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Opposition

There’s not much pure research left. Corporate donations influence everything, thanks to the concept that the federal government should only give money to bankers:

In an extraordinary move, a group of spine specialists are publicly repudiating the research of other experts that has backed the widespread use of a Medtronic bone growth product. In a series of reports published in a medical journal on Tuesday, the specialists called the research misleading and biased.

The repudiation, appearing in a full issue of The Spine Journal devoted to the topic, represents a watershed in the long-running debate over conflicts of interest for the sponsorship of scientific studies by makers of drugs and medical devices. It is extremely rare for researchers to publicly chastise colleagues, and editors of leading medical journals said they could not recall an instance in which a publication had dedicated an entire issue for such a singular purpose.

[...] Infuse is used in about a quarter of the estimated 432,000 spinal fusions performed in this country each year. The articles published on Tuesday charge that researchers with financial ties to Medtronic overstated Infuse’s benefits and vastly understated its risks by claiming there were none.

“It harms patients to have biased and corrupted research published,” five doctors wrote in a joint editorial that accompanied the reports. “It harms patients to have unaccountable special interests permeate medical research.”

No support for second term

You’d think voters would figure out that no matter how bad the Democrats are, they can’t hold a candle to the Republican anti-worker agenda:

More than half of New Jersey residents say they wouldn’t back Governor Chris Christie for a second term, disapproving of his choices on a range of policy and personal issues, from killing a commuter tunnel to using a state-police helicopter to attend his son’s baseball game.

Teachers, whose union Christie has targeted on tenure, pay and benefits, received a far higher favorable rating, 76 percent, than the first-term Republican himself, who had support from 43 percent, according to a Bloomberg New Jersey poll conducted June 20-23.

“Teachers I know got laid off because of him,” Fred Lavin, 61, a poll respondent from Toms River who is troubleshooter for an electronics company, said in a June 24 telephone interview. “He’s not in favor of the average working person.”

Shutout

Okay, the no-hitter petered out in the sixth inning (he did hold them to two), but Cliff Lee did pitch his third consecutive shutout last night. Go Cliff!

Juan Cole

This came out while I was away and I missed it, but I thought you should know an ex-spy says the Bush White House wanted the CIA to dig up dirt on Juan Cole:

WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.

In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.
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Last night

Had a fascinating talk with Steve Volk about his new book “Fringeology: How I Tried to Explain Away The Unexplainable — And Couldn’t.” You can listen here, and learn how his look at how we react to the idea of the paranormal also tells us a lot about the political brain.

Tainted

Did the largest natural gas producer in America buy our PA attorney general and help him become governor? Sure looks like it. Will Bunch at the Daily News:

IN THE OIL-AND-GAS business, it’s called a wildcat well – when a prospector takes a big risk drilling deep in an unexplored area.

In 2004, a flamboyant Oklahoma City multimillionaire took out his hefty checkbook for what you could call the political equivalent of a wildcat well – and he struck a gusher, right here in Pennsylvania.

The $450,000 in campaign checks that energy mogul Aubrey McClendon wrote that fall helped elect a man he said he’d never even met – a relatively obscure GOP candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett.

That investment arguably changed not just the history but also the political direction of the state. The influx of cash helped Corbett narrowly win the closest attorney general’s race in Pennsylvania history and propelled him toward the governor’s mansion, where he has now pledged to turn the Keystone State into “the Texas of the natural-gas boom.”
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Kabuki

Digby, reacting to a report that the Republicans were holding out over 17% in tax increases:

Gosh, I sure do hope that the President can hold tough and get that whole 17% in tax increases or it will make the Democrats look like they really got screwed in this deal.

See what’s happening here? They aren’t having any trouble agreeing to trillions of dollars in spending cuts, are they? The talks aren’t breaking down over that. It’s the measly little tax increases on some luxury goods for millionaires that they are now pretending to haggle over. The rest of the “deal” is just fine with both parties.

Believe me these Republicans are not going to crash the global economy over some tax loopholes for jet travel. Maybe they genuinely don’t want to give Obama this band-aid and maybe Obama will hold out for it and get it. Or not. But who cares? I think it’s pretty clear that the debt ceiling is going to be raised as a result of a deal that cuts trillions of dollars worth of spending from the federal government at a time of 9.1% unemployment and an economy that is slowing. The “win” they are building up here (and alleged capitulation by the Republicans) is a joke.

Los Alamos

I’m sure everything’s just fine. They would tell us if it wasn’t, right?

One of the top nuclear weapons research facilities in the US will remain closed until Thursday as fire fighters battle a wildfire raging at its boundary.

Only “essential-duties” staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory will be permitted on site on Wednesday.

Officials at the New Mexico facility have said they detected “no off-site releases of contamination”.

The town outside the laboratory in the state of New Mexico was evacuated on Monday as the fire raged nearby.

Officials said the nuclear facilities faced “no immediate threat” but warned of damage to houses.

[..] The blaze was said to be as close as 50ft (15m) away from the grounds of the lab on Tuesday afternoon, raising fears it could reach a cache of 30,000 drums, each containing 55 gallons (208 litres) of plutonium-contaminated waste.

The fire had reached the lab’s southwestern boundary and leapt a state road onto the land, burning roughly an acre, state fire officials said.

“The concern is that these drums will get so hot that they’ll burst,” Joni Arends, executive director of the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, told the Associated Press news agency.

“That would put this toxic material into the plume,” she added.

But officials said there was very little risk of the fire actually reaching the lab’s facilities and that workers were standing near the waste drums to coat them with fire-resistant foam if the blaze got too close.

Oh, well then! You shouldn’t be too upset about this additional information:

Officials insist explosive materials on the laboratory’s grounds are safely stored in underground bunkers made of concrete and steel. But the group, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, told the Associated Press that the fire appeared to be about 3.5 miles from a dump site where as many as 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste were stored in fabric tents above ground. The group said the drums were awaiting transport to a low-level radiation dump site in southern New Mexico.

The brain on trial

Fascinating piece in the Atlantic.

Devilish man

Haley Bonar:

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