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杭州夜生活

Former AIG chief Greenberg’s company suing US over bailout, saying it violated Constitution

WASHINGTON – A company run by the former CEO of American International Group Inc. is suing the government for US$25 billion in damages over its taxpayer bailout of the big insurer.

Former AIG CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s current company – Starr International – filed lawsuits Monday in federal courts against the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The suits accuse the government of taking valuable assets from AIG’s shareholders without their consent or fair compensation, in exchange for the government’s 80 per cent stake in the company. The suit says the government’s actions violate parts of the Fifth Amendment.

Much of the $182 billion in rescue money that AIG got from the government went to pay the New York-based firm’s obligations to big banks.

Starr International was the largest shareholder in AIG. It is suing on behalf of AIG and the AIG shareholders and says the $25 billion or more in damages it wants represents the market value of the 563 million shares the government received, as of last Jan. 14.

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“The government is not empowered to trample shareholder and property rights even in the midst of a financial emergency,” Starr International says in the suits. It contends that the government discriminated in its action against AIG, by refusing to provide loans or loan guarantees or access to the Fed’s discount borrowing window as it had to other financial institutions such as Citigroup Inc.

The AIG shareholders didn’t agree “to the proposed taking of their property rights,” the lawsuits say. They were filed against the government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington and against the New York Fed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Tim Massad, Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial stability, said “It is important to remember that the government provided assistance to AIG – and stopped it from collapsing – in order to prevent a meltdown of the entire global financial system.

“Our actions were necessary, legal and constitutional,” Massad said in a statement. “We are reviewing the lawsuit and expect to defend our actions vigorously.”

AIG’s latest repayment to the Treasury, $972 million on Oct. 31, brought its outstanding balance from the bailout down to about $68 billion. The government now owns 77 per cent of AIG’s common stock, having sold shares to reduce its stake.

Treasury has recouped $18 billion of the $68 billion it provided to AIG through the government’s so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program. The rest of the money came from the New York Fed, to meet AIG’s obligations to its Wall Street trading partners on financial instruments called credit default swaps. AIG has repaid all but $17.5 billion of those loans.

After the subprime mortgage bubble burst in 2007, the credit default swaps – which insured against default of the securities tied to the mortgages – collapsed. That pushed AIG to the brink. The company got an initial $85 billion infusion from the government on Sept. 16, 2008. The aid ultimately grew to $182 billion.

Some of the biggest beneficiaries of the rescue money also received federal bailout infusions themselves. They included Goldman Sachs Group, Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup.

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Ottawa and provinces to formally begin talks for post-2014 health deal

OTTAWA – The federal government will officially begin discussions on the next health- care accord this week – talks that will define the fiscal and social-policy relationship between Ottawa and the provinces for years to come.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is to meet her provincial counterparts in Halifax on Friday for their first formal talks on how to reform and pay for health care after the current agreement expires in 2014.

“This will be an opportunity to talk about what’s working and begin to talk about what principles will guide upcoming decisions about health care,” said Steve Outhouse, a spokesman for Aglukkaq.

Billions of dollars and the quality of hospitals, medical treatment and prevention measures are at stake, as is the very nature of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s relationship with the provinces.

The federal government is providing $27 billion to the provinces for health care this fiscal year, an amount that is set to rise by six per cent a year for the next four years even as Ottawa struggles to balance its books.

But the provinces provide the bulk of the funding – often at the expense of other programs and their general fiscal health.

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They are desperate to find ways to wrestle down costs and that process is well underway in many provinces. Ontario, for example, has pledged to hold health-care increases to just one per cent a year. And other provinces are poised to cut outright.

“How do we, facing the challenges that we face now as a country, ensure that we don’t break the bank, but that we continue to have a system which ensures healthier Canadians?” asked health-law expert Maureen McTeer, who leads a Canadian Nurses Association task force.

