Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Egypt’s Suzanne Mubarak to hand over assets to state

The wife of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has agreed to hand over assets to the state after being held in a corruption probe, officials say.
They say Suzanne Mubarak will turn over a villa in a Cairo suburb and some $3m (£1.9m) held in bank accounts in Egypt.

The Mubaraks face allegations of illegally acquiring wealth whilst in power for 30 years.
Mr Mubarak – who was ousted in February – is also accused of involvement in the killings of anti-regime protesters.

‘Idea of revenge’

Mrs Mubarak, aged 70, pledged on Monday to hand over the money and the villa.
By relinquishing her claims, she would be benefiting from articles in Egyptian law which allow those accused of making illegal gains of giving them up in exchange for dropping the investigation, lawyer Nasser Amin was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

“The decision may not be accepted by society, who after a revolution, side with the idea of revenge. But from the legal point of view, this is in line,” the lawyer added.

The Mubaraks are currently under detention in hospital the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The former first lady is recovering after falling ill when told she was being detained. Initial reports said she suffered a heart attack but some officials say it was a “panic attack”.

Reformers in Egypt believe the Mubarak family accumulated a fortune worth tens of billions of dollars while in power.
Mr Mubarak, 83, has denied this, and little hard evidence has yet been made public. However their bank accounts in Cairo and in Switzerland have been frozen.

Many Egyptians also believe the former first lady was instrumental in pushing for her eldest son, Gamal, to succeed his father – one of the grievances that mobilised opposition protesters. BBC

Kentucky v. King and Computer Searches

Here’s a question for the Fourth Amendment nerds in the VC readership: How does Kentucky v. King apply to searches of computers? Specifically, imagine the police lawfully seize a computer and they wish to search it. Ordinarily they need a warrant to search the computer. The question is, can the police turn on the computer and then search the computer without a warrant on the ground that some of the information it contains will be either lost or potentially altered as a result of the computer being on? Recall the basic reasoning of King:
[W]arrantless searches are allowed when the circumstances make it reasonable, within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, to dispense with the warrant requirement. Therefore, the answer to the question before us is that the exigent circumstances rule justifies a warrantless search when the conduct of the police preceding the exigency is reasonable in the same sense. Where, as here, the police did not create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment, warrantless entry to prevent the destruction of evidence is reasonable and thus allowed.
So let’s apply that principle to the search of a cell phone. Most modern smart phones enable remote wiping of the cell phone: If the phone is on and connected to the network, the user can send a command that deletes all the information from the phone remotely. Let’s assume that there is reason to think that a user of a phone may try to use that service if his phone is on. Can the police turn on the phone in order to rely on the possibility of the remote wipe to justify a warrantless search of the phone? Under King, I would think the issue is whether merely turning on the phone, without more, constitutes a “unreasonable search” or “unreasonable seizure” that itself violates the Fourth Amendment. But that’s a rather metaphysical question. Any thoughts on how King applies here?

Hepatitis C, drug resistance, and personalized medicine

A huge boost to treatment for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is on the horizon, as two pharmaceutical companies are set to release new drugs to market.  And with development complete, the marketing war begins.

Forbes reports that Merck has won FDA approval for Victrelis, and the drug, which costs $35,000 for the course of treatment, will hit pharmacies’ shelves by next week, along with the company’s targeted marketing campaign.

But Merck is on the clock, since a favorable approval from the FDA expected on rival drug, Incivek, manufactured by Vertex Pharmaceuticals by the end of the month.

A quick look into the Phase III studies conducted by Merck and Vertex reveals that both HCV drugs are protease inhibitors intended to be given in combination with other currently available treatments. And a paper published this past February in Science Translational Medicine provides a plausible explanation why, going forward, choosing the proper drug cocktail for each patient will be crucial.

It seems that HCV can rapidly mutate, perhaps even faster than HIV or Hepatitis B, and successfully combating this disease will require substantial efforts in personalized medicine:
Overall, this study predicts that rapid emergence of HCV protease inhibitor resistance in patients, particularly those with genotype 1a infection and with high viral loads, is expected. Combination therapies of direct antivirals with/without IFN+/-RBV would be promising to combat drug resistance. However, as with HIV, they need to be chosen carefully and with regard to both preexisting and on-treatment generated drug-resistant variants.
  By Brian Mossop

Good Lord: Psychology Today Publishes Article Titled: “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

They have yanked the article, but they’re running a criticism of it that links the full original text — which is stunning in its cluelessness:
There are marked race differences in physical attractiveness among women, but not among men. Why?
Add Health measures the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively. At the end of each interview, the interviewer rates the physical attractiveness of the respondent objectively on the following five-point scale: 1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about average, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive. The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.
Many pretty little charts and graphs are presented, and then we get this:
It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.

