It must be for some. And one man, 63-year-old Jose Santiago Delao of Texas, was willing to provide dental services on the cheap, despite not having a license. Eventually he landed on the authorities’ radar and was arrested following a complaint from a woman about a botched molar repair:
Delao admits he skirted the law, but isn’t remorseful.
“Jesus Christ didn’t need or didn’t have a license,” Jose Delao told Yahoo News during a jailhouse interview. “People hurt and they needed it. People didn’t have enough money to visit the regular dentist.”
Delao, a former dental lab technician, claims he couldn’t turn his back.
“It broke my heart,” he said, tapping his chest, “because I have the experience.”
But authorities say Delao, a native of Costa Rica, has never been a licensed dentist in Texas. If convicted, he could get two to 10 years in prison….
A survey of published news reports shows that as many as eight such underground dental clinics have been shutdown in the U.S. since last summer.
“I would clearly classify it as a problem,” said Dr. Frank Catalanotto, chair of the Department of Community Dentistry at the University of Florida. “It is potentially a big problem.”
I disagree that the problem is unlicensed dentistry. The problem is that there is obviously a market demand for low-cost dentistry that isn’t being met, probably because the barrier to entry in the field as a state-licensed dentist is so high, a barrier which licensed dentists have a vested interest in maintaining, as it protects their market share from would-be competitors like Delao. But people are far more likely to be uninsured for dental care than for medical care, or simply can’t afford to pay the high prices of mainstream dental work. Delao understood this and tried to meet the need, to his credit. He may have committed some crime (if, as the story reports, he did not let a patient leave when she wanted to), but trying to help people isn’t one of them.
Even with substantial help from the government in the form of $7,500 buyer’s tax credits, automakers are having trouble moving their electric vehicles:
Ford Motor Co. is offering hefty discounts of more than $10,000 for leases on its slow-selling Focus electric vehicle.
Ford is offering customers up to $10,750 off for three-year leases, according to the Dearborn automaker’s website. It also has dropped the base price of the Focus EV by $2,000 for cash sales.
In addition, Ford is offering a $2,000 cash discount on the Focus EV and 1.9 percent financing if the electric vehicle is purchased through Ford Motor Credit.
The automaker sold just 685 Focus EVs in 2012, but built 1,627 — making it one of the poorest performers among electric vehicles on the market.
This follows reports that Nissan has dropped the base price of its Leaf EV by 18 percent, following sluggish sales in 2012 that didn’t come close to meeting projections. And the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt continues to struggle, although it saw an uptick in sales late last year. But Government Motors still loses thousands of dollars on every Volt it sells.
Despite these grim numbers, some forecasters predict robust sales for EVs in 2013. But President Obama’s promise to have one million electric cars on the road by 2015 still seems to be a long shot. The choices made by consumers are speaking much louder than Obama’s words ever could.
A couple of weeks ago, tech review and news site CNET removed Dish Network’s Hopper device from consideration for its “Best of CES” awards, citing the ongoing litigation between its owner CBS and Dish over the ad-skipping technology in the Hopper.
Actually, it was worse than that: the Hopper had already won the award based on CNET editors’ votes, but they hadn’t published it yet. CBS forced the editors to vote again without the Hopper in the running. But that’s not how they initially reported it.
It gets even worse: just yesterday The Verge reported that CNET could not review any products from Aereo, because CBS is also taking legal action against the live-TV streaming start-up. CNET posted a disclaimer on a news story about Aereo stating that it is a “conflict of interest” to review products which are involved in litigation with CBS. Apparently this is the policy that was more or less made up by CBS executives in putting the kibosh on CNET’s award to the Hopper.
Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.
There is no way going forward that CNET, one of the oldest tech news sites in existence, can put any sort of claim on editorial independence. They are taking their marching orders from the suits, which no longer makes them journalists, but paid shills for the company. Corporate whores. They’re working in a brothel now, and Les Moonves is their pimp.
They are rightly being called out for not being more transparent in CBS’ meddling in their editorial decisions, and perhaps more importantly, for not making it clear they won’t put up with this shit. To date only one reporter, Greg Sandoval, has resigned from CNET. The site’s reviews editor, Lindsey Turrentine, posted a tepid apology over the fiasco, in which she stated that if faced with this dilemma again, she would not quit. Apparently her paycheck is a lot more important than her credibility.
