Tag Archives: Capitalism

Why the Minnesota Vikings win is disheartening to some Minnesotans

Written by Carol Benedict

In case you have not heard, the Minnesota Vikings won the NFC Divisional Game on Sunday, after a near-defeat in traditional Vikings playoff style. Fans were ecstatic. “WE WON!” was shouted everywhere in Minnesota.

Except a few places. Not many of the homeless people were celebrating the win in a warm cozy home with game food laid out for an afternoon of face-stuffing. Not many of the unvisited residents of the state’s nursing homes thought as much about the game as they did about where their families were. A good portion of the minority communities facing possible deportation thought less of a football game than spending perhaps the last day possible with loved ones they might never see again.

By Monday, people in the state’s employment sector that worked on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, were still talking about the big game. The office coffee pots were constant witness to the sometimes hour-long reflections on “where I was and what I was doing” during the big moment of the final play. The first 5 minutes of local news broadcasts focused on people who had left the stadium or turned off the television before victory was clear. As of Tuesday, the 5 most read stories in the Minneapolis Star Tribune are all centered on the Vikings win last Sunday.

In preparation for the SuperBowl, Minneapolis has agreed to several “policies” that the people of Minneapolis were never given a voice, choice or opinion about. Those with annual permits to park near where they work have had those permits pulled so the space can sell for $100 or more for the SuperBowl events. Homeless people within the “security perimeter” are supposed to be “re-located” to other shelters. Even stray cats and dogs are being sent to other shelters. Local news also reported, “…MACC needs to “keep the shelter as empty as possible because in the event of an emergency, the building could be used for an influx of animals, or even to shelter people.”

“Snipers will be on rooftops and in buildings in strategic places. Officers in head-to-toe commando gear will be on the streets gripping assault rifles against their chests. Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher said the influx of federal agents to Minnesota will be the largest in the 52 years of Super Bowl history,” reports the Star Tribune.

All these moves and decisions are being done to protect people going to a sporting event. Remember that sporting events at the professional level are nothing more than a corporation (NFL) selling you their product (football team) as an entertainment vehicle to encourage participation through purchases of tickets, game gear, trinkets and other such memorabilia. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the business model or the consumers of the products.

What would happen if Minnesotans would put the same amount of time, effort, energy and money into causes for the good of Minnesota? What would it look like to have as many people cheer a win for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in it’s fight for life against a foreign corporation intending to build a copper and nickel mining operation in the middle of it? How many fewer attacks would the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center have experienced if the same amount of people came out to support the rejection of hate as came out for a Vikings game? How many people spent more time waiting in traffic and lines on game day than they did being stopped by a Black Lives Matter protest in the past, yet still are unable to recognize the injustices that the black community faces on a daily basis?

There was, and still is, a place in our society to come out and enjoy America’s favorite pastime; sports events. But shouldn’t it be done with more balance to the other things that matter greatest in life? If you are fortunate enough to be able to get to the end of your life to gather those that mean the most to you during your final moments, will you ask for your football team or your family?

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

 

 

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Donald Trump doesn’t understand Haiti, immigration or American history

File 20180112 101483 169uyt2.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

After Haiti signed its Declaration of Independence from France, in 1804, the U.S. started a 60-year political and economic embargo that hobbled the young nation’s growth. Wikimedia

Chantalle F. Verna, Florida International University

Donald Trump’s denigrating comments about Haiti during a recent congressional meeting shocked people around the globe, but given his track record of disrespecting immigrants, they were not actually that surprising.

Despite campaign promises that Trump would be Haiti’s “biggest champion,” his administration had already demonstrated its disregard for people from this Caribbean island. In November 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would end the Temporary Protected Status that had allowed 59,000 Haitians to stay in the U.S. after a calamitous Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.

Their TPS was extended after Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti again in 2016. Without protected status, these Haitian migrants have until July 2019 to get a green card, leave voluntarily or be deported. Continue reading

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Viral Video of Hospital Dumping Woman Into Freezing Cold Stirs Demand for ‘Medicare for All

“Attempted murder” is how one analyst described the medical center’s decision to leave an incapacitated young woman at a bus stop in frigid weather

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-12-2018

A video screenshot of a woman who was discharged from University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Imamu Baraka/Facebook video screenshot)

Described as a horrifying depiction of “the reality of U.S. for-profit healthcare,” a Baltimore-based psychotherapist this week caught on video University of Maryland Medical Center staff “dumping” a clearly incapacitated young woman into the freezing Maryland weather wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks.

