Howdy folks. Clem Lane here again with our ABC NEWS Evening Editorial Note. Since becoming a parent 11+ years ago, I’ve been surprised at just how many people i’ve come into contact with whose children have autism. That’s why today’s ruling makes it more newsie (to me) than another Obama Administration miscue. Anyway, here’s what’s going on.
AUTISM RULING-For years many parents of autistic children believed the MMR vaccine in combination with a mercury preservative called thimerosol causes autism. Today, a judges ruling that throws cold water on that theory. John Donvan, reporting for WORLD NEWS, tells us: "In their ruling the judges describe a case built on unconvincing experts-some of whom they called ‘unsound’ and ‘unpersuasive’ and legal reasoning so flawed one judge compared it to Alice In Wonderland" The news may have disappointed some families but re-affirmed other families’ decision to question the validity of the theory-one parent, Alison Singer, was quoted in Donvan’s piece as saying "The vast majority of families are tired of the autism story being hijacked by the misconception that autism is caused by vaccines." Donvan points out that the "misconception" has had some real consequence: "as families across the US have hesitated to vaccinate. Measles cases doubling in a year. Whooping cough showing up…diseases making a comeback." Maybe today’s ruling will compel folks to go back to vaccinating their children and therefore lessening the diseases mentioned above.
JUDD GREGG/EXIT STAGE "RIGHT"-It wasn’t taxes. He’s not the subject of some pesky investigation. To the best of my knowledge, he has never used performance-enhancing drugs. But today, Judd Gregg removed his name from consideration to be the Secretary of Commerce, the latest in an unfortunately "long-enough" list of Cabinet mishaps for President Obama’s fledgling Administration. Gregg’s reasoning for stepping down? "Irresolvable conflicts" with President Barack Obama (that sound you heard was the last flight to Bi-Partisanship returning to DC for engine issues). On WORLD NEWS, George Stephanopoulos explained what those conflicts were: "There were two public issues: who would administer the Census-that was getting politicized according to Republican officials-and over the Stimulus Bill. Republican aides tell me Senator Gregg was angry about the way Republicans were shut out of the process." And while the Commerce Secretary job may not be as precarious as the drummer’s position in "Spinal Tap", Stephanopoulos tells us that whoever Obama does nominate as his next choice for Commerce Secretary will be his fourth choice.(Penny Pritzker/Bill Richardson/Judd Gregg/?)"
PRESIDENT OBAMA/STIMULUS MAY SAVE SOME JOBS JUST NOT THESE-President Obama was in East Peoria, Illinois today, the latest stop on his cross-country venture to sell to the American people his economic stimulus plan. Today’s stop was at Caterpillar, Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of construction equipment. The company has announced layoffs of some 20 thousand workers and as Jake Tapper said in his WORLD NEWS spot "The president pledged his $789 billion stimulus bill would mean jobs for America and jobs here at Caterpillar." President Obama was quoted in Tapper’s piece saying "Yesterday, Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off." That’s good news..but unfortunately Tapper tells us, "just after the President left the event CEO Jim Owens contradicted that claim" admitting "the reality is we are probably going to have to have more layoffs before we start hiring again." While Owens said the stimulus bill will have long-term benefits for the country, he thought the bill "a little light on heavy construction." Yeah-as Tapper said if Obama’s trip "was to highlight the jobs he argues the stimulus bill will create…he ended up only highlighting disagreements about how effective the bill will be."
STIMULUS BILL COMPROMISE VOTE-Dean Norland reports that the House will vote on the stimulus bill tomorrow afternoon. Assuming its’ passage, Zach Wolf adds the Senate plans to then vote tomorrow night at 7pm ET. As always, these times are etched in #2 erasable pencil.
PEANUT RECALL GROWS-Man, I hope that jar of Skippy in the cabinet doesn’t kill me. Another massive recall announced today-this time it’s the Plainview, Texas plant the Peanut Corp. of America ran. It was shuttered earlier this week, and today the Texas Department of State Health Services said that all products ever shipped from the plant are to be recalled. That’s all products ever shipped. The plant opened in March 2005. Lisa Stark says that "By my count, this plant had 147 customers — From Frito Lay to Jelly Belly (neither mentioned in last plant recalls) to Whole Foods and General Mills (both mentioned in last plant recalls but maybe new products) are big names. Most are companies you’ve never heard of."