McTeer says the federal and provincial ministers need to find a way to preserve an acceptable acute-care system based in hospitals and complement it with much better and more efficient primary care based in communities.

But the formal beginning of the health-care talks this week is a soft launch.

The ministers are only devoting an hour to the topic during their meetings.

“There are still more than two years until the health accord expires and it’s important to point out that work is underway on a number of topics that affect the health of Canadians,” said Outhouse. “These initial discussions will be one of several agenda items this Friday.”

The health ministers don’t plan to tackle the thorny issue of who will pay for the mounting costs. That will be left to finance ministers.

Critics fear the fiscal squeeze will mean cuts to health care or privatization and they plan to make their concerns known loudly from the margins of the meetings.

But the tough decisions are still a ways off. The recent round of provincial elections means most of the provincial health ministers are new to their jobs, and not yet ready to plunge into serious negotiations.

And Ottawa has taken off some of the heat by promising to continue six-per-cent annual increases in funding for two years beyond the expiry of the current accord in 2014.

Plus, the federal government has made it clear it does not want to conduct the kind of crisis-fuelled negotiation that former prime minister Paul Martin conducted earlier this decade. Conservative insiders say that kind of atmosphere led to long-lasting, but poor decisions, with little accountability.

While ministers have only just begun formally setting out their bargaining positions, officials at both levels of government have been preparing the groundwork for almost a year.

At the same time, a range of professional groups and researchers have conducted their own cross-country hearings and investigations into the state of health care.

There seems to be a consensus that the long-time focus on acute care in hospitals is insufficient, said McTeer. But there is also a realization that to expand publicly funded health care beyond its current realm would require finding significant reforms and savings elsewhere.

But where those efficiencies can be found and whether or not governments can afford them as the population ages are open questions. At the same time, calls for more home care, better palliative care and a national pharmacare program are growing constantly louder.

McTeer’s task force and others call for a national, consensus-building conference next year to give governments a solid basis to build upon.

At this point, the policy makers and the experts are talking past each other, noted economist Don Drummond said in a recent report.

“Many analysts and health-care stakeholders have been sounding the alarm: Canada’s health system is unsustainable. But their alarms are not being heard by the public and government action is slow and incremental,” he said.

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As holidays approach, how do you battle ‘gimmes,’ teach teens to be charitable?

NEW YORK, N.Y. – As the daughter of a minister, Jennifer James travelled frequently while her family served the less fortunate, from the rural heartland to the inner city. A lot of the time, she went without as a kid.

“My earliest memories are of working among the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, dipping ice cream for drunks,” she said. “I learned a lot and I was a better person for it, but there was a lot of pain along the way.”

In her zeal to spare her own three kids, the 44-year-old mom in Oklahoma City, Okla., has given them a world she didn’t know – braces on their teeth and cushy furniture for their rooms, fancy computers and private schooling. But now, at 14, six and four, she realizes something is missing.

“Pretty soon it’s like the kids just expect it and think you’re giving so much because they’re just that fantastic and not because you’re making sacrifices,” James said. “They have no paradigm for sacrifice. Now I’m trying to wind the skein of yarn back up and it’s not easy.”

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Call it entitled child syndrome, the chronic gimmes or just plain spoiled. The lament is a familiar one for many well-meaning parents year round but intensifies at the holidays, especially among older kids who crank up gift demands but can’t be coaxed off the couch to give back.

Can you force a teen to lose all the push back in favour of a little charity?

“Parents need to get into the WHY behind why teens are not wanting to give,” said Tammy Gold, a parenting coach in Short Hills, N.J.

Is it selfishness never outgrown or volunteer fatigue after years of forced participation? Did you forget to “model” charity at home, or at least check in to figure out whether your own good deeds were rubbing off? Does your teen anticipate a material reward in return, or a bribe beforehand?

It may be one or all of the above, but Gold and other experts urge parents not to give up – or give in to foreboding that selfish teen equals grown-up sociopath.

