It’s no secret that Americans are fighting an obesity epidemic these days, and it’s also no secret that pregnancy plays a big role in this for women. Read weight-loss stories in women’s magazines, and almost all start with “I gained 50lbs during my first pregnancy, didn’t lose all of it, then gained more during my next one…” These extra pounds aren’t just a cosmetic issue. Women who gain 20lbs between age 18 and mid-life double their risk of breast cancer. Being 20lbs overweight can also double your risk of diabetes.
No one really knows what to say about the tragedy at Virginia Tech yesterday, though that hasn’t stopped a lot of people from trying. Within a few hours, gun-control proponents were wailing that with stricter laws this wouldn’t have happened. It’s hard to know. Virginia Tech already prohibited students from carrying guns on campus even if they had concealed handgun permits. A Virginia House Bill that would have affirmed the right of college students and employees to carry handguns on campus with permits died in committee in January. Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker subsequently told the Roanoke Times that “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”
According to various news reports, President Bush is going to float proposals for expanding health insurance coverage in his State of the Union address. More than a third of Americans say health care should be among the top priorities for the federal government. This is likely because we have a very strange system. in this country For the most politically connected Americans, health insurance has become tied up in the issue of employment. Companies began offering health insurance to workers as a benefit when wages were controlled around World War II. Federal tax law has since enshrined this benefit by making insurance deductible as a business expense for employers, and untaxed for employees. This system worked when Americans worked for the same big companies for their entire lives. But many Americans now switch jobs every few years, and many of us don’t work for employers at all. The ranks of the self-employed grew by over 150,000 in December alone, the Labor Department reports. Clearly, there should be a huge market for individual health insurance out there.
Pundits like to talk about the unemployment rate as a barometer for the state of the economy, and the problems associated with it (”discouraged” workers who’ve stopped seeking work aren’t included in the calculation). One of the biggest problems, though, is seldom mentioned. When government agencies survey big companies to check the size of payrolls, and use this number to announce how many new jobs have been “created,” they miss all sorts of folks who don’t show up on anyone’s payroll, but may be earning big bucks nonetheless.
The Associated Press put a story over the wires today indicating that the World Health Organization is about to throw its weight behind the use of DDT in malaria-stricken developing countries. The disease kills more than 1 million people a year — mostly small children. DDT is incredibly effective at killing the mosquitoes that carry malaria, and it’s been used in a few countries, but not widely, as the WHO has recommended against it since a certain person named Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring a few decades ago.
It’s funny how we cling to the strangest mementos. On Sept. 11, 2001, I woke up to an absolutely gorgeous Washington, D.C. late summer morning. I was living in a converted attic bedroom of a Friendship Heights duplex that I was sharing with three other girls. I’d just graduated from college that June. I remember I put on a cheerful red skirt. Why do I remember that? Because even after the skirt got ruined in the crazy day that was to follow at my new job at USA Today, it took me three years to throw it out. It was my link to a pivotal moment in my generation’s history — a moment you knew was big from the instant you heard the news.
The controversy over “The Path to 9/11″ continues… MoveOn.org is asking members to sign a petition to ABC that asks the network not to air the mini-series. Conservatives have responded with their own emails asking the network not to cave. Some of these emails demand that liberals and Clinton apologists not be allowed to “censor” the mini-series.