Under the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act, the government requires groups receiving federal funding for overseas HIV/AIDS programs to adopt policies explicitly opposing prostitution. Several nonprofit organizations receiving federal funds claim that this “policy requirement” violates their First Amendment rights. They don’t seek to advocate for prostitution (or its legalization), but would rather not speak on the issue at all. Successful efforts to fight AIDS often involve working cooperatively with marginalized groups, so adopting a policy statement that explicitly renounces prostitution could frustrate outreach efforts to disseminate public health information. The government, however, requires funding recipients to espouse such an anti-prostitution policy even when they spend private funds. The district court ruled in the nonprofit groups’ favor, holding that the policy requirement violates the First Amendment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that the government may not condition the receipt of public funds on giving up First Amendment rights. Indeed, were the government’s position accepted, it would eviscerate the “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine, which the Court has long recognized to prevent the conditioning of generally available federal benefits on the waiver of fundamental rights. This week, Cato filed an amicus brief arguing that the policy requirement significantly burdens political speech, the constitutional protection of which lies at the very heart of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made clear that Congress may not condition participation in federal programs on speech limitations that are outside the scope of the program being funded: the Court has never given Congress carte blanche to give federal contractors Hobson’s Choices, whether relating to the freedom of speech or other constitutional rights. It should thus continue to adhere to the principle that Congress’s power to condition funding is limited to ensuring that its funds are used to properly implement the program that Congress wishes to fund, not to compel private organizations to adopt express “policies” that don’t relate to the use of those federal funds. The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International on April 22.
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Thousands of children’s asthma inhalers make condition worse
Thousands of children with asthma are being prescribed inhalers which do not work and cause their condition to get worse, scientists claim.
When children are diagnosed with asthma they are typically given a blue Ventolin inhaler to provide instant relief from attacks
By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent12:01AM GMT 08 Jan 2013
Up to a hundred thousand children in Britain whose asthma is not controlled by blue Ventolin inhalers are also given Salmeterol, a longer-acting inhaler drug.
But for one in every seven child sufferers the extra inhaler, commonly marketed as Seretide, may not work because they carry a gene which makes it ineffective, a study has found.
Failure to treat asthma with effective drugs causes the condition to grow worse, with an increase in wheezing and coughing and a higher risk of attacks.
A simple saliva test could identify which children carry the offending gene and allow doctors to prescribe an alternative such as Montelukast (also known as Singulair), a pill which is less effective for most children but much better for those who do not respond to Salmeterol.
Prof Somnath Mukhopadhyay of Brighton and Sussex Medical School, who led the study, said: “We should try to get some advice from the Department of Health or Asthma UK on the kind of advice we should be giving mothers and GPs, this is something we really need.
“If you have a child with Asthma and you give them a medicine that doesn’t work, it is making it worse. That is unacceptable in terms of treatment strategy because you are increasing the child’s risk of having school absence or hospital admissions.”
When children are diagnosed with asthma they are typically given a blue Ventolin inhaler to provide instant relief from attacks, but some need to use them so frequently that doctors also prescribe a steroid inhaler or, where this does not work, Salmeterol for longer-acting treatment.
Salmeterol works by binding to a molecule in the body called the beta-2 receptor, but one in seven asthma sufferers has a genetic mutation in the molecule which makes the treatment less effective.
The researchers studied 62 children carrying the mutation who regularly used steroid inhalers but had still missed school or needed hospital treatment for their asthma.
Half of the children was given Salmeterol inhalers and half took Montelukast pills over the course of a year. Those given Montelukast had a better quality of life, wheezed and coughed less, and relied less on their blue “reliever” inhalers.
At the start of the project a third of the children needed to use their relievers every day, but a year later this had halved among those using Montelukast, according to the study published in the Clinical Science journal.
Prof Mukhopadhyay said: “For almost every symptom we were looking at there was a significant difference and it was always in favour of Montelukast.
“We have for the first time shown that personalised medicine can work in the field of children’s asthma.”