AFGHANISTAN/SCHOOLS-If you’ve watched ABC NEWS coverage this week on "Afghanistan:Where Things Stand", you may have come away with the impression that it’s all problems in that war-torn country. Tonight though some good news-schools. Our ABC NEWS poll of Afghanistan shows that 72% of respondents say schools are now being rebuilt or reopened in their area. Martha Raddatz, reporting for WORLD NEWS, got a first-hand look and introduced us to Dave Warner. Raddatz: "Dave Warner-an MD-PHD from San Diego is part of what he calls ‘the nerd surge’ here….volunteers providing medical help, basic services and education for ordinary Afghans." Warner is a force and a constantly-moving force at that. He doesn’t just sit in a classroom-Raddatz tells us "by late afternoon we are on a river with an 8-year-old paddling, taking notebooks and pens to a remote village." Very nice piece.
OCTUPLETS’ DOCTOR AT IT AGAIN-The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports Dr. Michael Kamrava, the Beverly Hills doctor who helped Nadya Suleman conceive her octuplets, also provided fertility treatments to a 49-year-old woman who is pregnant with quadruplets and is hospitalized at an LA-area hospital.
KIDS, SMOKES AND ADVERTISING-Brian Hartman: "A new CDC report finds that, despite a ban on marketing cigarettes to children, the three most heavily advertised brands are the smoke of choice for eight out of 10 teenagers.
Among the findings released today:
A report of 2005 data indicated that the three most heavily advertised brands, Marlboro, Newport, and Camel, were preferred by 81% of U.S. youths aged 12–17 years.
In middle schools, 43.3% of established cigarette smokers identified Marlboro as the brand they usually smoked during the preceding 30 days, followed by Newport (26.4%), other brands (14.6%), Camel (8.5%), and no usual brand (7.2%).
In high schools, 52.3% identified Marlboro as their brand, followed by Newport, Camel, other brands, and no usual brand.
White kids were more likely to smoke Marlboro. Blacks were more likely to smoke Newport.
In middle schools, 49.6% of female smokers used Marlboro, compared with 37.6% of male smokers, and 12.4% of male smokers used Camel, compared with 4.1% of female smokers. In high schools: use of Camel and no usual brand was higher for males (15.6% and 4.1%, respectively) than females (9.9% and 2.5%, respectively). The use of Marlboro was significantly higher for females (54.5%) in high school compared with males (50.2%)."
ISRAELI ELECTIONS-We’ve gotten the final results of the Israeli parliamentary elections. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won the contest by a single seat over right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. Livni’s Kadima party took 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, while Likud secured 27 seats. But as Simon McGregor-Wood explains, “winning doesn’t necessarily mean governing”-here’s what may happen as we move forward:
“Netanyahu can tomorrow form a narrow right wing government of 65 Knesset seats led by Likud with Lieberman (whose hawkish party Yisrael Beitenu is now #3 party),, small settler parties and the religious. He would prefer a broader coalition with Kadima and Livni on board – one idea would be to share the premiership on a rotating basis (it’s been done before with Peres and Shamir) – Netanyahu doesn’t want to share the top job, but he knows a narrow right wing government will upset Israel’s friends abroad and many Israelis. Livni is still trying to build a coalition but is already finding out how difficult that will be – the numbers are against her – many in her party don’t want to sit with Lieberman, and many of her voters came to her from Labor and they would definitely not want that. However she has already met with Lieberman to discuss mutual interest in government. Lieberman also met with Netanyahu and then to everyone’s chagrin went on holiday for a few days. He knows he holds the cards. Livni might consider the rotating premiership idea as the least worst option, or go into opposition and watch as Netanyahu’s narrow right wing coalition fails. President Peres must choose Netanyahu or Livni to try and select a government next week.”