Wednesday, July 31, 2019

HPV vaccine saving lives over objections from Christians

From The Week, 07/19/19, p.21

The end of cervical cancer?
The HPV vaccine has been much more effective than predicted, scientists have found—so much so that it could eliminate cervical cancer altogether. 

Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease, is the leading cause of cervical cancer. 

Researchers examined 40 studies of HPV infections and associated symptoms, covering 60 million people in 14 high-income countries that adopted the vaccine—typically administered to girls around age 12—after its introduction in 2006. They found that the strains of HPV most likely to cause cervical cancer decreased by 83 percent over that period among girls ages 13 to 19, and by 66 percent among those ages 20 to 24. Cases of precancerous cervical lesions fell by 51 percent among girls ages 15 to 19, and by 31 percent among women ages 20 to 24. 

Genital warts, another potential consequence of HPV, also fell sharply. The vaccine hasn’t been available long enough for there to be meaningful data on its effect on cancer rates, but the researchers expect similarly sharp declines. 

Lead author Mélanie Drolet, from Laval University in Canada, tells that the findings are “a first sign that vaccination could eventually lead to the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem.”


I remember when the vaccine came out and fundamentalist Christians objected to it  arguing that it would contribute to promiscuity. It seems odd that "Christians" would rather a woman become sick and die than be protected from a disease she could contract from sexual activity. It turns out that the vaccine is saving lives and contributing to better individual and public health.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The America we want to be - Made me cry with joy.

Civics education in America

Here is a great article with many tables of data on the state of civics education in America.

The states that require no civics education are Alaska, Delaware, Kentuck, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

There are many more that do not require any civics exam to graduate from high school.

The states that have the highest mean scores on the AP American History Exam in order are Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The states with the lowest mean scores on the AP American History exam starting with the lowest are Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, and Floida. 

My hypothesis that civics education requirements would be greater in red states than blue states was not born out completely. However, it is born out when comparing mean test scores on AP history exams, The five lowest mean scores are all in red states while the states with the highest mean scores are all blue states.

The lack of civics education as a requirement for high school graduation should be a major concern of all Americans. Without a knowledgeable electorate democracy is seriiously compromised and in serious trouble.

The fact that only 25% of American adults can name all three branches of their government is a serious symptom of sickness in our body politic.

Back to the point - naturalized citizens must past a basic civics exam to become citizens of the United States, Other citizens get a waiver. What is the impact of ignorant people voting in our elections? Donald Trump, a reality TV celebrity, and con man.

Lewis is absolutely right in his book, the Fifth Rish. The greatest risk facing America is not nuclear war, or climate change, or financial melt down, or break down of the electrical grid, it's the ignorance and stupidity of its own citizens.

As the old Pogo cartoon said, "I have seen the enemy and it is us."

God help us all.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Brief history of racist taunt used by President Trump

Brief history of racist trope used by President Trump on July 14, 2019 "Go Back to Where You Came From!"

For more click here.

The US Department of Justice announces it will begin practicing the death penalty again after a hiatus of 20 years. Five inmates are slated for execution.

From the Washintgon Post on 07/25/19
The Justice Department announced Thursday that it plans to resume executing prisoners awaiting the death penalty, ending almost two decadesin which the federal government had not imposed capital punishment on prisoners.
Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to schedule executions for five inmates on death row. The prisoners were convicted of murdering children.
The Trump administration’s push to resume capital punishment in the federal system, while not surprising, goes against the recent trend of declining executions across the country.
The last federal execution was in 2003. In the years since, there has been an informal moratorium on executions of federal prisoners, as Justice Department officials reviewed its lethal-injection procedures. That practice was underscored during the Obama administration by then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s personal opposition to the death penalty, even while he approved prosecutors’ decisions to seek the death penalty in specific trials.
Editorial note:
Pope Francis declared last year in August of 2018 that the death penalty was no longer permissable under Catholic teaching.
Back in the 1980s, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin popularized the concept of the "consistent life ethic" meaning that pro-life proponents to be consistent also should be against the death penalty, war, and euthanasia.
Republicans have always been very conficted and contradictory about the consistency of their pro life positions. This is very apparent now in the era of Trumpism as Republican states have passed legislation making abortion unavailable in their states but still promoting the death penalty and being "hawks" when it comes to war mongering.
The United States is the only first world country that still practices the death penalty in 29 of their 50 states as well as by the Federal Government and the military..
Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. As Sister Helen Prejan, the author of Dead Man Walking, has said, "Every person is worth more than their worst act."

What is slow news?

In our contemporary society we are deluged with media of all kinds from all angles. It is easy to be overwhelmed.

The various media enterprises sensationalize the news to grab headlines. Hyperbole is the name of the game and the more emotionally arousing the better.

The news cycle lasts 24 hours if that and then it is on to something else to keep gut grabbing material in front of their readers.

This blog is for "slow news." Slow news focuses on what happened three months ago or a year ago or 5 years ago that still is impacting us today. Slow news provides context and connects the dots so that readers can develop a more coherent understanding of the world they are living in and themselves.

If you have ideas for topics, please leave them in the comments or email me at

Welcome to Markham's Slow News.