Holiday Reflections, the
annual University Holiday Party, on Thursday, December 20, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the 808 Showroom
Week of 14 December 2001 · Vol. V, No. 17


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ABC's Nightline: The other side of the Northern Alliance

Once the Taliban was the enemy of the Soviet Union, and so the United States supported them. Not long ago the United States condemned the forces of the Northern Alliance for their brutality. Now, according to a November 30 ABC Nightline report, as the Northern Alliance grabs more territory and power in Afghanistan, opinions vary about whether it is an enemy or an ally. "Are they the guys wearing the white hats?" asked ABC reporter Chris Bury. Adil Najam, a CAS assistant professor of international relations, responded, "There are no white hats in Afghanistan. There are no white hats in that region, really. This is not a part of the world that's divided into good guys and bad guys. This is a place that is divided between tough guys and guys who don't survive."

NPR's Marketplace Morning Report: Marketing in the drug industry

A study released in late November based on drug industry figures claims it costs more than $800 million to develop a new drug. Helen Palmer from the Marketplace Morning Report Health Desk at WGBH asked Alan Sager, an SPH professor of health services, to comment on this figure on December 6. Sager compared the number of drug research employees with marketing employees during the five-year period from 1995 to 2000, and he said, "Their [the drug companies'] employment in research has dropped by about 2 percent while their employment in marketing has risen by 60 percent. The drug-makers have decided that they can glean the greatest profit not so much by developing new medications, but by marketing the ones they've got."

Boston Herald: Could flu, bioterrorism swamp hospital ERs?

A story in the Boston Herald on December 8 says that doctors, hospital executives, and public health officials are trying to find ways of coping with what could be an unprecedented overflow of patients this winter if a bad flu season, a bioterrorism incident, and the usual backup in hospital emergency rooms converge. Eugene Litvak, an SMG research professor of operations management, says the biggest problem is hospital staffing. "We can't manage peak loads because we're not staffing for peak loads," he says. Alfred DeMaria (CAS'70), chief of infectious diseases at the state Department of Public Health, says that this year's flu strain appears virulent and predicted 1,000 deaths and 6,000 extra hospital admissions.

Daily Mail (London): Ultrasound scans may damage baby's brain

Researchers warn that ultrasound scans for pregnant women could cause brain damage in their unborn babies, reports the December 10 London Daily Mail. The study is the most comprehensive research of its kind and experts are calling for urgent further investigation of the safety of scans, now used on virtually all mothers-to-be. Swedish scientists compared almost 7,000 men whose mothers underwent scanning in the 1970s with 170,000 men whose mothers did not and found that the men whose mothers underwent scanning were significantly more likely to be left-handed than the control group. Previous research has suggested that subtle brain damage can cause those who ought genetically to be right-handed to become left-handed. The male brain is especially at risk because it continues to develop later than the female brain. Kenneth Rothman, a MED professor of medicine and a leading expert on medical statistics, says, "We should work quickly to avoid a needless scare, but we do need to test this finding and if possible set the matter to rest quickly one way or the other."


14 December 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations