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43 posts from September 2009

September 21, 2009

Media barred from Media Courage award ceremony

Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent and Adele Stan of AlterNet report that the media were barred from the Media Courage award ceremony at the Values Voter summit this weekend. Only Fox News was allowed to film inside the auditorium where Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was being feted (or fetid, depending on your perspective).

[x-post at Obsidian Wings]

September 20, 2009

Canadian health care as good as American, 47% cheaper

Foes of health care reform are making up all kinds of scurrilous nonsense about Canada's universal health care system.

Canadians have slightly longer life expectancy than their American counterparts and are just as likely to survive heart attacks, breast and cervical cancer, and childhood leukemia:

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Opponents of overhauling U.S. health care argue that Canada shows what happens when government gets involved in medicine, saying the country is plagued by inferior treatment, rationing and months-long queues.

The allegations are wrong by almost every measure, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other independent studies published during the past five years. While delays do occur for non-emergency procedures, data indicate that Canada’s system of universal health coverage provides care as good as in the U.S., at a cost 47 percent less for each person. [Bloomberg]

The U.S. had the highest rate of deaths preventable by health care in the entire OECD, 110 deaths per hundred thousand people. Canada had the sixth-lowest rate, 77 deaths per 100,000. 

Canada covers everyone with results as good as, or better than, the U.S. health care system, all for 47% less per person.

I grew up in Canada and I can attest that the system offers excellent care--equaling or surpassing any medical care I've received in the states, and with none of the bureaucratic nightmares of the private insurance system. 

Continue reading "Canadian health care as good as American, 47% cheaper" »

September 18, 2009

"Woman's Declaration That She's a 56-Year-Old Virgin off by One Night"

A 56-year-old former school teacher testifying before the Texas Education Agency didn't hesitate to get autobiographical in order to drive home her point about the importance of sex ed. Unfortunately, she wasn't testifying at the sex ed hearing. Gawker has the video.

September 17, 2009

Wombs for Rent: Surrogacy scams

Tomorrow NOW will broadcast an expose of scams in the surrogate motherhood industry, supported by my friends at the Nation Institute. Old school investigative reporting meets cutting edge medical technology:

Many European countries, from Spain to Germany to the Netherlands, have banned surrogate motherhood. But in the United States it's the Wild West -- an almost completely unregulated industry that has left some surrogate mothers with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills and would-be parents with pilfered bank accounts. "If you compare surrogacy to buying a used car," says one expert in the field, "there are many more rules when you buy a used car."

Investigative Fund reporters Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann traveled the country speaking with surrogate mothers, agency operators, and intended parents to expose the human costs of this lack of regulation and produced a segment for NOW on PBS, "Wombs for Rent," which takes a close look at one of the industry's many bad actors, SurroGenesis.

"Wombs for Rent," which was supported by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, airs Friday, September 18, at 8:30 p.m. in New York City. Go to for broadcast times nationwide.

Czars and learned helplessness

Psychologist Martin Seligman discovered that if you administer enough random shocks to a dog, the dog will eventually get so demoralized that it won't even try to avoid them when can easily do so. He called the phenomenon learned helplessness.

Learned helplessness seems to be the GOP strategy in the Obama age. Karl Rove taught the Republicans to attack their opponents on their strengths. So, Rove sent the Swift Boat Veterans to smear John Kerry's distinguished war record. But that's so 2004.

With Rove in semi-retirement, the Republican party is led by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin with assists from wingmen Dick Armey and Orly Taitz. This crew favors a different approach, one less surgical and more psychiatric. Freak out randomly: The president telling kids to stay in school?!!! Counseling seniors about living wills!?! Czars?!!

The key is that there is absolutely no way to predict what will set off the GOP. At this rate, the Democrats will be reduced to a whimpering puddle on the lab floor in no time.

September 15, 2009

Daily Pulse: Has Baucus pulled Snowe's trigger?

Gang of Six member Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-MN) hinted on national television that the long-awaited Baucus bill won't have a triggered public option. Which is surprising, considering the trigger was her idea in the first place.

A public option might still prevail (with or without a trigger) even if it doesn't appear in the bill that we're assured is coming out of Max Baucus's Finance Committee any minute. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the HELP Committee, is promising that a "robust public option" will pass by Christmas.

Read more in my latest health care bulletin at the Media Consortium.

September 14, 2009

Remembering the godfather of Green Revolution

Joe Pastry, one of my favorite food bloggers, remembers Norman Borlaug, a plant scientist and Nobel Laureate whose work on crop yields saved untold numbers of people from starvation. He died this weekend at the ripe old age of 95:

This weekend the world, very quietly, lost its greatest humanitarian. And I mean that literally. Superlatives like "greatest humanitarian" come cheap nowadays. Heck someone probably used the term on the podium at the MTV Awards last night. However I'm pretty sure no one in attendance there had really saved more lives than any human being in the history of the world. That was Norman Borlaug.

Who was Norman Borlaug? Well may you ask, since virtually no one recognizes his name anymore. Norman Borlaug was a poor Iowa farm boy who grew up during the depression. He spent his entire life finding ways to feed the world's poorest peoples. It's thanks to him that true famines don't exist on Earth anymore. Or at least not naturally-occurring famines. There are still plenty of politically-manufactured famines on Earth (Ethiopia, Durfur), but those are a topic for another day.

Borlaug is famous for developing semi-dwarf strains of wheat and rice, which increased yields six-fold. The head of the UN World Food Program remembered him as one of the great champions in the fight against hunger.

Teabagger sign: Go junta, go!

9-12 Tea Party - 116, originally uploaded by derAmialtebloede.

The snake is a nice touch.

Teabagger wit: Triggers are for guns, not healthcare

Triggers guns 912dcCan you imagine the outrage if this sign showed up at a MoveOn rally instead of Saturday's tea party? 

I don't even want to think about what would have happened if an RNC counter-protester showed up with a sign riffing on the "watering the tree of liberty" with blood meme. The phrase has become a touchstone in militia circles, in part because Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh was sporting a tree of liberty tee when he was arrested.

It's refreshing when the powers that be retain a little perspective. The teabaggers in D.C. were peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional right to express some extreme views. Just because some of them espouse radical views doesn't diminish their right to express themselves.

[Photo by bospopp1, Creative Commons.]

September 13, 2009

Teabagger wit: Lyin' African

Zoo african lyin african

Easy prey for LATFT.