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Medicare's 44th B'day Rally, Cupcake Lobby Day, Kucinich's Single Payer Strategy

Help Rep. Kucinich's Single Payer Strategy:

  1. Support State Single-Payer initiatives in your state.
  2. Support National Single-Payer initiatives. Explain it to your family, friends and neighbors: Medicare for All!
  3. Tell your congressional representative to support the Kucinich amendment to HR 3200.
  4. Tell your congressional representative to support HR 676 this Fall when Congress resumes.
  5. Push for public financing of campaigns.

HR 676 - It's Simple

H/T to Yank

We Need A Single Payer

We need a single payer
By Laura McClure | Physicians for National Health Plan

...What we wouldn’t have is 1,200 private insurance companies feeding off our need for health care — forcing hospitals and doctors to hire paper-pushers instead of people who actually provide care. Almost a third of the money we spend on health care in the U.S. can be attributed to insurance industry-generated waste....

Every industrialized country with a version of single-payer spends about half what we do — or less — for health care, and they have better health outcomes and more satisfied citizens....

...The average family health care premium has jumped to almost $13,000. How much higher can it go? Health care is literally eating up the budget on the national level as well: The U.S. now spends 16 percent of its GDP on health care — compared to, say, less than 6 percent for education. By comparison, Canada spends 10 percent. Taiwan, which adopted a single-payer system in 1995 after a lot of shopping around, spends 6 percent of GDP on health care and has better health outcomes than we do....

look at the state of Massachusetts, which passed a health reform bill not unlike the ones Congress is now considering. More people now have some kind of insurance coverage, but the plan is busting the budget.

The state has had to cut social services and ramped up premiums and co-pays for the health plan. The out-of pocket costs are so high, many of the newly “insured” can’t afford to go to the doctor or get their prescriptions filled. In a 2009 survey, 44 percent of low-income residents said they were hurt by the plan; 33 percent said they were helped. (Question: Are you “insured” if you don’t get that lump in your breast checked out because you just can’t swing the $1,000 deductible?) Read more.

Tomgram: John Feffer, Their Martyrs and Our Heroes

Tomgram: John Feffer, Their Martyrs and Our Heroes
By John Feffer | TomDispatch.com

The way you imagine someone engaged in a suicide attack depends, not surprisingly, on which end of the attack you happen to be on -- in cultural, if not literal terms. In American films and pop culture, there were few acts more inexplicable or malevolent in the years of my childhood than those of Japan's kamikaze pilots (and, in a few cases, submariners), the state-organized suicide bombers of World War II who targeted the U.S. fleet with their weapons and their lives. Americans themselves were incapable of such kamikaze acts not because they didn't commit them, but because, when done by someone known to us in the name of a cause we cherish or to save us from being overrun by them, such acts were no longer unrecognizable. Under those circumstances, each represented a profound gift of life to those left behind.

In the desperate early days of 1942 in the Pacific, for instance, there were a number of reported cases in which American pilots tried to dive their planes into Japanese ships. According to Edward F. Murphy in Heroes of WWII, Captain Richard E. Fleming, the only recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for the Battle of Midway, was leading his dive bomber squadron in an attack on the disabled cruiser Mikuma when his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. It "rocked wildly... but... soon righted itself and continued down under control. At an altitude of only 350 feet, Fleming released his bomb. Then he followed it straight down to the Japanese carrier." His hometown, St. Paul, Minnesota, later named its airport in his honor.

In the same way, "Colin" became a popular first name for boys (including, evidently, Colin Powell) because of war hero Captain Colin P. Kelly, Jr., who was generally (if incorrectly) believed to have won the Medal of Honor for plunging his B-17 into the smokestack of the Japanese battleship Haruna -- he didn't -- in the first days of the Pacific war.