Yes, it’s easy for me, who isn’t employed in journalism, and for TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who is a very wealthy journalist, to call on people to quit en masse when they have families to support and mortgages to pay. But supposedly editorial independence, along with freedom of the press, are the foundations of responsible journalism. Take away either and it’s no longer journalism; it’s something more like advertising or propaganda. Are CNET’s staff journalists, or advertisers? To whom do they have responsibility to tell the truth, their readers or their corporate owners?
Choose one side or the other, but be honest about it, and have the courage to face the consequences of that choice.
One of my favorite time sinks for many years has been Shorpy.com (“Always Something Interesting”), a webbed collection of photographs, most pulled from the Library of Congress’ vast archives but many also submitted by readers, that offers a high-definition look into America’s past. It’s astonishing not only for its variety, but the clarity of the digital scans — something which I just learned is thanks to the careful restoration work of the site’s proprietor, Dave Hall. I always felt the site was one of the best-kept secrets on the Web, but it likely will be one of the better-known secrets, now that it has been appreciatively profiled on TIME’s Web site:
The physical reality of turn-of-the-century America — its machines, factories, tenements and faces — emerge as if unearthed from a time capsule. Quirky cultural artifacts that have always been with us — locked in photosensitive chemicals in the glass plates and nitrate negatives of the LOC’s Prints & Photographs Division — feel as new and, in many cases, as unexpected, as they were on the day they were shot.
But the primary value of Shorpy.com isn’t just found in the hundreds upon hundreds of restored images of Americana, trains, bathing contests, accidents, war ephemera, portraits of royalty, and the occasional sharecropper. It’s in the details that Hall has meticulously restored within each photograph that the true power of these pictures is found. Every image republished on Shorpy has been color corrected, toned, and sharpened — restoring the brilliant texture and jaw-dropping sharpness found in the original negatives and glass plates. These negatives have a tremendous amount of detail, Hall explains, but the Library of Congress’ scans often don’t reflect this. The details exist in the original negatives, but are frequently hidden in blown-out highlights and muddied shadows. So, with each image, Hall balances the exposure, correcting for the wear of time upon negatives that record a narrow but deep slice of American history.
It truly is an amazing archive, prominently featuring work by some of the legendary New Deal-era photographers who worked for the Farm Security Administration, such as Dorothea Lange, Jack Delano, Gordon Parks, Marion Post Wolcott, and perhaps my favorite from that era, John Vachon. There’s also Lewis Wickes Hine (who took the photograph of the site’s namesake, Shorpy Higginbotham), and a huge selection of photos from Detroit Publishing Company (who published many of William Henry Jackson’s famed Western landscapes) and the National Photo Company. There are also hundreds of reader-submitted photos which offer fascinating glimpses into everyday American life from the ’50s through the ’70s. Check it out, and I challenge you not to spend hours more than you intended to browsing through its high-definition portal to the past.
My older daughter received the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as a Christmas gift, so we spent the afternoon today watching both parts. In general I found it enjoyable, a satisfying conclusion to the film series, particularly as the previous three installments had dragged considerably. As I have also just finished watching the second season of the acclaimed British period drama Downton Abbey, I was amused to see Maggie Smith bringing the same wit and elegance to her role as Professor McGonagall as she does to playing Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.
But the most amusing part for me was the great battle scenes in Hogwarts castle, particularly a point in which a Death Eater, who has just been struck by a spell, momentarily hangs in midair as if time has stopped, before being blown out of a window. Years ago, when I shared my impressions of the novel on my LiveJournal, I wrote that “whoever directs the film adaptation better turn this into The Matrix with wands: wall-to-wall action, with enough CG to make your eyes bleed.” Of course I harbor no illusions about director David Yates having read my LJ entry, and it’s no stretch to believe he has been influenced, like so many other filmmakers, by the Wachowskis’ pioneering special effects. But it made it enjoyable to watch all the same, even if they didn’t hire Rob Zombie to score the movie.
