Thursday, February 28, 2013

Only 22 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans

The headline is not surprising, given the insane way the Republican party now presents itself.  The extremist far right wing Bubble Dwellers (BD's) have done in the GOP, but they don't realize it and actually think most Americans agree with them. Three new polls tell the story (but don't expect the BD's to believe them -- they live in their own world, encased in a Big, Thick Plastic Bubble, through which no sound of truth can penetrate).  For the rest of the country, the following news stories tell what the majority is thinking:

For the first time, a majority of Americans now say the Republican Party is too extreme, according to a poll released Thursday by CNN/ORC.

Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP's views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme.

Democrats were considered to be a "generally mainstream" party by 57 percent in the new poll. 

Americans also say that they have far more confidence in President Barack Obama than in congressional Republicans, and that Republicans should compromise more in finding bipartisan solutions.

HuffPost Pollster, which tracks all publicly available polling, puts Obama's approval rating at about 53 percent, with about 43 percent disapproving. Congressional job approval hovers at just under 14 percent -- a high for the year.

According to two other new polls, most Americans are in favor of President Obama’s approach to key issues like the budget, gun control and immigration.

A USA Today/Pew Research poll released Thursday shows Obama with a strong lead over Republicans in Congress on gun policies (45-39 percent), the budget deficit (45-38 percent), immigration (50-33 percent) and even climate change (47-26 percent).

“On many of the issues, President Obama has staked out positions that seem to be closer to the public’s thinking than the positions Republicans have staked out,” said Michael Dimock, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, in a statement on the poll. “The challenge for him is in building the public’s sense of immediacy on some of these issues, particularly on climate change and guns.”

In addition, the poll finds that only 22 percent of Americans even identify themselves as Republicans, almost a record low.

A Bloomberg poll from Wednesday had similar findings, with Obama’s approval ratings reaching a three-year high at 55 percent, while just 35 percent have a favorable view of Republicans. From Bloomberg:


TIME magazine aritcle: Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

An important article for all to read!

I heard an interview with the author on NPR's Diane Reims show yesterday -- there were lots of call-ins from people with their own medical cost horror stories.  One of them was a doctor who said doctors are the victims, too. They are not the benefitors in the present health care setup.  The system itself is the problem, with too much waste and way too much profit going to the corporations who have elbowed their way into health care in our country -- and Medicare for all would be the perfect solution. He said Medicare works well -- much better than most of the insurance companies.  Boy, he's got that right!

If only there were more doctors like this sensible man.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Michelle Obama -- How DARE She????

Conservatives hate her -- with good reason -- she is way too good at everything she does!  How DARE she?  Just watch the video on the following link.  She's a disgrace to the world!  She should hide her head in shame!  She actually dares to get up and dance!!!!  Oh my God!  Whatever will she think of next to embarrass and humiliate our country?  Oh NO!  She actually appeared on the Oscars show!  Has she no shame at all????!!!!!!  The following article puts this all into perspective:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Catholic Church documents re. pedophilia are finally being released

and they point fingers at many priests -- and at Cardinal Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese.  Read the following article for more info.:

  Newly released church documents show the behind-the-scenes machinations of top officials within the Los Angeles archdiocese making decisions on how to deal with pedophile priests, hindering police investigations and saying, in private, something completely different than what they said in public.

The new HBO documentary about deaf boys who were molested for many years by Fr. Lawrence Murphy in a Wisconsin school for the deaf is called "Mea Maxima Culpa."  It is heart-rending to see the now grown men tell their stories in sign language of how they were molested by Murphy, and were unable to tell their parents because their parents didn't know sign language. These men were the ones who first raised the sexual abuse issue in the Church and were ignored by Church officials until they went public with their accusations. 

