Drumbeat of War

John Bolton is at it again.  Watch the video and then please share !

From:  https://www.facebook.com/moveon/videos/2379403038949493/?v=2379403038949493

 

Posted in Trump, Uncategorized, war, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Measles Epidemic

CDC: vaccines for your children.

As of April 29, 2019,

CDC (Centers for Disease Control) officials say measles cases have broken a 25-year-old record, with at least 704 sickened by the highly contagious disease

More than 500 of the people infected with the measles virus were not vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized, and one-third of the cases are children under 5.

This year’s outbreak represents a huge setback for public health after measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.

Think about this: “more than 500 (of 704)  were not vaccinated”.

Think about the risk this represents to your children and grand children.  Unvaccinated individuals represent a potential public health hazard no different than people infected with scary bugs like Ebola, or Marburg virus, or HIV, etc.  When I was a kid in the 1950s our parents were scared of polio and small pox.  They were more than eager to get everyone in the family vaccinated.  They stood in long lines to get a polio vaccine.

Now we have an organized anti-vaccine campaign #anti-vax.  It latches on to scary reports such as the myth that vaccines cause autism, a multiply debunked theory based on a fraudulent British report.

My ire is reserved for those that try to gain political followers/clout by gaming the anti-vaccine movement.  Donald Trump is at the head of this list.  Just follow his tweets on the subject, or watch this

“Trump claims vaccines and autism are linked but his own experts vehemently disagree”

Ofcourse he has modified his position most recently for political expediency.

Now, he claims, he is all for vaccinating kids, but not in a “single massive dose”…?  When was the last time DT went to see a pediatrician?  It is many visits, all spaced out to maximize the effect for each vaccine: the protection, and the safety to the patient.  Donald should keep his ignorant mouth closed.  I don’t tell my car mechanic how to fix my car and Donald should not tell an army of federally funded experts how best to immunize the population.

As an immunologist (with 40+ years of professional experience) I can attest that vaccines have arguably saved more lives than any other medical intervention in the history of medicine!  Just think about eradicated scary diseases like polio and small pox.  And, yes, measles too was declared “eradicated” untill the likes of DT and his #antivax friends.  Their irresponsible tweets and messages are in part the reason why measles has made a comeback.  Let them go live on an quarantined island far away, together with small pox, and polio, and measles and every other nasty bug.

The science of vaccines is best left to the experts.  The pathogens are always evolving and changing.  Take influenza for example, for which we get a new vaccine every year.  Vaccine recommendations for children and adults are also constantly modified and it is challengeing for health care providers to keep updated.  Politicians and political advocates such as #antivax ‘ers, have no role in this process.

 

Read more here:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/rfk-jr-has-spread-dangerous-misinformation-about-vaccines-his-family-says-2019-05-09

 

 

Posted in Health Care, Trump, Uncategorized, vaccines | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Trump era feels like a state of emergency

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Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31287805@N04/37680955841/

 

Letter published in the Boston Globe Sunday, April 28, 2019:

Continue the unfinished business of the Mueller Report

Liz Goodwin and Jess Bidgood’s article “Peril for Trump in Mueller aftermath” (Page A1, April 21) was a relief. The Mueller report confirms the need to keep investigating Donald Trump’s wrongdoings. Congress has been handed a directive to continue the unfinished business necessary to change the dangerous course this country is on due to a reality show called the Trump presidency.
Investigating the investigators is a smoke screen. Trump’s uncontrollable impulse to settle scores will cause him to self-destruct. Although he may not have colluded with the Russians’ election interference, he certainly collided with it and accepted the benefits. You don’t have to murder someone committing political suicide. Trump usually cites “everyone” when he tries to make up support for many of his ill-advised ideas. This time we all know he obstructed justice. Now we have a chance to do something about it and save our country.
We have come a long way from George Washington, who could not tell a lie, to a president who cannot tell the truth.
Steven A. Ludsin
East Hampton, N.Y.
Posted in Russian connection, Trump, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Deep Canvassing

What is “Deep Canvassing”?

Changing the Conversation Together (CTC) is an organization of concerned citizens working to combat the politics of hate and uphold checks and balances.

Using the evidence-based strategy of deep canvassing CTC played a critical role in helping Democrat Max Rose achieve an unlikely victory in New York’s 11th Congressional District.

Now, they will build on that success to mobilize a corps of deep canvassers in swing states to elect qualified and candidates in 2020.

 

Here is an example of Deep Canvassing puyblished in The Nation by Adam Barbanel-Fried who is a professional organizer with over 18 years of experience organizing throughout the United States and abroad.

The Conversations Democrats Need to Be Having

The danger of a continued Trump presidency is too dire to spend our limited resources on internal fights. April 12, 2019

This November, the day before the midterm election, I spoke with a retired police officer in Staten Island, New York, who’d voted for Trump. Let’s call him Tom. Tom didn’t regret voting for Trump. He was a Republican-leaning swing voter. Most progressives would have moved on. After a year of talking to swing voters in this swing district, however, I sensed tension within Tom.

“Are you satisfied with Trump when it comes to basic decency?… Does he meet the standard of decency you set for yourself?” I asked. Tom said no. We talked. We listened. We swapped stories. We bonded over shared concerns, specifically as fathers of daughters. As we bonded, he opened and allowed that Donald Trump is a nasty bully encouraging extremism. Eventually, Tom went from saying he didn’t regret voting for Trump, to joking that he voted for Trump in jest thinking Trump couldn’t win, to finally, uncomfortably, admitting that he couldn’t look his teenage daughter in the face and say he was proud of his choice. Originally leaning Republican, he found himself agreeing with the need for checks and balances and leaning Democratic.

The technique I was practicing in my 15-minute conversation with Tom is called “deep canvassing.” There is a growing body of work pointing to it as the way to engage swing voters and nonvoters, and move them in the progressive direction. While most door-to-door canvassing focuses on speedy interactions with your base to increase turnout, deep canvassing is a more relational form of voter engagement which leads to respectful conversation. It is also the most effective form of voter persuasion ever measured. In 2017, I and my colleagues launched Changing the Conversation Together, and spent 13 months “deep canvassing” swing voters helping Democrats win one of the biggest upsets in the midterms. We trained volunteers in storytelling, empathetic listening, and engaged conversation to help voters connect their personal experience to politics. We spoke to nearly 1,900 voters, helping the Democrat win Staten Island by 1,100 votes. Despite the trend to vote Democratic, our post-election study showed that the voters we canvassed were 14 percent more likely to vote and 20 percent more likely to vote Democratic than their non-canvassed neighbors.

In targeting voters traditionally neglected by Democratic campaigns, we exploded the myth that Trump voters are unmovable. While some fit that description, we also found Trump voters and nonvoters regretting their decisions. We met people with traditional leanings that hadn’t digested how the president emboldens hate groups and undermines a basic sense of decency. Many, upon reflection, were frightened by all the trends unleashed and agreed on the need to put these trends in check.

Since November, our young organization’s success has led to inquiries from around the country. Activists, organizations, and campaigns from Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and West Virginia have reached out for advice. Some traveled to New York to train with us. They, like us, want to do this work and want to do it now.

Meanwhile, the presidential election is 20 months away. Unfortunately, while scientific studies consistently show high-quality, in-person conversations outperforming every other form of voter engagement, the Democratic nominee will likely raise over $500 million and spend it mostly on TV ads in the few months before the election. Before the nominee is chosen, millions of dollars will be targeted at Democratic primary voters, but most of this activity will not engage the swing voters who frequently decide the general election. The eventual nominee will likely hastily assemble a team in the last three or four months of the campaign focused on mobilizing the Democratic base. While the midterms showed the Democratic nominee may have a good chance to win, incumbent presidents often bounce back from midterm losses to win reelection. In this high-stakes environment, there is important work to do.

Democrats, ask yourself this: With all that is at stake, are you going to wait until fall of 2020 to think about reaching swing voters who may decide the election? There are millions of volunteers who want to help—will they be offered the highest quality training to convert their energy into meaningful action?

While Democrats have an important decision to make about who can best lead them, the danger of a continued Trump presidency is too dire to spend our limited resources on internal fights. We need to start training volunteers and talking to prospective voters about what’s at stake now. We are getting to work. We hope we’re not the only ones.

Posted in Canvassing, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Panic or Empowerment? Brought to You by Greta, Alexandria, 1.6M+

 

Enlight77 

photos from their instagram

Feeling inspired?  I am. 

Thrilled, actually, to witness the clear clarion call to climate action….. by young people who have their whole lives to live, and so much to loose.

 

UNITE BEHIND THE SCIENCE, THAT IS OUR DEMAND

As stated by Greta Thunberg, who, at 15, started striking from school on Fridays for climate action, in front of the Swedish parliament, September 2018. 

