Thursday, April 29, 2010
The World Medical Association (WMA), the international organisation representing the world's doctors, has a long-standing tradition of issuing guidelines on everything from conflict of interest, to dual loyalties, standards of care in clinical research and other such issues. Many of these documents are quite sensible actually, and by virtue of the WMA's claim to represent the world's doctors, carry some moral weight.
Recently though the organization completely shot itself in the foot. It elected Ketan Desai, the
president of the Medical Council of India as its President elect. Well, here's bits and piece from the British Medical Journal about this lovely medical professional that makes you wonder whether he's such a good choice... - you might want to keep in mind that the current allegation are just that, allegations. However, the incoming President of the WMA was found guilty by the High Court in Delhi of corruption charges and abuse of power in 2001. Obviously the good doc is a wily operator, how else would he have managed to sneak back into positions of power in the medical profession in India. You might want to check his CV that's kindly on display at the WMA website (note the breaks in appointments to regulatory medical bodies in India that he held in 2001, when he was found guilty of corruption and abuse of power by the Delhi High Court, only picking up a few years later and straight going back for power). Anyhow, that's for India to resolve.
Published 29 April 2010, doi:10.1136/bmj.c2355
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2355
Top education regulator in India is arrested on bribery allegations
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested Ketan Desai, the president of the Medical Council of India, on allegations of bribery in a fresh case that threatens to sully the image of the country’s top agency involved in regulating medical education. Dr Desai is also president elect of the World Medical Association. (Emphasis as in BMJ)
Investigators said last week that Dr Desai had sought 20 million rupees (£296 000; €350 000; $450 000) as a bribe from a private medical college in the northern Indian town of Patiala for approving admissions of students in the college for the academic year 2010-11. The council has the responsibility of inspecting and approving colleges.
prior BMJ reporting:
BMJ VOLUME 323 15 DECEMBER 2001
Head of the Medical Council of India removed for corruption
Rohit Sharma Mumbai
The High Court in Delhi has ordered that Dr Ketan Desai, the president of the Medical Council of India, be removed from his post after it found him guilty of corrupt practices and abuse of power.
Besides heading the council, which regulates the medical profession in India, Dr Desai also heads the Indian Medical Association, which represents India’s doctors.
Minutes of the council meetings showed that all critical decisions were concentrated in Dr Desai’s hands. Dr Bhalla presented details from an income tax raid at Dr Desai’s house last year, which showed unexplained receipt of 6.5 million rupees (£95 000; $136 000) via bank drafts in the names of his wife, daughters, and himself from several people in Delhi.
The environmental disaster that is at the moment unfolding in the USA is painful to watch. How can it be that in the 12st century they drill in highly fragile marine environments without having most basic safety switch-off's in place? I am the first to admit that I am not an expert in these matters, but it seems obvious to me that you should not get a permission to drill for oil in such an environment unless you are able to ensure that there's no major spill in case something goes wrong.
Post scriptum May 03 2010: Turns out that the platform had a so-called blowout-preventer to prevent the disaster that happened. A German news agency has investigated these so-called blowout-preventers. There are at least 171 known cases where they failed to do their job. It's a bit of a misnomer then to call them blowout-preventers, isn't it? Makes you wonder why drill baby drill President Obama notices only now that there's a problem and he wants to investigate...
Says Laws, "We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic....The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."
Church people like the evangelical former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey suggested that rulings such as these could lead to 'public unrest' because special rules and special dispensation ain't provided to him and his fellow religious believers. Says Carey, "The comparison of a Christian, in effect, with a 'bigot' (ie, a person with an irrational dislike to homosexuals) begs further questions. It is further evidence of a disparaging attitude to the Christian faith and its values." Makes you wonder how else you'd described someone who irrationally discriminates against fellow citizens. 'Bigot' seems an appropriate description, adding 'God' as justification does precious little to change that situation.
Carey also claims, “It is, of course, but a short step from the dismissal of a sincere Christian from employment to a religious bar to any employment by Christians." This is utter nonsense, of course, a good teaching case for showing how unsubstantiated slippery slope claims are used for rhetorical gain. There is no short step of any kind here. All the court is saying is that Christians got to do their jobs like like everyone else, muslim or atheist, communist or liberal. If they don't feel like doing particular jobs they'd try to find other jobs. It's really a bit like a communist saying that she has conscientious objections to working for Deutsche Bank. We'd think that's funny, too, and suggest that perhaps she's in the wrong job.
The crux of it is, of course, that if you offer public services (particularly so if you're in the pay of taxpayers) you can't choose who you offer these services to, based on arbitrary criteria such as skin color, sex or sexual orientation. Nobody forced you to enter a profession that would require you to provide services to people whom your religious ideology tells you to discriminate again. Do something else, like for instance working in a church - if there is one not subsidized one way or another by the state - and enjoy the intellectual incest that goes with interacting with people like yourself. You certainly are not entitled to have your prejudiced life sponsored by tax monies.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Well, frankly, while I'm not a Brown fan, without knowing what exactly the woman said it's difficult telling whether or not calling her a bigot is a reasonable response to what transpired during the encounter. Bits and piece of what is reported suggest that she's in fact a bigot. That's what ticks me off about the reports about this story. The British media, from left to right, gang up on Brown without restraint these days (he really has become a punching bag for all of Britain's woes). It ain't right.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
What troubles me about this matter is this: If you live in a country, like Canada, where homosexuality is decriminalized and where in fact gay relationships have more or less equal legal standing to folks in straight relationships, you're sending a troublesome message about the desirability of hiding your sexual orientation. As I see it, with the exceptions of those who are not in relationships (nothing at all wrong with that!), those who live in relationships will find themselves pretty much invariably with folks of the other or of the same sex. What's the point of pretending that we are in a relationship with a mysterious neutral (aka 'partner'), when REALLY we are not? Would we not be better off if people were encouraged not to hide their sexual orientation away by means of kind of neutralizing us for the purpose of our conversations? Why not say that I live with my wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, male/female significant other, name it?
Basically, I wonder, whether real progress lies in hiding away who we are by being 'partners' (in a sex neutral manner). Interestingly, this strategy won't work in may countries. Both in German and French speaking countries this wouldn't work for simple reasons of grammar. You might have a partner in Germany, but if the partner is female it's a 'Partnerin', and if the partner is male it's 'Partner'. So, no obfuscation there.
Anyhow, I'm not entirely sure that I got this one right. You got any views/arguments to share on this one?
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Our book got a nice review at Metapsychology. Check it out. Roger Chao writes (in part):
Overall, this book is well suited for a mainstream audience, interested in questioning the power that religion holds over our lives. Being an item of non-fiction for a general audience, it has surprisingly good references at the end of some chapters (by academic writers that is), which will also serve to guide the reader if further information is wanted. Thus, I recommend this book to anyone (regardless of their views concerning religion) interested in understanding why different people hold certain views concerning religion.
I also noticed that we've got now some 13 or so customer reviews on amazon.com . Virtually all of them are very positive.
Addendum: April 14, 2010
Here's another review of the book, on the website of the Diocese of Brandon of the Anglican Church in Canada. As you'd expect of such a site, the review is somewhat mixed, but, considering where the reviewer is coming from it seems fair enough. Its praise for gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, one of the volume's contributors, took me well and truly by surprise.