It could be your reluctant volunteer just hasn’t found the right cause or has been mismatched in the past, said dad David Levinson, a Hollywood screenwriter who founded the Los Angeles community service organization Big Sunday (Bigsunday杭州夜网).

“Everyone, even the youngest kids, has something that speaks to them, whether it’s homelessness, literacy, the environment, seniors, veterans, AIDS, animals, children,” he said. “At the same time, everyone has things that don’t speak to them, scare them, or turn them off. For me, it’s cats. For others it might be, say, homeless people. And, while they might be embarrassed to have that reaction, that’s OK.”

If your teen has no interest in cooking, forget the food kitchen as a way to wake up your sleeping giver. If he’s not a people person, working closely with the homeless or the infirm might bring out the shy and awkward in him instead.

“Personally, I hate paperwork, and I was stunned to discover that some people actually enjoy it and are good at it,” Levinson said.

He suggests projects that have a clear beginning, middle and an end, like cleaning up a single block or repainting a room at a shelter rather than pitching in on long-term problems with intangible solutions.

No matter how much nudging, a demand to participate isn’t the way to go.

“If you persist there’s a reasonable chance that they might actually do it, but there also is a chance that they won’t,” said Suffield, Conn., psychologist Anthony Wolf, who wrote a guide for parenting teens, “I’d Listen to My Parents if They’d Just Shut Up.”

Wolf added: “Have in your head, ‘Well, what happens if I don’t get them to do it? Should I punish them?’ That’s a singularly terrible idea.”

Encourage teens to look for volunteer opportunities on their own, said Donna Henderson, a professor of counselling at Wake Forest University. And remember, they’re not babies anymore. “Because teens have more capacity for action, they can do more,” she said.

Disaster fatigue touches adults and kids alike, but parents should recognize and build on natural moments of empathy, said Michel Tvedt, the teen engagement expert for the aid group World Vision.

“Begin to give them a voice in family giving,” she said. “Let your teen know you would like to give a charitable gift as a family but that you’d love to let them be the final decision maker.”

As the holidays draw closer, Tvedt said, suggest that teens give loved ones charitable gifts instead of material gifts. “Teens will not respond well to guilt,” she said, and should be encouraged to “find their own identity as givers.”

Linda Cohen, whose blog 1000mitzvahs杭州夜网 is loaded with suggested acts of kindness, unknowingly stumbled on that strategy with her 13-year-old daughter.

She felt deflated as a charitable-minded mom when she couldn’t get her own teen to decide on a mitzvah project last summer, ahead of her bat mitzvah. The push back, she said, was startling, until they found just the right project. The teen decided to collect gift cards with money left over on them to cash in and benefit an organization that provides art supplies to hospitalized kids.

Is she eager? “That might be a bit of a stretch,” Cohen said, “but at least she thinks the project is worthy of some of her time and attention. She’s 13, which means we needed to find something that speaks to her at this age.”

Wolf said parents shouldn’t lose sight of the end game if they fail to budge an intransigent teen.

“Whether they do or don’t participate,” he said, “the big picture is: ‘What I really care about is that they basically become a good person.’”

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Holocaust survivors donating ‘everyday objects’ to museums as survivors age, limit appearances

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A steamer trunk. Banquet table cloths. A nearly 160-year-old dollhouse.

As aging Holocaust survivors living around the United States age, they are slowly donating to museums everyday personal items that advocates say shed light on their plight in Nazi Germany.

The donated items are some of the survivors’ last physical links to the Holocaust, and they don’t want them collecting dust in attics and basements when they could be used to help tell a story, museum officials and curators say.

The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico, for example, this week will officially unveil an exhibit entitled “Hidden Treasures,” featuring a 158-year-old dollhouse owned by a German-Jewish family and hidden away during World War II.

In addition, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington is offers to museum members a 2012 calendar highlighting 12 “extraordinary ordinary objects, each with an unforgettable story to tell.” Among the 12 items are a typewriter, a camera and a wedding band.

