Daily Archives: October 4, 2009

Dad’s Life or Yours? You Choose by Nicholas D. Kristof

Posted by betham37

Op-Ed by Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof


New York Times/Nicholas D. Kristof—So what would you do if your mom or dad, or perhaps your sister or brother, needed a kidney donation and you were the one best positioned to donate?

Most of us would worry a little and then step forward. But not so fast. Because of our dysfunctional health insurance system, a disgrace that nearly half of all members of Congress seem determined to cling to, stepping up to save a loved one can ruin your own chance of ever getting health insurance.

That wrenching trade-off is another reminder of the moral bankruptcy of our existing insurance system. It’s one more reason to pass robust reform this year.

Over the last week I’ve been speaking to David Waddington, a 58-year-old wine retailer in Dallas, along with his wife and two sons. I’d love to know what the opponents of health reform think families like this should do.

Mr. Waddington has polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, a genetic disorder that leads to kidney failure. First he lost one kidney, and then the other. A year ago, he was on dialysis and desperately needed a new kidney. Doctors explained that the best match — the one least likely to be rejected — would perhaps come from Travis or Michael, his two sons, then ages 29 and 27.

Travis and Michael each had a 50 percent chance of inheriting PKD. And if pre-donation testing revealed that one of them had the disorder, that brother might never be able to get health insurance. As a result, their doctors had advised not getting tested. After all, new research suggests that lack of insurance increases a working-age person’s risk of dying in any given year by 40 percent.

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Congress: We Want Top Notch Health Coverage for $40 Too.

posted by libbyshaw

Sens. Cornyn and Hutchinson

Sen's. Cornyn and Hutchinson

As my fearless elected leaders, TX Senators Cornyn and Hutchison work day in and day out to kill off meaningful healthcare reform, more and more of their constituents continue to lose jobs.

When most folks lose jobs they also lose health insurance. But my Senators don’t care because they have the best health coverage that tax payer money can buy. As long as they are covered, let their constituents be damned. And many are summarily sent off to suffer from diseases or die early because finding affordable health insurance is next to impossible in the U.S.

Thanks to former Cigna executive, Wendall Potter, we know how the insurance companies pull off $13 billion, that would be billion in profits per year. The insurance industry also has $1.4 million a day to burn on killing health care reform efforts.

So, how does the industry realize such awesome profits?

Who would have thought?

Deny care. Hand out death sentences.

Senators Scrooge Cornyn and Marie Antoinette Hutchison obviously have no intention of letting their sugar daddies down.

Die baby die. Suffer baby, suffer. We don’t care.

This is the song Texans listen to 24/7. Sadly, many are willingly misled by their representatives who have no intention of working on their behalf.

As we know taxpayers fund the salaries and benefits of our elected leaders. The benefits include health care coverage for lawmakers and their families.

Today ABC News reported on the best health care that taxpayer money can buy at a very low cost:

Capitol Building

Capitol Building

This fall while members of Congress toil in the U.S. Capitol, working to decide how or even whether to reform the country’s health care system, one floor below them an elaborate Navy medical clinic — described by those who have seen it as something akin to a modern community hospital — will be standing by, on-call and ready to provide Congress with some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care.

Members of Congress do not have to wait to be treated.

“A member walked in and was generally walked right back into a physician’s office. They get good care. They are not rushed. They are examined thoroughly,” said Eduardo Balbona, an internist in Jacksonville, Fa., who worked as a staff physician in the OAP from 1993 to 1995.

“You have time to spend to get to know your patients and think about them and really think about how you preserve their health going forward,” Balbona said. “We’re not there to put on Band-Aids. We were there to make sure that everything possible that could be done [is done] to preserve that member of Congress.”

Congress members are treated at the best hospitals in the area such as Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic. Specialists are brought to the Capitol, often at no charge to the member.

Sources said when specialists are needed, they are brought to the Capitol, often at no charge to members of Congress.

“If you had, for example, prostate cancer, you would go to one of the centers of excellence for the country, which would be Johns Hopkins. If you had coronary artery disease, we would engage specialists at the Cleveland Clinic. You would go to the best care in the country. And, for the most part, nobody asked what your insurance was,” Balbona said. (source: Special Health Care for Congress: Lawmakers’ Health Care Perks

Congress members pay $503. a year. for the best health care in the U.S.

Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.

All of that for a little over $40.00 per month.

In other words, Congress members do get the very best of the best for very little.

From ABC: Kyle Anderson, a spokesman for the House Committee on Administration said members of Congress are treated by specialists from military hospitals who visit the OAP at no charge. Congressmen are also eligible for free out-patient care at military facilities in the Washington, D.C., area, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

One member of Congress has an ethical backbone and had the integrity to turn down his taxpayer funded coverage. He said if his constituents could not have the same, he did not want it for himself. Imagine that.

From ABC:

Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WA)

Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI)

Rep. Steve Kagen of Wisconsin — one of 15 medical doctors in Congress — is the only member of either the House or Senate who has no health insurance coverage. Kagen, a Democrat and advocate for health care reform, said he turned down the plan he was offered through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

“I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I respectfully decline. Until you can make the same offer to everyone that I have the honor of representing, I just don’t think it’s fair,” Kagen said he told the congressional staffer who reviewed the plan with him in 2006.

All members of Congress should do the same. Get us what you have, Senators, or give up yours.