It gets even more amazing:
What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women. (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI: 27.0 vs. 26.9.) However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.

Are you starting to get the idea why they pulled it?
Click the link above for the criticism — but, in short, the problem is the word “objectively.” As if physical attractiveness is something “objective.”

It’s a real head-scratcher how this ever saw the light of day. As the critic says, the issue isn’t the data gathered in the study, it’s the interpretation of the data (together with some other rather stunning and unevidenced assumptions). The objection is not really that the article is racist, but that it’s just spectacularly wrongheaded in how it undertakes its analysis — to the point where, when you read the conclusions, you have to rub your eyes to wonder if you are really reading what you’re reading.

Thanks to Nathan Wurtzel on Twitter.

By http://patterico.com/

Getting To The 'Truth' About Obama's Debt Limit 'Truth-twisting'

As the battle over raising the federal debt limit continues to rage, it just gets ever-more confusing to most Americans. And as Stephen B. Meister writes at the New York Post, it doesn't help matters that the Obama administration is "twisting the facts" (i.e. simply 'making stuff up') in its effort to try to get the public on its side against sensible, common-sense, budget cuts.

Fortunately, Meister has taken the time to refute some of Obama's and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's "truth-twisting", including their claim that "If the debt limit is not increased by May 16," Treasury will have to take "extraordinary measures . . . to temporarily postpone the date the United States would other wise default on its obligations."

Keep in mind what you and I have to do with our own budgets ... we can't spend more than we take in each month ... and if we do we go broke! Common sense and sound money management tells us that our government should be doing the same, right? Shouldn't our federal governments live within its means like the rest of us?

Clearly, Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner believe otherwise!
Meister writes:
Myth: America will "default" if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Truth: Treasury can still roll over debt as its bills and bonds come due -- and easily cover the interest out of its monthly receipts. It simply can't engage in new borrowing because that would raise the total amount of debt beyond the statutory limit.
Myth: The government will "shut down" if the debt ceiling is not raised.
Truth: The feds simply won't be able to spend in excess of what they take in. So they'll have to prioritize outlays -- a gov ernment cutback, not shutdown. They can delay paying some bills, or even furlough some nonessential federal employees.
The latter seems only fair -- as you may recall, US public-sector payrolls swelled by 500,000 during the Great Recession, even as the private sector suffered nearly 8 million in job losses.
(As time marches on, it's true the feds wouldn't be able to fully spend the agreed upon budget, but all that means is that the feds -- like the taxpayers -- would have to live within their means, at least for a while.)

Myth: Aug. 2 is a hard date.
Truth: The "extraordinary measures" Geithner can take, including not issuing more IOUs to Social Security and Medicare and state and local governments, will push the date out even further -- and that's just when Treasury needs to start its belt tightening. Indeed, Treasury has taken such measures time and again in past battles over raising the debt limit.
Read more.

As Meister goes on to astutely and correctly point out, Geithner's right about one thing; we're indeed headed for financial Armageddon. It's just that he got three things wrong: the cause, the cure and the timing. The US fiscal armageddon will come in a couple of years from too much debt, so spending what we take in and no more -- starting now -- is the prevention and the cure ... and that's precisely what not raising the debt ceiling would ensure.

Now, if only we can get the people in Congress (i.e. both parties) to understand that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Admits Affair, Fathered Child With Staffer

The separation of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his longtime wife Maria Shriver came as a shock, as the two seemed to have an ideal marriage. Things make more sense now however, as the The LA Times reported last night that Maria initiated the separation after finding out that Arnold not only had an affair with a woman who worked in their home for 20 years, but also fathered a child with her more than a decade ago.
Arnold Shwarzenegger and Maria Shriver Image
Schwarzenegger issued a statement saying, "After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago. I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."

Maria Shriver could not be reached for comment, but upon moving out of the couple's Brentwood mansion, we can assume she said something along the lines of, "Hasta la vista, baby." C'mon, someone had to say it.
(Photo via WENN)