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4A - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 6

b JIdiCgan Ea41V
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
andillustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
Aiding Haiti
Students should help earthquake relief efforts
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, citizens through-
out the world have pledged significant support to the vic-
tims. The Haitian government - and many of the buildings
that housed the nation's highest political offices - is now in ruins.
Amid that void, the United States and other nations and relief orga-
nizations have stepped in to offer aid. As groups like the World Food
Program announce campaigns to send relief to Haiti and appeal for
public donations, it's clear that other bodies have a moral imperative
to contribute to the cause. Numerous University organizations have
already begun to arrange efforts to assist Haiti. Now, students need
to offer their help however they can.

We will have legislation that
removes all doubt that health care is
a right not a privilege."
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), addressing the possibility that a Democratic loss in the Massachu-
setts Senate race could derail the health care reform bill, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
The amazing, underrated race

The three million victims of the 7.0-mag-
nitude earthquake on Jan. 12 experienced
destruction of immense proportions. The
nation lost the structures that housed the
UN and Haitian government; including the
Presidential Palace. The Port-Au-Prince
Cathedral, the main jail, educational facili-
ties and most area hospitals were all com-
pletely destroyed or seriously damaged
in the quake. The Haitian Interior Min-
ister projects that death toll. has reached
The United States has already sent con-
siderable aid. President Barack Obama has
pledged $100 million in federal funds. The
United States has begun issuing humani-
tarian visas to orphaned Haitian children.
The number of U.S. troops dispatched
to the area is expected to soon increase
to about 10,000 to aid the efforts. This
response is encouraging, but the U.S. must
continue to work closely with Haiti and
other nations and independent organiza-
tions to create a global network of support.
Many student groups here at the Univer-
sity have used their roles in the social ser-
vice arena to encourage support for Haiti.
Myron Bishop, advisor to the Multicultural
Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic
Council, has said that the two organiza-
tions are combining efforts to create the

most effective plan for aid. On Jan. 15, the
University Health System announced the
mobilization of a multi-faceted response
- including sending packages of medical
supplies, an ambulance jet with a full med-
ical and flight crew and arranging to send
volunteers from its medical staff to care for
victims in Haiti.
The overall University response has
been inspiring and should be continued.
While the devastation that has occurred
in Haiti may seem far away to those in a
secure college bubble, this travesty must
serve as a reminder that, as Obama wrote
in this week's edition of Newsweek, "life
can be unimaginably cruel." Students
should take every available opportunity to
support these relief efforts. Students have
a multitude of organizations to choose to
help, from the Red Cross to the Greek sys-
tem, and should contribute whatever they
can to help Haiti at this pivotal moment.
The United States government and other
nations should work with Haiti to help those
affected by the earthquake. But the relief
effort needs everyone's support. Students
also have a responsibility to the glohgd com-
munity and the earthquake's victims to join
in offering aid. And with numerous options
to donate available, there's no excuse for
ignoring this pressing need.

Everybody wants to talk about
national politics. It's a fact of
life. And it's especially true on
a campus of politi-
cally-inclined col-
lege students, many
of whom actively
worked to elect the =
current group in
The questions on
everyone's minds
are big ones. Will
Congress pass a ROBERT
health care reform SOBE
bill that exempts SOAVE
certain states and
Democratic con-
stituents from paying for it? Will the
U.S. Treasury bail out more banks?
(And then, paradoxically, tax them
without any regard for what each
bank has already paid back, as Obama
suggested last week?)
I will admit to being just as con-
cerned as you, Daily readers, about the
fate of the country. But a passion for
national political developments doesn't
translate into an ability to shape them.
Unless you live in Massachusetts and
will be voting in the special election
today to fill the late Democratic Sen.
Ted Kennedy's seat, you probably
won't have much of an effect onnation-
al health care legislation.
But there are important political
developments happening right here in
Michigan, too. And unlike the nation
as a whole, the state's issues are ones
that Michigan residents have consid-
erably more power to resolve. Case
in point: the 2010 gubernatorial elec-
tion, which is shaping up to be the
most wide-open contest in Michigan
politics in decades. So in addition
to complaining about Sarah Palin,
Ben Nelson and NBC's executives, I
encourage students to become aggres-
sively involved in the governor's race.
In case you haven't been paying
attention, here's a recap.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is legally