“Is this what healthcare in Baltimore City has come to?” asked Imamu Baraka, who captured the “disturbing” scene on his cell phone. The video has since garnered more than two million views.

Watch:

Baraka’s video soon sparked national headlines and widespread outrage, with many noting that “patient dumping” is a pervasive and under-discussed product of a system that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to all.

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, concluded that the only solution is to “implement single-payer, Medicare for All or Americans continue to suffer/die.”

Others echoed DeMoro’s call, arguing that the medical center’s behavior is essentially “attempted murder.

The hospital issued an apology following the flood of outrage, taking “full responsibility for this failure” to provide “basic humanity and compassion.”

“We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action,” hospital spokeswoman Lisa Clough said in a statement.

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‘No One Should Be Fooled’: Warren Rips Trump’s HHS Pick Over Desire to Gut Medicaid

“You want to smile and pretend otherwise until you get the job,” Warren said.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-9-2018

Alex Azar. Screenshot: YouTube

While President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Alex Azar—a former pharma executive—spent most of his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday ducking and dodging pointed questions about his long history of “price gouging,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) decided to call Azar out on his support for gutting Medicaid and turning the program into a block grant.

After Azar suggested he supports block granting Medicaid as a “concept to look at” but refused to say whether he would move in that direction if confirmed, Warren said, “Mr. Azar, you can own up to the fact that you want to cut Medicaid and gut the Affordable Care Act, like every other member of the Trump administration.”

Continue reading

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Kushner Under Fire for Receiving $30M From Israeli Firm While Shaping Middle East Policy

“Are you comfortable with having Jared Kushner be the beneficiary of huge amounts of Israeli financing at the same time he’s overseeing U.S. foreign policy on Israel?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. published 1-8-2018

Screenshot: CNN

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is once more under intense scrutiny after new reporting revealed that his lucrative financial relationship with Israel has deepened even as his influence over U.S. Middle East policy—from his leading role in Trump’s effort to “derail” a U.N. vote against Israel to his sway over the president’s Jerusalem move—has continued to grow.

According to a report published Sunday by the New York Times, Kushner’s real estate firm received a $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim—one of Israel’s largest financial institutions—just before he accompanied Trump on his first diplomatic trip to Israel last year. Continue reading

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‘Genuine Menace’: Trump Calls in Lawyers to Block Publication of Embarrassing Book

The forthcoming exposé, which features interviews with West Wing insiders, raises questions about the president’s fitness for office and could be useful to the Russia investigation

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-4-2018

President Donald Trump is attempting to block a publisher from releasing a new “bombshell” book about his presidency. (Photo: Notions Capital/Flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump is attempting to block the release of a highly-anticipated “bombshell” book featuring interviews with members of his inner circle—including those who reportedly called him a “fucking idiot” and said “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid“—by submitting a cease-and-desist letter to the book’s publisher.

In the letter to Henry Holt and Co., Trump attorney Charles J. Harder demands the publisher “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release, or dissemination of the book,” including excerpts and summaries. Continue reading

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With Oceans Under Greatest Threat Ever, Trump Administration Urges Even Less Protection for Marine Life

“It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-2-2018

President Trump’s Interior Department has recommended shrinking the protected area of the Pacific Remote Islands marine monument, the largest protected area of the world’s oceans. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library/Flickr/cc)

With the world’s oceans more severely threatened than ever before, President Donald Trump’s Interior Department is recommending even less protection for the fraction of ocean life the U.S. has guarded from commercial fishing and other activities in recent years.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that three ocean monuments in the Pacific and Atlantic be opened up to commercial fishing, shrinking the protected areas to undetermined sizes. Critics see no reason to give less protection to underwater life, with Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), arguing, “There are plenty of other places in the ocean to fish.” Continue reading

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‘Anti-Trump Rhetoric Not Enough’: Bold, Progressive Agenda Demanded for 2018

“We must act together. And we must act strategically. 2018 is the year the people fight back like never before.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-1-2018

“Empty platitudes and anti-Trump rhetoric is not enough to win seats in Congress,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). (Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr/cc)

As Republicans and President Donald Trump turn toward the new year with destruction on their minds, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined a chorus of voices in expressing the urgent need to reach beyond merely resisting the right’s agenda and articulate an inspiring alternative that will sweep progressives into positions of power.

“Here is a New Year’s resolution I hope you will share with me,” Sanders wrote on Twitter just before midnight on Sunday. “In 2018, we will not only intensify the struggle against Trumpism, we will increase our efforts to spread the progressive vision in every corner of the land.” Continue reading

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The most important person in America is not Trump

Our most admired, most important Person of the Year for 2017 goes to…

Written by Carol Benedict

Screenshot: Euronews

2017 is a year no one will miss much. We struggled through the year with the “deer in the headlights” syndrome across our populace; so much so that “not normal” became expected, and the expected became obscure.