 

COP24 FAILED US

SCHOOL STRIKE 4 CLIMATE

Signs by Alexandria Villaseñor, 13, who began her own one-student protest in front of the United Nations, December 2018.

Horrified by the smothering smoke and raging California fires last summer, Alexandria was channeled into action by Greta’s December You are Stealing our Future speech at the UN Climate Conference in Poland (COP24), and her subsequent interview: I am too young to vote.…But I can sit down with a sign and make my voice heard.  Greta, deeply depressed after learning of the looming 6th great extinction and climate change was, herself, motivated by students from Parkland, Florida, striking from school to call attention to common-sense gun-control legislation.

Now 16, Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and is featured in TIME (by Parkland’s Emma Gonzalez, no less) as one of the 100 most influential people of 2019.  

Alexandria, noticed by the media this past February, was asked to speak at the UN.  You can see the focus in this young lady through profiles in Teen Vogue, The Washington Post, CBS News.

She has joined forces with three other young women co-founding  US Youth Climate Strike, penning an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike by Maddy Fernands, Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman, Alexandria Villaseñor,

Sweden’s Greta, 16, New York’s Alexandria, 13, Minnesota’s Maddy, 16, and Isra, 16, Colorado’s Haven, 13, all found each other through social media. 

On a recent Friday I met Alexandria, camped out on “her bench” at the UN.   My friend Dorothy Reilly, founder of Southampton-based Drawdown East End, encouraged me to join her in a show of support.  So I trekked from Orient with my message-sign and chatted with Alexandria’s mother, Kristin Hogue, a graduate student in the Climate and Society program at Columbia University, and two visiting teachers from England and Germany, while Rolling Stone interviewed the lone school-striker.  Late in the afternoon we were joined by 6 teens from the Institute for Collaborative Education, each with a message on a hand-painted sign. 

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I found their passion and positivity heartening. 

In the focus, bravery and determination of these young women I see leadership. By taking a stand, by putting something they value on the line —their education—  by using their voice, connecting though social media, they have helped push climate change into the forefront of the national conversation.

 

TRUTH MATTERS

Don’t you think it is inspiring to see these young women, teens, girls, acting so empowered?  Not victims.  They just cut through all the gas-lighting by the self-dealing troika:  big oil, big money, big power. 

They see through the lies, excuses and information-withholding and, instead, substantiate reality with facts.  Alexandria is taking personal action, like recycling and eating less red meat.  She also says there needs to be a systemic change, as she told a reporter:  It does come to the point where I do realize that 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from 100 companies all around the world, and so that’s why you need more governmental action to combat climate change.

They call attention to the silence, the delay, the pretend ignorance.    Greta’s now famous: 

GROWNUPS HAVE FAILED US

YOU ARE STEALING OUR FUTURE

OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE

They bring up the on-going denial of the consequences of global warming, meant to keep us confused, off focus. Greta talks about the 6th great extinction.  She reminds us: 

11 YEARS

 

11 YEARS = 132 MONTHS = 4,015 DAYS

They speak up about the obvious.  Greta:  Treat climate change as a crisis. Do something about it. Change your own habits and put pressure on people in power.  Start living within planetary boundaries.

They point out the failure of leaders entrusted to meet agreed upon targets and the inadequacy of the agreements themselves.   Alexandria’s poster: 

COP24 FAILED US

They call out the guilt trip of you should .…be in school .…let adults handle this .…etc., etc. Greta:  Some people say I should be in school instead; some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ‘solve’ the climate crisis, but the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. And why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future?

Millions of students around the world are joining Fridays For Future.  They are showing us they have healthy boundaries.  They can say NO.   No, I will no longer pretend.  No — I will sacrifice my education to sit at a government building to pressure officials to act and meet the Paris Climate agreement goals.

And, what stabbed at my heart:  No, you will not put this on my generation to solve.

They empower themselves and students world-wide by stating their feelings, I want you to feel my panic, by facing the problem, face facts, by focusing on mutual interests, I’m fighting for OUR future, by insisting on objective criteria, listen to the scientists.

They are positioning their generation as problems solvers, offering options for mutual gain, joining forces with other notable voices like author Margaret Atwood, sustainable ocean advocate David Suzuki, PhD, forest restoration scientist Charlotte Wheeler, PhD, urging governments around the world to prioritize existing natural solutions to the climate crisis. 

