dr. Robert Nam, an uro-oncologist at Sunnybrook Hospital, who believes Kelley and her team's invention will transform the medical community in Canada and abroad.

"We can identify patients with most lethal cancer...and, secondly, how about avoiding a biopsy?" he said.

Canada and the United States have invested millions and there's a European company that's jumped on board with more cash for this invention, which they hope will be in use in a couple of years.
Expectations are high.

"It will allow physicians out in the field, and I'm thinking public health physicians, to be able to assess patients right then and there," said Dr. Frances Jamieson, a medical microbiologist with Public Health Ontario. She highlighted tuberculosis as one possible disease the new device could diagnose faster.

[ A little off the beaten path on this one, but regardless of where its coming from, discrimination serves no constructive purpose whether it comes from the right or the left. - Joe Thornton] Here's a prime example:

June 6, 2011 by admin - Studio Briefing

TV executives Lionel Chetwynd and Norman Powell have quit the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors over remarks about conservatives made by several of the organizations leaders. The remarks were originally made public in the recently published book Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV by Ben Shapiro. In the book several liberal producers, directors, writers and actors boast how they have injected their political beliefs into programs and have ostracized conservatives.

Famed writer-director Nicholas Meyer reportedly told Shapiro that he “hoped” conservatives were discriminated against.

In a letter to the Hollywood Reporter, Powell said that the interviews in Shapiro’s book and video clips from them posted online seem to demonstrate that “discrimination [against conservatives] is an acceptable practice to stifle divergent opinions” in Hollywood. He noted that the stated mission of the Caucus is “promoting the artistic rights of the creative community.”

In 2002 Chetwynd and Powell collaborated on a PBS documentary, Darkness at “High Noon,” condemning the blacklisting of the film’s producer-writer, Carl Foreman, after he was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify about his onetime membership in the Communist Party.

In his letter of resignation, Chetwynd remarked that he himself had “experienced overt blacklisting for my views as a conservative, at the very hands of those who piously deplore the blacklisting of Communists in a former day. "

"As 1950s victim Carl Foreman warned me when I told him I was moving to Hollywood: ‘Beware the fearless defenders of the safely contentious.’”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Network Decay

"Wow, that was a real moment. That's weird for MTV."
Joel McHale: "Hey, ya know what else is weird for MTV? Showing a music video."
— The Soup

Many cable channels are created to fulfill a specific programming niche, and their name is Exactly What It Says on the Tin — the Golf Channel shows golf, the History Channel shows history programs, the Game Show Network shows Game Shows, and so on.

Some channels, however, are not as wedded to their original concept as others. Meddling executives look at the demographics to whom their channel appeals and decide that, hey, since the people watching their Speculative Fiction channel are mostly 18-31 males, and Professional Wrestling is hot among that demographic, surely no one would mind if they started showing pro-wrestling! *

The fans of the original programming will mind, of course, but the channel tends to keep going regardless. This may show up with only a couple of odd programs in the schedule, but far too often, given enough time, a channel will have pretty much abandoned its original concept. Whether or not the former invariably leads to the latter is a subject for debate.

Since the network is strongly impacted by the ratings, and the highest ratings go to generally the same few demographics, this tends to lead to networks becoming more and more like each other, either in similar programming or outright airing the same shows.

Some changes can be chalked up to the changing landscape of TV. As the number of channels goes up, networks re-align themselves to try and hold some of their market. That, or the parent companies who might own seven or more cable channels each shuffle stuff for "synergy" or to reduce redundancy. Competition with new media is prevalent as well—classic reruns give way to DVD box sets, music-video channels give way to YouTube and iPods, and info-dumping all-text channels give way to the data display in a digital cable box or some new-fangled webernet site. Most of the time, it's just shifting to whatever the network feels will attract the biggest audience—and the audience that lets them charge the most for ads (especially the lucrative young adult demographic, needless to say).

While in many cases this is seen as depressing, this isn't always a bad thing; the channel could just as easily be better after the shift. If the Network Decay works out, it may expose the channel to thousands of new viewers, who would normally never watch the network in the first place. Or perhaps the earlier direction just was not working out and the network made changes in order to get better and more profitable programming. Furthermore, there are several good shows floating around in Development Hell that wouldn't stand a chance of getting picked up unless a network decides to spread its wings.

