Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Blogging from Tel Aviv, after a wonderful flight in first class (if you've never done this internationally, you must!), and staying at the lovely Intercontinental in Tel Aviv with an ocean view. Having a friend in the travel industry is a great boon. More details to come.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Blogging will be light for the next week or so.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

A bizarre story about an unapproved by promising drug for Alzheimer's, bizarre because doctors are so hesitant to prescribe a drug not approved by the FDA, even though it's been used safely in Germany for years and there are no good alternatives available for those using it.

"We are all conflicted about this," said Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Rochester, Minn. "We want to help our patients and not endanger them, and at the same time we have a moral and ethical obligation to follow the F.D.A.'s guideline."

From where does this FDA fetishism arise? If someone can logically demonstrate to me that doctors have "a moral and ethical obligation" to listen to the FDA (short of staying within the law), I'll be very surprised. And, moreover, this FDAism doesn't square with the fact that almost half of all prescriptions are for off-label uses. Perhaps the FDA rationale is just masking a fear of lawsuits in case the drug turns out not to be safe?

The NY Times has an article today about "homeless youth" that features a 26 year old and a 20 year old. Homeless they are, but "youth?" Surely, a 26 year old is an adult, and by most definitions, a 20 year old, too.

This article in the NY Times about rent decontrol in Boston and Cambridge shows typical reportorial ignorance of economics. For one thing, the article harps on the vast increase in rents in those two cities since the end of rent control. What the article fails to mention is that housing prices in Boston and Cambridge have also skyrocketed during the same period. It's hardly a market failure for rental prices to go up at a similar (though, from the data I've seen, somewhat lower) rate than real estate in general. Also, the article notes admonishingly that most new construction has been of luxury apartments, not low income housing. Counterpoint: That's irrelevant, it's the total number of units relative to demand that's important. If new luxury housing gets built, older luxury housing becomes less desirable, and so on down the line, so that building luxury units makes things more affordable for those at the bottom of the housing pyramid.

Irony: A movie about a fish trying to escape an acquarium has (ahem) spawned a trend of people buying acquaria for hapless fishes.

More Saudi perfidy:

During his interrogation, KSM identified a man named Ali S. Al-Marri as “the point of contact for AQ operatives arriving in the US for September 11 follow-on operations.” KSM described Al-Marri as “the perfect sleeper agent because he has studied in the United States, had no criminal record, and had a family with whom he could travel.” Actually, Al-Marri had been charged with driving under the influence in Peoria, Ill., in 1990. The Qatari national had returned to the United States on Sept. 10, 2001, to pick up a graduate degree in computer information systems from Peoria’s Bradley University. He was accused by the FBI of phoning an alleged Qaeda operative in the United Arab Emirates, Qaeda paymaster Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, and lying about it that same December. Al-Marri’s apartment was filled with Islamic jihadist materials. His computer included bookmarked Web sites for hazardous chemicals, computer hacking and fake IDs, according to court documents. Bookmarks in an almanac marked entries for dams, reservoirs and railroads. U.S. officials were outraged when the Saudi Embassy helped Al-Marri’s wife obtain a passport to leave the United States in November (U.S. officials say she was still under subpoena; Saudi lawyers disagree). Al-Marri, who pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to investigators and credit-card fraud, is in prison in Peoria, awaiting trial.

Attorneys abusing trusteeship and guardianship is, alas, nothing new. But the blase attitude of DC judicial officials is shocking. Why don't DC officials bar attorneys who have previously ignored or abused their positions from being appointed guardians or trustees again? Here's the answer:

"You have to be careful about barring someone from cases," said [senior judge] Hamilton, who oversaw the probate division from 1991 until 1993. "It may be the person's only source of practice."

To be more concerned about lawyers who are neglectful or engage in malfeasance than about their clients who suffer from the neglect or malfeasance is absolutely inexcusable.

Not surprisingly, cronyism is rife in the DC system. Yet another example of how attorneys, who have taken on themselves the role of reforming our health care system, means of regulating tobacco consumption, employee-employer relations, products development and sales, and many other things, have not come close to cleaning up their own house.

And what exactly is the DC Bar Association doing with my annual dues, when such abuses are going on right under bar officials' noses?

Update: Ethical Esq. says that the Post piece should be mandatory reading for bar associations and others concerned about legal ethics.