Another documentary that tells about other pedophilic priests is entitled "Deliver Us from Evil," now available on Netflix.  Both of these documentaries are highly recommended if you want to know more about how the Catholic Church has hidden voluminous knowledge about pedophilic priests from the public -- and from the parishioners whose children were being abused.  Information is now coming out in a deluge about how this has taken place in Catholic churches all over the world

It is now being acknowledged by priests tasked with counseling members of the priesthood that at least 50 percent of priests are sexually active, despite their vows of celibacy.
One favorite priest of Pope John Paul II was Fr. Marciel Maciel, a much-heralded and revered "holy man," especially close to the Pope.  It turns out he was one of the most outrageous of sexual deviates, often abusing young boys -- and has had several mistresses and is the father of several children. He was protected by Pope John Paul, by Pope Benedict, and by Cardinal Soldano (who many expect to be the next Pope).  The rock has been turned over, revealing an ugly, sinister underside in the Church. The story that is being revealed is entangling the reputations of popes, cardinals, and so-called "holy men" all the way down the line in the Catholic Church hierarchy.

One has to wonder if the resignation of Pope Benedict is not really being prompted by ill health but by something more sinister that is threatening to be revealed.


Friday, February 22, 2013

GREAT PLANNING! Man dies on way to wife's funeral

This story warmed my heart and gave me a wonderful laugh!  Brilliant planning, Norm! (~.~)  He saved money for his own funeral and he and Gwen got the last laugh together!  I think I can still hear them laughing in the Great Beyond... (~.~)

This undated handout photo provided by the Hendrickson Family shows Gwendoline Hendrickson, and her husband Norman Hendrickson in their backyard in Cambridge, N.Y. (Hendrickson Family/AP Photo)

Norman Hendrickson was known for telling jokes and never wasting money. So when he died suddenly while en route to his wife's funeral, the couple's daughters knew there was only one thing to do: Hold a doubleheader service.

The 94-year-old World War II veteran's impromptu wake was held Saturday at the same eastern New York funeral home where his wife Gwen's funeral was already scheduled. She was 89 when she died on Feb. 8. After Norman died just steps from the funeral home, the daughters decided their parents would be mourned together at the same time.

The daughters said it was a fitting way to say goodbye to a couple who had been together since meeting in Europe during World War II and who had been married for nearly 66 years.

"After we had a little time to process the shock and horror, we felt we couldn't have written a more perfect script," Norma Howland told the Post-Star of Glens Falls. "My sister said the only thing he didn't do was fall into the casket."

Norman, a former assistant postmaster in Cambridge, 35 miles northeast of Albany, was being driven in a limousine to the Ackley and Ross Funeral Home for his wife's service when he stopped breathing. After the limo pulled up, funeral director Jim Gariepy, who is also the local coroner, and funeral home owner Elizabeth Nichols-Ross helped move Norman to the sidewalk outside the business.

Gariepy began CPR while Nichols-Ross and one Norman's sons-in-law raced across town to retrieve his do-not-resuscitate orders from the Hendricksons' refrigerator door. Once the orders were in hand, an emergency crew that had arrived ceased attempts to revive Norman. He died on the sidewalk.

Nichols-Ross said daughter Merrilyne Hendrickson then requested that her father's body be put into a casket and placed in the viewing room with her mother's cremated remains, which had been placed in an urn. Mourners who started arriving soon after for Gwen's funeral were greeted by a note Merrilyne posted at the entrance: "Surprise — It's a double header — Gwen and Norman Hendrickson — Feb. 16, 2013."

Nichols-Ross said she didn't charge the family for Norman's wake. On his prayer card, she jokingly wrote that Hendrickson got the idea to die in the limo headed to the funeral so he could get "a buy-one-get-one-free deal."

"If it had happened with somebody else like this it would have been sad, but with Norm it wasn't," Nichols-Ross said. "It was just so much like Norm."

Norman was overseas with the U.S. Army when he met Gwen, who was serving in the British Royal Air Force. She immigrated to the U.S. and they were married in May 1947.

Howland said her parents had jokingly promised to never leave one spouse behind. After her mother died, Howland said she overheard her father say aloud, "We have had a good long life together. I love you. I'll miss you and watch for me."


Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Way Things Are...