By donating items, survivors are connecting people to normal life at that time, something usually overshadowed by horrors, said Jerry Small, the New Mexico museum’s co-president.

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“These simple, everyday items represent and show a destroyed culture,” Small said. “To have these artifacts means we can show how people lived.”

Until recently, many Holocaust survivors spoke regularly to audiences and schools about their experiences in concentration camps, losing family members, living as refugees and fleeing to the United States.

But Regina Turner, founder and executive director of the New Mexico Human Rights Projects, said many survivors have passed away and only a few remain or are healthy enough to speak publicly. Seven years ago, for example, 15 Holocaust survivors took part in an Albuquerque school speakers’ series sponsored by Turner’s organization. Today, only six participate and most were young children living in hiding during the war, she said.

“This is truly the last generation,” Turner said. “Some of them have realized their mortality and they are donating what they have in order to tell their story.”

That’s what happened to Lilo Waxman, 91, of St. Louis.

In 1936, her family left Nazi Germany before the major persecution of Jews by Hitler started. They landed in New Mexico with the help of an uncle who was a major merchant in the state at the time. Her family was forced to leave many of their possessions in Germany, including a dollhouse that had been in the family for generations.

The dollhouse was hidden in a Christian friend’s attic in Germany, said Waxman, who lost family members to concentration camps. “The woman’s family didn’t even know it was there,” Waxman said in a telephone interview from her St. Louis home. “But there it was, hidden from the Nazis.”

After the war, Waxman’s family recovered the dollhouse, and she periodically showed it to friends and members of Temple Israel in St. Louis.

“But now I just can’t keep up with it, and I wanted to find a home for it,” Waxman said. “I don’t want these rooms getting lost.”

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/russcontreras

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Judge denies request by doctor convicted in Michael Jackson’s death for new testing on vial

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A judge denied a request Monday by lawyers for the doctor convicted of causing Michael Jackson’s death to have an independent laboratory test the contents of a key vial of evidence.

Just days before the scheduled sentencing of Dr. Conrad Murray, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said defence attorneys could have sought the testing months ago or even during the doctor’s six-week trial but chose not to.

“You’re not involved in fishing, you’re involved in foraging,” Pastor said.

Murray’s attorneys wanted a lab to test a small amount of liquid found in a vial of the anesthetic propofol that authorities contend was used to help Jackson sleep on the day he died.

Defence lawyer J. Michael Flanagan argued the results would reveal the accuracy of a theory by a prosecution expert who testified that Murray left Jackson’s bedside while the singer was on an IV drip of propofol and the painkiller lidocaine.

Murray had been giving Jackson nightly doses of propofol to help the singer sleep as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren contended there was no legal basis for the testing and said Murray received a fair trial.

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Pastor examined the propofol vial, which was found in the closet of Jackson’s bedroom, before issuing his ruling.

Flanagan said it didn’t occur to him that the contents of the vial should be tested until after the conclusion of Murray’s trial, which ended Nov. 7 with the conviction of the cardiologist on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Flanagan said if prosecution expert Dr. Steven Shafer’s theory is correct, the small amount of liquid that remained in the vial should contain lidocaine. In that case, “that’s the ballgame” and would prove Murray did leave the singer alone on an IV drip, Flanagan said.

Flanagan also argued that Shafer didn’t tell jurors that he believed Murray injected lidocaine into the propofol vial until Shafer was called as a rebuttal witness in the final moments of testimony.

Walgren said Shafer and other witnesses acknowledged that they didn’t know exactly what happened in Jackson’s bedroom before the singer’s death on June 25, 2009. Shafer was one of several experts who told jurors that he could only theorize on events based on toxicology results, Murray’s statements to police and evidence found at the scene.

“Whether there was lidocaine in that bottle or not is completely irrelevant,” Walgren said.