Naomi Wolf, speaking at  the National Lawyers Guild Forum in New York, 01/23/09. (photo: Thomas Good/NLN)
Naomi Wolf, speaking at the National Lawyers Guild Forum in New York, 01/23/09. (photo: Thomas Good/NLN)

NDAA: Congress Signed Its Own Arrest Warrants

By Naomi Wolf, Naomi Wolf's Blog
02 January 12

Responding to the Senate's overwhelming passage of the 'Homeland Battlefield' bill, Ms. Wolf first published this piece on December 12, 2011. However, her argument took on new relevance over the weekend when President Obama used the media blackout of the holiday season to quietly sign the bill during a vacation in Hawaii. - JPS/RSN

never thought I would have to write this: but - incredibly - Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process. The language of this bill can be read to assure Americans that they can challenge their detention - but most people do not realize what this means: at Guantanamo and in other military prisons, one's lawyer's calls are monitored, witnesses for one's defense are not allowed to testify, and one can be forced into nudity and isolation. Incredibly, ninety-three Senators voted to support this bill and now most of Congress: a roster of names that will live in infamy in the history of our nation, and never be expunged from the dark column of the history books.
They may have supported this bill because - although it's hard to believe - they think the military will only arrest active members of Al Qaida; or maybe, less naively, they believe that 'at most', low-level dissenting figures, activists, or troublesome protesters might be subjected to military arrest. But they are forgetting something critical: history shows that those who signed this bill will soon be subject to arrest themselves.
Our leaders appear to be supporting this bill thinking that they will always be what they are now, in the fading light of a once-great democracy - those civilian leaders who safely and securely sit in freedom and DIRECT the military. In inhabiting this bubble, which their own actions are about to destroy, they are cocooned by an arrogance of power, placing their own security in jeopardy by their own hands, and ignoring history and its inevitable laws. The moment this bill becomes law, though Congress is accustomed, in a weak democracy, to being the ones who direct and control the military, the power roles will reverse: Congress will no longer be directing and in charge of the military: rather, the military will be directing and in charge of individual Congressional leaders, as well as in charge of everyone else - as any Parliamentarian in any society who handed this power over to the military can attest.
Perhaps Congress assumes that it will always only be 'they' who are targeted for arrest and military detention: but sadly, Parliamentary leaders are the first to face pressure, threats, arrest and even violence when the military obtains the power to make civilian arrests and hold civilians in military facilities without due process. There is no exception to this rule. Just as I traveled the country four years ago warning against the introduction of torture and secret prisons - and confidently offering a hundred thousand dollar reward to anyone who could name a nation that allowed torture of the 'other' that did not eventually turn this abuse on its own citizens - (confident because I knew there was no such place) - so today I warn that one cannot name a nation that gave the military the power to make civilian arrests and hold citizens in military detention, that did not almost at once turn that power almost against members of that nation's own political ruling class. This makes sense - the obverse sense of a democracy, in which power protects you; political power endangers you in a militarized police state: the more powerful a political leader is, the more can be gained in a militarized police state by pressuring, threatening or even arresting him or her.
Mussolini, who created the modern template for fascism, was a duly elected official when he started to direct paramilitary forces against Italian citizens: yes, he sent the Blackshirts to beat up journalists, editors, and union leaders; but where did these militarized groups appear most dramatically and terrifyingly, snapping at last the fragile hold of Italian democracy? In the halls of the Italian Parliament. Whom did they physically attack and intimidate? Mussolini's former colleagues in Parliament - as they sat, just as our Congress is doing, peacefully deliberating and debating the laws. Whom did Hitler's Brownshirts arrest in the first wave of mass arrests in 1933? Yes, journalists, union leaders and editors; but they also targeted local and regional political leaders and dragged them off to secret prisons and to torture that the rest of society had turned a blind eye to when it had been directed at the 'other.' Who was most at risk from assassination or arrest and torture, after show trials, in Stalin's Russia? Yes, journalists, editors and dissidents: but also physically endangered, and often arrested by militarized police and tortured or worse, were senior members of the Politburo who had fallen out of favor.
Is this intimidation and arrest by the military a vestige of the past? Hardly. We forget in America that all over the world there are militarized societies in which shells of democracy are propped up - in which Parliament meets regularly and elections are held, but the generals are really in charge, just as the Egyptian military is proposing with upcoming elections and the Constitution itself. That is exactly what will take place if Congress gives the power of arrest and detention to the military: and in those societies if a given political leader does not please the generals, he or she is in physical danger or subjected to military arrest. Whom did John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, say he was directed to intimidate and threaten when he worked as a 'jackal', putting pressure on the leadership in authoritarian countries? Latin American parliamentarians who were in the position to decide the laws that affected the well-being of his corporate clients. Who is under house arrest by the military in Myanmar? The political leader of the opposition to the military junta. Malalai Joya is an Afghani parliamentarian who has run afoul of the military and has to sleep in a different venue every night - for her own safety. An on, and on, in police states - that is, countries with military detention of civilians - that America is about to join.
US Congresspeople and Senators may think that their power protects them from the treacherous wording of Amendments 1031 and 1032: but their arrogance is leading them to a blindness that is suicidal. The moment they sign this NDAA into law, history shows that they themselves and their staff are the most physically endangered by it. They will immediately become, not the masters of the great might of the United States military, but its subjects and even, if history is any guide - and every single outcome of ramping up police state powers, unfortunately, that I have warned for years that history points to, has come to pass - sadly but inevitably, its very first targets.