But the Obama-blaming far right wingers won't ever acknowledge or admit it. 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dr. tells more about dangers of fluoride

Dr. Kennedy states on his website:

"One of California’s highest paid and most prolific Fluoridation advocate admits that giving an infant a formula made with fluoridated tap water will overdose the baby and cause the teeth to come in spotted and fluorotic. One can only wonder why such insanity persists in our country when it has been banned in so many other more advanced democracies."

While the CDC has hailed fluoridation as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century, the evidence is stacking up against such a proclamation. Scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity," and 25 studies have now reported an association between fluoride exposure and reduced IQ in children — including a recent study out of Harvard, in which the authors noted:

"The results support the possibility of an adverse effect of high fluoride exposure on children's neurodevelopment."


Friday, February 15, 2013


Oh my god, Republicans are going against the public interest! What a shock! (Not!) So, what else is new?

Senate Republicans Take a Stand Against the Public Interest

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AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Chuck Hagel, a former two-term GOP senator from Nebraska and President Obama’s choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.

By Robert Scheer

It is bizarre that Chuck Hagel, a war hero with a long record of sensible views on the deployment of military power, gets blocked by Republicans...

The irony in the rejection of Hagel by some senators is that he has been a victim of the irrational application of military power. Hagel, severely wounded during the Vietnam War that few today would argue ever made any national security sense, has long urged caution in foreign military involvement. Hawks complain that he opposed the surge in the U.S. presence in Iraq after having at first gone along with the war. Hagel should be admired for having honored the “fool me once” maxim in not wanting to escalate an invasion justified by blatant lies, but instead his prudence has been scorned.

The case is the same with Hagel’s courage to dare to suggest that Israel’s outsized influence on U.S. Mideast policy may be counterproductive to efforts to find a way to end almost a half-century of occupation of the Palestinian people. There are plenty of well-informed citizens on the front lines in Israel who would agree, but few in ruling U.S. political circles.   

The Republicans have turned on Hagel because he dared turn on them in the 2008 election when he refused to endorse Sen. John McCain. All other objections to his nomination are just noise, and what is really at issue is the failure to consider the national interest in its most dangerous manifestation: the waging of war.  Republicans still seem determined to derail the Hagel nomination. It is clear that their motivation in both confirmation processes is nothing but partisan and that the public interest will once again be ignored.


OOPS - GOP mistake! Minimum Wage should be DOUBLED

Of course, the right wing is against raising the minimum wage. Anything that would improve life for the poor and middle class gets an automatic NAY! from them, while anything that will give more $$ to the wealthiest class always gets their AYE.  In trying to make a point for keeping the minimum wage where it is, one of those idiotic right wingers actually made the case for raising it -- and raising it much higher than Obama had suggested!  These right wing people live in a Bubble -- of Idiocy.  Some of them couldn't even vote for the Violence Against Women Act, which, thankfully, did pass.  Can you imagine that these guys are actually FOR violence against women?!!!!!!

OOPS: GOP Rep. Inadvertently Makes The Case For Nearly Doubling The Minimum Wage

President Obama’s State of the Union proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and index it to inflation so that it keeps up with growth in the economy was quickly rebuked by top Republicans like Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who claim the minimum wage will kill jobs and hurt small businesses.

Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) chose a different reason to oppose the proposal today. A stronger minimum wage, Blackburn said, would negatively affect the ability of young workers to enter the workforce as teenagers, and would prevent them from learning responsibility like she did when she was a teenage retail employee making a seemingly-measly $2.15 an hour in Mississippi:

BLACKBURN: What we’re hearing from moms and from school teachers is that there needs to be a lower entry level, so that you can get 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds into the process. Chuck, I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.

Making $2.15 an hour certainly does sound worse than today’s minimum wage, which federal law mandates must be at least $7.25 an hour. But what Blackburn didn’t realize is that she accidentally undermined her own argument, since the value of the dollar has changed immensely since her teenage years. Blackburn was born in 1952, so she likely took that retail job at some point between 1968 and 1970. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, the $2.15 an hour Blackburn made then is worth somewhere between $12.72 and $14.18 an hour in today’s dollars, depending on which year she started.