barred from running for re-election
again. This is a fortunate turn of
events, as this once rising star in the
Democratic Party has overseen a com-
plete collapse of both the state econo-
my and her public approval rating over
the last few years.
Until this month, the presumptive
Democratic front-runner was Lieu-
tenant Gov. John Cherry. But on Jan.
5, he announced that he wouldn't be
a candidate, citing inadequate fund-
raising. I'm not too disappointed that
he's out, although I'm bummed that
I'll never get to use the great smear
campaign sloganI came up with all by
myself: "Higher taxes with a Cherry
on top" (brilliant, I know).
Cherry's exit raises questions. Will
House Speaker Andy Dillon enter
the race? He's got name recognition,
but his capitulation to Republican
demands not to raise taxes frus-
trated many liberals, while his talk
of reforming public employee health
care benefits won't win him many
labor endorsements. In other words,
he'll face a tough Democratic primary
but could run on an increasingly cen-
trist record in the general election,
which might be just what the Demo-
crats need to win this year.
Among the other possible names is
one of the University's own - Regent
Denise Ilitch (D-Bingham Farms).
She gets points in my book for voting
against the tuition increase in June,
one of the only non-unanimous Board
of Regents budget votes in the last few
years. On the other hand, her policy
positions are a mystery and, according
to contribution databases Money.com
and OpenSecrets, she's given a lot of
money to Republicans over the years,
which isn't exactly the popular thing
to do if you're a Democrat.
The Republican side has been more
heated, with a sort of three-sided bat-
tle going on between Attorney Gen-
eral Mike Cox, U.S. Congressman Pete
Hoekstra (R-Holland) and Oakland
County Sherriff Mike Bouchard. While

the end result can't be guaranteed, the
scale is tipping in favor of Cox, who has
raised an impressive $1.8 million.
The governor's
election is already
heating up.
Cox has some good ideas for the
state, like cutting the economically
crippling Michigan Business Tax in
half. But he has some baggage, too -
it's been alleged that he mishandled
the investigation into former Detroit
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's wild party
in the fall of 2002. But Hoekstra has
posted some controversial Twitter
updates and Bouchard performed
worse than expected in his 2008
campaign against U.S. Sen. Debbie
Stabenow (D-Mich.), so they've all
got issues.
Am I openly rooting for the Repub-
licans? You bet. I often despise their
party, but eight years of Democratic
rule hasn't reversed, stopped or even
slowed the state's economic decline.
The Michigan business climate was
ranked 49th among states by Forbes.
com last year, and that's not going to
improve unless business taxes are
reduced. It seems like a Republican -
Cox, perhaps - may be the- only one
willing to do that.
Feel free to disagree with my
assessment, but please care about
this election in some way or another.
We may worry about airport security,
hate on Wall Street and take sides in
Jay Leno vs. Conan O'Brien (I'm with
Coco), but when it comes to Michigan,
there's more at stake forus - and more
control in our hands.
- Robert Soave was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2009. He can
be reached at rsoave@umich.edu.


The perils of gene patenting

Support for the smoking ban

If you wanted to patent your sister, you would
be disappointed. She, like most other humans,
is a product of nature and is therefore outside
the realm of patentability. Yet, 20 percent of
all human genes have been patented - a sig-
nificant portion of your sister. The expectation
that inventions should be novel apparently not-
withstanding, for two decades the United States
Patent and Trademark Office has issued patents
for portions of our genetic makeup to genetics
corporations and laboratories. And the theft of
our own genes is frustrating the research at uni-
versities and slowing the progress of medicine.
No part of the human genome belongs to
any one person or organization. Pending in the
federal court system is a lawsuit filed by the
American Civil Liberties Union and the Public
Patent Foundation arguing just that. The sci-
entific community is watching closely because,
should the case ultimately be ruled in favor of
the ACLU, gene patents spanning two decades
could be invalidated and the human genome
would once again belong to humanity.
Patents are important in many fields for
encouraging research and development. They
give patent holders control over their inven-
tions for 20 years in exchange for full public
disclosure of the invention's details. The for-
mer aspect provides an incentive while public
disclosure places others in a position to develop
and patent a better invention.
Gene patents are the same. Gene patent
holders make money by selling genetic screen-
ing tests for the genes they have patented. A
patient who wishes to be checked for disease-
causing mutations associated with Long QT
syndrome (which can cause sudden death), for
example, can only buy that test from the com-
pany, which has patented the genes on which
those mutations occur.
But there's a flaw in the idea of patenting the
genes themselves. With genes, there's no way
to improve the patented item - at least not for
the purposes of medical diagnosis. The premise
of genetic screening is to look at the genes as
they are and use that information to determine
a person's susceptibility to a certain disease.
For diagnostic purposes, the development of
"Genome 2.0" doesn't make much sense, and so

