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Local fishermen hired to work on BP's uncontrolled oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are scared and confused. Fishermen here and in other small communities dotting the southern marshes and swamplands of Barataria Bay are getting sick from the working on the cleanup, yet BP is assuring them they don't need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.
Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.
And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.
For two weeks, I've been in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama sharing stories from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which devastated the community I lived and commercially fished in, with everyone from fishermen and women to local mayors to state governors and the crush of international media.
During the 1989 cleanup in Alaska, thousands of workers had what Exxon medical doctors called, "the Valdez Crud," and dismissed as simple colds and flu. Fourteen years later, I followed the trail of sick workers through the maze of court records, congressional records, obituaries, and media stories, and made hundreds of phone calls. I found a different story. As one former cleanup worker put it, "I thought I had the Valdez Crud in 1989. I didn't think I'd have it for fourteen years." Read more.
May 16, 2010 -- Henry Clay Robinett, a graduate of Delaware Military College, distinguished himself with valor during two Civil War battles – the defense of “Battery Robinett” during the Battle of Corinth (October 3-4, 1862), where he was wounded with a musket ball that creased his scalp, and later during the siege of Vicksburg. While honorable, Robinett’s service seems little different from that of any other young man, North or South, who went off to war in 1861. At a glance, Robinett, who emerged from the war as a Major, would hardly seem a likely subject for a biography.
Highlights of FY 2010 Supplemental, Chairman's Mark
Total Discretionary: $45.4 billion, Equal to the President's Request
Total Mandatory: $13.4 billion, Equal to the President's Request
Bill Total: $58.8 billion, Equal to the President's Request
The Senate Appropriations Committee today marked up H.R. 4899, providing emergency supplemental appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010. The Chairmans mark, which is equal to the Presidents request, provides funding for ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including funding to support the addition of 30,000 military personnel to Afghanistan. The Chairmans mark includes $2.8 billion to support relief efforts related to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
The Committee provides $5.1 billion for disaster recovery and to help communities prepare for future events. In addition, the Committee has identified rescissions and savings within the Administrations request to address many natural disasters for which the President did not request additional funds. More than 40 counties in Tennessee were underwater a week ago. Rhode Island suffered through a once in 500 year storm in March, a disaster was proclaimed by the President in January for fisheries in Alaska, tornadoes have tormented the Midwest and South, yet no funds have been requested to offset the enormous cost of cleanup and reconstruction for the states and communities which have suffered. In total, the Committee has provided more than $400 million to address the disaster related shortfalls in the Administrations request.
The bill also provides $13.4 billion in mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as requested, for disability compensation to Vietnam veterans to implement a recent decision by the VA to expand the number of illnesses presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.
Socialized Health Care?
Last night, 15 May 2010, ABC News, they're video of is not up yet, had a report on that many should have seen, a report that could have been extremely sad, not only for the family involved but any viewing, but instead was extremely happy and informative for all.
Woman Finds Resources to Make Medical Care Affordable
Look at those cheeks...look at that face. 7-month old Bennett, a sight that Kelly Frey and her husband feared they might never see. (ABC News)
Mental health disorders caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops in 2009 than any other reason according to medical data released recently by the Pentagon. This historic high reflects the growing toll of nearly nine years of war.
Last year was the first in which hospitalizations for mental disorders outpaced those for injuries or pregnancies in the 15 years of tracking by the Pentagon's Medical Surveillance Monthly report.
Hospitalizations for mental disorders have increased significantly among troops since 2005, said Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, surgeon general for the Army. "War is difficult. It takes a toll," he said.
Mental health treatment expenses are helping drive up the overall cost of military health care, USA TODAY reported last month. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a speech that "health care costs are eating the Defense Department alive." Read more.
WE CARE Solar (Women's Emergency Communication And Reliable Electricity) is a non-profit organization promoting safe motherhood and reduces maternal mortality in developing regions by providing health workers with reliable lighting, blood bank refrigeration and mobile communication using solar electricity.
The US Solar Institute donates a portion of all tuition from solar education and solar training to WE CARE SOLAR to support their work improving the health of impoverished families in developing countries. More information at: http://www.wecaresolar.com/
Documents provided to Congress by several large companies show that they are seriously considering dropping their employer-provided health insurance coverage because the new health care law contains a very weak employer mandate. Companies are doing the math and realizing that paying a per-employee penalty to the government for not providing coverage is substantially less than paying per employee for health insurance. It is the right economic move based on the design of the new law, and was always the long-term plan of those who helped create it. From Fortune:
AT&T produced a PowerPoint entitled “Medical Cost Versus No Coverage Penalty.” A document prepared for Verizon by consulting firm Hewitt Resources stated, “Even though the proposed assessments [on companies that do not provide health care] are material, they are modest when compared to the average cost of health care.” To avoid costs and regulations, “employers may consider exiting the health care market and send employees to the Exchanges.” (Under the new bill, employees who lose their coverage will purchase health care through state-run exchanges.)
