Friday/Saturday Headlines

Crossposted on Appletree, hence the relative paucity of snark:

Study on Nicotine Levels Stirs Calls for New Controls

A Harvard study concluding that cigarette makers have for years deliberately increased nicotine levels in cigarettes to make them more addictive led to renewed calls Thursday for greater federal oversight of the industry.

“Given the harm that tobacco causes, it shouldn’t be a game of cat-and-mouse to figure out what the industry is doing to cigarettes,” said Dr. Josh Sharfstein, commissioner of health for the City of Baltimore.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who is now chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, promised to reintroduce within weeks a bill that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes.

North Korea Reports Progress In Talks With U.S. Envoy

North Korea said Friday that progress had been made during talks with the United States this week on its nuclear program, and the top U.S. nuclear envoy suggested the foundation had been laid for more progress when six-nation nuclear negotiations resume.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said three days of talks in Berlin between U.S. envoy Christopher R. Hill and North Korea’s main nuclear negotiator, Kim Gye Gwan, had been held “in a positive and sincere atmosphere and a certain agreement was reached there.” No further details were given.

This makes it – what – the four hundredth such negotiation? I’m not sure who’s being more irrational here – North Korea, which keeps spending whatever money it has on the military instead of on making sure people stop starving, or the US, which keeps botching negotiations with North Korea. -Alon.

A Downside to Heralded HPV Drug: Cost, Access

Abington pediatrician Steven Shapiro thinks the new vaccine against cervical cancer is a major medical advance that will benefit all of society.

Even so, he isn’t offering Gardasil to his patients. He says insurance reimbursements don’t cover his costs to buy, store and administer it.

“I’m in practice with four physicians and we simply can’t afford it,” said Shapiro, who also chairs the pediatrics department at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Seven months after the federal government approved Merck & Co. Inc.’s much-heralded immunization for females ages 9 to 26, Gardasil can be difficult for patients to get.

By all accounts, the vaccine could eventually save thousands of lives and billions of dollars annually in this country. But right now, it is a case study in the ragged economics of U.S. health care.

Outspoken Armenian editor shot dead in Istanbul street attack

A journalist who was a prominent member of Turkey’s Armenian community was murdered in Istanbul yesterday in an attack that the prime minister described as an attempt to destabilise the country.

Hrant Dink, 53, a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, was shot from behind a number of times at the entrance of Agos, the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper that he edited. Television footage showed his body lying face down, draped in a white sheet, on the pavement in front of the office.

(…)

Dink had gone on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of Armenians by Turks. He had received threats from nationalists who viewed him as a traitor. He was a public figure in Turkey and, as the editor of Agos, one of its most prominent Armenian voices.

Key Aide To Sadr Arrested In Baghdad

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces arrested a top aide to anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in eastern Baghdad on Friday, amid growing signs of stepped-up efforts to quell Sadr and his supporters.

(…)

Nadawi said “the occupation forces are provoking Sadr . . . by these daily operations or every-other-day operations.” The spokesman added that the cleric’s followers “are the only ones demanding and putting a timetable for the occupation withdrawal.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been pressured by the Bush administration to bring the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias under control, was not forewarned about the arrest, said Ali Dabbagh, a spokesman for Maliki. Dabbagh said the prime minister was not notified about every impending high-profile arrest.

Privacy Law “Has No Teeth”: Watchdog

Canadian consumers should be “outraged” that a major retailer has been collecting and storing information about their credit and debit card transactions, a leading consumer lobby group says.

Chavez: Castro “Fighting for His Life,” Progressing Slowly

Cuban leader Fidel Castro is “fighting for his life,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in a speech to the state legislature in Rio de Janeiro.

Chavez, who said he spoke to Castro a few days ago by telephone, compared Castro’s battle against a serious intestinal illness with the Cuban leader’s time in the island’s mountains heading the revolution against the Fulgencio Batista government.

“Fidel is again in the Sierra Maestra again,” Chavez said Friday. “He’s fighting for his life. We don’t know; we want him to recover, and he continues progressing, although slowly.”

Maybe after Castro dies, Chavez can take over Cuba, where he won’t have to pretend he’s a democratic leader. -Alon.

2 Responses to Friday/Saturday Headlines

  1. SLC says:

    Re Castro

    LIke Yasir Arafat, Castro is probably dying from complications of AIDS.

  2. booted cat says:

    I recommend this short movie mocking Kim Jong Il and his secret agent buying Hennessy XO wine from Chinese black market :=)

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=EE52D9ED01495685

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