Tea Party insult generator

The collapse of the GOP-engineered shutdown has the Tea Party in a fury, and they're showing their wrath with a series of vicious posts to John Boehner's Facebook. The Tea Party Insult Generator teases these insults apart and recombines them to make them stronger, faster, better than before.

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Free vibrators for non-essential federal employees

Spocko sez, "It's nice to know that some companies understand that non-essential federal employees are people too, with needs and wants and not robots that can be shut off with a switch. Thankfully Vibrators.com understands and is giving away free vibrators to Federal Employees during the government shutdown. They are giving away 200 a day. Simply enter the coupon code. 'IAmAFederalEmployee'"

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National Cancer Institute director warns staff of increasingly dire effects of shutdown on science


National Cancer Institute headquarters, Bethesda, Maryland.

Harold Varmus, director of the National Cancer Institute, sent this email today to "NCI staff, grantees, advisors, reviewers and others," warning of increasingly damaging effects the ongoing federal government shutdown will have on cancer research and treatment at NCI. Even worse than the litany of known, present harm, is this grim prediction: the damage won't end when the government reopens.

A copy of this email was provided by a Boing Boing reader who was one of the recipients:

I am writing to keep you abreast of the ways in which the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its extramural and intramural research programs have been --- and are likely to be --- affected by the current shutdown of the federal government. And I am also writing to ask for your help in responding to the difficult situation that we are likely to face when the government is reopened.

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US gov shutdown means imminent death for thousands of lab mice

NPR's "All Things Considered" did a piece this week about what the shutdown means for thousands of lab mice used in medical research at government facilities. In a word, death.

Vegas TB probe widens after mom, baby die, dozens infected; but CDC mostly shut down

"Health officials urged tuberculosis testing for hundreds of babies, family members and staff who were at a Las Vegas neonatal intensive care unit this past summer, saying they want to take extra precautions after the death of a mother and her twin babies and the infection of more than 26 people," reports the Associated Press. "Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assisted with the probe up until last week... it wasn't immediately clear whether their investigation has been affected by the government shutdown."

Shutdown plays chicken with public health as antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak spreads


"Women Hand sliced fresh chicken breast with a knife on the white desk," a photograph by Shutterstock.

As the US government stretches out into its second week, with federal food-safety and disease outbreak personnel sent home and prohibited from returning to work--even if they wanted to without pay!--a major foodborne-illness outbreak has begun. And it involves raw chicken meat.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture has announced that hundreds of illnesses in 18 or more states were caused by chicken contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg, traced to Big Poultry producer Foster Farms.

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Congress's private health club spared from shutdown by Boehner: "essential"

Congress's private gym -- whose budget is a closely held secret for "security" reasons -- has remained open during the shutdown. It was deemed an essential service. By John Boehner himself. (Possibly because so many Tea Party Congressmen live in their lavish tax-funded/tax-free offices and use the fancy club as their personal showers, rather than renting DC lodgings)

The staffers' gym was closed, however.

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This mom with a rare form of cancer can't get treatment she needs due to government shutdown


Michelle Langbehn. Photo: Natural Grace Photography, via Washington Post

Michelle Langbehn has a rare form of cancer that affects about 1% of U.S. cancer patients. She was diagnosed in April 2012, shortly after giving birth to her daughter. She was 29.

She spoke to the Washington Post about how the government shutdown has affected her. The short version: she can't get the life-saving treatment she needs; a clinical trial that provides an option in a case where other more well-established treatment protocols have failed.

The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff explains:

After nine months of chemotherapy, she and her doctor began looking into other potential treatment options, including a trial at the National Institutes of Health. Langbehn began filling out the paperwork to apply last month. Things were going well until late September, when she got a call from the NIH: If the government shut down, the trial would not accept new patients. Now, she is among an estimated 200 patients turned away each week from clinical trials there. Langbehn has started a petition asking the government to re-open the treatment option.
“This was not supposed to happen. Nobody wanted the shutdown to happen," says Langbehn. "If I had a message, it would be that lives are at stake.”

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Sad Lincoln Memorial during government shutdown is Sad

Photo: Lincoln Memorial during the Government Shutdown, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (2.0) image from johnsonderman's photostream, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool.

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During the shutdown, some scientists can't talk about science

I'm a guest of honor this weekend at the Dallas's Fencon this weekend, and I've just learned that some of the other speakers won't be able to talk, thanks to the government shutdown. They're government space scientists, and the 143-year-old Antideficiency Act makes it a crime (punishable by fines and imprisonment) for government employees to volunteer to do their own jobs (which, in their cases, includes talking about science to the public). The law dates back to the Lincoln administration, and was aimed at stopping fraudsters who did "government" business, then presented a bill for services that hadn't been contracted but had nevertheless been performed -- a kind of Civil War era version of red-light windscreen squeegeeing.

Meet two cancer patients whose treatment is on hold due to US gov shutdown: an 8yo girl, and a father of 3


Maddie Major, 8, has leukemia. Image: A still from the CBS news report.

Maddie Major has leukemia. She's 8 years old, and she's had it recur four times. The clinical trial she now needs, having exhausted all other options for treatment, cannot be approved by the FDA because the FDA has been shut down, along with the rest of the federal government.

“I am completely blown away by how callus and how carelessly they’ve just kind of used us as their pawns to push their own agenda,” says her mom. From a Baltimore CBS TV affiliate's report:

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Disney World extends hours for part timers so they get health-care


Walt Disney World is adding enough hours to its part time workers' rosters to allow them to qualify for Obamacare, helping their workers to get healthcare. They're hardly the only ones; a recent survey of CFOs at large firms shows that they've got a lot of company. But it's important to note because a) it's a good, honorable thing they're doing and b) it runs counter to the scare-stories that emphasize the tiny number of sleazy, greedy companies that are using Obamacare as justification to screw their workers by cutting hours and benefits.

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TOM THE DANCING BUG: School Time Rock - "I'm Just a Law"

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH a plucky little Bill becomes a Law, but explains the NEXT steps he has to take to survive the American legislative process.

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US gov shutdown may mean some kids with cancer won't be treated, CDC's outbreak detection programs also halted


NIH Clinical Center [Wikipedia]

The ongoing federal government shutdown in the United States affects national health services in ways you may not realize, including cancer treatment activities at the National Institutes of Health, and disease outbreak detection programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For as long as the shutdown continues, the National Institutes of Health will turn away about 200 patients each week from its clinical research center, including children who have cancer. All existing patients at NIH will be treated, but no new patients will be admitted, and no studies.

NIH director Francis Collins explains how the slow-motion political disaster affects the nation's federal medical research facilities in this WSJ interview (paywalled). He told the Journal that about 200 patients per week who would otherwise would be admitted to NIH's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to participate in clinical trials will be turned away for as long as the shutdown lasts. That number includes an estimated 30 children per week, most of whom are cancer patients.

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How U.S. media would report on shutdown if it were happening in another country

Slate's Joshua Keating indulges in some clever speculative fiction: how would American media report on the shutdown if it were taking place in another nation? "The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions," he writes. "A young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region, known in the past as a hotbed of separatist activity," led the "rebellion."
Activity in the legislature ground to a halt last week for a full day as Ted Cruz insisted on performing a time-honored American demonstration of stamina and self-denial, which involved speaking for 21 hours, quoting liberally from science fiction films and children’s books. The gesture drew wide media attention, though its political purpose was unclear to outsiders.