the patents don't, either.
More frustratingly, not only do gene pat-
ents fail to encourage research, but when pat-
ent rights are abused, they actually stifle it.
Enter Myriad Genetics, the company that holds
the patents for the famous BRCAI and BRCA2
genes - mutations on which are strongly asso-
ciated with a susceptibility to breast and ovar-
ian cancers. Since it received its patents in the
1990s, Myriad has used the power of the patent
to refuse other laboratories permission to fur-
ther research or test the genes and charges more
than $3,000 for every antiquated cancer screen-
ing test it provides.
Myriad has a monopoly over testing and
research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. If a
woman can't afford Myriad's test for the muta-
tions associated with cancer or would like a
second opinion from a different genetics com-
pany before, say, having a hysterectomy, she is
out of luck. For her to remove her own genes
and look at the sequence would be a violation of
patent law. Scientists who oppose gene patents
have thus argued that what Myriad and other
companies have is a patent on knowledge, not a
novel invention.
Supporters of gene patents argue that tem-
porary monopolies imposed by patents are nec-
essary to reward those companies which have
made considerable investments in research
and development. But Lee Silver, professor of
molecular biology and public policy at Princeton
University, says likely "95 percent of patents on
genes are worthless in an economic sense," as
reported by CNN.com in May. Obscure diseas-
es, unlike breast cancer, simply lack the testing
numbers sufficient to turn a profit from a gene
patent. Clearly gene patents fail to do their job
of encouraging research and improving health.
In theory, the legal argument against gene
patenting is strong. Maybe 2010 will be the year
gene patenting is finally ended by the federal
judiciary. But if it isn't, it will be up to us to make
the moral argument good enough for Congress.
Sadly, the real reason you can't patent your
sister isn't so much legal precedent. It's that
someone already has.
Nicholas Clift is an Engineering freshman.

W hy do you smell like
smoke?," asked my room-
mate, Sam Shreeman, as I
entered our room
at 1 a.m. one Octo-
ber Saturday night.
"I was at the pub
studying for my
economics mid-
term," I sighed.
By now, he found
nothing strange
about my response.
I can't study ALEX
in libraries (too
quiet), my dorm SCHIFF
(too many distrac-_
tions) or places
like Panera (I take
too many interruptions to refill my
73rd glass of Diet Pepsi.) Roughly
three weeks into my first semester
at the University, I found my oasis
of productivity: The Blue Lepre-
chaun. It has all the things I need to
study - good food, servers that bring
your 73rd free refill to the table, free
Wi-Fi and enough noise to block out
my brain saying, "Check Facebook!
Watch Family Guy! Do you need to do
laundry? Check Facebook! Who won
the football game last night? Check
your e-mail! Am I missing South
Park? Check Facebook!"
There's just one problem - I come
home smelling like a used ash tray. So
you can imagine my joy when I learned
that Michigan had passed a ban on
smoking inside all bars and restau-
rants. Not only will I no longer risk
lung cancer while studying, non-smok-
ing customers and employees won't
be forced to inhale the poison being
shoved down their throats by smokers.
I have many good reasons to agree
with the ban. But instead of telling
you what I think, I decided to put on
my reporter hat and devote this col-
umn to the thoughts of those most
affected by the ban - bar owners and
On one of my many visits to The
Blue Leprechaun, I spoke with Gen-
eral Manager Scott Meinke. "It's a
good thing for the people that work
in the service industry," he said. "As
everyone knows, secondhand smoke
is a threat to people's health. It'll be
good for the health of our staff for
them not to be subjected to second-
hand smoke."
He doesn't seem too mad about
the ban. But business might decline.
Won't the ban keep smokers - and
their money - at home?
"Personally, I don't think it will