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Papandreou Wins Greek Elections, Gains Majority

Greek Socialist Party leader George Papandreou, bottom right, is greeted by supporters

Greek Socialist Party leader George Papandreou, bottom right, is greeted by supporters

ATHENS, Greece – Two years ago, when George Papandreou led Greece’s Socialist party to its worst election result in three decades, he was widely derided as an ineffective politician.
The son and grandson of Greek prime ministers, Papandreou was seen by critics as a pale shadow of his dynamic and charismatic father, Andreas Papandreou, who founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement party, or PASOK, and led it with an iron fist to three election victories from 1981-1993.


Now, at 57, Papandreou has come into his own after leading his party to a resounding victory over Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’ conservative New Democracy.
Many consider this more a rejection of a failed government than a personal endorsement of Papandreou, but he won Sunday’s vote by an unexpectedly wide margin and a secure parliamentary majority.

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Final Rally before election:

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Fareed Zakaria: “We Must Stop Exaggerating the Iranian Threat”

Posted by Audiegrl

The Changing Face of Iran  (Photo: Paolo Pellegrin)

The Changing Face of Iran (Photo: Paolo Pellegrin)

Newsweek/Fareed Zakaria—It is time to clarify the debate over Iran and its nuclear program. It’s easy to criticize the current course adopted by the United States and its allies, to huff and puff about Iranian mendacity, to point out that Russia and China won’t agree to tougher measures against Tehran, and to detail the leaks in the sanctions already in place. But what, then, should the United States do? The critics are eager to denounce the administration from the sidelines for being weak but rarely detail what they would do to be “tough.” Would they attack Iran today? If not, then what should we do? It is time to put up or shut up on Iran.

There are three basic options that the United States and its allies have regarding Iran’s nuclear program. We can bomb Iran, engage it diplomatically, or contain and deter the threat it poses. Let me outline what each would entail and then explain why I favor containment and deterrence.

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a problem. Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is a danger, and the Iranian regime’s foreign policy—which has involved support for militias and terrorist groups—make it a destabilizing force in the region. The country has a right to civilian nuclear energy, as do all nations. But Tehran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, submitting itself to the jurisdiction of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA says Iran has exhibited a pattern of deception and non-cooperation involving its nuclear program for 20 years—including lying about its activities and concealing sites. In that context, it makes sense to be suspicious of Iran’s intentions and to ask that the IAEA routinely verify and inspect its facilities. Unless that can be achieved, Iran should pay the price for its actions. Washington’s current strategy is to muster international support to impose greater costs, while at the same time negotiating with Iran to find a solution that gives the world greater assurance that the Iranian program is purely civilian in nature.

It is an unsatisfying, frustrating approach. The Russians and Chinese want to trade with Iran and will not impose crippling sanctions. (Nor would India or Brazil, nor most other major developing countries.) Even if there were some resolution, it would depend on inspections in Iran, and the Iranians could probably hide things from the inspectors and cheat. They do occasionally make concessions, including significant ones last week—to open the newly revealed Qum facility to inspectors and to send uranium to Russia for enrichment (which Tehran announced just as columnists were declaring that negotiations were sure to lead to nothing). But there will be setbacks as well. The cat-and-mouse game will continue.

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Channel Surfing– C-Span: Scott Ritter on Iranian Nukes and the Middle East

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Channel Surfing— C-Span: Scott Ritter on Iranian Nukes and the Middle East

posted by GeoT

Scott Ritter on C-Span 04 OCT 2009

Scott Ritter on C-Span 04 OCT 2009


Scott Ritter talks about the possible scenarios unfolding in the Middle East as the Obama administration, along with Russia, China, France, Germany and the U.K. engage Iran on it’s nuclear program during talks in Geneva…


Watch full video here:


Op-Ed By Scott Ritter:
Keeping Iran honest
Iran’s secret nuclear plant will spark a new round of IAEA inspections and lead to a period of even greater transparency…
“Rather than representing the tip of the iceberg in terms of uncovering a covert nuclear weapons capability, the emergence of the existence of the Qom enrichment facility could very well mark the initiation of a period of even greater transparency on the part of Iran, leading to its full adoption and implementation of the IAEA additional protocol. This, more than anything, should be the desired outcome of the “Qom declaration”.

Click here for Complete OpEd:


Scheduled for early 2010 release

Scheduled for early 2010 release


Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998. He is author of Iraq Confidential and Target Iran and the forthcoming Dangerous Ground: America’s Failed Arms Control Policy from FDR to Obama.


Related Stories: Head of UN nuclear watchdog sees Iran cooperation

Lawmakers vow swift action over Iran’s alleged nuclear inroads

Canadian Official: Iran Sought Nuke Components; Sound Familiar?

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US rolls out massive swine flu vaccination campaign

posted by GeoT

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US health authorities are hoping to contain what they say is an intensifying swine flu pandemic with a massive A(H1N1) vaccination campaign starting this week.

A nurse fills syringes with influenza vaccine at a drive-thru flu shot clinic in Napa, California

A nurse fills syringes with influenza vaccine at a drive-thru flu shot clinic in Napa, California

“We expect Friday in our weekly update of FluView that we will be reporting substantial flu illness in most of the country, significant flu activity in virtually all states,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Most states do have quite a lot of disease right now, and that is unusual for this time of the year,” she said at a press conference on Friday evening.

Schuchat reiterated the importance of vaccination for pregnant women and other groups considered particularly vulnerable to the virus, including children, young adults up to 24 years old, and those suffering from certain other chronic medical problems.
US health authorities on Friday announced plans for a massive vaccination campaign intended to protect millions of Americans, with the first distribution of 600,000 vaccine doses set for Tuesday, two weeks ahead of schedule.
The United States expects to quickly dispense some six or seven million doses and hopes to administer 250 million doses by the end of the year.

Con’t Here


CDC: How to Prevent Getting and Spreading H1N1 Flu

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