This sort of American heroism, as John Feffer, co-director of the website Foreign Policy in Focus and TomDispatch regular, indicates below, was highlighted in war films of those years. There was even a celluloid version of kamikaze sex. As film critic Jeanine Basinger wrote in The World War II Combat Film, nurse Veronica Lake, trapped by the Japanese on the Bataan peninsula in So Proudly We Hail (1943), "places a hand insider her blouse... and walks slowly toward the enemy in her combat fatigues. As she nears them, she takes off her helmet, and releases her long, very blonde hair over her shoulders. When they come near her in obvious delight, she pulls the pin on her grenade..." In fact, many war films of that time had a kamikaze feel to them, but as "we" were defending "home" and knew ourselves for the individuals we were, the act of diving a plane into a bridge or refusing to leave a platoon certain to be wiped out bore no relation to suicidal enemy acts. Read more.

Why Single Payer Advocacy Matters Now More Than Ever

Why Single Payer Advocacy Matters Now More Than Ever
By John Nichols | The Nation

Campaigning for single-payer in August – by demanding that members of the House agree to support such a plan when it comes up for a vote, and by urging senators to schedule and support a similar vote in their chamber – is the best was to assure that whatever reform ultimately comes will err on the side of Americans who need healthcare rather than insurance companies that would deny them that care.

At the very least, single-payer advocacy should preserve an amendment sponsored by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, which would allow states to experiment with single-payer programs even if the federal government refuses to do so. That's a significant matter, since Canada's national health care program began with single-payer experiments at the provincial level.

The worst mistake that progressives could make in August would be to put their time and energy into getting members of Congress to agree to back a barely-acceptable compromise that could end up being unacceptable by the time the lobbyists and their political handmaidens finish with it. Read more.

Making War to Bring ‘Peace’

Noam Chomsky has a new article on the perversion of the UN standard for approving of wars. Imagine how different this would look if the architects of the invasion of Iraq were held accountable.

Comparing Single-Payer with the Public Option

Single-Payer Teach-In
Dr. Len Rodberg, of Physicians for a National Health Program, made a great presentation on single-payer and the “public option” at a teach-in in New York City.

 

There has been considerable confusion about the differences between single-payer healthcare, which Healthcare-NOW! supports, and the healthcare reform options, including President Obama’s “public option,” being introduced by the House and Senate.

Download Len Rodberg’s slide show (.ppt).

For more resources, click "Read more".

Marilyn Clement’s Speech at Celebration Held in Her Honor

Marilyn Clement, a leading progressive activist and organizer whose life spanned the history of the modern progressive movement, died yesterday (Monday, August 3, 2009) after a prolonged illness.

She died as support for the last great "interest" of her remarkable life - -- universal health-care -- has now become the consensus among people in this country and just as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would entertain a House floor vote on the single payer initiative (the option Marilyn struggled for).

Migrating from Texas, Marilyn Clement was one of Dr. Martin Luther King's secretaries, moving on to various struggles in the South and then to IFCO in New York City, an organization with whom she would collaborate for the rest of her life. She was Development Director there before moving on to various other movement tasks and struggles.

Corporate Tantrums - Can We Trust These Companies With Our Health?

Corporate Tantrums - Can We Trust these Companies with Our Health?
By Michael Collins | Michael Collins' Blog

...we're expected to believe that making the world safe for AETNA is so important to Jane and John Q Citizen, they'll trash town hall meetings to serve the cause.

Some major health insurers and other health interests are behind some of the highly emotional and disruptive scenes at town hall meetings around the country.

What does this say about their level of desperation concerning the health care debate?

A Canadian Doctor Diagnoses US Health Care

A Canadian Doctor Diagnoses US Health Care
By Michael M. Rachlis | Truthout

The caricature of "socialized medicine" is used by corporate interests to confuse Americans and maintain their bottom lines instead of patients' health.

Universal health insurance is on the American policy agenda for the fifth time since World War II. In the 1960s, the U.S. chose public coverage for only the elderly and the very poor, while Canada opted for a universal program for hospitals and physicians' services. As a policy analyst, I know there are lessons to be learned from studying the effect of different approaches in similar jurisdictions. But, as a Canadian with lots of American friends and relatives, I am saddened that Americans seem incapable of learning them.