At that time, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s terms. Today’s minimum wage is equivalent to just $1.10 an hour in 1968 dollars, meaning the teenage Blackburn managed to enter the workforce making almost double the wage she now says is keeping teenagers out of the workforce.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Truth about the Prehistoric GOP

By Steve Erickson

he Republican Party is a presidential election away from extinction. If it can’t win the 2016 contest, and unless it has bolstered its congressional presence beyond the benefits of gerrymandered redistricting—which is to say not only retaking the Senate but polling more votes than the opposition nationally—the party will die. It will die not for reasons of “branding” or marketing or electoral cosmetics but because the party is at odds with the inevitable American trajectory in the direction of liberty, and with its own nature; paradoxically the party of Abraham Lincoln, which once saved the Union and which gives such passionate lip service to constitutionality, has come to embody the values of the Confederacy in its hostility to constitutional federalism and the civil bonds that the founding document codifies. The Republican Party will vanish not because of what its says but because of what it believes, not because of how it presents itself but because of who it is when it thinks no one is looking.  

The contention by some that the GOP has an identity crisis is nonsense. It’s hard to remember any political organization in the last half century that had a clearer idea of itself. The party’s problem isn’t what it doesn’t know but what everyone else does know, which is that—as displayed in Congress on Tuesday night at the president’s State of the Union address, when Republicans could barely muster perfunctory support for the most benign positions favoring fair pay and opposing domestic violence—the party apparently despises women, gays, Latinos, African Americans, the poor, and the old. The more indelible this impression becomes, the more impossible it will be for even an estimable candidate, be it Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, or the now famously desiccated Marco Rubio, to transcend the party that nominates him. This isn’t to say that the argument for limited government will die with the party. It has been part of the American conversation since James Madison and Alexander Hamilton squared off over the Constitution in 1789, with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams each in their corners holding the coats of their respective protégés. The intent of the argument, however, has changed from an essential advocacy of freedom to retribution against the weak.  


The Republican Party was born of the most righteous of purposes, which was the containment and eventual elimination of slavery. Trumping the party’s love of the free market was the insistence that a human being should not be one of that market’s commodities: FREE LABOR, FREE LAND, FREE MEN was the party’s manifesto in the 1850s. Four decades after Lincoln, the party under Theodore Roosevelt believed that the captains, colonels, and generals of industry who most profited from the market had become the market’s biggest threat and needed to be constrained for the market’s sake. In the 1960s the candidacy of Barry Goldwater represented not the birth of modern corporate conservatism as later embodied by President Ronald Reagan and then Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, and Eric Cantor, but a libertarianism more practical and less unhinged than the present-day version. Sometime in the last 30 years, however, the party became a flack to corporate culture at the expense of either freedom or individualism, and as the country grows more economically oligarchic, the Republican Party that best reflects that oligarchy loses political credibility with the public.  

What the current party shares in its collective psychosis with the party of the ’60s is its yearning for martyrdom. If it’s true that what hold on power the GOP still has lies in congressional districts more and more resembling outliers—a power that will die off as figuratively as the constituents of those districts die off literally—it’s also true that many in the party are gripped by the death wish that thrills all martyrs and leaves them moist for self-annihilation. These Republicans have a different notion from other modern political parties of what a party is supposed to be. They don’t see a party as a coalition of disparate interests having just enough in common that together everyone gets what they need, if not what they want. Republicans believe that, definitionally, a party signifies principles so unyielding that any compromise of anything at all renders the party meaningless. Nothing better indicates the theocratic personality of the party than that the very notion of coalition is corrupt, even debased, like a congregation that allows infidels in its ranks. In the last couple of weeks a national poll reported that by three to two, Democrats are willing to compromise on certain things in order to achieve other, larger things. Among Republicans, the numbers are exactly the reverse. It’s not unreasonable that true believers conclude Karl Rove—as responsible as any single person for what the party has become—is now a hack, given that he is one and always has been, and given what for true believers is the rather belated revelation that Rove loves power for its own sake which, whatever else may be so, can’t be said of the party’s zealots.   

