Mojo - August 2006

FDA Approves Plan B for Over-the-Counter Sale

| Thu Aug. 24, 2006 12:22 PM EDT

Finally. The emergency contraceptive, which can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after sex, will be be available over-the-counter to women over 18 as soon as the drug's maker reprints the packaging. This comes nearly three years after an independent FDA advisory committee voted overwhelmingly that Plan B is perfectly safe for over-the-counter sale without age restrictions.

As part of the FDA approval, the drug's maker agrees to "conduct an education campaign ... to raise awareness and knowledge levels about emergency contraception." This is great news, because recent surveys have shown only one in five women is aware that there are effective methods of after-sex contraception.

Now for the bad news: Women under 18 will still have to get a doctor's note to purchase Plan B for themselves, even though all research says that the drug can be safely and effectively used by teens. The age restriction means that Plan B will not be sold in convenience stores, but only at businesses with a licensed pharmacist. In this way, it also affects women 18 and up. Not every town in America has a 24-hour pharmacy, but most have a 24-hour gas station. Pharmacist refusals are likely to remain a huge problem.

And even though the FDA has finally caved to common sense, the Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit against the agency will continue. Depositions in the case show the White House intervened in the FDA's supposedly independent decision-making process, and the Center has subpoenaed members of the Bush administration. This ain't over yet.

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FDA's Missing More Than 9,000 Drugs From its Rolls

| Thu Aug. 24, 2006 11:58 AM EDT

Now that the FDA has finally approved over-the-counter emergency contraception it needs to turn its attention to elsewhere in the beleagured agency. A report released last week by the Department of Health and Human Services found that FDA's current list of 123,856 medications includes 34,257 that are no longer available and is missing another 9,187.

For 16 percent of missing [medications], drug firms confirmed that they did not submit the required FDA forms for listing the drug products. In nearly all of the remaining cases in which drug firms claimed to have submitted listing forms, evidence of submission was not provided or the documentation provided was inconclusive. However, in 9 percent of cases, firms' claims to have submitted forms were corroborated by forms we found in FDA's files. In these cases, FDA had failed to appropriately process the forms.

Currently all 120,000-plus drugs are tracked by a total of 15 staff who manually enter data from paper registrations each time companies file to sell or stop selling certain medications. (They've got to be in a windowless office in a basement somewhere too, right?)

The new system would require companies to provide updates electronically every six months on the drugs they have on the market. Wait, they aren't required to do this already? This is the country's regulatory arm of a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry and in 2006 its proposing that companies check in twice a year.

The FDA might just miss the brouhaha over Plan B; it distracted us all from the rest of their mess.

Two Female Editors=Cat Fight? (What, Does Hype Stalker Work for Forbes?)

| Thu Aug. 24, 2006 2:05 AM EDT

Ok, not to make too much of this, because, as best as I can tell, Hype Stalker practices a sort of "I wish I worked for Gawker" style of snark. But still, here's what the New York Press' columnist had to say about Monika and I becoming the co-editors of this magazine:

Does anyone really think that Mother Jones appointing two editors-in-chief (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery) will actually work? (Cue the cat reorws and hisses!)

How about, Cue the misogynistic clichés?

Now, it is fair game to ask, how does a co-editorship work? (To which we say, among other things, it seemed to work just fine at The New York Review of Books for decades.) The question I have is, if the two editors in question were both men, or a man and a woman, would they be subjected to the equivalent of a "Chicks in Chains" stereotype? Or more to the point, bad writing?

Come what may, there will be no hair pulling in this big house. That's a promise.

And while I'm on the subject, the Forbes story, on which Liz has blogged (here and here), just gets better and better. Do not miss the side-by-side comparison of the mind blowingly Neanderthalish Michael Noer article on how career women make lousy wives (!!) with Forbes writer Elizabeth Corcoran's rebuttal, "Don't Marry a Lazy Man." Forbes notes the Noer article has prompted "a heated response, both inside and outside the building." Yeah, from among others, probably any woman, married or unmarried, who's got any personal or professional history with Michael Noer.