I learn something new about the drug war every day:
“The Mexicans have moved to an old recipe that existed in the ’70s and ’80s that is called P2P,” said Jane C. Maxwell, a senior research scientist at the Addiction Research Institute at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin.
“It uses precursors that have been banned in the U.S. since the 1980s, but the Mexicans have taken up making it,” Maxwell said of ingredients — including a substance called propanone — used to make the drug. “They are making it in mass quantities, and they are damn good chemists.”
The old recipe became popular again after Mexico banned the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the common ingredients that had been used to make the narcotic. But Mexicans have become increasingly adept at using the old recipe for the drug, which Maxwell likened to a weed in a garden that won’t go away. (emphasis mine)
So Mexico adopted an even more draconian tactic than the U. S. government, by taking common cold and allergy medications completely off the market and inconveniencing Mexican consumers who simply want to clear up a stuffy nose, and it has not done a damn thing to stop the flow of meth. Making customers provide identification and sign a registry hasn’t worked so well in the U. S., either, which is why some states are now requiring prescriptions for what used to be OTC medications.
The bitter irony here is that drug warriors will point to cases like this as proof that the government must never lessen its vigilance in combating illicit drugs. But it is precisely this high adaptability of black markets to prohibition that makes it a futile exercise. Meanwhile, cold and allergy sufferers are being treated like criminals, and declining domestic meth production is taking a more dangerous turn.
If you receive an application for a position requiring a lot of driving or operating heavy machinery, and the applicant has a known history of alcohol or substance abuse, you’d probably be justified in turning the applicant down for the job, right?
You probably already know the answer to this, but: wrong.
A substitute bus driver for the Jefferson County, Colo., school district was cited for careless driving resulting in bodily harm after he struck three teenagers as they crossed the street on Tuesday. The driver, David Shaw, was convicted of DUI in 1992 and according to friends had been in and out of alcohol abuse treatment as recently as 2009.
But even had the school district known this, they could not use it as grounds to terminate him, or even to make a hiring decision:
When asked whether Shaw would have been hired if the district had known he’d been in and out of addiction rehab treatment, a representative cited the American’s with Disabilities Act, which reads “‘It is illegal under state and federal disability laws to deny employment solely on the basis of a history of treatment for alcohol or substance abuse.”
Ignoring the DUI for the moment (which should have been caught in a background check), only the government could come up with employment policies which result in alcoholics driving schoolchildren around in buses.
It’s not that they shouldn’t be hired at all. But the many-headed beast that is the Americans with Disabilities Act has made it virtually impossible to apply common sense when making hiring decisions. And since the ADA has proved to be a potent legal weapon against businesses who have turned down or fired disabled workers, it has actually had the opposite effect it intended: employment of disabled workers have decreased steadily since passage of the ADA in 1989. But as with most other anti-discrimination laws, merely suggesting that the ADA needs to be overhauled (or heavens forbid, repealed) makes one an enemy of the very group of people the law was intended (but failed) to protect.
More from another hater of disabled people, Cato’s Walter Olson, on the occasion of the ADA’s 20th anniversary.
Following a week of ferocious public opposition and a withdrawal of support by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, state Republican lawmakers backed off of a bill that would have required women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion. For most abortions, that meant women would have to submit to an invasive transvaginal ultrasound to determine the age of the fetus. McDonnell acknowledged on Wednesday that “no person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.”
So a rare win for common decency in the always-heated political fight over abortion rights. But although conservative attempts to restrict abortion tend to receive the most media coverage, it’s worth noting that progressives are known for imposing their own agenda to guarantee access to abortion on demand.
The most recent example comes from Washington state, which has long been favorable to abortion rights, even before Roe v. Wade. Now the state House is considering a new bill that would require health insurance providers who offer maternity care to also cover abortions. The intent of the law is to avoid running afoul of Federal accounting rules that took effect under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), meant to ensure Federal funds aren’t used to cover abortions. Lawmakers fear that insurance companies will simply drop coverage for abortion rather than deal with the more complex accounting rules.