I’m inspired.  This is what empowerment looks like.  Empowered young women. Wow.

How to support them?

VOTE.  We voters can vote.  We can encourage those who are 16 (who turned 16 by November 3, 2018 and will be 18 by November 3, 2020) to register to vote. PLEDGE TO VOTE encourages high school peer-to-peer voter registration. 

VOICE.  We can voice our support of #FridaysForFuture, #ClimateStrike, #ClimateCrisis with friends, letters to the editor, joining in.  We can follow #GretaThunberg, #AlexandriaVillaseñor and others, and get involved in the social discussion.  We can talk about climate change, the climate crisis, and solutions.

VISION.  We can empower ourselves with a positive vision for the future, and enact solutions.  We have just eleven years to reduce GHGs — greenhouse gas emissions — by 40%.  There are solutions that involve personal choice, community action, and local/state/national policy that avoid carbon emissions and multiply carbon sequestration.  There are solutions.  That is why I’m excited about helping start Drawdown East End at the Southampton Library.  Our mission statement, still in formation, is something like this: Inspiring, initiating and advancing local solutions from Drawdown: 100 solutions to reverse global warming, that bring about cascading economic, health and security benefits.

Our steering committee is meeting every Monday morning at the Rogers Memorial Library.  Soon we will have a program in place for the public to drop in, learn and take action.   Meanwhile, you can check out Paul Hawken’s inspiring, meticulously researched compendium Drawdown mapping the best practices and technologies already working to roll back global greenhouse gas emissions within 30 years.

 

MAY 24

1.6 MILLION

125 COUNTRIES

On Friday May 24 you can join us as we stand in front of Southampton Town Hall in solidarity with #FridaysForFuture and the millions of young people world-wide who are sacrificing their education to pressure town, state, national and international elected-officials to change our policies to meet the Paris Climate agreement goals ie. no more than 1.5*C (2.7*F) increase in global temperature, which would start to bring our polluted atmosphere back to healthy, balanced below 300ppm levels, as it was in the 1960s.

We support students striking privately at home, in front of government buildings, joining a #FridaysForFuture rally and, as the student-leaders themselves advocate:  Strike at school on a Friday.  Don’t skip class.  Ask teachers and principals to dedicate part of the day to the strike on a Friday to learn or do something about climate change. 

I think it’s only fair that we pass along to the 15 year olds of today a world with the carbon content we breathed at their age.  Don’t you?  For me that was about 315ppm.

Mary Morgan 

drawdowneastend@gmail.com

Posted in Air Pollution, climate change, Environment, Paris Climate Accord, Women | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Wendell Potter on ‘Medicare For All’

