$700 Billion [To Start With] Bailout Explained

To those who matter (that would NOT be you and me), by none other than the Treasury Department (emphasis mine):

  • Purpose is to help private sector clean up their balance sheets.

  • [W]e have encouraged healthy institutions to participate, not just bailouts of sick institutions.

It's possible that the current situation might require some type of government intervention. I don't know yet because, despite reading any bit of information I could get my hands on (not to mention the hundreds of, mostly, informative comments at Calculated Risk), I haven't been able to assimilate and analyze all the information and reach a conclusion.

I don't know if the government "needs to do something or we'll all go out in a puff of smoke (and mirrors)." What I do know, is that the current bailout scheme is not it. As such, any politician who votes for this scheme loses my vote.

Wachovia NYC bank branch and TV crew

I went into my local Wachovia branch this morning. A Fox News TV crew was already positioned outside. There were only 3-4 customers inside, conducting, from I could discreetly gather, normal transactions.

I asked the guy at the Customer Service desk if 1) he had any news about a merger/government take-over, and 2) the merger/take-over takes place, what happens to checking account funds, in terms of checks written on existing accounts. Will there be any delay in the checks being honored? [I have a checking account with them, one I use to pay monthly bills with.]

I was told that there are no news and that, after repeating question #2 a few times, and I paraphrase, "Don't worry, the government will take care of you. The government won't let anything happen to your/the bank's deposits."

Seeing how Citigroup has already, you know, taken over Wachovia, and also how babies who need to be patted on the head and told that Daddy G will take care of them are not, traditionally, a bank's customer base, the information provided by the bank employee was useless.

Bottom line: Not providing customers with basic, accurate information is not exactly a winning strategy in these turbulent financial times.

Myomectomy Pics

Here is what your doctor sees when s/he does a laparoscopic myomectomy (removal of uterine leiomyomata, or fibroids):

Uterine fibroids
Photo via eMedicine

Very nice picture of a fibroid uterus, with three fibroids.

The uterus is at the center of the pic. The, almost aligned, three fibroids are to the left, on the uterine body, from top to bottom. Part of an instrument is visible in the R upper corner. Bilaterally, from the upper part of the uterus, you have the Fallopian tubes, projecting outward and down. Notice, in the R lower corner, you can see the ovary.

Theocracy, Israeli Style

Photo via Haaretz

When reality-based issues, like matters of state, are discussed, why are impaired religious people consulted?

The new leader of the ruling Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni, needs to put together a coalition government in order to become prime minister.

One of the parties she had to schedule coalition negotiations with is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party run by an octogenarian rabbi, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has describ[ed] the Holocaust as God's retribution against the reincarnated souls of Jewish sinners. He said Katrina was punishment for godlessness in New Orleans and U.S. support for the Gaza pullout. And he once said that "walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels."

Capitalism, American (and British) Style

The latest State intervention in support of, you know, "free markets":

WASHINGTON - The Securities and Exchange Commission took the dramatic step early Friday of temporarily banning the routine practice of betting against company stocks.

The move, announced on the agency's Web site, may well be unprecedented and a reflection of regulators' concern about the widening scope of the financial crisis as entreaties come from all quarters to stem a swarm of short-selling.

In the announcement, the commission said it was acting in concert with the U.K. Financial Services Authority in taking emergency action to "prohibit short selling in financial companies" to protect the integrity of the securities market and boost investor confidence.

"The commission is committed to using every weapon in its arsenal to combat market manipulation that threatens investors and capital markets," SEC chairman Christopher Cox said in a statement. "The emergency order temporarily banning short-selling of financial stocks will restore equilibrium to markets."

The move, he said, would not be necessary in a well-functioning market and is only a temporary step that is part of the actions being taken by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and Congress.

The Woman's Clinic Section of High School, USA

I'm an Ob/Gyn and even I had no idea women's clinics are such magical places. Apparently, according to Catholic educators, all you have to do is be in the vicinity of a clinic and, poof!, you're possessed by education.

From a Catholic high school teacher:

[M]y teacher told the class that if we went to “pray” in front of the local women’s clinic before school once a month, we’d get extra credit....

From a homeschooling program course description:

English: Some of the writing topics were, no lie, “Why I Think Suicide is Evil” and “Why I Like to Attend Pro-life Rallies”.

(via Pharyngula)

Todd Palin, the Shadow VP Pick

I guess behind every powerful woman Governor of Alaska there's a powerful man (emphasis mine):

Palin, cast at last week's Republican National Convention as a supportive husband, oil rig worker and championship snowmachine racer, has emerged in the days since as also a powerful figure in his wife's administration. Despite holding no government position, he attends official meetings and is copied on e-mails concerning state business.

Depo-Provera and Bone Mineral Density News

Photo by ad-vantage

If your method of birth control is the Depo-Provera shot (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate; DMPA), or if you're considering using this method, make sure your physician is aware of the latest ACOG Committee Opinion, in particular:

1. Most of the DMPA bone loss is temporary and is similar to the BMD loss caused by pregnancy and breastfeeding [~3%-5% vs. 2%-8% and 3%-5%].

2. Its use should not be limited to 2 years.

3. Concurrent low-dose estrogen supplementation to slow DMPA bone loss is not recommended.

4. Implants and IUDs--effective, long-term methods of contraception that have no effect on bone density--should also be considered as first-line methods for adolescents.

5. The scientific basis for the 2004 Food and Drug Administration black box warning discouraging the use of DMPA for more than two consecutive years is caca*.

*Okay, that characterization is entirely mine. According to ACOG, the FDA's warning is based on intermediate effects on BMD which may or may not be relevant to increased risk of fracture (former adult DMPA users have BMD rates similar to nonusers) and, while low BMD is linked to an increased risk of fracture in older women, no studies have linked DMPA bone loss with increased rates of fracture in younger women with a low-fracture risk.

N.B. Speaking of Depo-Provera, don't forget you also have a lower-dose version, Depo-subQ, available.

Mexico City Abortion Law Upheld

Photo by Esparta
Some good news from Mexico:

Mexico's Supreme Court on Thursday voted 8-3 to uphold a Mexico City law allowing abortion under any condition in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy....


The court in the decision rejected arguments by abortion-rights opponents that the law violated the Mexican Constitution, which the opponents claimed protects embryos. Justice Genaro Gongora Pimentel said, "Human rights systems cannot require states to defend a right to life from conception," adding, "It would mean imposing ideologies and subjective values that could sacrifice other rights that are fully identifiable"....

Justice Sergio Valls added, "To affirm that there is an absolute constitutional protection of life in gestation would lead to the violation of the fundamental rights of women"....

Now if only those behind the proposed Colorado initiative to define a fertilized egg as a "person" would notice the existence of women, we'd be all set.