Tuesday AM July 22nd, 2008
by: Ed Mayberry, July 22, 2008 4:07:00 am
A revised and updated book by former Houston newspaper columnist Betsy Parish looks at the history of Texas Children's Hospital. Legacy: 50 Years of Loving Care, Texas Children's Hospital, 1954-2004 documents the founding and growth of the hospital.
"First of all, I'm a fifth-generation Houstonian. So from a historical standpoint, I was interested in the history having to do with Houston and how all this came about. I wanted to have the human feeling of not ‘they did this, they did that, they did this, they did that,' but include in a chronological story actual quotes from the physicians and scientists and individuals who were involved in the growth of that service. I also felt to humanize something that might be thought of as dry by the reader to interview patients and their families."
Parish was the society columnist for the Houston Post.
"Writing a gossip column—quote, unquote—you are constantly talking to individuals and trying to find some juicy nuggets—a totally different method of working. But I have never—before I took on this project—never done anything like this before. When you write a daily column, you sort of have that little sort of mini-sense of accomplishment each day when you finally get one and see it in print. But a book of this length—this book is over 750 pages—we're talking massive, and the sense of accomplishment is, is mammoth."
Parish says it's hard to write about a "moving target," and she hopes efforts will continue into the future to tell the story of Texas Children's Hospital.
Governor Rick Perry's quest to curb the nation's ethanol appetite is gaining him some unlikely allies. The Dallas Morning News reports the list includes liberal environmental groups and companies that benefit from biofuel subsidies. Perry in April asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the requirement to blend nine billion gallons of biofuels with gasoline this year. Perry says diverting corn to make ethanol hurts livestock producers and contributes to higher food prices. Perry has championed coal plants and opposed new ozone restrictions. The Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth back Perry's effort--saying ethanol production contributes to global warming. Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle says the governor welcomes their support. The EPA faces a Thursday deadline to rule on the waiver request, but may have to delay because the agency has received so many public comments.
The national debate over opening more offshore areas to oil and gas exploration has raised more questions. Just what are the companies doing with the tens of millions of acres they're already leasing from the federal government? Congressional Democrats who oppose President Bush's plan to expand offshore drilling point to 68 million acres of federal land and offshore sites now leased by oil companies that sit idle. The Associated Press reports its part of nearly two billion acres overseen by the Bureau of Land Management and the Minerals Management Service. AP reports some of the non-producing leases under scrutiny are in thousands of feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, where a decade can pass between finding and tapping a new reservoir. President Bush and those supporting more drilling say the United States is unwisely cutting itself off from new energy sources as the nation brings in most of its oil from abroad.
Unaudited results indicate the Houston Symphony achieved a balanced budget for a fourth consecutive year, with an estimated surplus of $45,000 for the period ending May 31st. Ticket revenue increased another nine percent over last year. By balancing its budget for 2008, the symphony qualified for a challenge grant giving it interest in royalties from three gas wells to be drilled before the end of the year.
Over half a million tractor-trailer and bus drivers who have commercial licenses also have medical conditions that qualify them for full federal disability payments. That's just one startling fact in a new safety study obtained by the Associated Press. Every year hundreds of deaths and injuries are blamed on commercial drivers who suffer medical emergencies while driving vehicles sometimes weighing over 40 tons. An AP review of federal records finds that truckers violating federal medical rules have been caught in every state. The federal agency that oversees truck drivers admits it hasn't completed any of eight recommendations safety regulators have proposed since 2001. One would set minimum standards to determine who is medically fit to drive commercially. Another would prohibit "doctor shopping" to find a physician who might overlook a risky health condition. A Florida bus driver who will figure prominently in a Congressional hearing this week suffers from lung disease and uses three daily inhalers to control breathing. He told Congressional investigators he "occasionally blacks out and forgets things." His commercial license expires in 2010.
The Bank of America posted results that beat expectations, raising hope the credit crisis might be easing for the nation's biggest retail banks. The largest U.S. bank by assets reported that higher investment banking and record revenue helped drive earnings during the second quarter. With those results, four of the nation's five biggest banks have now reported better-than-expected earnings, and that's raising hopes that the financial sector is starting to recover from the year-old credit crisis.
Texas Instruments says its first-quarter profit fell four percent, missing Wall Street estimates. Sales of cell phone chips continued to fall. Dallas-based Texas Instruments reported net income of $588 million. A year ago, the company posted a profit of $614 million. Sales fell two percent to $3.35 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected sales of $3.39 billion.