Medicare For All: A Conversation with Wendell Potter
by Francesca Rheannon
The campaign against Medicare For All is being fueled by health insurance cash to politicians.
The health insurance industry is mounting a full court press against Medicare For All. Former health insurance industry executive and whistleblower Wendell Potter says one big way they’re doing that is by making sure their talking points are repeated by politicians who have taken big donations from them.
Potter had an inside seat to the process when he was a health insurance executive for Cigna. He blew the whistle on the industry with his books, Deadly Spin and Nation On the Take. He went on to found the website Tarbell.org, which does investigative journalism on the healthcare industry.
I spoke with Wendell Potter for my radio show Writer’s Voice about the health industry’s talking points against Medicare For All and how he counters them. What follows is part of that interview, lightly edited for reading. I started out by asking Potter who were the different players in the health care industry that are involved in the campaign against Medicare For All.
Wendell Potter: There’s this front group that was formed last year by health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and big hospital chains through their trade associations, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, which is the for-profit hospital organization and they’re pooling their money–-all these parts of healthcare–-to finance collectively this campaign against Medicare for All.
Francesca Rheannon: Why are the hospitals against Medicare For All?
WP: The hospitals are against it because they’ve got a good thing going. One of the things I often tell people is that it’s not really accurate to think that health insurance companies are really all that much in the game to control healthcare costs. They’re not. They can’t, for one reason or another, nor do they have an interest in doing it, because the more healthcare costs go up, the more money they are able to demand from us in terms of premiums.
Hospitals are in on the game, in that, because health insurance companies cannot really control health care costs, the hospitals can pretty much have their way with them. So they like the system as it is. They get more money from private insurers than they do from the current Medicare program or from the Medicaid program, and it’s because of the weakness and the smallness of individual private insurance companies.
FR: So, what are the industry talking points that politicians, including some Democrats, are using?
WP: Some of the talking points are that this country can’t afford Medicare For All, that it would cost too much money and that so many Americans get their coverage through their workplace.
Those are talking points directly from the insurance industry and this partnership that I mentioned, to scare people, to make them think that this is really not something that we should strive for, that we shouldn’t even give it any consideration.
It is true, most Americans who are not enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid or some other public program do get their coverage through private insurers. That’s the way it’s been for in this country for many, many decades. But it doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. And the reality also is that many people who are enrolled—in fact probably a majority—of people enrolled in private insurance plans through their workplace, are finding that their coverage is increasingly less valuable, even though they’re paying more for it every single year.
So, I know that in reality a lot of people are very dissatisfied with what they’re getting for the high premiums they are paying and they’re having to pay more and more out of their own pockets these days for coverage, even if they have insurance. But that’s one of those talking points. It is to try to make policymakers and the public believe that for some reason our employer based system is sacred, that we can’t touch it.
FR: Yes. I remember the last time I got health insurance through an employer, they instituted a new program called Value Plus and I used to joke that it was more like Value Minus, because I was paying a lot more for a lot less.
WP: Right. In fact, my last CEO in the health insurance business, at Cigna, was asked by someone what kept him up at night and he said it is the worry that employers and individuals will wake up and question the value proposition of health insurers and I think employers and individuals are waking up to question-–and rightfully so: what value do the private insurers actually bring to this country? One of the things I used to have to do for a living was was to try to make people believe that we had a reason to exist, but increasingly employers in particular are questioning the reason why we have this middleman in the equation in the first place.
FR: Let’s go to some of the other talking points. Cheryl Bustos, the new head of the DCCC, has said that a $33 trillion price tag for Medicare For All is just too much.
WP: Well, that actually is only part of the number that this think tank–-actually a conservative think tank–-came up with. So she’s quoting that. But even that think tank said that is at least $2 trillion less over ten years than what it would be if we continue with the current system. So in other words, even that—yes, that’s a big number—but it’s over ten years, first of all. And what she did not say was that that would represent less money than the country would spend on healthcare if we go to Medicare For All than if we don’t.
The reality is that this year, we’ll spend three and a half trillion dollars on healthcare as a country. So if you multiply that by ten, you’ve already gotten over $30 trillion. And that is just based on the assumption that there will be no medical inflation, which of course you have to factor in. So if we stick with what we’ve got, we will be spending a lot more than $33 trillion over the course of the next ten years.
FR: Now, the third talking point is “think of all the jobs that are going to be lost for people who are processing all those claims—or denying all those claims.
WP: Right. And I think it’s a talking point to obscure the reality that the work that they do makes it, in many cases, impossible for the rest of us, the many millions of us, to get the care that we need. A lot of these folks, as you pointed out, are employed to try to avoid their companies paying claims. Because we have a multi-payer system, which is unique in the world, insurance companies not only have armies of employees who are in the business of determining whether or not someone should get coverage for whatever it is a doctor recommends, but you also, on the provider side, have to have armies of people who do nothing more than deal with insurance company bureaucrats day in and day out. So you’ve got these tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people who are employed in our healthcare system who do not do anything to make us better or to help us with our health. In fact, in many cases it keeps us from getting the care that we need.