For more evidence on that front, follow the jump to a cached version of "The Economics of Prostitution"—another bit of (moldy) "academic analysis" by Noer that Forbes seems to have taken down from its website. Highlights include: "Wives, in truth, are superior to whores in the economist's sense of being a good whose consumption increases as income rises--like fine wine. "

Forbes Pulls Article on Working Women Not Being the Marrying Kind

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 9:33 PM EDT

Sometime this afternoon Forbes pulled Michael Noer's article on how career women make lousy wives. Here's the cached version if you have yet to see it.

Now there's a link on Forbes.com to the stripped down text of the piece paired with a rebuttal from Forbes reporter Elizabeth Corcoran entitled, "Don't Marry a Lazy Man." The website is also offering a discussion forum, which had more than 180 comments as of this evening.

All this strikes a different tone than the one surrounding the original article, which featured a slideshow called "Nine Reasons to Steer Clear of Married Women," complete with campy photos of women with tear-streaked faces. Maybe the folks at the magazine realized that with half of all U.S. business owned by women, quite a few actually read Forbes, and they may not like what they see. Curiously the page that hosted the original article now reads: Something's gone awry!

Maybe that's Steve Forbes talking?

More News of Sexual Assault in the Military

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 7:09 PM EDT

On the heels of the revelation that at least 80 military recruiters have been disciplined for sexual misconduct comes a new survey of students at The Citadel. It shows almost 20 percent of female cadets reported having been sexually assaulted at the military college.

Of the 27 sexual assaults against women at The Citadel mentioned in the survey, 17 were never reported to authorities. About half of the women who did not report assaults said they feared ostracism, harassment or ridicule if they did, the survey found.
A survey of the U.S. military academies released last year found that more than 50 percent of female respondents and 11 percent of male respondents experienced some type of sexual harassment since enrolling. That survey also found 64 incidents of sexual assault among the more than 1,900 females at the service academies.

Looks like it probably wasn't such a great idea for the Department of Defense to scrap its plans to create an Office of Victim Advocate. The special office was proposed in March after the DOD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office reported 2,374 alleged assaults during 2005, up from 1,700 alleged assaults in 2004-- an increase of almost 40%.

The Citadel recently instituted a Respect and Values Program "to educate cadets on such topics as sexual harassment, alcohol abuse, the honor code and racism." Let's hope it helps.

Inhofe Bashes U.N. Peacekeepers, Sings Bush's Praises

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 6:06 PM EDT

Senator James Inhofe, in a speech Monday to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, called the situation in Iraq "nothing short of a miracle." In the same breath, he ruthlessly attacked the United Nations, calling the organization an "absolute disaster," whose peacekeepers in Africa go "around teaching girls to be prostitutes." He is asking Washington to withhold money from the peacekeeping organization.

Yet, it appears that many Americans don't agree--65% disapprove of the way President Bush is handling Iraq and a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 57% want the U.N. to be in charge of the Peace Agreement between Israel and Hezbollah.

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The Roulette of Indian Gambling

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 5:56 PM EDT

Yesterday's L.A. Times had a fascinating look at how casino-rich California tribes prevent other tribes from opening casinos. It's the same dynamic that was on display in Ralph Reed's work for Jack Abramoff, where Reed assembled Christian anti-gambling coalitions in Texas and Louisiana to help defeat competition to the lucrative casino of Abramoff's client, Louisiana's Coushatta tribe (or, as Abramoff termed his Indian clients, "monkeys" and "troglodytes").

Having recently driven through both the remote Northern California coast, where the Yurok tribe is seeking approval to build a casino, and the busy Central Valley, where casinos and billboards for them dominate the landscape, I found the piece especially poignant. The example of the Yurok tribe below serves as a microcosm of the forces at play but the whole piece is worth a read.