Our countries are joined at the hip. We peacefully share a continent, a British heritage of representative government and now ownership of GM. And, until 50 years ago, we had similar health systems, healthcare costs and vital statistics.

The U.S.' and Canada's different health insurance decisions make up the world's largest health policy experiment. And the results?

On coverage, all Canadians have insurance for hospital and physician services. There are no deductibles or co-pays. Most provinces also provide coverage for programs for home care, long-term care, pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment, although there are co-pays.

On the U.S. side, 46 million people have no insurance, millions are underinsured and healthcare bills bankrupt more than 1 million Americans every year. Read more.

Real Health Care Reform - Universal Single-Payer

Real Health Care Reform - Universal Single-Payer
By Stephen Lendman

Organizations like Physicians for a National Health Program want Americans to have the same system in place in all other Western countries and elsewhere, including Venezuela, South Korea, Japan, Cuba, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. But not in America - the only industrialized country without it despite spending more than double per capita than the other 30 OECD countries and delivering less for it.

In a September 2007 report to Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) compared 2004 US health care spending with other OECD countries:

  • America then averaged $6,102 per person, well over double the average $2,560 for OECD countries;
  • US health care spending was 15.3% of the economy compared to 8.9% on average for OECD countries; for Canada it was 9.9%; Germany - 10.6%; Great Britain - 8.1%; France - 10.5%; and Japan 8.0%;
  • "US prices for medical care commodities and services are significantly higher than in other countries (delivering comparable care) and serve as a key determinant of higher overall spending;" high insurance and drug costs are the most significant factors;
  • life expectancy in America is lower than in other OECD countries;
  • the US ranks 22nd on life expectancy at birth; post-65, it's 11th for men and 13th for women;
  • America has the third highest infant mortality rate after Turkey and Mexico;
  • heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases are the top OECD country causes of death; America ranks 17th for heart disease "despite (performing) substantially more invasive heart procedures than all the other (OECD) countries;"
  • quality of US health care isn't superior overall; nor do Americans "have substantially better access to health care resources, even putting aside the issue of the uninsured;" and
  • because of the cost, many Americans delay or forego treatment.

Just Say "NO!"

Panetta Seeks to Whitewash CIA Crimes

PANETTA SEEKS TO WHITEWASH CIA CRIMES
By Sherwood Ross

CIA Director Leon Panetta’s article titled “It’s Time To Move On” published in the August 4th Miami Herald is a stunning disservice to the principles of justice. It not only calls for whitewashing the Agency’s past horrific crimes, which have included torture and murder, but openly advocates the use of force and violence. Panetta writes, “the focus on the past, especially in Congress, threatens to distract the CIA from its crucial core missions: intelligence collection, analysis and covert action.” In CIA lingo, “covert action” has always meant dirty tricks, from blackmailing to assassinating foreign leaders, and from pouring bribe money to influence elections to overthrowing governments. Covert action is not your church Tuesday night bingo party. And these criminal acts are invariably performed in sneaky secret because if the American people learned of them they would never tolerate the spy agency’s cruelty and waste of tax dollars. Besides, not a few of the CIA’s crimes might make you puke.

And when Panetta charges that Congress “threatens to distract the CIA” he is revealing his fear that at any House or Senate intelligence committee hearings his Agency will have an awful lot of embarrassing crimes to account for. Yet, as reporter Tim Weiner points out in his aptly named “Legacy of Ashes, The History of The CIA(Anchor),” Congressional committees “need to do their work—ask hard questions, demand answers, and report back to the citizenry. They have been derelict in this duty for much of the past three decades, but their conduct since 9/11 has bordered on criminal negligence.” But when Congress changes course and tries to do its job, Panetta sees it as a “threat.”

Torturing Children: Bush's Legacy and Democracy's Failure

Torturing Children: Bush's Legacy and Democracy's Failure
By Harry A. Giroux | Truthout

This is an excerpt from Henry A. Giroux's forthcoming book, "Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror," to be published by Paradigm Publishers.