Insurance companies have employed literally tens of thousands of nurses who are not providing care, but they are working for these big insurance companies, in many cases standing in the way of the care that we need, And medical doctors as well. So in my view, those folks have been trained as caregivers; they should be back at the bedside or providing care in offices, rather than making it more difficult for us to get care.
The other thing is that most of these big insurance companies have diversified over the years. They have other lines of business that are really quite profitable and are growing. So it’s a fallacy to say that they would go out of business if we move tomorrow to a Medicare For All plan.  Some people would need to be retrained and some, like doctors and nurses, could go straight away to work at a better place, in my opinion.
FR: Some of the 2020 Democratic candidates are saying that instead of Medicare For All, which is too hard to get, we should just go for universal coverage and that we can do it with the kinds of plans that, let’s say, Switzerland has or Germany or Holland, where there are private nonprofit insurance companies that the government pays and bargains with.” So what is the best way to do health care for all?
WP: I’ve heard that too. Obviously my response is, why in the world would you not want to do the best job? Why would you want to emulate another country that, yes, they have achieved universal coverage, but they’re kind of runners up with us in terms of how much they spend on healthcare. We spend almost $10,000 per person per year on health care, which is twice the average of other developed countries and we have worse outcomes than most of those countries, so we have very little to show for all that we’re spending. But Switzerland comes in second in terms of the amount of money that the country spends on healthcare. Germany’s not too far behind.
The thing that is distinctive about those countries is that the insurance companies or sickness funds, as they may be called, are heavily price regulated. They’re all nonprofit entities. And we moved far away from that kind of structure many decades ago. So insurance companies would be just as resistant to a proposal that would force them into nonprofit status as they are to Medicare for All.
Why do we want to do a half measure? Why do we want to postpone what is inevitable, which is moving to a single payer healthcare system? And it is the one system of those that are proposed that not only would get us to universal coverage but would save us the most money.
In fact, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated, policy makers knew that we needed to try to do something about healthcare costs, while also trying to achieve the goal of universal coverage. They decided during the Obama administration to go first for universal coverage and deal with healthcare costs later. We see now where we wound up. We wound up with a bill that does a great deal of good in terms of bringing a lot of us into coverage, but there’s still about 30 million of us who are uninsured.
And the other problem is that a fast growing percentage of us are under-insured, because of the way that law is structured, and the insurance industry has been going in the direction of moving every last one of us into high deductible plans. And increasingly, those of us who are low and moderate income have trouble meeting our deductible. So we go without care. That’s the definition of underinsurance. So why don’t we just do something that really gets us to where we need to be rather than just continuing to tinker with the system that has failed us for many years?
FR: And the other thing that I’ve heard coming out with some of the candidates are proposals to decrease the Medicare eligibility age to 55 or 50. In other words, an incremental approach. The other one is make it possible for businesses and people to buy into Medicare. What are your thoughts on those proposals?
WP: Well, you know, it would be better than not doing anything, I guess. But again, why do you want to settle for something that is not as good as you can try to get?
FR: Well, the reason is politics.
WP: The reason is politics. But as I said, you can expect as much resistance to that as you would to going boldly. In fact, an American historian was interviewed on TV not too long ago saying, if you look at American history or history broadly, you’ll see that sometimes it’s easier to achieve sweeping change by bold views than by incremental change. Incremental change can be incredibly tough to pull off. Sometimes bold measures are more successful.
But back to that specific proposal, instead of simplifying the system, it just adds greater complexity. And you would keep the insurance industry in place maybe indefinitely. It is our multi payer system and the complexity of our system that is at the heart of our problem with costs being out of control.
It also does nothing to curb the practice of the health insurance industry to limit the choice of doctors and hospitals we have in these so called limited or narrow networks that are in vogue among the companies. Almost all of them have limitations to the doctors and hospitals you can see. And they’re forcing you to pay more and more for prescription medications by putting more and more drugs in tiers that require that you pay more out of your own pocket. Why do we want to keep a system in place that makes us pay more for care out of our own pockets, even if we have insurance, and to pay more and more every year in premiums? That doesn’t make sense to me. And I can’t imagine why policy makers would propose that we keep a system like that in place just because it might be easier politically.
FR: This is affecting cancer drugs too, isn’t it?
WP: Yes. In fact, I draw your attention to a piece that is on Tarbell now written by a leading oncologist from MD Anderson in Houston about the cost of oncology drugs. And it’s just extraordinary what has happened to the price of pharmaceuticals broadly, but in particular for cancer drugs. And insurance companies are just largely on the sidelines because they are not large enough. None of them, even the biggest, have enough clout to really do anything to control drug prices. All they are able to do is require that we take one drug as opposed to another that our doctor might have recommended, or again, shift those medications into tiers that make us pay more. So they’re not controlling costs, they’re shifting more of the cost to us. And in many cases, as this doctor who wrote that piece pointed out to me, he has seen patients die for economic reasons. They just simply can’t figure out the resources to get the medications or the treatments that they need.

