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  • S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley Vetoes HPV Vaccine Bill

    Earlier this week, it was reported that an "informal Romney adviser" — who I presume is a khaki-wearing campaign strategist — believed it was unlikely that Mitt Romney would select a female running mate because, "unfortunately, [Sarah] Palin poisoned the well on that."

    There's a slight problem with this line of thought. John Edwards is most likely a gentleman grifter now, trolling the Carolina countryside, conning elderly ladies out of their Social Security checks. No one would be surprised if Dick Cheney literally poisoned wells. Joe Lieberman is still Joe Lieberman. But none of them have disqualified men from being terrible vice presidential candidates/vice presidents in the future.

    Plus, there are women Republicans willing to do anything to get on Romney's good side. Take South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who in 2007 co-sponsored a bill that would have made HPV vaccination mandatory for girls entering seventh grade. Having called that co-sponsorship a "mistake," Haley has now decided that she will be pro-HPV

    Gov. Nikki Haley has vetoed a bill that could have allowed seventh-grade students to get a free vaccination against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cancer in women…

    Haley said the bill was unnecessary because its language would merely allow, not require, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to implement a voluntary vaccination and education program on human papillomavirus, or HPV.

    And the measure by Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, is a precursor to “another taxpayer funded healthcare mandate,” the governor said in her veto message.

    It's not like South Carolina has a problem with injecting things, having attained the 7th highest per-capita execution rate in the country, but this is the kind of flip-flopping and convoluted reasoning it takes to get on Romney's short list.

    Unfortunately, what's good news for Haley is bad news for Newt Gingrich. After his strong showing in the South Carolina primary, I was sure his next wife would come from the Palmetto State. Now Haley has thrown a wrench bit of cervical cancer into those plans.

    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Health, Health Care, Nikki Haley, Sarah Palin, South Carolina, Veepstakes
  • Ann Romney Would Focus on Disease Relief as First Lady

    I admit it can be tempting to do nothing but poke fun at politicians, but every once in a while you've got to take a step back and poke… something other than fun.

    Ann Romney — who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer — says that, as First Lady, she would make a project of raising awareness of/promoting research for those diseases

    Romney was diagnosed with MS in 1998 and although she has had periods of more severe symptoms, she now says most of her symptoms are in remission and she uses horseback riding as a form of therapy…

    She was diagnosed with a non-invasive form of breast cancer in January of 2009 and that is also in remission after treating it at the time with radiation…

    "One thing [my diagnoses have] done to me its taught me how many people are going through difficult times in their life," Romney said.

    I'm happy for Ann. I think she would be an excellent First Lady, and I'm glad she's in better health. But what about the small percentage of people who can't afford to ride Olympic-caliber horses as a form of therapy? Or those few women whose families don't have personal fortunes available to spend on chemotherapy? Do they have anything to say about health care reform?

    "What I hear from women, they are talking about jobs, they are talking about the economy, they are talking about deficit spending," Romney said before her husband spoke.

    Right. I didn't think so.

    Photo by Jeff Neira/CBS/Getty Images

    Tags: Animals, Ann Romney, Health, Health Care
  • 10 Things More Likely to Kill You Than Terrorism or Terrorist Furniture

    Earlier this week we covered a U.S. government study reporting on the threat of killer furniture. According to government statistics, roughly as many Americans are killed annually by unstable furniture and falling televisions as are killed in terrorist attacks. In honor of the annual National Counter Terrorism Center report, here are 10 more things you can be terrified of…

    1. 16 oz sodas – At least 26,000 deaths per year are attributed directly to obesity. Way more purple hearts issued in the obesity wars than in the anti-terror ones.

    2. The Transportation Security Administration -  The increased inconvenience of going through airport security increases automobile deaths due to people deciding to drive instead of fly by 500 per year. On the bright side, a TSA security check is the most action many soda-guzzling Americans are ever going to get.

    3. Your Bathroom – Nearly 9,000 bathroom-related fatalities were reported in 1999.

    Read More »

    Tags: Health, Terrorism
  • Milkshakes May Bring Mike Bloomberg's Food Police to Your Yard

    Before New York City enacts a ban on large sugary drinks whose containers constitute a drowning hazard for Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the City Board of Health must formally adopt the proposal. Luckily for the mayor, his handpicked Board seems to be supportive of the plan and is even considering additional limits on high calorie foods…

    One member, Bruce Vladeck, thinks limiting the sizes for movie theater popcorn should be considered.

    "The popcorn isn't a whole lot better than the soda," Vladeck said.

    Another board member thinks milk drinks should fall under the size limits.

    "There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories," said board member Dr. Joel Forman.

    Since it's true that high calorie diets impose costs on the rest of society in the form of higher health bills, it may be wise to tax unhealthy food, which would discourage consumption even among consumers tricky enough to get around the ban by getting refills. And a tax would provide government with revenue to maintain public health programs or invest in mass transit or invest in more anti-obesity marketing.

    As it stands, an outright ban on large is making our War on Obesity look as asinine as our other ill-defined military operations.

    As with the War on Terror, the target is amorphous. Citizens' rights are limited in the pursuit of a broader goal. And all too many combatants finish the war with purple hearts.

    Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Food, Health, Michael Bloomberg, New York City
  • Mike Bloomberg, Soda Jerk

    First, they came for cigarettes and I did not speak out because I was not a smoker. Then they came for trans-fats and I did not speak out because I don't eat much fast food. Then, they came for sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces and I still barely gave a damn, but was ready to admit it was getting a little ridiculous

    The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

    The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.

    New York City happens to be a municipality where obstetrics and gynecologist residents receive training in abortion services as part of the general curriculum, rather than as an oft-bypassed elective. It's an important program, launched because New York's public health community understands the importance of ensuring that people have sovereignty over their own bodies. Unless, what you choose to do with that body doesn't involve an abortion or downing a liter of gin, but having a McCafe Cherry Berry Chiller.

    Drinking sugary beverages does carry externalities that are ultimately paid for by taxpayer-funded health services, which is why a soda tax, rather than an outright ban, makes sense. As with cigarette taxes, soda drinkers can be asked to defray the social costs of unhealthy decisions without being treated like children.

    In any case, this must be a prelude to a successful Bloomberg-led third-party presidential run — right, Tom Friedman?  If there's anything that voters at Midwestern state fairs want, it's for a billionaire big city mayor to pry the Big Gulp from their cold, insulin-insensitive hands.

    Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Food, Health, Michael Bloomberg, New York City