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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for March, 2007

Voting in Port Chester


Here’s one view about Port Chester — where the U.S. Department of Justice wants to ensure that Hispanics are equal participants in village politics.

Leovi Fumero came to the United States from Cuba in 1970 and became a citizen five years later. She says she does not want the election system to be redesigned for the benefit of Hispanics.

“Port Chester is a little village,” she told me. “We have lived here all together.”

The Department of Justice is proposing that the village move from a village-wide vote for each trustee to voting based on districts. It has sued the village in a voting rights case.

But different ethnic groups should not be separated by different voting districts, Fumero said. Some people simply don’t vote, she said. They don’t stay long and they don’t participate.

And she argued that if earlier Irish and Italian immigrants became part of the political process without intervention by the federal government, why not the Hispanics also.

“I had my right to vote,” she said. (She is not registered in any political party.)

I’ve gotten quite a few emails about Port Chester and what it should do and I’ll try to get a variety of views on my blog over the next days.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, March 30th, 2007 at 6:00 pm |

More on the medical college


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is trying to put more pressure on New York Medical College in Valhalla to stop killing dogs for practice labs for medical students. I wrote about a student group encouraging schools to replace the lab with non-animal alternatives. According to the committee, New York Medical is one of eight medical schools in the country that still use live animals to teach physiology. Here’s a letter that went to the dean of the medical school:

Ralph A. O’Connell, M.D.

Dean, School of Medicine
Administrative Building
New York Medical College
Valhalla, NY 10595

Dear Dr. O’Connell:

I am writing on behalf of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and its membership of 6,000 physicians and over 100,000 other medical professionals, scientists and laypersons. The purpose of my letter is to bring to your attention an important new position statement from the American Medical Student Association (AMSA).

On March 10, 2007 the AMSA House of Delegates voted unanimously in favor of a resolution stating that AMSA “strongly encourages the replacement of animal laboratories with non-animal alternatives in undergraduate medical education� (underlining added). This clear and strong position by the country’s largest medical student organization relates directly to the use of live dogs in the M1 physiology course at New York Medical College, and makes it clear that America’s medical students want to end live animal use in their courses.

Three of the four medical students who introduced the resolution personally worked with their schools’ administrations to end the use of live animals in medical school courses. Each of their schools—Mount Sinai, the University of Virginia, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio—has joined the overwhelming majority of U.S. medical schools that have eliminated live animal use.

Today New York Medical College is one of only eight U.S. medical schools that continue to use live animals for physiology education. Not only are excellent alternatives available, they have been adopted by more than 90% of your peers. The rationale your faculty has presented for continuation of the dog lab has of course been considered, and has been rejected as inadequate reason to continue such labs, by these same peers. My previous communications with Dr. Francis Belloni and Dr. Susan Kline are unanswered.

Now AMSA has added its voice on behalf of America’s medical students. We ask you to address this issue in the larger context of medical education reform and standards in the U.S., and to prevail upon your physiology faculty to replace the use of live dogs in the M1 physiology course.


John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
Senior Medical and Research Adviser

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 at 2:08 pm |

Closed for the season


Brewster’s emergency shelter program has closed for the season and here, from its chairman, John Hagedorn, is a blunt assessment of how it fared: “There were no recorded deaths from exposure this winter so we did our job and we did it well.”
A coalition of houses of worship took turns offering shelter to homeless people in the area — and providing meals and volunteers to say overnight.
The churches within Brewster encountered no problems. But Trinity Lutheran Church, which is in the town of Southeast, ran into opposition from the town about allowing overnight stays and from some residents who argued that the homeless people were illegal Hispanic immigrants.
In the 14 weeks that the program operated, it served at least 10 different people, according to Hagedorn. The highest number of people for any one night was eight; they had guests consistently from the middle of January.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 at 12:32 pm |
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Living with cancer


Ever since Elizabeth and John Edwards announced that her breast cancer had recurred, the couple’s decision to continue John Edwards’ campaign for president has gotten lots of scrutiny.
You can understand the questions about whether John Edwards will be too distracted by his wife’s illness to be a good president. He is running for office and his mental state is fair game.
But the questions that are harder to make sense of are the ones about their personal priorities. There was this exchange, for example, with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes Sunday night:

Couric: Some people watching this would say, ‘I would put my family first always, and my job second.’ And you’re doing the exact opposite. You’re putting your work first, and your family second.
John Edwards: But this is not work. Work is what I did as a lawyer. This is service. This is…this is a country that I love — both of us love as much as we love our lives.
Couric: I guess some people would say that there’s some middle ground. You don’t have to necessarily stay at home and feel sorry for yourself, and do nothing. but, if given a finite — a possibly finite period of time on the planet — being on the campaign trail, away from my children a lot of time and sort of pursuing this goal is not necessarily what I’d do.

But it’s not about what you and I and Katie Couric think. It’s about what is best for Elizabeth and John Edwards.
That’s the point Katherine Quinn makes. She’s the executive director of Support Connection in Yorktown Heights, which offers support groups, yoga, meditation, art classes and other services for women with breast and ovarian cancer.
“Each person is an individual,� she says, “and each cancer diagnosis affects people in a different way.�
“We never tell anyone what they need to do. We work with them to provide resources and support to decide what works best for them.�
That seems so simple.