In California's southeast corner, the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Nation has 3,250 members and a 45,000-acre reservation that bridges California and Arizona. At California's northwest edge, the Yurok tribe has 5,000 members and a reservation that straddles the Klamath River, a mile wide on each side. They are the state's two largest tribes.
Schwarzenegger struck deals with the Yurok and Quechan last year that would have permitted each to build casinos on their own land. Last year, rich tribes' leaders and their representatives, operating from the office of state Senate leader Don Perata (D-Oakland), lobbied against the two tribes' deals. The legislative session ended without a vote on either.
"It's frustrating to have tiny tribes that have benefited so much from gambling stop a far larger tribe such as the Yurok," said Sen. Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata), who has tried to shepherd the Yurok compact through the Legislature.
The Yurok have an annual budget of $12 million — less than what one of its opponents, Agua Caliente, spent on a failed 2004 initiative campaign to gain unlimited gambling rights. Eighty percent of Yurok homes lack electricity, and 75% of the tribe's members have no jobs or phone lines, according to a recent report by the California Research Bureau, an arm of the state library. The tribe wants a 350-slot casino.
"It never entered my mind that we would be challenged," Yurok Chairman Howard McConnell said, sitting in his office in Klamath, near the mouth of the Klamath River and Redwood National Park.

Forbes to Readers: Don't Marry a Career Woman

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 5:01 PM EDT

Yesterday Forbes posted a helpful little gem telling men (apparently its only readers): Don't Marry Career Women. Michael Noer writes:

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage....Recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it.

He's mostly saying that marriage, childrearing and housework ("your house will be dirtier" if your wife has a career) are stressful, and a wealth disparity between couples -- likely of any sex I might add -- adds to that stress. To this we can all sigh a collective, duh. That women make less, have to clean the house more, and are the kid raisers all at once isn't new information. I guess we only get from Noer that he and his business-minded audience may not be ready to step up.

Earlier this year Mother Jones looked at the oh so many ways the working woman gets screwed, and getting married is the least of her worries. Herewith, a sample:

-74% of female executives have a spouse who's employed full time while 75% of male execs have a spouse who's not employed.

-42% of female execs over 40 don't have kids.

-For full-time working fathers, each child correlates to a 2.1% earnings increase. For working moms, it's a 2.5% loss.

-40% of married professionals feel that men do less work around the house.

Sources for the above, and the rest, here.

As if Medicare isn't Confusing Enough: 230,000 Seniors Sent Checks They Can't Cash

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 12:40 PM EDT

Last week the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services mailed 230,000 Medicare recipients checks reimbursing them for monthly premiums on their prescription drug coverage.

By mistake.

Adding to the confusion the checks, totaling $50 million, came along with a letter telling seniors that the Social Security Administration would no longer deduct premiums from their Social Security check. Apparently the agency sent the wrong information to the Social Security Administration about various changes in coverage for beneficiaries, leading to the snafu. This week, CMS officials sent a second letter out telling folks not to cash the checks, which averaged $215, though they fail to mention any of this on their website.

Not only will they have to return the cash, as of January 1.5 million seniors (those with higher incomes) will have higher premiums to deal with.

Americans Aren't Buying Bush's Iraq-Terrorism Link

| Wed Aug. 23, 2006 12:33 PM EDT

A New York Times/CBS News poll just found 51 percent of Americans see no link between the fight in Iraq and the broader anti-terror effort—a ten percent jump since June. The alleged connection was a central part of President George Bush's 2004 campaign against Sen. John Kerry, when Bush repeatedly asserted ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda. But that link has apparently evaporated, according to none other than Bush, who touched on the subject in a Monday press conference:

THE PRESIDENT: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.
Q: What did Iraq have to do with that?
THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?
Q: The attack on the World Trade Center?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing. . .Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.

What hasn't changed is Bush's view that bailing out of Iraq will cause it to devolve into a terrorist base. At the press conference he went on to say:


I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case. And one way to defeat that -- defeat resentment is with hope.

The United States is creating hope in Iraq? Yeah right. Though many Iraqis do seem to support Condi Rice's "New Middle East," such as those who were rallying in the streets of Baghdad this month in solidarity with Hezbollah.