This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Polio vaccine and the death of Maurice Hilleman, who developed more vaccines than anyone else. Vaccines are credited with saving tens of millions of lives and the economies of many countries, but they are still controversial. In 1987, Autism occurred in 1-in-2000 American children; today, the number is 1-in-166. The increase coincided with new injections given to infants to protect them against many dreaded diseases. Many of those shots contained the preservative thimerosal, which includes elements of the toxin mercury. The resulting controversy and lawsuits led Congress to create a special "vaccine court" to handle them all. We hear more about the science and politics of vaccinations from medical doctors and experts in infectious diseases from the world of academia and private practice.
Online resources referenced in today's discussion:
- Making News: Allegations Mount over UN's Iraq Oil-for-Food Scandal
Britain has reacted angrily to yesterday's statement by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Britain and the US turned a blind eye to the Iraq oil-for-food scandal. His comments came after US and British businessmen were indicted for conspiring to pay kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime. Colum Lynch reports from the UN for the Washington Post.
- Reporter's Notebook: The Flattening of America's Taxes
Since America's "progressive" income tax system was established in 1913, the rich are supposed to pay a greater percentage of their incomes to the IRS. The argument is that government protects their wealth, and they owe something to the society that has helped them prosper. Under the Bush Administration, legislation has flattened the system, so the middle class now pays almost the same rate as the billionaires. David Francis writes for the Christian Science Monitor.
UN's Iraq Oil-for-Food inquiry
Lynch's article on American indicted in UN Iraq Oil-for-Food Program
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003
Francis' article on US moving toward flat tax