Well, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has issued new recommendations for mammogram screening. Women in their forties no longer need mammograms at all! And even after fifty, we only need mammograms every other year. So, Doctor (the one who has been sending me harassing letters about getting my mammogram done), back off! I’m off the hook!
But wait. The American Cancer Society disagrees:
The USPSTF says that screening 1,339 women in their 50s to save one life makes screening worthwhile in that age group. Yet USPSTF also says screening 1,904 women ages 40 to 49 in order to save one life is not worthwhile. The American Cancer Society feels that in both cases, the lifesaving benefits of screening outweigh any potential harms. Surveys of women show that they are aware of these limitations, and also place high value on detecting breast cancer early.
In a time of mounting panic over health care costs, the USPSTF’s announcement seems politically and financially motivated. They also announced that women should no longer be encouraged to conduct breast self-exams. After all, a woman who discovers a lump in her breast might rush to her doctor and demand additional, expensive screening. And we wouldn’t want lay people paying attention to their bodies or taking charge of their health care, would we?
Damnit. I’m still on the hook.
Meanwhile, Faux News et al have gone apoplectic because President Obama bowed to Japan’s emperor when they met. Former veep Darth Cheney himself weighed in: “There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone,” Cheney complained. “Our friends and allies don’t expect it, and our enemies see it as a sign of weakness.”
Uh oh, Barack. You are on the hook!
Experts in Japanese etiquette praised Obama’s bow as a show of respect. “Bowing is an expression of respect and open-mindedness as a person greets someone,” said Reiko Kasai, chief instructor at JAL Academy, an intercultural training school.
“It is part of a greeting with which one shows his or her willingness for the meeting,” she said, adding that given his height, Obama may have chosen to bow so low to make eye contact with the emperor.
Before meeting the emperor, foreign envoys and visitors are usually told that bowing is important, said Isao Tokoro, professor of imperial studies at Kyoto Sangyo University.
“When visiting a foreign country, it is an admirable international manner to follow the country’s own protocol,” he said.
“It should be praised and never deserve criticism. In Japan, bowing never means the person underestimates himself.”
While some conservative commentators on U.S. talk shows charged that the gesture bespoke a United States that had become weak and overly-deferential under Obama, Japanese media took a more positive view.
“If Obama simply walked up to the emperor and shook hands as he stood tall, he would have looked very arrogant to us,” said a Japanese presenter with Nippon Television.
Phew. You are off the hook, Pres.