Kenneth Huhn, vice president of labor relations at Deere, said in an internal email that his company should look at the alternatives to providing health benefits, which “would amount to denying coverage and just paying the penalty,” and that he felt he already had the ability to make this change under his company’s labor agreement. Caterpillar felt it would have to give “serious consideration” to the penalty option.
It’s these analyses — which show it’s a lot cheaper to “pay” than to “play” — that threaten to overthrow the traditional architecture of health care. Read more.
The great mystery surrounding the historic health care bill is how the corporations that provide coverage for most Americans -- coverage they know and prize -- will react to the new law's radically different regime of subsidies, penalties, and taxes. Now, we're getting a remarkable inside look at the options AT&T, Deere, and other big companies are weighing to deal with the new legislation.
Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill's critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.
That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama's statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we'll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America's employers would remain the backbone of the nation's health care system. Read more.
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH HAS GIVEN PRIORITY TO BIOWEAPONS RESEARCH
By Sherwood Ross
...previous biowarfare research and development contracts with the Pentagon clearly stated: “We have selected pigs (to gas with biowarfare agents) because they have a circulatory system and a respiratory system similar to human beings.”
The priorities of the National Institutes of Health(NIH) in the area of bacteriology have been “catastrophically re-ordered” by emphasizing bioweapons research over non-bioweapons research, a prominent authority states.
Giving priority to bioweapons research at NIH, started under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama, “diverts resources from critical public-health and scientific objectives,” says Richard Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
“The negative impact has been most severe in bacteriology, in which NIH research priorities have been catastrophically re-ordered---with research on bacterial bioweapons receiving more support than research on the top five bacterial causes of death combined---and in which non-bioweapons research has suffered catastrophic losses in resources and personnel,” Ebright said.
Ebright cited the examples of research into two bacterial pathogens: “Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which claim 40,000 and 20,000 U.S. lives each year, respectively. Each kills more Americans than HIV-AIDS (15,000 U.S. lives) “but neither of these bacterial pathogens is on the list of NIAID Priority Pathogens,” Ebright pointed out. (NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the subdivision of NIH responsible for infectious-disease research.)
On April 20, 2010, author and political gadfly Ralph Nader gave a lecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Baltimore, MD. He spoke before a near capacity audience for over an hour. Mr. Nader spotlighted corporate power and abuses in the U.S., and how AIG, the insurance titan, is the biggest recipient of “welfare--$182 Billion!” He showed how the workers in Western Europe have long had splendid social programs, like: “universal health insurance,” that are regularly denied our citizens. Mr. Nader submitted that the American psyche is dominated by a “fundamentalist market” ideology. Corporation loyalty, he also charged, citing various examples of gross abuse, is to the “dollar sign,” and not to the country. Professor Fimin DeBrabander of MICA introduced Mr. Nader.
(Progreso Weekly Note: The following piece is further proof of the selective coverage that the mainstream media offer on the Cuba issue. As several independent analysts have frequently noted, all news that contradicts the image that the powers that be promote of Cuba as part of the “evil empire” is consciously ignored or minimized.)
At the recent UN Donor Conference on Haiti, Cuba announced a program to rebuild that country’s entire national health service. Although this was, arguably, the most ambitious and impressive ‘pledge’ of the 59 governments, regional blocs and financial institutions that made commitments, it was largely ignored by the leading U.S. media --and hence overlooked by most of the world.
The Cuban program, which is based on the highly effective system developed in that country, embraces primary, secondary and tertiary health care, and medical training. Some of the highlights of the Cuban plan are: Read more.
Growing Public Anger in America
By Stephen Lendman
The Pew Research Center (PRC) for the People & the Press is "an independent, non-partisan public opinion research organization that studies attitudes toward politics, the press and public policy issues."
On April 18, it published a report titled, "Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor," saying:
"By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days." A new PRC survey confirms it, and why not under a "perfect storm of conditions" - a wrecked economy for millions fueling distrust and an "epic discontent with Congress and elected officials" who betrayed them.
People want help, by a reformed, not activist government, and Republicans as well as Democrats draw ire. Growing numbers want less government, except for regulating Wall Street, and "ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb."