Murray is set to be sentenced on Nov. 29. Walgren said he is finalizing work on a sentencing memorandum and several people may speak during the hearing. He did not say whether members of Jackson’s family, several of whom attended the trial daily, would offer statements.

Murray remains jailed and faces a possible sentence ranging from probation to up to four years.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/mccartneyAP

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America’s beloved ‘Sundance Kid’ asks for Canada’s help to take on oilsands

TORONTO – Hollywood heavyweight Robert Redford, fresh from a campaign against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, is setting his sights on Alberta’s oilsands.

In a column published today in the Globe and Mail newspaper, Redford denounces the oilsands development near Fort McMurray, Alta., and calls on Canadians to join him in his effort to shut down the project.

“Where spruce and fir and birch trees once rose and waters ran fresh and clean, tar-sands production has left a lifeless scar visible from outer space,” he writes.

The result, he continues, is “a vast repository of enduring pollution that threatens fish, birds, animals, public health and an entire way of life for native people.”

Redford, long a champion of environmental causes in the U.S., said he developed a greater appreciation of Canada’s natural wonders during a recent stretch in Vancouver, where he has been working on his latest directorial effort, “The Company you Keep.”

Extracting energy from the oilsands results in three times the amount of carbon emissions generated by producing conventional North American crude oil, Redford argues.

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He urges Canadians and Americans alike to reduce their oil consumption, speak out against the oilsands and maintain their resistance to TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial effort to ship 700,000 barrels of bitumen daily from northern Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Under siege from critics, the U.S. State Department has ordered a review of the project, prompting TransCanada to agree to re-route the pipeline away from the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region of Nebraska.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers was quick to decry Redford’s perspective.

“Canadians lack any appetite for this kind of trite, hypocritical and uninformed attack on an industry in the total absence of offering a reasonable solution,” said spokesman Travis Davies.

Hollywood, he said, is itself a pretty resource-intensive business.

“If you’re of the belief that we can be off hydrocarbons tomorrow, then show me how. Put a solution out there,” Davies said.

“Until we are, we think that Canadian energy is a responsible choice and the right one for North America.”

Redford’s editorial also condemned the Northern Gateway pipeline, Enbridge Inc.’s proposed 1,200-kilometre project to transport oil from the oilsands to northern B.C.

“Crossing the territories of more than 50 First Nations groups, slicing through rivers and streams that form one of the most important salmon habitats in the world and putting at risk the coastal ecosystem of British Columbia?” Redford asks.

“Americans don’t want to see that happen any more than Canadians do, and we’ll stand by you to fight it.”

Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians, called Redford’s clarion call a welcome opportunity to take up a cross-border cause, since each country’s energy policies wind up having repercussions on the other.

“The way the pipelines and the export market has happened, we have integrated Canadian energy as really a North American energy grid,” Barlow said.

“If we’re going to slow the pace of the tar sands and start to move towards a more sustainable energy future, we’re going to have to do it together.”

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MPP Dave Levac elected Speaker of The House in surprise result

TORONTO – Longtime Liberal Dave Levac was elected Speaker of the Ontario legislature Monday, taking over as chief political referee in Ontario’s first minority parliament in a generation.

Three other Liberals were also vying for the job: Donna Cansfield, Kevin Flynn and David Zimmer.

Flynn was dropped after the first ballot, while Zimmer and Cansfield – who could have been the first woman elected to the post – lost after the second ballot.

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An emotional Levac thanked his colleagues in the legislature, calling it an honour to serve as Speaker.

“I accept the challenge humbly, and very proud to say that we are the elected members of Ontario,” he said.

“I’ll do my best to work with all of you to keep the dignity and the honour and the trust of this place in your hands. It’s your house, it’s our house.”

The Speaker oversees debate in the legislature but can also be called upon to break a tie vote – a critical role with the Liberals holding 53 of the 107 seats and the opposition together controlling 54.

The Speaker, by convention, tends to vote with the governing party, although there have been exceptions.

