Quick Roundup 71

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

As I catch up with email upon my return home, I find several interesting things waiting for me....


It isn't private space flight, but it's a baby step in the right direction. NASA may eventually replace its beleaguered space shuttle program -- with services purchased from private firms.

Even as one NASA team prepares for next week's shuttle launch, another team is taking a hard look at six alternative visions for low-cost successors to the shuttle. NASA officials are keeping a low profile, but the six finalists involved in the agency's $500 million commercial space competition are giving way more visibility to those future spaceship visions.

The idea behind NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, or COTS, is that the space agency would purchase services on privately built spacecraft to send crew members or cargo back and forth between Earth and the international space station. The concept has been compared to renting a truck from U-Haul rather than maintaining your own fleet of moving vans and buses. [links dropped]
Among the finalists is the Dream Chaser.
A space plane designed for hauling passengers and cargo into Earth orbit was shown here June 21 -- the SpaceDev Dream Chaser -- one of a handful of finalists in NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Demonstration (COTS) effort.

The vehicle is a candidate for NASA's four year $500 million COTS initiative. The Dream Chaser would be capable of carrying one to six people and/or cargo to the International Space Station, with the winged craft able to return to almost any runway in the world.
(HT: Hannnes Hacker)

Two Space Sites

Coincidentally, Adrian Hester sent me links to two good space-related sites just before I left last week: Encyclopedia Astronautica and Space Facts.

Summer Issue of TOS

Craig Biddle reports the following exciting news.
The print version of the Summer issue of TOS has been mailed, and the online version has been posted to our website (http://www.theobjectivestandard.com).The contents are:

From the Editor

Letters and Replies

"Religion vs. Free Speech", by Craig Biddle

"William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus for Victory", by John Lewis

"Teaching Values in the Classroom", by Lisa VanDamme

"The 19th-Century Atomic War", by David Harriman

"Getting More Enjoyment from Art You Love", by Dianne Durante

If you're a subscriber, I hope you enjoy Vol. 1, No. 2. If you're not a subscriber, I hope you will subscribe today. [minor formatting changes, two hyperlinks added]
The main page of the web site provides links to the beginning paragraphs of the articles.

I can't wait to receive my copy!

The June Newsletter ...

... of the Doctors for Medical Liability Reform is loaded with interesting reading. Three blurbs in particular stood out.
Legislative Update

On June, 22, the Senate will be holding hearings on legislation sponsored by Senators Enzi (R-WY) and Bauchus (D-MT) that would provide funding for a health courts pilot project, as well as on the "MEDiC" bill sponsored by Senators Clinton (D-NY) and Obama (D-IL) (See "Sen. Clinton Admits ... " below).

Despite last month's Senate filibuster, Congress has vowed to continue the fight in support of comprehensive medical liability reform legislation. Talk on the Hill is that the House of Representatives will take up this issue again sometime this summer. And some in the Senate hope to re-visit medical liability reform before the campaign season gets into full swing.

Protect Patients Now is encouraged by continued support on Capitol Hill, where a clear majority in both the House and the Senate want to see reform passed. And leading up to the mid-term elections, PPN will continue to expand its grassroots campaign to educate the American people on the continuing crisis of lawsuit abuse. We recently mailed our candidate pledge to all Senate candidates and Senators up for re-election in November. Stay tuned for exciting new developments and ways that you can help move this vital issue forward.

Sen. Clinton Admits Lawsuits Harm Patient Health Care

In a startling admission in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama write that high premiums "are forcing physicians to give up performing certain high-risk procedures, leaving patients without access to a full range of medical services."

As DMLR Chairman Stuart L. Weinstein, M.D. responds in this press release, "We're glad that Senator Clinton has finally seen the light and is willing to admit that medical liability lawsuits undermine patient health care, but her proposed 'MEDiC' legislation ... does nothing to address the fundamental problem and little to stem the mounting crisis."

Meritless Lawsuits, Anyone?

In his new study published by the Manhattan Institute, George Mason economist Alex Tabarrok lays waste to trial lawyer contentions that greedy insurance companies are the cause of rising medical liability premiums and points a direct finger at meritless lawsuits instead. The full study can be found here.

We particularly like the way the study's author skewers the "price gouging" thesis in a related Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. Noting that one of the nation's largest insurers withdrew from the market, he asks, "Were the profits from all that gouging just too much for St. Paul's guilty conscience?" And given that almost half of doctors are insured through doctor-owned insurance companies, "Are the doctors gouging themselves?" [minor formatting]
-- CAV

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