Friday, October 31, 2008

Midnight Regulations, Anyone?

From ABC News

The "midnight regulations" are coming from the Bush administration. Do we need to be on the watch for anything that might be bad for the ALS cause? Do we need to plant some seeds for things that will help?


The clock is ticking.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

ALS Needs A Publicist

If only we had a talent as good at getting the word out about ALS as Mr. Levinson did for his clients.

From today's Washington Post --

Author Peter J. Levinson, 74; Music, Entertainment Publicist
By Matt SchudelWashington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2008; C09

Peter J. Levinson, 74, a music and entertainment publicist who represented a who's who of show business stars and who had a second career as a biographer of musical figures, died Oct. 21 from a fall at his home in Malibu, Calif. In January 2007, he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, diagnosed.

In 50 years as a publicist, Mr. Levinson helped guide the careers of such stars as Rosemary Clooney, Jack Lemmon, Art Garfunkel, Peggy Lee, Joel Grey and Phyllis Diller. He handled publicity for television shows and movies, including "Kramer vs. Kramer," which won the 1979 Academy Award for best picture.

He was credited with pitching an idea about the television show "Dallas" that ended up as a Time magazine cover story in 1980.

Mostly, though, Mr. Levinson toiled in the often barren field of jazz publicity at a time when the music he loved was losing popularity. His clientele read like a jazz hall of fame, including such luminaries as Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Dave Brubeck, Billy Taylor, Mel Tormé, Ramsey Lewis, George Shearing, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson and Wynton Marsalis.

"I've been hiring publicists since 1936," bandleader Woody Herman once said of Mr. Levinson. "This guy's better than any guy I've ever had."

Jazz writers across the country grew familiar with Mr. Levinson's deep, radio-quality voice on the telephone, as he called to announce a concert appearance or the release of a new album by one of his clients. In a recent letter, he wrote that he could no longer speak and was losing the feeling in his fingers. Nevertheless, through the use of a computer, he continued to work until his death.

In 2001, after more than 40 years as a publicist, Mr. Levinson turned to writing, publishing a biography of the troubled trumpeter and bandleader Harry James. He knew James for more than 20 years and, in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, recalled his first encounter with him at a nightclub in 1958:
"I saw how sad he was the first day I met him. Seeing him with a bar girl sitting in his lap, I felt sorry for him. I saw the other side of stardom. He had everything, but he had nothing."
Critic Nat Hentoff called Mr. Levinson's book about James, "Trumpet Blues," "one of the very few biographies of a musician I have read that not only told me much more than I thought I knew but compelled me to listen right away to the music again."

Mr. Levinson also published biographies of music arranger Nelson Riddle and bandleader Tommy Dorsey. In his 2005 Dorsey biography, he described how Dorsey gave Frank Sinatra his first big break and how Sinatra modeled his demeanor after Dorsey's "dynamic presence, the unquestioned authority that he exuded, his mercurial temper, and his combativeness."
He also revealed how Sinatra was able to break a lifetime contract with Dorsey, by which Dorsey was to receive one-third of Sinatra's future earnings: Underworld thugs supposedly shoved a gun in Dorsey's mouth and handed him an envelope stuffed with cash. The episode is said to have been the inspiration for the "offer he couldn't refuse" scene in "The Godfather."
Peter J. Levinson was born July 1, 1934, in Atlantic City and began writing about jazz as a student at the University of Virginia in the 1950s. After graduating, he served in the Army and moved to New York, where he found a job in the publicity department of Columbia Records. One of his Columbia projects was the landmark 1961 release of the recordings of 1930s blues master Robert Johnson.

In 1962, Mr. Levinson became the publicist for singer Jack Jones, and after a few years he opened his company, Peter Levinson Communications. He had offices in New York and Los Angeles before moving permanently to the West Coast in the 1980s.

In 1986, Mr. Levinson worked to get the U.S. Postal Service to release a postage stamp featuring Duke Ellington, the first time a jazz figure appeared on a stamp.

Shortly before his death, Mr. Levinson completed a biography of dancer Fred Astaire, which will be published early next year.

Survivors include his wife, former "60 Minutes" producer Grace Diekhaus; and a brother.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This Beats An Autograph

Many of us always had hopes that the "baseball President" would have taken an interest in Lou Gehrig's Disease, but that never happened.
Baseball has been very good to him financially, but he never seemed to click with an empathy for those with the disease that took the best of baseball's best.
He did click his pen and sign on the dotted line, today, though...