Nowhere is there a more disturbing, if not horrifying, example of the relationship between a culture of cruelty and the politics of irresponsibility than in the resounding silence that surrounds the torture of children under the presidency of George W. Bush - and the equal moral and political failure of the Obama administration to address and rectify the conditions that made it possible. But if we are to draw out the dark and hidden parameters of such crimes, they must be made visible so men and women can once again refuse to orphan the law, justice, and morality. How we deal with the issue of state terrorism and its complicity with the torture of children will determine not merely the conditions under which we are willing to live, but whether we will live in a society in which moral responsibility disappears altogether and whether we will come to find ourselves living under a democratic or authoritarian social order. This is not merely a political and ethical matter, but also a matter of how we take seriously the task of educating ourselves more critically in the future.

We haven't always looked away. When Emmett Till's battered, brutalized, and broken fourteen-year-old body was open to public viewing in Chicago after he was murdered in Mississippi in 1955, his mother refused to have him interred in a closed casket. His mutilated and swollen head, his face disfigured and missing an eye, made him unrecognizable as the young, handsome boy he once was. The torture, humiliation, and pain this innocent African-American youth endured at the hands of white racists was transformed into a sense of collective outrage and pain, and helped launch the Civil Rights movement. Torture when inflicted on children becomes indefensible. Even among those who believe that torture is a defensible practice to extract information, the case for inflicting pain and abuse upon children proves impossible to support. The image of young children being subjected to prolonged standing, handcuffed to the top of a cell door, doused with cold water, raped, and shocked with electrodes boggles the mind. Corrupting and degenerate practices, such despicable acts also reveal the utter moral depravity underlying the rationales used to defend torture as a viable war tactic. There is an undeniable pathological outcome when the issue of national security becomes more important than the survival of morality itself, resulting in some cases in the deaths of thousands of children - and with little public outrage. Read more.

North Korea Pardons Two Jailed Journalists After Bill Clinton's Visit

North Korea Pardons Two Jailed Journalists After Bill Clinton's Visit
Euna Lee and Laura Ling Could Board a Plane Back for U.S. as Early as Tonight, Sources Say
By Martha Raddatz and Joohee Cho | ABCNews

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il today ordered the release of jailed U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee through "a special pardon," the country's state-run news agency reported.

North Korea's Central News Agency said former President Bill Clinton, who took a surprise trip to the country to negotiate Ling and Lee's release apologized for the two female journalists "illegally crossing the border and committing a grave crime against our nation."

Ling and Lee's families said in a joint statement they are "overjoyed by the news of their pardon."

"We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens," the statement said. "We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home."

Clinton met with Ling and Lee earlier in what was a very emotional meeting, a government source told ABC News. Read more.

Highland Park, NJ: Gaza, Jerusalem, West Bank Eyewitness Report This Thursday, Aug. 6, 6:30 PM

PALESTINE / ISRAEL
GAZA, JERUSALEM, WEST BANK EYE WITNESS REPORT

This Thursday, AUGUST 6, 2009 - 6:30PM
Reformed Church - Highland Park
19 South 2nd Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904

  • Norman Finkelstein, Member of Code Pink delegation to Gaza in June
  • Jane Adas, Member of NY delegation to Gaza in May
  • Helen Schiff, Member of Code Pink delegation to Gaza & Israel in March & June
  • Manijeh Saba, Member of Code Pink's June delegation to Gaza via Israel
  • Video and slide Show

Cosponsors: CODEPINK; Somerset voices for Peace and Justice; Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless war.

Different US Locations Weighed For Gitmo Trials

Different US Locations Weighed For Gitmo Trials
By Devlin Barrett, Associated Press | Yahoo! News

Staring at a January deadline, the Obama administration is debating between two dramatically different schemes for putting Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial: big-city courtrooms in the nation's capital, New York and Virginia — or a one-of-a-kind superjail in the Midwest.

And the participants, working in tense but amicable secret meetings, know the final and politically volatile decision about where to try detainees will be made by President Barack Obama, who set the deadline for closing the prison on the military base in Cuba to meet a campaign promise.

Dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainee cases have been referred to federal prosecutors for possible criminal trials in those Eastern Seaboard locations, officials told The Associated Press on Monday, as the Justice Department, Pentagon and national security officials also weigh whether to hold virtually all Guantanamo-related civilian and military trials at a Midwestern prison in Michigan or Kansas.

The administration could decide that rather than bring the detainees to trial in a number of cities, it will instead bring prosecutors and judges with terrorism experience to one site in the Midwest for trial, which would pose other serious logistical hurdles. Or they could settle on a combination of the plans. Read more.

Rehabilitation: One Possible Solution for Some Gitmo Detainees

Rehabilitation: One Possible Solution for Some Gitmo Detainees
By Lt. Col. Barry Wingard | The Public Record

The Justice Department suffered stinging defeats this week when federal judges ordered the release of two more Guantanamo prisoners – Kuwaiti Khaled Al Mutairi and Afghan national Mohammed Jawad. All told, the government has now failed to convince federal judges in 27 of 32 cases that the government can justify the detentions of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

The bar for the government is extraordinarily low in habeas hearings. All the Justice Department has to do is demonstrate that a detained person might have committed some crime. The government does not have to prove a specific crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet, in most of the habeas cases, the government cannot produce even this bare minimum amount of credible evidence.

The staggering losses show that the government has been shockingly wrong in its detention policies. Seeking to save face, the government has been venue-shopping with the Gitmo cases – matching cases with the legal system most likely to produce a favorable outcome for the government.

Here’s how it works: If the government has reliable evidence untainted by abuse, it may send a detainee’s case to federal court. If the evidence is unreliable or tainted by abuse, the case goes to the military commissions where the standards are lower. Read more.

Cancer Survivor Hopes To Avoid Foreclosure

Cancer Survivor Hopes To Avoid Foreclosure
By Teresa Garcia | KGO-TV San Francisco CA

A cancer survivor's family is still in their Oakland home after winning a battle so many Americans are now facing. They were going to be foreclosed upon and evicted today. Read more.

OAKLAND, CA - 31JULY09 - Home Defender activists sit in on the steps of the home of Tosha Alberty, her husband, four children and two grandchildren, who were evicted after First Franklin Mortgage Services, owned by Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, foreclosed on the home. Community activists in the Home Defenders campaign of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) sat in on the house steps behind the padlocked gate in an act of civil disobedience, and were arrested for trespassing by the Oakland Police.

Click "Read more" for photos of the action.

How Many Civilian Deaths Are Acceptable?

How Many Civilian Deaths Are Acceptable?
By Tom Hayden | Boston.com

In contrast, epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins employed active surveillance techniques, based on randomized household surveys typically used in war zones. By these measures, civilian casualties were at least three times higher than the numbers from the Iraq Body Count. The real numbers disappeared in a fog of war generated in part by the Pentagon and White House....To move forward, Kerry’s committee should release the Pentagon’s classified answer and, if necessary, press for further clarification.

It was a cryptic Pentagon answer to Senator John Kerry’s straightforward question, in notes from the Senate hearing on May 21:

Question. According to The New York Times July 20, 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld personally approved over 50 US airstrikes in Iraq which were expected to kill up to 50 innocent Iraqi civilians each. According to Pentagon policy at the time, any strikes expected to result in 50 or more civilian deaths as unavoidable collateral damage were to be approved personally by the Secretary. The media was informed of this policy in July 2003 when the chief US commander disclosed the sign-off policy. Does that policy continue today in Afghanistan, and, if so, in what form? Do White House or Pentagon officials sign off on bombing runs where civilian casualties are expected to be higher than 50? Which officials?

Answer. (DELETED)

Does the Obama administration, specifically the secretary of defense, know in advance how many innocent civilians are expected to die before bombing raids are approved in Afghanistan and Pakistan? This was the case with Donald Rumsfeld during the bombing of Iraq.

Now the administration insists on keeping the answers secret.