There was speculation after the Oct. 6 election that the minority Liberals might push for a Speaker from one of the opposition parties, which would level the playing field by taking away their one-vote advantage. But that didn’t happen.

Levac replaces Steve Peters, who held the post since November 2007, and will be Ontario’s 41st Speaker since 1867.

The job also comes with a bump in salary to nearly $153,000 a year and an apartment at the legislature. It’s also one of the few roles that includes a portrait on the walls of the legislature along with one of the premier.

Now that a Speaker has been chosen, the legislature can officially get back to business with a throne speech on Tuesday.

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Breast cancer guidelines advise against routine mammograms

TORONTO – Most women age 40 to 49 should not have routine mammograms and those 50 to 69 can wait slightly longer between the tests than previously recommended, updated Canadian breast cancer screening guidelines advise.

And for the first time, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care that developed the guidelines says that women aged 70 to 74 should be getting mammograms on the same schedule as those 50 to 69.

The revamped guidelines, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, apply to women with an average risk of developing the disease. They include those with no previous breast cancer, no history of the disease in a first-degree relative like a mother or sister, no known BRCA genetic mutation and no previous exposure to radiation of the chest wall.

In its previous set of guidelines penned in 2001, the expert panel made no recommendations for average-risk women in their 40s as to whether they should have routine screening or not.

But the task force now advises against the practice for that age group, saying the potential harms from false positives and unnecessary subsequent cancer treatment outweigh the possible benefit – a slight reduction in the number of deaths from the disease.

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“Before there was no recommendation for or against, and clinical practice followed that lead,” said task force chair Dr. Marcello Tonelli of the University of Alberta. “Most organized screening programs don’t recruit women aged 40 to 49 years as a result.

“The biggest change of all is probably in the way in which we frame all of our recommendations, that breast cancer screening has risks and it has benefits, and how women weigh those up will influence their personal decision to be screened or not.”

In the 2001 guidelines, women 50 to 69 with an average risk of breast cancer were advised to have mammography every two years. But the new guide extends that period, saying such tests can be done every two to three years.

The panel now suggests women age 70 to 74 should also have mammograms every two to three years.

“In routine practice, one of the challenges in producing guidance and then implementing it in real life is that patients don’t turn up for screening or any other service on the anniversary of their last test,” said Tonelli.

“So the intent here was to give a range so that someone who is appearing for screening at two years and a day is still falling within recommended practice (and) even after two years and six months,” he said from Edmonton.

“We also wanted to signal that since the last set of guidelines were produced, there has been some evidence produced that longer screening intervals, like every three years, might be just as good as every year.”

The new guidelines have grown out of an intensive review of international clinical trials, which looked at the risk of developing breast cancer in the various age groups and the potential harms inherent in the breast X-ray that can arise from misdiagnosis.

“Specifically, the harms could range from a woman being told she has an abnormality on a mammogram and being asked to repeat the mammogram, being asked to go for a biopsy of her breast, being asked to have part or all of her breast removed, and all the way up to surgery and radiation and chemotherapy.

“These are the spectrum of possible harms, so if you don’t have breast cancer, but you have your breast removed and have surgery, I think we’d all agree that’s a harm of screening.”

The task force determined that screening 2,100 women every two to three years for about 11 years would prevent just one death from breast cancer. However, it also would result in 690 women having false-positives that would lead to unnecessary followup testing, including 75 women having unnecessary breast biopsies.

“For every woman that had cancer found with mammography, there are many more that have had a false positive result or a scare,” Tonelli said.

While no primary studies looked at the risk of overdiagnosis specifically among women 40 to 49 years, “data from our systematic review show that for every 1,000 women aged 39 years and older who are screened using mammography, five will have an unnecessary lumpectomy or mastectomy,” the authors write.

“In addition to unnecessary intervention, false-positive results can lead to fear, anxiety and distress.”

Dr. Cornelia Baines, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto and one of the world’s foremost experts on breast cancer screening, lauded the task force’s recommendations, calling them “completely warranted.”

