Saturday, March 26, 2005

Thursday, March 24, 2005

World TB Day 2005

Today is World TB Day. Why today? Because 123 years ago today Dr. Robert Koch presented his discovery that TB was caused by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Most people in the USA do not realize that 8000 people die every day of TB. One third of the worlds population is infected with M. tuberculosis. World TB Day is intended to promote awareness, knowledge, and motivation for action against TB worldwide. World TB Day 2005 pays tribute to public health systems’ staff, nurses, laboratory technicians, NGO volunteers, prison clinicians, private medical practitioners, pharmacists, academics, students, cured patients and, in some instances, family members and other ordinary people concerned about the well-being of others. Without them, the achievements of the past 10 years would not have been possible, without them further progress will be impossible.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Do You Want to be a Nobel Prize Nominee?

Is Dr. William Hammesfahr, proponent of life for Terry Schiavo (he claims he can cure her), actually a Nobel Prize Nominee as stated by Fox talking heads Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough? Well yes, actually he is. He was nominated by Congressman Bilrakis (R-Fl) as verified by this letter. What the average person does not probably realize is that only members of the Nobel Assembly or persons directed by them can nominate someone for a Nobel Prize. But still, it's a pretty good trick. I'm going to get Brandon to write a letter nominating me for a Nobel Prize and then I too can be a Nobel Prize 'nominee'. I'm sure that will bring in the grant funds!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

And Another Thing!

Yesterday a six month old baby in Texas was disconnected from life support in spite of the objections of his parents. There was no way the baby was ever going to survive however so Texas law allows hospitals to discontinue life sustaining care, even if patient family members disagree. A doctor's recommendation must be approved by a hospital's ethics committee, and the family must be given 10 days from written notice of the decision to try and locate another facility for the patient. This law was signed by our illustrious president Mr. Bush. Texas really is the death state. However there is no way in hell you are going to die in Jeb Bush's state of Florida. Just amazing.

Can a Teacher be Fired?

An interesting case in Plattsburgh that has been ongoing for a couple years now. A female PE/track coach appeared to be seeking an 'improper' relationship with a 16 yr old HS student. 'Improper' appears to be a euphemism. The local paper was given letters the teacher had written to the student and they were published. 'Improper' to put it mildly. In any case, the school board attempted to get the teacher dismissed. It went through the complex NYS process with the school board putting forth 46 charges against her. The teacher was put on paid leave of absence. The hearing officer dismissed 41 of the 46 charges, sustaining only 5 of them. The letters were deemed 'improper', the fact that the coach instructed a track relay team to lose a state qualifying race was sustained. The hearing officer directed that the teacher/coach be allowed to return to her job in 2005/06. My only question is this: what if the teacher had been male instead of female? I'm not saying the hearing officer would have ruled differently, but I am suggesting that the local community would be in an uproar.

Monday, March 21, 2005

SL Teachers Contract, Health Insurance, and Tax Levy

SL school district teachers are reported to be getting salary increases of 12.85% over the next 3 years. 3.97% the first year, 4.38% the second year, and 4.5% the third year. If recent economic trends oflow inflation remain the same, these increases are not too bad. For those that don't know, typically in our school district, not all teachers get those specific percentage increases. Usually, teachers with greater than 10-15 years of experience get significantly larger increases than teachers with less than 7 years of experience. Not surprisingly, since salaries account for about 70% of the school budget, these increases are going to result in property tax increases likely above the rate of inflation. SL could have a tax levy increase next year of 6%. This will not only be due to salary increases, but increases in contribution to the state retirement system (because the stock market is not doing that great) and increases in health care premiums. If nothing has changed in the last several years, it is likely that SL school district employees still do not contribute to their own health insurance. This is almost unheard of today in most businesses. How much lower would the tax levy be if school employees had to contribute 10% of the cost of their health premium?