For its part, though small, the Tea Party is a potential wild card, its sympathizers inclined to support Republicans, yet Republican-leaning independents say the movement represents their point of view better than the GOP.
Other PRC findings were as follows:
- 22% reported trusting Washington always or most often, "among the lowest measures in half a century;"
- 19% said they're "basically content;"
- 25% had a favorable opinion of Congress in a follow-up early April survey, compared to 25% from the March one; it's Congress' lowest score in a quarter century of PRC studies;
The Pentagon effort to consolidate two premier hospitals for treating wounded troops has more than doubled in price and is so rudderless that an independent review and a bipartisan group of legislators say the care could suffer.
The cost of closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center, replacing it with a larger complex at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and building a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., has risen from $1 billion to $2.6 billion, Pentagon records show.
Correcting the problems raised by Congress will cost another $781 million, according to a Pentagon report released Monday. And improvements must wait until after the new Bethesda facility — named the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — is finished in September 2011, the report says.
The independent review last year found that, without improvements, the center would lack an adequate number of operating rooms and some would be too small to accommodate the latest surgical technology. There would not be enough single-patient rooms, critical for controlling infections. Read more.
This slide show explains the recently passed health care bill.
- See the deals made to pass "reform" (slide 14)
- See the impact of those deals (slide 15)
- Cut to the chase: see the bottom line of reform (slide 29)
- Why real reform can't wait (slide 36)
From Peter Tucker, WPFW Pacifica Radio:
A group of us who are opposed to DC's mandate that sixth grade girls receive the controversial HPV vaccine testified at the DC Council before the Health Committee on Wednesday morning at a hearing on the DC Department of Health budget. The Chairman of the Committee, David Catania, who is responsible for creating the mandate, could not respond to Emily Tarsell's testimony.
Ms. Tarsell lost her daughter, Christina, 18 days after Chris was vaccinated with her third dose of Gardasil. Chris had shown signs of complications after the second dose, but since doctors don't always forewarn those receiving the HPV vaccine about the possible side effects, Ms. Tarsell had no idea that it was Gardasil that was causing the complications and that further vaccination could make things worse for her daughter.
Ms. Tarsell is a psychologist and she has merged her grief from losing her only child with her scientific skills and has become an expert on Gardasil. Among other things, she has started a website in honor of Chris (Gardasil and Unexplained Deaths). After giving her amazing testimony, as she was riding in a car to Union Station to catch a train back to Baltimore on her way home to northern Maryland, I got to interview her. Click to listen. The interview aired Wednesday evening on Spectrum Today on WPFW 89.3 FM
She is truly an amazing woman. Please spread this far and wide.
Note: For further shocking information on this, read gardasildad's comment here.
By Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont lawmakers made clear Friday that recently enacted federal health care reform did not go far enough toward a public model, passing legislation that could bring to the state the "public option" health insurance rejected by Washington or even a Canadian-style single-payer system.
By a vote of 91-42, the Democratic controlled House passed its own version of legislation passed earlier by the Senate. Both bills call for designing a single-payer system, in which a government agency would administer and make all payments for health care.
The House version calls for that as well as a parallel design of a system with a public option for health insurance, meaning a system in which a health insurance program offered by the government would compete against those offered by private companies. The House's version also would expand previously enacted reform efforts.
Either system would require federal approval.
Veteran Tanya Boldt struggled with service-connected injuries for years. She used to associate the VA with pain and nurses drawing blood. All that changed when she started attending all-women’s yoga therapy classes at the Memphis VA to treat her health problems.
“Yoga helped me to feel different about the VA,” she said. “I go into a room with low lighting and peaceful music. I stretch through the pain and relax. Now whenever I think of the VA, I think of a soft, quiet place instead.” The VA has become Boldt’s haven away from pain.
Yoga is one of the newest forms of therapy at the hospital. Three specialized yoga courses are offered: a women’s class, a seniors’ class, and a mixed-gender class.
Though the stress-relieving program has only been in place for a few weeks, it’s already very popular with the Veterans who try it. When asked if they plan to continue the yoga program, every Veteran answered the same way: “Definitely!”
Volunteer Joyce Smith leads the classes. In one of her training courses, the longtime yoga instructor heard that the military used yoga to treat PTSD, so she signed up to volunteer. Read more.
Military health care spending is rising twice as fast as the nation's overall health care costs, consuming a larger chunk of the defense budget as the Pentagon struggles to pay for two wars, military budget figures show.
The surging costs are prompting the Pentagon and Congress to consider the first hike in out-of-pocket fees for military retirees and some active-duty families in 15 years, said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE, the military health care program.