“All in all, I think it’s a superb set of guidelines that really are very, very carefully drawn, carefully thought out and totally justified on the basis of existing evidence.”

Still, she predicted they will be greeted with the same indignation and criticism that occurred in 2009 when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force presented similar recommendations, which also advised women to defer routine mammograms until age 50.

The switch from the previous recommendation that American women in their 40s have a mammogram every year or two like their older sisters caused a firestorm of controversy.

If Baines has any criticism about the revamped Canadian guidelines, it is that they could have been clearer in illustrating the potential harms arising from false-positive results, which could “serve as a disincentive to wanting screening.”

“They don’t say it in a way that really hits home,” she said, noting that for women age 40 to 49, there is a one in three chance of having a false-positive result, and one in every 200 will be falsely diagnosed with breast cancer and unnecessarily treated.

“I had breast cancer,” said Baines. “I can’t imagine how I would feel if I thought there was a major chance that all the emotional upheaval, all the miseries of treatment, all the misery of followup, all the misery of diagnostic labelling was all useless because I didn’t really have breast cancer.

“I do know for a fact that only a minority of women who get breast cancer die of it.”

This year in Canada, an estimated 23,600 women overall will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 5,100 will die of the disease.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada has endorsed the new guidelines, as has the Canadian Cancer Society.

Gillian Bromfield, director of cancer control policy for the Canadian Cancer Society, said they reinforce the organization’s own breast-screening recommendations, which suggest women 50 to 69 should have a mammogram every two years.

“For women age 50 to 69, all the major health organizations are quite consistent that this is the age group that should be getting screened on a regular basis,” she said. “When you get outside of that age range, that’s where you start to see a bit more inconsistency.”

Among women in their 40s, for example, the evidence isn’t particularly strong that routine mammograms help to save lives, Bromfield said. Even so, some women will still want screening and should talk to their doctors about the benefits and risks.

Indeed, that is the overriding advice of the guidelines, Tonelli stressed.

“They say: ‘Here is what you can expect to get in the way of benefits from screening and here’s what you might expect in the way of harms. And based on what you, yourself, feel about your trade-off of those risks and those benefits, you together with your doctor can make a decision that’s right for you.’”

In a related commentary, Dr. Peter Gotzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, calls the new guidelines “more balanced and more in accordance with the evidence than any previous recommendations.”

Gotzsche writes that scientific evidence does not support mammography screening and he argues that it could even be harmful because it can lead to unnecessary mastectomies.

“The main effect of screening is to produce patients with breast cancer from among healthy women who would have remained free of breast disease for the rest of their lives had they not undergone screening.”

Online:

Guidelines: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.110334

Commentary: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.111721

Canadian Cancer Society: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活cancer.ca

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an incorrect spelling for Bromfield

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Alberta cancer lab closure ‘life and death matter,’ says former Tom Baker doctor

EDMONTON – A former Tom Baker Cancer Centre doctor is speaking out against what he says is the planned closure of the centre’s pathology lab at the end of the month – a move he believes will put patients at serious risk.

“This truly is a life and death matter for cancer patients,” said Dr. Tony Magliocco, the former director of pathology at the centre.

Magliocco said the Tom Baker has developed reliable and precise tests, and he has never been assured the new lab services provider, Calgary Laboratory Services (CLS), has the same expertise for the complicated testing procedures.

At a press conference at the legislature annex in Edmonton, the Wildrose party introduced Magliocco – via telephone – who said his concerns were met with intimidation. He said he had his resources withdrawn, he was not offered a new contract, and felt his career in Alberta was in jeopardy.

He said he finally resigned his position in August and has now taken a new job in Florida.

The tests affected include breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and brain cancer.

“These services have been offered to Alberta patients and also to patients from across Canada,” Magliocco added.