Self cannibalization is the instinct of such movements. The more desperate the Republican Party becomes, the more voraciously it devours its Robespierres, Dantons, Héberts, if such comparisons don’t unduly flatter the romantic delusions of self-styled Republican Jacobins. Thus Senator Rubio’s superstardom is already on the descent, so blemished by his flirtations with reality not to mention with compassion on the matter of immigration reform that not only did he back away from the issue in his response to the president on Tuesday but it was necessary for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to offer another, purer response to Rubio’s tainted one. Thus the face of Hispanic Republicanism, however far beyond the oxymoronic such a concept lurches, isn’t Rubio on Tuesday night but Tuesday afternoon’s new hotshot Ted Cruz, senator from Texas for 43 days and attacking the character of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel so ruthlessly and without any facts that even fellow Hagel opponent John McCain objected. Thus the scowling response of congressional Republicans Tuesday night to the president’s clarion call on behalf of voting rights, which was last regarded as controversial 50 years ago by Southern segregationists and might have been considered in 2013 something of a gimme as far as applause lines go. Thus on further review the videotape reveals Speaker John Boehner—who initially stood with the rest of the country to applaud the victims of gun violence during the State of the Union’s concluding litany—looking out nervously at his seething and largely unmoved caucus (which leads him far more than he leads them) and, realizing the error of his heart, taking his seat again halfway through the honor roll of the dead, by the time the president got to Tucson.


Heartless Fox News ridicules 102-year-old woman

A 102-year-old African American woman waited for 3 hours to vote in Florida and was pointed to with praise by Obama at the State of the Union speech.  What did Fox noise do?  Why, they mocked her, of course. Because that is what they do best.

Desiline Victor, a 102-year old woman, received a standing ovation during the State of the Union on Tuesday for her resolve to vote. Fox News hosts Brian Kilmeade, Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer, however, wondered what the "big deal" was.

Victor made two trips and waited three hours to vote in Miami in November. President Obama spoke about the need to protect voting rights during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, and pointed to Victor, who was there as a guest of Michelle Obama, as an example.

Kilmeade, MacCallum and Hemmer did not seem to think she deserved one, though. Speaking on Kilmeade's radio show on Thursday, MacCallum said that the issue had no place in the State of the Union because it could be handled on the "municipal level… Get the town council on that one."

"How long was she on line?" Hemmer asked.

"What's the big deal? She was happy," MacCallum argued. "She waited on line, she was happy that she voted."    "They held her up as a victim!" Hemmer alleged. "What was she the victim of? Rashes on the bottom of her feet?"

See photo of Desiline Victor below.


Mass extinctions taking place on our planet

Geoengineering (chemtrails, etc.) is causing manipulation of the ocean currents/jet stream and is dangerously harming our planet and its atmosphere.  Please listen to the following audio.  We are now in cataclysmic mode on Earth, but who is paying attention????  This is not being covered by our major media. On this audio/visual, you will hear about how fast the ice on our planet is disappearing and how methane is being released, causing more heating of the temperature.  It can't remain hidden for more than just a few more months, because the ramifications of our imploding environment are becoming so obvious.  Our ocean is acidifying and 93% of fish stock is disappearing.  "We are on a jet engine ride to a whole new reality."  Our leaders are living ib bubbles, with a lack of deductive reasoning, with no comprehension of the damage they are causing. Soil microbes are being killed off, and fungus is moving in, causing the killing off of trees, plants, insects, birds and mammals (including humans, of course!).  We Earth humans are in freefall to an unknown reality.

"I Believe the Planet is in Full-Blown Meltdown"  (climate change investigator Russ Tanner)

According to the UN Environment Program, the Earth is in the midst of an acute mass extinction event. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plants, insects, birds and mammals become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 to 10,000 times the "natural" or "background" rate and, say many biologists, is greater than anything the world has experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65m years ago.

