Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of a small cabin reflected in a lake on a misty day in Szodliget, Hungary

The Village

Photograph by Gabor Dvornik, National Geographic Your Shot

“This little lake is a part of my life,” writes Your Shot member Gabor Dvornik, who lives half a mile from its location on a natural reserve in Sződliget, Hungary. “I shoot here nearly every month, sometimes every week. It has a very special air in every season, but to have a nice, misty day is rare, as wind is always present due to the nearby Duna River.”

Seeing the fog during a last glance outside the night before, Dvornik slept only three hours to make it to the lake for a “dream” shoot. “It was utterly ghostly and very moody out there,” he writes. “I felt like I was in a fantasy tale, in an enchanted land. I was so euphoric that I made around 500 captures and walked around the lake two to three times.

Should a teenager be able to refuse chemo

Really interesting case in Connecticut where a court is mandating that a 17-year old teen with non-Hodgin’s lymphoma (a highly curable cancer with chemotherapy) receive treatment despite the fact that she and her mother insist she will be cured without subjecting herself to “poison.”  Here’s the NPR story.

Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she’s disappointed by the decision. “She knows I love her and I’m going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision,” Fortin said. “I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn’t, I’d be making that decision.”

Here’s our original story, reported Thursday morning:

A 17-year-old Connecticut girl recently diagnosed with cancer has been removed from her home after refusing to undergo chemotherapy.

The girl, named Cassandra, is now in the custody of child welfare authorities and is being forced to undergo cancer treatment. The state Supreme Court is taking up her case Thursday to weigh whether she’s mature enough to make her own medical decisions.

Cassandra is Jackie Fortin’s only child. Fortin has been a single mother for Cassandra’s entire life. Until last month, they lived together in Windsor Locks, Conn. Fortin says this is the first time they’ve been separated.

“Nobody, whether it’s her age or an adult, should ever have to go through this by herself,” she says.

For the past month, her daughter has been held at a local hospital, undergoing chemotherapy treatment against her wishes. A court gave the state Department of Children and Families temporary custody of Cassandra, as well as the authority to make medical decisions for the teen, after doctors reported Fortin for neglect. Court papers document missed appointments and arguments with doctors over her daughter’s diagnosis.

But Fortin says it’s her daughter’s right to refuse chemotherapy, saying she doesn’t want to poison her body.

“This is not about death,” Fortin says. “My daughter is not going to die. This is about, ‘This is my body, my choice, and let me decide.’ ”

But Cassandra’s doctors say that without treatment, she will die. They testified in previous hearings that Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, is lethal without the recommended treatment. With treatment, she has an 85 percent chance of survival.

We’ve got to have a line when it comes to adulthood, and for better or worse, we’ve generally (though, admittedly imprecisely) settled on 18.  If Cassandra was 18, she could let herself die with her “natural”treatments and it would be an unfortunate, but unnoticed story.  But Cassandra is a minor and therefore the state does have a legitimate role to seeing to her well-being if her own mother will not.  And sure, chemo is not exactly fun, but we are talking about a life here.  I might be inclined to grant the minor her wishes if they were not demonstrably against science.  She will, in fact, very likely die without chemotherapy.

So, I’m with the state for two science-based reasons.  One: the daughter and her mother are basically anti-science, and when that comes to a life-saving medical treatment for a minor, that’s a real problem.  But also, because regardless of legal status, it is now well-established that a 17-year old brain is still years away from being fully mature in decision-making capabilities.  And by almost any objective calculation, this is simply horrible decision-making.  I’m pretty comfortable with the state erring on the side of keeping a minor alive.  Safe to say, I’d feel differently if it were the opposite.  Anyway, very interesting case.

Mega quick hits (part II)

1) I thought the government had stopped printing $2 bills years ago.  Nope, still going strong (though a tiny percent of currency).  I don’t think I’ve seen one in a cash transaction in years.

2) Evan Osnos compares Bob McDonnell’s two-year sentence to the 6x life sentence for a Virginia teenager for armed robbery where he didn’t even hurt anybody.

3) Enjoyed this piece on the guys climbing the Dawn Wall of Yosemite.

4) Nate Cohn with a nice piece on the Invisible Primary.

5) Former Republican official argues that we need bipartisan social programs that work:

This is why rigorous evaluation is often unpopular, for politicians in both parties. Historically, Democrats have been criticized for throwing money at intractable problems, while Republicans have been depicted as heartlessly assuming that social spending never works. The truth is, of course, more complex. Since Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, disjointed, inefficient, poorly implemented social programs have been created and funded without vigorous assessment. Years of failure have taught us that humans are difficult to change.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I suspect there’s lots of us liberals who are plenty willing to embrace evidence-based research for social programs.  On the other hand, it strikes me that the vast majority of conservatives object to these social programs that benefit poor people in principle.  And if they do complain about inefficiency, that’s just a more politically palatable critique than appearing heartless.

6) Really enjoyed this about what airline prices can tell us about unbundling cable TV.

7) Inflation hawks like Paul Ryan could not have been more wrong.  But nobody ever holds you accountable for being so wrong on stuff like this.

8) If you haven’t seen the recent Nicole Kidman appearance on Jimmy Fallon where she tells him that they were basically on a date and didn’t realize it, it is so, so good.

9) Connor Friedersdorf on the NYPD and racial bias.

10) Did you hear about the new, (hopefully) kick-ass antibiotic they’ve developed?  You should.

11) Nice NPR piece on how the newly re-mastered Wire is more relevant than ever.  Absolutely.

Before it all comes crashing down, Colvin explains to a young sergeant how drug enforcement tactics have disconnected police from the communities they are supposed to be protecting.

“This drug thing, it ain’t police work,” he says, remembering how old-school cops walked a beat, got to know their communities and learned tips from local residents that helped solve crimes. “You call something a war, and pretty soon, everybody going to be acting like warriors … and when you’re at war, you need a [expletive] enemy. And pretty soon, damn near everybody on every corner is your [expletive] enemy. And the neighborhood you’re supposed to be policing, that’s just occupied territory.”

12) Cannot do it justice here, but this high resolution photo of the Andromeda Galaxy from Hubble is pretty mind-blowing.

13) If you study American political behavior (like me) there’s nobody more influential than Phil Converse.  He passed away this past week and there’s a great piece from Hans Noel explaining Converse’s contributions and why they remain so important.

14) Visual and auditory proof of how incredibly alike modern pop-country music is.

15) I am actually aware of the research that shows an annual physical does not actually do anything to improve your health.  That said, if you want your prescriptions for anything updated (e.g., flonase) or minor problems (e.g., plantar warts) discussed, you are still going to have to see your doctor.  Nobody ever seems to mention that.  \

16) Interesting research on how cold may be key to the cold virus’ effectiveness.  Also, if it is true that Americans suffer 1 billion colds a year, that’s more than 3 per person per year.  Yuck.

17) Jamelle Bouie on Jim Webb’s attempts to appeal to white, working-class Democrats.

18) Ever wonder what it is like to attend a political science conference?  Probably not.  But, if so, this 3 minute video of last years MPSA meeting captures it pretty well (especially the totally packed lobby scenes).

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