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Speaking to reporters at the legislature on Monday afternoon, Health Minister Fred Horne expressed concerns that Magliocco was intimidated but said he believes the switch to Calgary Lab Services will “enhance the capacity” for testing. He said the clinic has been validating testing processes for the past four months.

CLS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alberta Health Services.

“I’m very confident that this is a good move and it will expand capacity for this sort of testing,” Horne said.

The minister said he was concerned about a letter Magliocco was allegedly sent by a superior, which warned if that if he caused trouble over the issue that he would regret it.

“While I’m concerned about the language I’m encouraged that there’s the Health Quality Council review,” Horne said. “There’s the College of Physicians and Surgeons, there’s the Alberta Medical Association and there is the medical staff bylaws in Alberta Health Services. And all of those avenues offer a physician who feels that he or she has been unfairly dealt with some avenues to pursue that.”

Magliocco still feels the lab closure, which he said is scheduled for Nov. 30, could have “serious and potentially life-threatening impacts on our cancer patients in Alberta.”

He said he tried to raise his concerns time and time again – with his superiors at Tom Baker as well as AHS and government officials – the only reasoning he was given for the closure was “efficiency.”

He has also taken the issue to the Health Quality Council of Alberta.

“Why is a perfectly functional lab being closed? What is going to be replaced with? Why is it being sent to a lab that doesn’t have experience with these methods? This is a recipe for disaster as far as I’m concerned.”

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said Magliocco’s story shows why the Redford government needs to call a full, public judicial inquiry instead of a review led by the Health Quality Council of Alberta.

“Lives are at stake and the government needs to reverse the decision to close this lab,” Smith said.

“You will see why it is doctors say that the health quality council review is not enough. You will see why it is a full, public judicial inquiry needs to be done,” Smith said.
 

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Loonie slides to six-week low against U.S. dollar as commodities weaken

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar was trading at a six-week low at midday Monday. 

The loonie was off 1.05 of a cent at  96.30 cents US as commodity prices tumbled along with global markets. It earlier fell to 96.02, the lowest it has been since Oct. 6. 

The January oil contract was down $1.31 at US$96.36 a barrel, while the December gold contract plunged $39.50 to US$1,685.60 an ounce and the copper contract shed 11 cents to US$3.29 a pound. 

The loonie’s decline comes as a reaction to weakening commodity prices, while rising market uncertainty is bolstering the U.S. dollar, seen as a safe have in times of economic turmoil. 

Equity markets also saw big drops as politicians south of the border approach a Nov. 23 deadline for an agreement on how to improve Washington’s finances by $1.2 trillion over the coming decade. The main hurdle in the bipartisan panel’s negotiations has been how much to raise in new taxes. 

“The news has spurred a classic flight to safety supporting a stronger Japanese yen and U.S. dollar,” said a report from BMO Economics. 

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“As oil (West Texas Intermediate crude) trades almost $6 per barrel from last Thursday’s high, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason to buy the Canadian dollar against the current backdrop,” BMO said. 

Even as the U.S. deadline approaches, Europe is the bigger concern that will put pressure on the Canadian dollar, said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier. 

“I think it will continue to go down until we get some sort of resolution out of Europe – until people feel confident that these countries that need to get money, can get money.” 

Spain on Sunday became the third European country in as many weeks – after Greece and Italy – to change its government because of discontent generated by the sovereign debt crisis. 

It dumped its ruling Socialists for the conservative leadership of Mariano Rajoy, who inherits an economy racked by debt and nightmarish unemployment, which at more than 21 per cent is the highest among the 17 countries that use the euro. 

Kicking off a week of light economic news, Statistics Canada reported Monday that wholesale sales rose 0.3 per cent in September to $48.7 billion. By volume, Statistics Canada reports wholesale trade fell 0.5 per cent. Economists had expected a 0.7 per cent again. 

Meanwhile, the number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes rose slightly last month but remained at depressed levels. The National Association of Realtors says home sales rose 1.4 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million.

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