If the previous policy has been discontinued, that means the White House is delegating the projected body counts to lower field commanders, an unlikely abdication of sensitive decisions.

If the policy continues, does Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally approve? Is the president in the loop? Do they believe there is an acceptable level of unavoidable civilian casualties, and, if so, what is that level and who sets it? Read more.

How to Cut Your Doctor's Bills

How to Cut Your Doctor's Bills
Patients Haggle with Doctors and Hospitals to Bring Down Medical Costs
By David Whelan | Forbes.com via ABCNews.com

Eric Remjeske, 38, was skiing in Vail, Colo., this February when he missed a jump. The result: broken bones in both feet and the prospect of big medical bills. Remjeske needed a night in the hospital plus an orthopedic surgeon to put two screws in each heel. His health insurance required him to meet a $6,000 deductible and pay a 20% share of any expense after that.

So Remjeske, a financial planner, returned home to Minneapolis for surgery and set out to trim his costs. He got quotes from three different surgeons at three hospitals and tried to anticipate related expenses, like anesthesia and physical therapy. The estimates ranged from $14,000 to $18,000. He picked the University of Minnesota's hospital, which had the lowest estimate.

After the successful surgery, the bills arrived, totaling $16,000--more than what he'd expected. Remjeske fought back, objecting to specific hospital charges. The hospital agreed to strike a $500 charge for time in the recovery room, $200 for a leg-lifting device that Remjeske claims wasn't used and $800 in other charges, including the cost of physical therapy sessions that never happened. Remjeske says he missed out on the opportunity to get a deal on his sedation medicine because the anesthesiologist wasn't able to tell him the price ahead of time.

The rise in health care costs, and especially in the share paid by the patient, is giving people a lot more incentive to gather their courage to try to bargain down prices. Last year, an average insured family spent $3,350 on copays, coinsurance (the percentage that is the patient's responsibility), premiums and deductibles. That's twice the average of a decade ago.

"If you go in unknowing and come out unknowing, you could end up with an unbelievable bill," Remjeske says. As for the hospital, "We think we give the best care," says spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson, "so it's nice to know that we're also competitive."

Haggle with your doctor and hospital? These days you'd be crazy not to. Read more.

Closing Argument at Guantanamo: The Torture of Mohammed Jawad

Closing Argument at Guantanamo: The Torture of Mohammed Jawad
By Major David J.R. Frakt | Harvard Human Rights Journal

Excerpts: Jawad was the first military commission case to squarely present the issue of the provable torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and Mohammed Jawad was the first Guantanamo detainee to take the witness stand in a military commission and describe his mistreatment under oath.

I had two meetings with Mr. Jawad at the detention camp where he was held prior to the hearing on May 7. I tried to persuade him to allow me to represent him, but he was understandably wary about accepting the assistance of a U.S. military attorney. In a meeting in the courthouse holding cell just before the hearing, Mr. Jawad and I reached a compromise—he would allow me to represent him for the limited purposes of challenging the legitimacy of the military commissions and the conditions of his confinement. The military judge, recognizing this compromise as progress, accepted the arrangement and gave me three weeks to file “law motions” challenging the jurisdiction of the commissions and the conditions of Mr. Jawad’s confinement.18

Two weeks later, the prosecutor, honoring his duty to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense, turned over prison logs revealing that my client had been subjected to a sleep deprivation program known as the “frequent flyer program.” Specifically, Mr. Jawad had been moved back and forth between two prison cells approximately every three hours for fourteen straight days, a total of 112 moves. These cell moves, which were clearly intended to disrupt the detainee’s sleep, were made time-consuming by the fact that both his hands and feet were shackled. My hastily conducted research convinced me that this program constituted torture.19 Along with the frequent flyer program, the prison logs also revealed that Mr. Jawad had attempted to commit suicide on December 25, 2003.

The only remedy indicated in the Manual for Military Commissions in cases of torture was suppression of evidence obtained by torture.20
###
The entire file is attached here at ADS, and can also be read at the link above for the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Click "Read more" to continue reading the Excerpt.

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