affect business," Meinke noted. He
added that while it may discourage
some smokers from dining out, new
customers that previously wouldn't
eat in a smoking environment would
balance this loss. The ban now gives
The Blue Leprechaun a chance to bet-
ter protect the health of its employees
without risking losing customers to
other bars.
So, does anyone think that the ban
will actually hurt business?
David Root, a manager at The
Brown Jug, said, "As long as every-
one has to go non-smoking, it doesn't
bother me." While he disagreed with
the fundamental concept behind the
ban, his concern was the injustice
that casino floors, where non-smok-
ing patrons are just as vulnerable to
secondhand smoke, would receive an
exemption. He said he was not wor-
ried about the effect of the ban on
The Brown Jug's bottom line.
Non-smoking establishments don't
seem very angry either. "I think that
it was long overdue," Good Time
Charley's owner Adam Lowenstein
told me in an interview. "When we
re-opened Charley's, we re-opened
it as a non-smoking bar, and I think
every bar should be like that." When
I asked what provoked this decision,
he responded that, "It's about having
a good working environment. If I'm
going to be having managers working
full-time, I can't be subjecting them
to secondhand smoke all day." More-
over, just like every other owner or
manager I talked to, he believes that
the ban's effect on business will be
minimal, if anything.
On the subject of the rights of pri-
vate establishments to conduct them-
selves as they see fit, Lowenstein
added, "It's not unfair. The govern-
ment has the right to regulate busi-
nesses whether you agree with what
they're doing or not. They do it in a
million ways every day."
Ben Hammond, daytime manager
of Good Time Charley's, commented,
"I can understand that it's a private
property and a private establishment,
but it is the public that frequents the
establishment, so you have to go by
what's best for the public."
But the main goal of the legislation
is to protect the health of employees
who are forced to inhale the smoke,
so I asked them what they thought
about the upcoming ban, which goes
into effect May 1, 2010.
Katie MacDonald, employee of The
Blue Leprechaun, noted that even
though she smokes casually when she

goes out, she still thinks it's a great
idea. "Even people that do smoke find
the atmosphere really disgusting on
nights when it gets really bad." She
even described being burned on sev-
eral occasions while working when
inconsiderate smokers had tapped
the ashes off their cigarettes as she
was passing by.
Even employees
who smoke favor
the new law.
Good Time Charley's employee
Kristin Singleton enthusiastically
told me, "I like the fact that it's going
to happen. I'm a smoker but don't like 4
leaving a place smelling like an old
ash tray." That sounds familiar. In
the name of journalistic integrity, I
felt compelled to betray my own per-
sonal biases and play devil's advocate.
So I raised the common criticism that
employees choose to work in a smok-
ing environment when they apply for 4
the job and should work elsewhere if
they don't like it.
In response, Singleton lamented
that her sister Ashley, who suffers
from asthma, works at another bar
outside of Ann Arbor and some-
times has asthma attacks on the job
because of the smoke. She has been
told multiple times by her doctor that
she should find another job but has
nowhere else to go. Maybe it's just
me, but I don't notice many "Hir-
ing Now" signs hanging in windows
around America.
And that's not just an isolated
instance. Tatiana Klein, another Blue
Leprechaun employee, also suffers
from asthma and complained that
the "smoky atmosphere can really
exacerbate it." Should smokers ,tell
Klein and Ashley Singleton to find
other jobs because of their medical 4
condition? Does a smoker's nicotine
craving trump the health of the cus-
tomers and employees around them?
I'll let Meinke answer that: "A pre-
existing condition shouldn't deter
anyone from doing anything they
enjoy, especially as far as employ-
ment goes." Couldn't have said it bet- 4
ter myself.
- Alex Schiff is an assistant
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at aschiff@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, William Butler, Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt,
Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga,
Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith

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