Meanwhile today Sheryl Crow, who had breast cancer, appeared with U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey of Harrison, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and other politicians to call for new cancer legislation. It would create research centers that would explore links between environmental pollutants and breast cancer. The centers would be funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 at 4:07 pm |
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Dog labs at New York Medical College


The move to do away with the use of live animals in student labs in medical schools has gotten a boost from the American Medical Student Association.

The group passed a resolution earlier this month encouraging undergraduate medical schools to replace animal labs with alternatives.

It also opposes getting cats, dogs and other household pets from pounds and shelters to use in the labs.

New York Medical College in Valhalla is one of an ever shrinking number of medical schools that still conduct the labs. Other well-known schools such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale — two-thirds of all U.S. medical schools according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — use simulators and other humane alternatives.

Rooshin Dalal, 31, who is studying biomedical engineering for an M.D. and Ph.D. at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, was among those who introduced the resolution.

“I don’t feel that they’re necessary at all,” he said of the labs. “Over 85 percent of schools are using the non-animal alternatives. That’s definitely saying something.”

Simulators and computer programs can offer a level of training that is superior and closer to a human patient, he said. A student can practice 100 times if he or she wants on a simulator, for example. The labs are run once and then the animals — dogs in the case of the New York Medical College — are killed.

So far, New York Medical College is sticking to its practice despite the pressure to change.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, March 26th, 2007 at 2:02 pm |

Elizabeth and John Edwards fight on


From a poster on the conservative redstate.com Web site, wishing the best to Elizabeth Edwards and praising John Edwards as a fighter:

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
John Paul Jones (letter to M. Le Ray de Chaumont,16 Nov.1778)


PHOTO: Edwards hugs his wife while they speak about Elizabeth’s recurrence of cancer during a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., today. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 2:07 pm |


Church scandal in L.A.


The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Cardinal Roger Mahony gave very different accounts about a videotape showing a priest, the Rev. Lynn Caffoe, with high school boys.


Here are two relevant paragraphs:

“In a letter to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before Ratzinger became pope in April 2005, Mahony said Caffoe had videotaped ‘partially naked’ boys in a state of sexual arousal. The tape was ‘objective verification that criminal behavior did occur,’ Mahony wrote, according to papers filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court in a lawsuit by four plaintiffs who allege that Caffoe abused them.”

“In October 2005, in what Mahony told parishioners was the ‘fullest possible disclosure’ about the scandal, he reported that a videotape had been discovered in 1992 in Caffoe’s bedroom, depicting ‘improper behavior’ with high school boys. But the cardinal said the boys were ‘fully clothed’ and there was no sexual activity.”

Here’s the “article.”:http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-mahony20mar20,0,4058586.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in the East Los Angeles College stadium on the 475th anniversary of the Virgin of Guadalupe, last December. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 1:22 pm |

Ad creator revealed


The creator of the mysterious “You Tube”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo&mode=related&search ad that showed Hillary Clinton as Big Brother has been uncovered.

Philip de Vellis is a strategist with Blue State Digital, a company that advises Democratic candidates and liberal groups and which designed rival Barack Obama’s Web site. And one of Blue State Digital’s co-founders took a leave to work as Obama’s director of new media.

De Vellis was identified by Huffingtonpost.com. He’s no longer with the company.


Here’s the full “Associated Press”:http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070322/D8O16DSG0.html story.

Photo: youtube.com

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 11:44 am |

Edwards suspending campaign/NOT


From Ben Smith’s blog on the political website The Politico, Democrat John Edwards to suspend his campaign. His wife, Elizabeth, has had a recurrence of breast cancer:



<blockquote>Edwards to Suspend Campaign

John Edwards is suspending his campaign for President, and may drop out completely, because his wife has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that sickened her in 2004, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, an Edwards friend told The Politico.

“At a minimum he’s going to suspend” the campaign, the source said. “Nobody knows precisely how serious her recurrence is. It’ll be another couple of days before there’s complete clarity.”

“For him right now he has one priority which is her health and the security of the two young children,” said the friend.

As for the campaign, “You don’t shut this machine off completely, but everything will go on hold.”</blockquote>

UPDATE: From an Edwards’ spokeswoman: “Anything you are getting from someone claiming to know right now is not true – anyone claiming to know something right now is making it up. There is no information from this campaign until John and Elizabeth speak at noon,” says spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield.

Edwards is on TV now.

UPDATE ROUND TWO: Edwards says he is NOT suspending his campaign. Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer has returned in her rib; it is not curable but can be treated. Both say they are optimistic.

Here is “The Associated Press”:http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070322/D8O1B0T01.html story.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 11:01 am |


Remember this ad?


Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and 1984.

Here’s the link to “Clinton.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo&mode=related&search

And to “Obama.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dycbAsB9-ps&NR

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 at 3:23 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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