Deep in the back pages of today's New York Times lurks a story that pulls America's health care system in for an embarrassing close-up.
Patients seeking an appointment with a dermatologist to ask about a potentially cancerous mole have to wait substantially longer than those seeking Botox for wrinkles, according to a story published by Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Wrinkly folks had to wait an average of eight days for their Botox injections, while those requesting a cancer evaluation had to wait an average of 26 days, researchers found.
One dermatologists suggested the study brought the good tidings that "the Botox needs of the United States are being met." Others said the difference could be attributed the disparities in "financial incentives" and "bureaucratic obstacles."
Doctors have to wait for health insurance to reimburse the measly $50 to $75 it costs to have a mole examined, while wiping away those crow's feet will cost you $400 to $600 -- cash, right out of your wallet. It's enough to make you laugh -- if you could afford the treatment for the laugh lines.
Bush Wants $50B More For Iraq War
Sometime you have to wonder if President Bush is reading the same newspapers as the rest of us. And then other times, like today, you just have to stand back and admire his optimism.
The Washington Post reports that Bush plans to ask Congress for $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq. The Post theorizes that these plans reflect Bush's belief that Congress can whine all it wants about wanting to withdraw; those soldiers aren't going anywhere.
Bush is expected to pass the hat following a little number by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker (in which he has a direction credit) scheduled for mid-September. Apparently, he believes the performance by the top military commander and chief diplomat in Iraq -- tentatively titled "The Surge Is Making Progress (We Just Need A Little More Time)" -- will be such a hit, Congress will be embarrassed not to throw some more bread his way.
The funding will mostly go to pay for keeping up surge through the spring of 2008. If he collects on what his leaky aides predict he'll ask for, it will bring the cost of the war up to $3 billion a week.
Optimism is still the president's calling card on Iraq. On the same day that a power struggle between rival Shiite groups killed 50 in Karbala, Bush told the convention of American Legion in Reno that "there are unmistakable signs that our strategy is achieving the objectives we set out," and "the momentum is on our side."
Hillary's Bundler Is On The Lam
The Los Angeles Times follows up on yesterday's Wall Street Journal article about Norman Hsu, the wealthy Hillary Clinton fundraiser whose campaign donations tracked suspiciously closely to a family living in a modest bungalow in a working-class suburb of San Francisco.
Apparently, the bigtime bundler is also a wanted criminal in California, according to the state attorney general's office. For the past 15 years, California authorities have been trying to figure out what happened to the New York businessman who pleaded no contest to grand theft, agreed to serve up to three years in prison, and then vanished -- only to appear in recent photographs of Democratic fundraisers rubbing elbows with the rich and powerful.
"He's a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, of the California attorney general's office, told the LA Times. "Do you know where he is?"
As the Journal did yesterday, the LA Times notes that candidates rarely have any knowledge of the bundling activities -- or, for that matter, outstanding warrants - of their donors.
Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson just knows where his bread is buttered: "Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Sen. Clinton," he said yesterday. "During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process" -- read: he donated nearly $500,000 to candidates and helped raise an additional $500,000 -- "there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them."
Hi, I'm Money. Meet My Brother, Bank
Giving funny nicknames like Shrimp, Chubby and Crab is a part of Thai culture, the New York Times reports, but lately the names that Thai children often carry into adulthood are increasingly in English. And not just any English.
Among the most popular nicknames for the new generation of Thai children are Ball, Oil and Bank. One family named its daughter Money, because she was born around the time her father's paycheck landed. Her brother's was named Bonus, because he was born on Chinese New Year when some companies give out extra cash. Her younger brother was called Bank, because it fit the theme. Other popular names are Mafia and Seven, "as in 7-Eleven."
The increase of English-language names has caused a backlash among the older set, who have put out a book encouraging parents to return to more traditional names. Which sounds like a good idea, until you see that among the most popular of these is "Moo," or Pig.
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