The audio is a teleconference call between Russ Tanner (Global Skywatch) and Dane Wigington (WIWATS/Activist), with accompanying slideshow by John Massaria. These calls happen every Monday at 7:30 central time and can be accessed through Russ' fb page. Please join us!

The discussion centers on scientific research into the mass geoengineering and why the spraying of the skies is occurring around the world.

Learn - and more importantly - *do* something about the Chemtrails being sprayed. Learn the details here in this short video clip.

UN Environment Program: 200 Species Extinct Every Day, Unlike Anything Since Dinosaurs Disappeared 65 Million Years Ago.

Video (about 28 mins):

For more Chemtrails videos, click here

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our screwed up health system

By Steve Jones, NBC News

Consumers looking to buy a new car or a computer can shop around for the right price, but when it comes to health care, it's difficult to even find out ahead of time how much a procedure will cost. And when patients do find out, the cost can vary by thousands of dollars, depending on the hospital, according to a study released on Monday.

Researchers at the University of Iowa set out to see if they could learn, and then compare, the price of a common procedure -- hip replacement -- at hospitals across the United States. Of those they surveyed, only 16 percent could immediately provide a complete price, including the doctor's fees and hospital costs, for the procedure. And 47 percent of the hospitals came up with a figure only after health care providers were separately contacted.

When price estimates for the widely performed procedure were given, they ranged from $11,100 to $125,798, reported the study, which was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in its publication, JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Hospitals still have a long way to go to provide total transparency in pricing,” Jaime Rosenthal, one of the study's authors, told NBC News. “It was surprising, we either didn’t get the information, or it was extremely difficult to get.”

Rosenthal, of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, in Iowa City, and colleagues randomly selected two hospitals from each state and Washington, D.C., that perform total hip replacements, as well as 20 top-ranked orthopedic hospitals, to request the “bundled price” for the procedure for an uninsured patient with the financial means to pay out of pocket. She said they chose to survey hospitals on hip replacement because it is a common procedure with over 200,000 performed each year in the U.S.

“We found that price estimates varied nearly 10-fold across hospitals, which is surprising considering that all hospitals were provided with standardized information about the procedure being requested,” researchers wrote in the study.

According to the results, nine top-ranked hospitals (45 percent) and 10 non-top-ranked hospitals (10 percent) were able to provide a complete bundled price. Researchers also were able to obtain a complete price estimate from an additional three top-ranked hospitals (15 percent) and 54 non-top-ranked hospitals (53 percent) by contacting the hospitals and physicians separately.

At top-ranked hospitals the complete price ranged from $12,500 to $105,000 and at non-top-ranked hospitals prices ranged from $11,100 to $125,798, according to the study results. “Our results demonstrate that many health care providers are not able to provide reasonable price quotes,” the study concludes.

“There is no justification for the inability to report a fee estimate, or a 12-fold price variation for a common elective procedure like a hip replacement,” wrote Andrew Steinmetz and Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania, in a related commentary to the study.

A spokeswoman for the American Hospital Association said that sharing price information about procedures is difficult because "hospital care is unique and based on each individual patient’s needs. Additionally, patients’ final out-of-pocket costs could can be higher or lower than their neighbors’ – even when they’ve undergone the same procedure – depending on their type of insurance. To get the most meaningful information, we encourage consumers to talk with their physician, hospital and insurance company."

Dr. John Santa, who heads the magazine Consumer Reports’ Health Ratings Center, said the study highlights a problem with the U.S. health-care industry. “Consumers have no option but to shop around … doctors won’t tell you the price until they know the (patient’s) insurer and the type of coverage.”

He compared it to the used-car business. “They only want to know what you can pay," he said. "At least when you are buying a car, you can walk away.”

Dr. Jeffrey Rice, a former physician and attorney in Nashville, Tenn., says it's traditionally been difficult for patients to find and compare prices on health care services. He set up a group called Healthcare Blue Book to help people compare prices. According to his data, the cost of a hip replacement can vary from $19,500 to $43,875, with a “fair” price of $21,148.

“Typically, many hospitals can’t give price estimates, certainly not binding ones,” he said. “If you are buying a new computer or a cell phone, you know what you’re looking for, but with hip replacement you don’t even know where to start.”