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Posted in Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The People You Meet Picking Up Beach Plastic

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Serenely beautiful, surreal, spiritual. 

Three weeks on the sugar-white sands of Tulum, contemplating the sometimes jade, sometimes topaz, sometimes evening blue Caribbean.  On days when the sea was perfectly flat and clear you could watch the sting rays and barracudas swimming around.  Yes, near you. 

My husband swam every day.  I sat under a big green shady coconut palm. 

Every morning I would pull a bag from my beach tote and for a few minutes collect all the plastics strewn along the high water mark.  Mostly straws, cigarette filters, broken colored plastics, an occasional water bottle.  I always filled up my bag. 

In mid-afternoon our favorite beach vendor would appear.  Jorge, the “coconut king” (anointed by an Hawaiian visitor, he told us), would saunter over in his faded cutoffs, straw hat, a bag of ripe cocos hoisted on his shoulder, a short machete in his belt, smiling.  Cold coconuts!  His secret, he said, was the special inland farm where he carefully hand selected 100 or so cocos each week, storing 20 overnight in his refrig.

I loved his friendly smile, but his most endearing feature, for me, was:  he offered bioplastic straws!  A big selling point with Americans, he said.  Hey, even made in Mexico!

Jorge wasn’t always so environmentally conscious.  It was his girlfriend, Alejandra who changed him. He used to smoke, he said, and Alejandra would pick up the plastic filters he threw on the ground. What are you doing that for? he used to scold her.  She just kept picking up his filters until finally he started to himself, and eventually quit smoking altogether.  He wanted Alejandra to meet us, but she is sick alot.  She has chronic asthma.

 

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On the last few days of our stay, I noticed a slim figure in a black bikini also collecting washed ashore marine debris.  As she approached us a fellow ran towards her with a huge black bag.  For you, here, take this, he offered.  I guess it was that tiny bikini.  

Of all things, it turns out she was from Southold, 20 miles from my place in Orient.  Her main residence is New York, with a business as a sustainable fashion activist directing brands and clients into the circular eco friendly movement.

Standing in paradise, we commiserated about plastic pollution, so much ending up in the ocean.  I told her about this new group I’m involved with, just getting started in Southampton: Drawdown East End.  I’m in, she said.  And I promised to let her know when we start our community outreach and weekly drop-in meetings, upcoming film festivals, etc. 

Plastics is one of the top 100 solutions listed in Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.

These 100 top solutions are already working somewhere, proven methodologies, best practices, to avoid, reduce or sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, in other words, drawing down carbon and reversing global warming.  

Bioplastic is solution #47.  Not to be confused with so-called biodegradable plastics made from petrochemicals, or eco/recycled plastics (plastics made from recycled plastic materials rather than raw petrochemicals), bioplastics are made from all-natural, renewable raw materials, such as corn starch. (California requires labeling, by law, to keep the terms separated, why not New York?)  The Drawdown scientists and economists analyzed that the production of plastics will double between now and 2050. Their growth model revealed that an aggressive growth of bio-plastics to capture 49% of the market, could avoid gigatons of carbon emissions (4.9 gigatons in their analysis.)   That is why bioplastic is solution #47 out of 100. 

On a shoestring budget Drawdown’s Paul Hawken pulled together scientists, economists and research fellows to see if we already had the means and techniques at hand to reduce C02 by halting emissions, conservation, efficiency, sequestration and substituting fuels with renewable clean energy.  His inspirational book is a plan, a path, a map, that measures and models growth solutions inviting us all to see climate change as an opportunity.  An opportunity to get in on a new fast-growing clean economy, an opportunity for better health, an opportunity for us all to take meaningful actions for a positive future.

One of Hawken’s research fellow talks about the 3 levels of empowerment:

  1. Personal – what you can do personally, with your family and those you influence, to draw down carbon.
  2. Community – what you can do with friends, neighbors, local businesses, non profits, in your community.
  3. National and international – what national policy changes can you advocate and vote for, what’s working in other states, other countries?

I’m inspired to take the next step.  I’m looking around to see how I can not only collect marine debris plastic, as I always do, but, in addition, to scale up, use best practices, be part of the solution, i.e. change my plastic habits .  They are just habits, after all.  I can stop, conserve, substitute.  I can stop buying, stop using, I can find substitutions with bioplastics, I can use real stuff.   

As I look around, I see so many like-minded others refusing plastics and finding substitutes. I feel empowered by our growing can-do community.   I’m empowered by my new knowledge, my power of the purse, my power of personal choice.  #StopSingleUse.  #ReduceReturnRecycleREFUSE!   #UseRealStuff.

Here’s some local, national and international resources and good news:

 

Mary Morgan, Orient

For more info: DrawdownEastEnd@gmail.com

 

Posted in climate change, Environment, long island, sustainable energy, Uncategorized, water quality | 9 Comments