Incredible storms hit southwestern Iowa
Personalized medicine en route even without individual genome maps
Once we reach the point when most people can have their genomes sequenced for a reasonable price -- and that day is probably only a decade away -- we'll have a lot more valuable information about what health risks we might potentially face than we've ever had before. That, in turn, ought to enhance the future of preventative medicine; if you know, for instance, that you're at high genetic risk for skin cancer, then you'd be an idiot not to wear sunscreen and avoid overexposure. But it turns out that we may also be on the verge of figuring out a lot more about what's happening in the body in real time through the study of chemical balances and bodily bacteria. Either way, we should probably view this with a great deal of optimism, since it usually costs a lot less to prevent diseases or to address them in very early stages than to wait until they've progressed enough to really catch our attention. There could be huge policy implications, too: You might not be responsible for what's in your own genes, since you had no say in what you were given. But if you were told that you had a certain set of genetic risks and then chose not to take preventative measures, then should the rest of society be obligated to pay for your failure to take precautions? It's no small question, given the huge growth in expected Medicare obligations in the coming decades. And the precedent for individual responsibility for preventative action is quite obvious in the examples of seat-belt laws and auto-insurance requirements. One of the trickiest parts will be figuring out how to track that responsibility without setting up a national Health Police force.
Fed-up Chicago suburb still threatens to leave county
Cook County is dominated by Chicago, but it holds power over a number of big suburbs. One of them is threatening to secede from the county because officials there feel like they're getting awful service from the county government. A state senator who is sympathetic to the cause says, "If Cook County can't improve, can't change, can't deliver the government we deserve...we feel we have the right to govern ourselves." This is turning into a case study in why city-county mergers are usually a bad idea. Cook County and Chicago aren't even technically merged, but their combined power is enough to crush the interests of surrounding communities with different priorities. Fortunately, secession may offer them recourse.