Friday, August 17, 2007
Medical Tragedy of the Day
A man threw his seriously ill wife four stories to her death because he could no longer afford to pay for her medical care, prosecutors said in charging him with second-degree murder. —Associated Press
I've read several accounts of this, and there's a great deal still unknown. Commenters on blogs are asking if this was a case of assisted suicide. We'll probably never know.
Stanley Reimer, the husband, was an accountant. His assessment of their financial situation in the face of his wife's many needs should be accurate.
Now comes a story suggesting that Reimer had, or had developed, some extreme medical needs of his own. One sister-in-law, Terri Metrano, is quoted to say, "He seemed pretty unstable. He said he was afraid of me.” Another sister-in-law, Vicki Jones, said, “I was scared to death. I did not want him around her. He just got scary. It was like we just didn’t know him anymore.” Paranoid ideation? Whose? Did the change the sisters noticed in Stanley Reimer come about as a response to the financial crisis?
For whatever happened we may be sure of this: The cost of the police, the prosecutors, the public defender, the medical examiner, the court-appointed psychiatrist, the jail guards, the private company that provides the bologna sandwiches to inmates, the prorated construction and maintenance of the jail facility itself, and the estimated $25 thousand or so per year for each year that Stanley Reimer spends in prison if he's convicted of murder would have been more than adequate to pay for Christe Reimer's medical care.
All of this will be paid for by the government through some mix of local, state and federal funds. It is very odd that Americans hate "socialized medicine" but seem to have no problem with socialized imprisonment.
Coming on the heels of Michael Moore's "Sicko," this case has the potential to make the American healthcare system and its political enablers take to their beds. It's about time they received some treatment.
No Free Lunch gets a table (9/25/05)
Socialism 101: Finland (10/26/05)
Sweden fixes its teeth (12/7/05)
First American graduate from Cuban medical school (8/26/05)
Healthcare costs: The deception continues (4/25/06)
Factlet of the Day (6/3/06)
Cuban Immigration Plan of the Day (8/8/06)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Why can't the CIA get it right?
We all know about the disastrously wrong National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) under the aegis of CIA Director George Tenet that helped the Bush administration propel the U.S. into an invasion of a sovereign nation. But you'd think they could find out who's the Prime Minister of America's closest ally and co-perpetrator of war crimes. Apparently not.
The Guardian's "Backbencher," a political gossip, asks "Do they know something we don't?" and writes,
The CIA is still under the impression that Tony [Blair] is still in charge. Yes, Britain - you know, the country that's slightly smaller than Oregon - is still led by Anthony [Tony] Blair, according to the last CIA World Factbook update on July 19. The Backbencher knew there were some issues around the agency's handling of intelligence - but really, this takes the WMD.
Now comes the news that the CIA has been editing entries in Wikipedia. I've linked Wikipedia as a reference a number of times. But if it contains information provided by the CIA, I may have to alter the practice—they have such a poor track record for accuracy.
It occurs to me, however, that there's still a way the CIA might make substantial improvements to their intelligence product: Instead of hiring drunken spooks, they might search the English or Journalism departments for some really good copy editors.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Underreported Story of the Day
On Wednesday night, after the police recorded a formal statement made by Ms. Aeriel identifying Mr. Carranza, they obtained an arrest warrant and descended on the street in Orange where he lives. About two dozen officers went house to house, said one neighbor, Pauline Bourne, “tearing right through them.” —Kareem Fahim and Andrew Jacobs writing in "Man and Youth Held in Killings of 3 in Newark"
I've yet to hear of an arrest warrant (or search warrant, for that matter) that authorized the police to go from house to house "tearing right through them."
The man being sought, Carranza, lived in an immigrant neighborhood, and immigrants are unlikely to protest such official lawlessness.
The story of the 4 young people shot execution style behind a school in Newark, New Jersey, has received extensive coverage and is one of those stories guaranteed to enrage the public. Terrible as the crime was, police actions such as this are a far greater threat. Reminds one of Baghdad, doesn't it?
Potential Disaster of the Day
Sandwiched between the powerful San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, the Coachella Valley could be the epicenter of the most devastating earthquake in the country, one that is already 300 years overdue, a government scientist warned.... —David Kelly writing in "Scientist makes dire earthquake prediction"
A likely scenario would have a magnitude-7.8 earthquake strike in the Salton Sea, extending north and west toward Palmdale. Jones predicted the shaking could last more than 100 seconds, kill thousands, destroy homes, collapse the I-10 and I-15 freeways, ignite petroleum pipelines and leave untold thousands homeless in potentially searing desert heat. The long-term effects, she said, could be akin to the economic collapse of New Orleans and the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina.
"This will have long-term economic implications across the nation," she said.
It would be even worse should the quake hit during Santa Ana winds, possibly adding fires as another major element to the disaster, Jones said.
Jones said Los Angeles would not be spared. The tremendous forces released by the slipping faults would send shock waves through the earth that could easily collapse tall buildings in Los Angeles the way the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake ... collapsed the Bay Bridge between Oakland and San Francisco about 50 miles away.
"This is a whole new level of disaster," she said.
The article doesn't mention what preparations have been made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That may be because DHS's emergency planning is now done in secret.
Spencer S. Hsu wrote this understated report last week—
A decision by the Bush administration to rewrite in secret the nation's emergency response blueprint has angered state and local emergency officials, who worry that Washington is repeating a series of mistakes that contributed to its bungled response to Hurricane Katrina nearly two years ago.
State and local officials in charge of responding to disasters say that their input in shaping the National Response Plan was ignored in recent months by senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials, despite calls by congressional investigators for a shared overhaul of disaster planning in the United States.
"In my 19 years in emergency management, I have never experienced a more polarized environment between state and federal government," said Albert Ashwood, Oklahoma's emergency management chief and president of a national association of state emergency managers.
The disagreement over the plan comes at a time of increasing mistrust between Washington and state homeland security officials. In recent months, they have sparred over dwindling federal grants, the adequacy of local intelligence-gathering efforts and what states regard as Washington's reluctance to share information about potential threats.
Federal officials, Ashwood said, appear to be trying to create a legalistic document to shield themselves from responsibility for future disasters and to shift blame to states. "It seems that the Katrina federal legacy is one of minimizing exposure for the next event and ensuring future focus is centered on state and local preparedness," he said.
John R. Harrald, a professor at George Washington University's Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management, cautioned that shutting out state and local voices during the plan's preparation would be ill-advised. He said that the administration appears "to be guided by a desire to ensure centralized control of what is an inherently decentralized process. . . . Response to catastrophic events requires collaboration and trust in a broad network of organizations."
The Bush administration collaborate? Surely he jests.