There are also fears that the same patients may be responding worse to their blue inhalers because they use a similar type of drug, but further studies are needed to examine any possible link, he added.
The findings are unlikely to apply to adults because child asthma is very different to that experienced later in life.
Malayka Rahman of Asthma Research UK said: “This exciting area of research has the potential to lead to the tailoring of better treatments for an individual based on their own genetic make-up, ultimately keeping more people out of hospital and preventing unnecessary asthma deaths in the long term.”
Prof Stephen Holgate, MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at Southampton University, added: “This is a wonderful example of stratified or personalised medicine working its way into practice.
“The gene-based test is not yet available to doctors, but should become so if larger trials are equally positive.”
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Seretide, said: "The results of this small study raise interesting questions around how different patients can gain the most benefit from their medicines and it warrants further research.
"It is important to ensure that children continue to control and manage their asthma and we’d encourage anyone who has questions about the medicines their children take to talk to their doctor."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:26 pm
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USDA: Corn condition drops 9 percentage points
Angela Bowman, Staff Writer | Updated: July 16, 2012
The current weather pattern is repeating a destructive cycle of excessive heat and few chances at any precipitation, and the USDA showed the impact of the drought in its weekly Crop Progress report. According to the report, corn conditions dropped by 9 percentage points this week, marking the sixth consecutive week of deteriorating conditions. Soybeans weren’t far behind, dropping by 6 percentage points.
Specifically, the percentage of corn in "good" or "excellent condition is now 31 percent, compared to 40 percent last wee
Corn: Silking almost complete, conditions still bad
The report showed that corn silking is now 71 percent complete, well above last year’s pace of 28 percent and up by 21 percentage points from last week’s report. Corn has also been reported in the dough stage in 12 percent of the crops, compared to the five-year average of 4 percent.
States are also struggled against the destructive weather conditions. Three states reported at least 70 percent of their corn in poor to very poor condition – Indiana (71 percent), Kentucky (77 percent) and Missouri (72 percent). These states also struggled in the 1988 drought:
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:19 am
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Rains put Canada crop condition under a cloud too
Canada joined the list of countries to suffer weather setbacks to crops as rains of up to four inches in a week set back condition ratings, besides preventing agrichemical applications and reseeding of lost crops.
Farm officials in the major growing province of Saskatchewan, which a week ago said that "the majority of crops that have emerged are in good-to-excellent condition" downgraded its assessment to most being "good to fair", with ratings reductions for most major crops.
The province’s canola crop was downgraded to 68% rated either good or excellent, down six points in a week, albeit to levels still above year-ago levels, when flooding kept huge swathes of farmland from even being seeded.
The spring wheat crop was seen as 76% in good or excellent health, a drop of 10 points on the week, with declines in ratings for barley and oats too.
The downgrades reflected rains which dumped 100mm of rain in some southern areas last week, besides, in the US, causing flooding which disrupted loading at the Minnesota port of Duluth, prompting particular volatility in spring wheat prices on the Minneapolis exchange.
"Producers across the province continue to deal with very wet soil conditions," the Saskatchewan government said, adding that "excess moisture is delaying in-crop pest control applications for most producers in the province".
There had also been reports of hail damage to canola, of crops "yellowing from water stress", of "washed-out roads in some areas", and of flooding meaning that "any reseeding attempts have stopped".
‘Excess moisture stress’
The comments follow a report from farm officials in Manitoba earlier this week warning that "continuing wet and cool weather is starting to impact crop conditions.
"Crop types such as soybeans, edible beans, canola, peas, flax and corn are showing symptoms of excess moisture stress and slowed crop development," although the province’s cereals crops "appear to be handling the cool, wet conditions".
And they represent the latest in a string of cautions over adverse weather which have raised alarms, in particular, over Black Sea wheat and US corn crops, underpinning prices.
Rabobank on Friday outlined "compelling bullish scenarios" in agricultural commodities as it downgraded prospects for crops including US soybeans, Australian wheat and Chinese corn.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:16 am
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