I saw this report while reading the paper on the Canada Line on Friday:
New federal rules that threaten to ban companies convicted of crimes from public contracts could kill jobs and hurt the Canadian economy, warns a study conducted for a powerful business group.
The report lists the potential consequences of Ottawa’s so-called integrity framework, a measure strengthened last spring to disqualify would-be suppliers busted in Canada or abroad for offences such as fraud, bribery and extortion.
You read that correctly.
This is relevant to why those who support tort reform are at best misguided (though well-intentioned) and at worst shills for corporatocracy. It is easy to get riled up at million dollars in damages for pain and suffering. The point behind millions of dollars in damages is to make it hurt” so that the wrongdoer has an incentive to stop. If it is instead a low amount it becomes an immaterial expense.
A new study has found that domestic cats are among the most prolific predators in the world:
Domestic cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and up to 20 billion small rodents each year, according to researchers at the Migratory Bird Center of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
The report, published Tuesday, found that cats — particularly strays — are “likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for U.S. birds and mammals.”
The study went on to note that feral cats are damaging and threatening to ecosystems.
This study reminds me of an incident with a really friendly cat that used to live in my neighbourhood. Once it made a plaintive meow and wanted to come in. Turned out it had caught a starling. When it came in it released the starling and started chasing after it inside the house. At one point, the starling landed on the kitchen table, and the cat just about pulled off the tablecloth (and dishes) before I managed to stop the tablecloth. Eventually, I managed to grab the cat and put it in another room while I shooed the starling out with a broom.
Lindsay is currently doing a series of posts on the recent autism hearings in the US Congress. As you might expect from a hearing conducted by anti–science wingnuts, it quickly (as in opening statements) reached the completely discredited and absolutely refuted claim that vaccines (especially the MMR [measles–mumps–rubella]) cause autism.
I’m not going to re–debunk the claim that vaccines cause autism; others have already done that. And I don’t have much to add to what Lindsay is and will be saying. I’ll instead just draw your attention to this study. (Congenital rubella syndrome and autism spectrum disorder prevented by rubella vaccination – United States, 2001-2010, authored by Berger, Navar-Boggan, and Omer) Although not particularly recent,it is still important to read. Quoting the freely–licensed abstract (my emphasis):
Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is associated with several negative outcomes, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The objective of this study was to estimate the numbers of CRS and ASD cases prevented by rubella vaccination in the United States from 2001 through 2010.
Prevention estimates were calculated through simple mathematical modeling, with values of model parameters determined from published literature. Model parameters included pre-vaccine era CRS incidence, vaccine era CRS incidence, the number of live births per year, and the percentage of CRS cases presenting with an ASD.
Based on our estimates, 16,600 CRS cases (range: 8300-62,250) were prevented by rubella vaccination from 2001 through 2010 in the United States. An estimated 1228 ASD cases were prevented by rubella vaccination in the United States during this time period. Simulating a slight expansion in ASD diagnostic criteria in recent decades, we estimate that a minimum of 830 ASD cases and a maximum of 6225 ASD cases were prevented.
We estimate that rubella vaccination prevented substantial numbers of CRS and ASD cases in the United States from 2001 through 2010. These findings provide additional incentive to maintain high measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage.
And another irony meter bites the dust. Far from causing autism, the MMR vaccine actually prevents it.
A new study has determined that more than 366,000 British Columbians use marijuana, with the market value of their purchases being about half a billion dollars a year, According to the study, taxing it (the same as with alcohol or cigarettes) would bring in billions in new revenue (links removed):
The researchers also point to data from Washington, which recently held a successful referendum to legalize pot, that suggests the same number of pot smokers in that state could bring in $2.5 billion in taxes over five years in a regulated system.
This is one of the reasons why marijuana should be legalized. It would free up money spent prosecuting and incarcerating non–violent criminals who harm no one other than themselves. It is especially important, as the legalization in Washington state could cause a grey market of British Columbians going there to get their marijuana. Completely legalizing it here would prevent such an event. As it stands, a potential boost to ours (and more diffusely, the Canadian economy) is being lost and undercut.
And this study shows yet again why socons should never be allowed to control the public purse. Given the chance, they’ll always deny revenue and blow the budget on puritanism, going after people for doing something they probably do themselves.
Yet another study has found that gay and lesbian parents are just as good as straight parents, even when the circumstances are (for lack of a better term) stacked against them. It examined (at 2, 12, and 24 months after adoption) 82 high–risk children who were adopted. Of those children, 60 were adopted by different–sex couples and 22 by same–sex couples. The result?
From the abstract:
On average, children in both household types showed significant gains in cognitive development and maintained similar levels of behavior problems over time, despite gay and lesbian parents raising children with higher levels of biological and environmental risks prior to adoptive placement. Results demonstrated that high-risk children show similar patterns of development over time in heterosexual and gay and lesbian adoptive households.
And as mentioned at Salon, LGBT couples were more likely to adopt higher–risk high–risk children.
These results are entirely consistent with numerous previous studies: same–sex couples are just as good at parenting as different–sex couples, and perhaps even a little bit better.
Of course, I know that (almost certainly) not one wingnut or homophobe will change their views about this. Besides being driven by homophobia, I also see those people’s opposition to LGBT adoption as being driven by misogyny. After all, if you truly, truly believed that abortion was murder, how the hell could being adopted by a same–sex couple possibly be worse than killing someone? Now, you would think that it would be better to be adopted by a same–sex couple than to be dead. This would apply even if same–sex couples were the worst possible parents (which they’re not). This is why anyone who is why simultaneously being both anti–choice and anti–LGBT adoption is a hopelessly incoherent position. These people cannot possibly think that research going on since the 1970’s and all showing the same result (same–sex couples are just as good as different–sex couples) is inadequate. The only possible explanation is that they really do believe that being raised by a same–sex couple is worse than death. If they do believe that then they really are the worst sort of homophobe. If they don’t, then they are simply the usual anti–choicer who sees forced birth as a woman’s punishment for daring to have sex. That’s why those people’s opposition to LGBT adoption is motivated not only by homophobia but also by deep misogyny.
Remember how wingnuts and conservatives objected to the HPV vaccine because they thought it might cause promiscuity? Well, a new study (hat tip: Feministing) shows that this is not the case:
Since public health officials began recommending in 2006 that young women be routinely vaccinated against HPV, many parents have hesitated over fears that doing so might give their children license to have sex. But research published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics may help ease those fears.
Looking at a sample of nearly 1,400 girls, the researchers found no evidence that those who were vaccinated beginning around age 11 went on to engage in more sexual activity than girls who were not vaccinated.
This was obvious from the start. But I know that anti–choicers won’t stop their freaking out and sexophobia.
A new peer–reviewed study* published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology has shown that free birth control substantially reduces the abortion rate. This is of course nothing new to rational people. The driver of the abortion rate is the unintended pregnancy rate, and with nearly half of American pregnancies being unintended, this study provides more evidence of the best way to reduce it.
When cost was not a factor, women generally chose the most effective contraception methods available, known as Long–Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC). Examples of those include IUDs and implants. This resulted in a substantial reduction in the abortion rate in the study group. Providing free birth control to all women could prevent 62–78% of all abortions each year.
It’s not like we needed more evidence that anti–choicers would, if they really were concerned with reducing the abortion rate (by more than half), would push for more birth control access and use. I mean, if you truly believed abortion was killing someone, how could paying for birth control possibly be too high a cost or more than halving the rate be too ineffective? But know I anti–choicers won’t.
* The study can be downloaded and read as a PDF here. It’s title is “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies by Providing No-Cost Contraception.
Edited to remove a superfluous link.