Another consumer advocacy group, Public Citizen, noted that health care costs in the United States are higher than in any other industrialized nation. “Some people argue that the free market is the way to go,” said Dr. Michael Carome, who is deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “But in a free market you can compare (prices).”


Saturday, February 09, 2013

Interesting and Important: Death Cafe's-one is in Sonoma

Finally, a place to talk about an important subject that is being mostly ignored in our society.  I'd love to see one of these cafes open in Santa Cruz:


Apocalypse is upon us, but most don't see it

When we take seriously what physics, chemistry and biology tell us about the health of the living world on which we depend, we all should be thinking apocalyptically. Look at any crucial measure of the ecosphere -- groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number and size of "dead zones" in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity, and the ultimate game-changer of climate disruption -- and ask a simple question: Where we are heading? Scientists these days are talking about tipping points and planetary boundaries, about how human activity is pushing the planet beyond its limits.
Are All Apocalyptic Now
by Robert Jensen

We are all apocalyptic now, or at least we should be, if we are rational.

Because "apocalyptic" is typically associated with religious fanaticism and death cults -- things that rational people tend not to take literally or seriously -- this claim requires some explanation.

First, a definition: The term is most commonly used in reference to the Book of Revelation, also known as The Apocalypse of John, the final book of the Christian New Testament. The two terms are synonymous in their original meaning - "revelation" from Latin and "apocalypse" from Greek both mean a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something that had been hidden.

Second, the formulation "we are all (fill in the blank) now" has long been a way to assert that certain ideas have become the norm: "We are all Keynesians now," said Milton Friedman in 1965, for instance, or to express solidarity: "We are all New Yorkers now," said many non-New Yorkers after 9/11.

Rather than claiming divine inspiration, we can come to greater clarity about the desperate state of the ecosphere and its human inhabitants through evidence and reason. It is time for a calm, measured apocalypticism that recognizes that the ecosphere sets norms, which we have ignored for too long, and that we need to develop a new sense of solidarity among humans and with the larger living world.

So, speaking apocalyptically need not leave us stuck in a corner with the folks predicting lakes of fire, rivers of blood or bodies lifted up to the heavens. Instead, it can focus our attention on ecological realities and on the unjust and unsustainable human systems that have brought us to this point.

This "revelation" is simple: We've built a world based on the assumption that we will have endless energy to subsidize endless economic expansion, which was supposed to magically produce justice. That world is over, both in reality and in dreams. Either we begin to build a different world, or there will be no world capable of sustaining a large-scale human presence.

If that's not clear: When we take seriously what physics, chemistry and biology tell us about the health of the living world on which we depend, we all should be thinking apocalyptically. Look at any crucial measure of the ecosphere -- groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number and size of "dead zones" in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity, and the ultimate game-changer of climate disruption -- and ask a simple question: Where we are heading? Scientists these days are talking about tipping points and planetary boundaries, about how human activity is pushing the planet beyond its limits.

If we look honestly at the state of the world, it is difficult not to conclude that we are in end times of sorts -- not the end of the physical world, but the end of the First-World way of living and the end of the systems on which that life is based.

I know that invoking the terms "apocalypse" and "end times" triggers many people's experiences with arrogant religious people who preach about deliverance fantasies. My message is not about a rapture that can be predicted, but about ruptures in the ecological and social fabrics that are underway and accelerating.

No matter how carefully I craft these statements -- no matter how often I deny a claim to special gifts of prognostication, no matter now clearly I reject supernatural explanations or solutions -- many people refuse to take this analysis seriously. Some people joke about "Mr. Doom and Gloom." Others suggest that such talk is no different than conspiracy theorists' ramblings about how international bankers, secret cells of communists, or crypto-fascists are using the United Nations to create a one-world government.