The irony here is that the Washington bill represents the lesser of two evils; the Obamacare requirement is arguably worse. It mandates that everyone enrolled in a health plan that provides abortion services pay into a separate fund, taken from their premiums, to cover only abortions. Unlike the Washington bill, which allows a “conscience exemption” for insurance providers if they object to abortion coverage, the enrollees subject to Obamacare rules must pay into the separate abortion fund whether they’re a man, a woman, or have no plan to ever get an abortion. This is no more justifiable than the state requiring doctors to violate their patients before performing an abortion.
I am pro-choice, but I recognize that many people (including a lot of libertarians) oppose abortion on moral grounds. Forcing them to pay for a procedure they consider to be murder is at least as offensive as forcing those of us opposed to war to pay for Predator drones to kill civilians. And in general there’s a problem with trying to guarantee a positive right to any medical procedure, as it means someone must be forced to provide it. The proposed law in Washington is a stark reminder of that reality.
If a law currently up for vote in the Virginia House passes this week and is signed by Governor Bob McDonnell, it will require many women seeking an abortion to be raped.
No, you didn’t misread that.
The bill, which is similar to laws passed in seven other states, requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before an abortion is performed. The ultrasound is not medically necessary; it has not even been rationalized as such by the bill’s defenders. It is simply another tactic adopted by anti-abortion crusaders to humiliate women, in the hopes that they may change their mind about going through with the procedure.
But since most abortions are performed in the first trimester, and abdominal ultrasounds are not able to produce a clear image of the fetus in most cases, Virgina’s law mandates the use of transvaginal ultrasound – that is, a probe must be inserted in the women’s vagina to view the fetus. Women cannot refuse this if they want to get an abortion, and the law does not allow for any exceptions such as rape or to protect the woman’s health.
I can’t even imagine what a rape victim who has become pregnant might think of this, after having already been violated once, and then being told by arrogant politicians that she must be violated again in order to undergo a legal medical procedure. It also forces her doctor to perform a procedure that is not medically necessary, and violates their oath not to cause harm to their patient. As one Virginia House Delegate pointed out, the bill may actually require doctors to sexually assault their patients, as it is a crime to vaginally penetrate women with any object without their consent. (To add insult to injury, the woman must also pay for this state-mandated procedure. Where’s Obamacare when you need it?)
It’s not even cognizant of the doctor-patient relationship that is generally so well-respected – except when women’s medical choices are involved. Then it’s absolutely imperative that the government asserts jurisdiction over a women’s vagina, to ensure she’s actually making the best medical decisions for herself. It’s not just humiliating; it is paternalistic in its very worst sense.
Note that I haven’t even addressed the issue of abortion itself. That is because regardless of where one stands on abortion – if one considers it murder, or the right of a woman to make decisions regarding her own property (i.e., her body) – this intrusion by the state into private medical affairs, which would not be tolerated under virtually any other circumstances, is simply not justifiable. And perhaps anti-abortion crusaders are aware of that, and are adopting these tactics to set up a constitutional challenge that leads to a Supreme Court review of Roe v. Wade, hopefully this time to overturn it for good.
Regardless of the anti-abortion camp’s motives, their degrading and humiliating tactics are despicable.
- Even Robert Rodriguez couldn’t have scripted this one: a gay Republican border fascist sheriff has resigned from Mitt Romney’s local election campaign amid allegations he threatened his ex-lover with deportation to Mexico if he didn’t keep quiet. I’m fully expecting to learn soon that Joe Arpaio fathered five illegitimate children with his undocumented Mexican housekeeper.
- Happy-cry feature of the week: photo story of couples married 50 years or more.
- The FBI assist a man in plotting, equipping, and staging a terrorist attack on the Capitol in D. C….then arrest him for attempting a terrorist attack.
- The Iranian government is trying anything to execute a Canadian Web designer for writing a program that was used to upload photos to pornographic Web sites, including loading the court which reviewed his sentence with Islamic extremists.
- Kevin Drum wonders why President Obama has made an abrupt about-face on medical marijuana and is allowing the DEA to go after dispensaries and caregivers in states where it has been legalized. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the Feds are unwilling to relinquish any power to the states once it has usurped it.
- Speaking of MMJ, dispensaries in Fort Collins, Colo., closed on Wednesday, when a voter-approved ban took effect. Colorado’s MMJ law allows local governments to restrict dispensaries or ban them outright.
- Finally, the secret is out: your cat really is making you crazy.
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