Pentagon spending on health care has increased from $19 billion in 2001 to a projected $50.7 billion in 2011, a 167% increase.
The rapid rise has been driven by a surge in mental health and physical problems for troops who have deployed to war multiple times and by a flood of career military retirees fleeing less-generous civilian health programs, Hunter said. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2010) — Less than a quarter of Americans want no changes to the health care legislation signed into law by the president last month but there may be more common ground with other Americans than many think, according to the latest national survey by researchers from Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR).
When survey respondents were asked how they viewed the new law:
● 21 percent said they were completely satisfied
● 28 percent said they wanted changes made in the law
● 39 percent said they wanted the law repealed and to start the health care reform process from scratch
● 13 percent said they did not want any government health care reform
Of the nearly four in 10 Americans who want the law repealed and new legislation enacted, many still favor the same reforms that are already contained in the new law.
Click "Read more" below to access this 447 page report.
The definition of withdrawal, as applied to Iraq
By Michael Schwartz, Stony Brook State University
I have just come across a fascinating document, written at the Army War College by a Lieutenant Colonel who has just returned from an assignment in Baghdad as "Deputy Health Attaché to the US Embassy in Baghdad, working directly with the Minster of Health on the first implemented health policy since Operation IRAQI FREEDOM began." This alone is interesting, since it documents once again the way the US administrative apparatus is interlaced with the Iraqi government (i.e., US overseers sit next to the top Iraqi officials).
But look at what he says in the abstract to his 38 page report written just last month:
"Following combat operations and phasing into stabilization operations, basic health care infrastructure and systems have often been either disrupted or degraded altogether. To address this situation, the U.S. Government requires a coordinated interagency approach to formulate a strategic health care plan. Incorporating all relevant players into this endeavor will promote sound organizational design, unity of effort, and a culture favor- able to synchronization. This paper contains specific recommendations and advocates a renewed effort toward addressing them. The primary constructs under review are U.S. Government organization, leadership, and culture as they relate to a strategic health care policy. This approach will reduce redundant efforts, conserve resources, and augment the legitimacy of the new Government of Iraq while supporting U.S. national strategic aims." (my italics)
Need I point out the imperial arrogance of this???? The picture here is the US creating and implementing a plan and utilizing Iraqi agencies as instruments of the policy it develops, with the ultimate goal augmenting "the legitimacy of the new Government of Iraq."
And, more broadly, we see here that the U.S. government has not even begun to abandon its original intent of turning Iraq into a client state, that is, fully compliant with U.S. decision-making about both its internal policies (as evidenced here) and its relationship to its neighbors (as evidenced in myriad other documents).
This does not put the lie to the claims of U.S. withdrawal. Instead, it simply describes more fully the definition of the term withdrawal in the modern Washington vocabulary. The word withdrawal can now take its place in the new dictionary with the terms collateral damage, enduring bases, preventive war, and other new additions to the Washington-speak vocabulary.
War crimes and cover-ups
Veterans and human rights experts are asking why footage of U.S. soldiers committing atrocities against Iraqi civilians is being treated like an anomaly.
By Dahr Jamail | Socialist Worker
THE WIKILEAKS video footage from Iraq taken from an Apache helicopter in July 2007 showing soldiers killing 12 people and wounding two children has caused an explosion of media coverage. But many Iraq vets feel it is too little and too late.
In contrast to most of the coverage that favors the military's stated position of forgiving the soldiers responsible and citing that they followed the Rules of Engagement (ROE), Iraq war veterans who have spoken to the media previously about atrocities carried out against innocent Iraqis have largely been ignored by the mainstream media in the United States.
This includes Josh Steiber, a former U.S. Army specialist who was a member of the Bravo Company 2-16 whose acts of brutality made headlines with the WikiLeaks release of the video "Collateral Murder."
Steiber told Truthout during a telephone interview on Sunday that such acts were "not isolated incidents" and were "common" during his tour of duty. "After watching the video, I would definitely say that that is, nine times out of ten, the way things ended up," Steiber was quoted as saying in an earlier press release on the video, "Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are." Read more.
By Michael Schwartz
Here is my account of my encounter with the British National Health Service while in London, and suffering from Sciatica:
With excruciating pain that left me in no position to sleep comfortably, I was forced to faced the nightmare of socialized medicine. With the detailed forewarnings supplied by Sarah Palin and Fox News, I girded my loins, enlisted the life-risking aid of my girlfriend Carol, and ventured into the labyrinthine bureaucracy of state controlled health care.
By Linda Milazzo
Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy).
One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.