Statement by Press Secretary Dana Perino
White House News
On Wednesday, October 8, 2008, the President signed into law:
H.J.Res. 62, the "Native American Heritage Day Act of 2008," which designates Friday, November 28, 2008, as Native American Heritage Day to honor the achievements and contributions of Native Americans to the United States;
H.R. 1157, the "Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2008," which requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a committee to coordinate Federal research related to breast cancer;
H.R. 1343, the "Health Care Safety Net Act of 2008," which reauthorizes the Department of Health and Human Services Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, Rural Health Care, State Loan Repayment, and Primary Dental Workforce programs for fiscal years 2009 through 2012;
H.R. 3068, the "Federal Protective Service Guard Contracting Reform Act of 2008," which requires the Department of Homeland Security to issue regulations establishing guidelines for the prohibition of contract awards for certain guard services to businesses that are owned, controlled, or operated by an individual who has been convicted of a felony;
H.R. 3229, the "National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center Commemorative Coin Act," which requires the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue coins in 2012 in commemoration of the United States Army Infantry and the establishment of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center;
H.R. 4120, which expands Federal jurisdiction of crimes related to child sexual exploitation to include conduct using any means or facility of interstate of foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce; makes it a crime to "knowingly access with intent to view" materials which contain depictions of child pornography; and adds crimes involving child pornography to the list of predicate crimes for money laundering prosecutions;
H.R. 5001, the "Old Post Office Building Redevelopment Act of 2008," which directs the General Services Administration to proceed with redevelopment of the Old Post Office Building in the District of Columbia;
H.R. 5057, the "Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008," which authorizes appropriations for each of Fiscal Years 2009-2014 in the amount of $151 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program; $30 million for the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Grant Program; and $12.5 million for DNA training and education programs;
H.R. 5265, the "Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2008," which renames certain Department of Health and Human Service muscular dystrophy (MD) research facilities as Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers and makes certain changes relating to research and coordination of activities regarding MD;
H.R. 5571, which extends through March 6, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security's authority to waive the foreign residence requirement under the visa program for certain foreign doctors who agree to practice medicine for at least 3 years in health care facilities in areas designated as having a shortage of health care professionals;
H.R. 5872, the "Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act," which requires the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue coins in 2010 in commemoration of the centennial of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America;
H.R. 6370, the "Oregon Surplus Federal Land Act of 2008," which requires the Coast Guard to transfer the Cape Arago Light Station and 24 surrounding acres of land located in Coos County, Oregon, to the Department of the Interior to be held in trust for the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians;
H.R. 6460, the "Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act of 2008," which reauthorizes appropriations through FY 2010 for projects to remediate contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes;
H.R. 6890, which extends through September 30, 2009, authority for the Secretary of Education to waive certain Federal financial requirements for school districts affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and provides financial relief for areas affected by storms in the Midwest or hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in 2008;
H.R. 6894, the "Defense Production Act Extension and Reauthorization of 2008," which extends until September 30, 2009, authorities under the Defense Production Act that address urgent industrial base shortfalls for technologies and materials that impact national defense requirements;
H.R. 6946, which makes a technical amendment to the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008;
S. 496, "Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2008," which authorizes appropriations for the Appalachian Regional Commission through FY 2012; authorizes an economic and energy development initiative for the region; and extends the date on which the authorities of the Commission would cease to be in effect to October 1, 2012;
S. 1046, the "Senior Professional Performance Act of 2008," which provides senior-level and scientific and professional Federal employees the same opportunity for higher pay that is available to members of the Senior Executive Service and makes certain changes to the performance appraisal certification system;
S. 1382, the "ALS Registry Act," which authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to create a data collection system and population registry for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and related neuron disorders;
S. 1810, the "Prenatally and Postnatally Disgnosed Conditions Awareness Act," which authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a grant program to collect and disseminate information regarding Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed diseases and to coordinate the provision of support services for those who receive a diagnosis of one of those diseases;
S. 2482, which repeals a requirement to obtain a judicial license prior to conducting salvage operations off the coast of Florida;
S. 2606, which authorizes appropriations to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) for FYs 2009-2012 and authorizes various changes to USFA's training programs and activities;
S. 2932, the "Poison Center Support, Enhancement, and Awareness Act of 2008," which extends the authorization of appropriations for the Poison Control Center grant program, national toll-free number, and national media campaign programs related to poison control;
S. 2982, the "Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008," which reauthorizes Federal funding for grant program that provide services to runaway and homeless youth and their families; and modifies program requirements relating to eligibility, performance standards, and other matters;
S. 3560, the "QI Program Supplemental Funding Act," which makes changes to certain Medicaid and Medicare programs, including new program integrity provisions; and provides market exclusivity for certain antibiotics; and
S. 3597, which provides that funds allocated for the Community Food Projects program in FY 2008 will remain available in FY 2009.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Converting Religion to Science, Step One

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 29, 2008

New Research Shows Adult Stem Cells Best Hope for ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Washington, DC ( -- The following is from Dr. David Prentice, a fellow with the * Family Research Council: “Adult stem cells have been used in a rat model of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; "Lou Gehrig's disease") to strengthen muscles and their connecting nerves. Researchers injected bone marrow adult stem cells carrying a gene for GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor), a nurturing protein for nerves. Previous work by the group had shown that transplanting neural stem cells that released GDNF into the spinal cord could protect motor neurons that degenerate in the ALS rat, but that the nerves still did not effectively connect with the muscles that waste away due to ALS. In the current study published in Molecular Therapy, the researchers were pleasantly surprised to find that when they injected the adult stem cells into muscle, however, the cells pumped out GDNF that helped the connecting nerves survive and maintain connection, and that this delayed progression of the disease and extended the lifespan of the ALS animals. The bone marrow adult stem cells had a slight effect on their own, possibly by releasing their own protective factors, but the effect was greater when they delivered the nurturing growth protein. While any human application is still in the future, the new study provides hope for treatment in a disease that currently has no effective therapy. An advantage of this approach is that muscle is easy to access and adult stem cells could be used from the patients themselves.”

* The Family Research Council (FRC) is a Christian right non-profit think tank and lobbying organization. It was formed in the United States by James Dobson in 1981 and incorporated in 1983. The group was designed to be a lobbying force for conservative legislation on Capitol Hill. In the late 1980s the group officially became a division of Dobson's main organization Focus on the Family, but in 1992 IRS concerns about the group's lobbying led to an administrative separation. Its function is to promote traditional family values. The current president is Tony Perkins.