Even the most measured and careful talk of the coming dramatic change in the place of humans on Earth leads to accusations that one is unnecessarily alarmist, probably paranoid and certainly irrelevant in serious discussions about social and ecological issues. In the United States, people expect talk of the future to be upbeat, based on those assumptions of endless expansion and perpetual progress, or at least maintenance of our "way of life." Even those who realize the danger of such fanciful thinking are hesitant to speak too bluntly, out of fear of seeming crazy.

A calm apocalypticism is not crazy, but rather can help us confront honestly the crises of our time and strategize constructively about possible responses. We can struggle to understand -- to the best of our ability, without succumbing to magical thinking -- the state of the ecosphere and the impediments to sensible action in our societies.

This struggle to understand led me to write a short polemic, We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (in print and on Kindle). The book's message is simple: The big systems that structure our world, especially capitalism and the extractive economy, are incompatible with social justice and ecological sustainability. Those who have opportunities to write and speak out have a responsibility to articulate the radical analysis necessary to understand the problems and begin to identify solutions.

To think apocalyptically is not to give up on ourselves, but only to give up on the arrogant stories -- religious and secular -- that we modern humans have been telling about ourselves. Our hope for a decent future -- indeed, any hope for even the idea of a future -- depends on our ability to tell stories not of how humans have ruled the world, but how we can live in the world.

We are all apocalyptic now, whether we like it or not.


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Soldiers sick and dying from toxins in war

The most intelligent comment on this article came from one reviewer
, which is exactly the comment I was thinking as I read the article:
And of course the article makes no mention of the two elephants in the room. Depleted uranium contamination & the vaccine cocktail administered to all combatants. Neither does it discuss the effects of this toxic war environment on the occupied countries. Google "Iraq birth defects" for more information.  Also, see:
Gulf War Syndrome, Other Illnesses in Veterans May Be Due to Toxic Environments   (D'oh!  The light dawns! But, of course, no mention is made of the toxic depleted uranium weapons our country used in the Gulf Wars, poisoning our soldiers along with polluting the entire area. It took years and years for Agent Orange to be acknowledged by the government as the cause of Vietnam vets' many illnesses and deaths after that war. Do you really think the government will now admit to poisoning the Gulf War vets, too? Yet, that is exactly what they did. Read all about the warnings given by doctors serving in the Gulf Wars at the time -- warnings that were ignored and ridiculed. Truth may take a long time coming, but eventually it does arrive at the doorstep. Our country has MUCH to answer for karmically. We are not the pristine, lily-white champions of the world that we purport to be. The public has been fooled, as they raise their rah-rah flags in tribute to the "good, old U.S. of A." So much has been hidden. So much...for so long a time. )

Monday, February 04, 2013

Zero: An Investigation into 9/11

Excellent Italian documentary. For open-minded, curious people able to see through all the holes of the "official" story (no doubt, the same folks who have been questioning the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations for the last 50 years).

From Forbidden
This is the most comprehensive film
about every exasperating detail about
the official story of 9/11 that simply
does not add up.

It was produced by an Italian production
company and funded completely by
donations of hundreds of people, who
wanted to know the truth.

It features Sibel Edmonds, Ross Wittemberg,
Barbara Honegger, Daniel Hopsicker, David
Ray Griffin and Webster Tarpley -- speaking
surprisingly good Italian for his interview.

Video (about 105 mins):


Saturday, February 02, 2013

Senator has near-death experience

Good story.  The Republican junior senator from Illinois, Sen. Mark Kirk, had a visit from 3 angels during his stroke last year.  It's interesting to me that a brain surgeon (Dr. Eben Alexander), a brain scientist (Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor) and now a senator have had these experiences -- and are telling about them.  All of them say it changed their life forever.  They now see things differently, with a feeling that all humanity is One.  Wouldn't it be great if everyone could have an experience like this?  It would change our world!  The only way a skeptic like Michael Shermer (head of the skeptics magazine) would ever agree that we are more than our body and our mind is to have a near-death experience himself.  Even then, he'd probably feel more responsibility to the skeptics of the world than to his own experience and would label it as a "brain aberration" or some such thing. Shermer is proof that it's definitely possible to be TOO skeptical for one's own good.