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Laura Kahn

Laura H. Kahn

Articles by Laura H. Kahn

14 November 2011

Why isn't health care a US right?

Laura H. Kahn

The US Supreme Court will likely decide on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- which requires American citizens to either buy health insurance or incur a penalty -- sometime this session. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled against the law, while other appeals courts, including one in Cincinnati, have either rejected the case or upheld the law.

29 September 2011

What Contagion missed

Laura H. Kahn

It's not often that Hollywood ventures into the realm of epidemics and public health, and when it does, the outcome is usually laughably out of touch with reality -- like Outbreak, the 1995 movie about a deadly Ebola-like virus that infected a city. To prevent the virus from spreading, the military decided to bomb the city to oblivion. Fortunately, a cure was discovered just in the nick of time.

12 September 2011

How hurricane-proof is your state?

Laura H. Kahn

Even though it was downgraded to a Category 1 storm, Hurricane Irene still packed a serious punch. My family and I spent several nights in darkness, and our front yard turned into an ankle-deep bog.

24 August 2011

How a deadly E. coli outbreak revealed Germany’s dysfunctional public health system

Laura H. Kahn

The plot just kept getting thicker. First, the culprit was cucumbers and tomatoes from Spain. Then it was bean sprouts from northern Germany. Then it wasn't.

20 June 2011

The uncertainty surrounding sustainable agriculture

Laura H. Kahn

All of our planet's problems began 10,000 to 15,000 years ago with the domestication of livestock and crops, and it went downhill from there. While agriculture provided a stable food supply, it also required the destruction of pristine land. Surplus food enabled the growth of cities; cities led to civilizations; and civilizations eventually discovered the science and technology that allowed our numbers to grow. And, while these advances have been great for us humans, they haven't been so great for the natural world.

9 May 2011

The Biological Weapons Convention: Proceeding without a verification protocol

Laura H. Kahn

The Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) will be held this December in Geneva, with member states convening to assess the bioweapons nonproliferation regime and discuss ways to improve it. But is it worth trying to strengthen the BWC? Since its inception, the treaty has been plagued with well-recognized deficiencies: It lacks an implementing body, a verification protocol, an ability to investigate alleged violations, universality (it has only 163 member states), and industry support.

7 April 2011

Is the United States prepared for a nuclear reactor accident?

Laura H. Kahn

Although a catastrophic failure of emergency backup systems at a US nuclear reactor may be unlikely, solid planning and preparations are in order -- and should begin with determining whether an emergency zone extends 10 or 20 miles from a nuclear power plant. 

7 April 2011

Is the United States prepared for a nuclear reactor accident?

Laura H. Kahn

As Japan struggles to contain the crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, government officials in other nations are nervously assessing their own emergency-response policies and procedures for a nuclear reactor accident. If any country is prepared to handle the worst that nature can present, it's Japan, where strict building codes and evacuation drills saved many lives from the March 11 disaster. But even Japan was not ready for a colossal 9.0 earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami.

23 March 2011

The unsolved anthrax murder mystery

Laura H. Kahn

The US public health system has serious vulnerabilities, and one major problem is identifying and responding to public health crimes.

15 February 2011

Deforestation and emerging diseases

Laura H. Kahn

In the late 1990s a deadly new disease emerged from the tropical forests of Malaysia, spread by fruit bats whose natural habitat had been destroyed by deforestation. The Malaysian government was unprepared for this new disease and subsequently bore high costs from the outbreak, including more than 100 human lives lost as well as an economically devastating collapse of its pig-farming industry. Eventually, the new scourge was identified and named: the Nipah virus.

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