But what did we find when we looked at the year to decide who was the biggest influence on us, who did we turn to for hope and inspiration in our darkest moments? Our collective minds turn to the voice of the resistance – every person, team, organization, group and crowd that forged a line and said “ENOUGH!” in one great shout. Continue reading

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Want to Lower Health Care Costs? Stop Wasting Our Money.

This year ProPublica documented the many ways waste is baked into our health care system, from destroying perfectly good medication to junking brand new supplies. Eliminating the waste could insure millions of Americans.

By Marshall Allen. Published 12-28-2017 by ProPublica

Photo: PrEP

In Maine, there’s a warehouse the size of a middle school gymnasium, stuffed with brand-new medical supplies and gently used medical equipment. Several pallets are piled with boxes of surgical sutures, still in their shrink wrap, each box worth hundreds of dollars. Tubs overflow with diabetes supplies and surgical instruments that may run hundreds of dollars apiece. There are bins of bandages and gauze and saline and ostomy bags and every other medical supply you can imagine. These materials, unexpired, could easily stock any hospital or clinic. But each item has actually been thrown away by a local medical facility.

The cost of health care has been rising for decades, and Americans are paying the price. In a recent Gallup poll, people cited the high cost of care as their No. 1 financial concern. It’s an enormous problem, and trying to solve it all at once brings on panic and paralysis. But after reporting for a year on the ways the medical industry blows through our money, I have one idea: Let’s end the egregious waste that’s draining our health care system.

The National Academy of Medicine has estimated the health care system wastes around $765 billion a year — about a quarter of what we spend. Eliminating all the waste could allow us to insure 150 million Americans, the Academy of Medicine said, and saving half of it could provide groceries for every household in the country for a year. Eliminating the waste would also stop our rising health care costs from eating up our wage increases. My premiums go up 9 percent next year. Same thing happened last year. Odds are your costs are rising, too.

It’s hard to downplay what I found when I began investigating the issue. Hospitals throw out so many valuable supplies that a cottage industry of charities has sprung up to collect this stuff and ship it to the developing world — otherwise, all those goods in that Maine warehouse would be headed for a landfill.

Nobody tracks how much hospitals waste rather than donate, and I couldn’t track down where each item came from. But experts told me when hospitals change vendors for a type of supply, they often toss the old stuff. Or, if they take over a clinic or facility, they get rid of the items that come with it, even if they are unused and unexpired.

The operating room is a major source of wasted spending. One hospital tracked the value of unused items that went to waste during neurosurgery procedures in a single year. The total: $2.9 million — for one type of surgery at just one hospital. In that case, the surgeons hadn’t updated their system of telling the staff which supplies to prep for each operation. They were opening many items they didn’t need, which then had to be thrown away even though they were unused. The hospital updated its approach to make sure they aren’t setting up for operations with excess supplies.

I learned that nursing homes throw away hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of valuable medication every year. They typically dispense drugs a month at a time for patients and often have them discontinued if the patient dies or transfers. The excess drugs get trashed, incinerated or even flushed down the toilets, contaminating our water supply. The chief executive of a pharmacy that serves nursing homes in Florida told me that his company alone throws away about $2.5 million a year in valuable medication.

In Iowa, the state government funded a program to recover these castoff nursing home meds and donate them to needy patients, for free. This year, they’re on pace to recover and redistribute $6 million in medication. My story led policymakers in Florida and New Hampshire to introduce legislation to try to replicate the Iowa program.

Drugs are a huge source of waste, partly because drug expiration dates don’t mean what we think they mean. The Food and Drug Administration makes pharmaceutical companies show their medication is safe and effective until its expiration date. It doesn’t make them find out how long they actually last.

Studies show it’s common for a drug to be safe after its expiration date. The FDA runs a program that tests and then extends expiration dates on drugs in the federal government’s stockpiles. Those same drugs get thrown away in pharmacies when they “expire,” even though many of them are in short supply. How much of our money does it waste? One midsize hospital in Boston throws away about $200,000 worth of drugs a year that hit their expiration date. If that’s true for other hospitals, the total would be about $800 million a year for hospital pharmacies alone.

Meanwhile, drug companies are making eyedrops two or three times larger than what the eye can even contain. We are paying for the wasted medicine running down our cheeks. I spoke to the former head of research for Alcon Laboratories, a global leader in the eye care industry now owned by Novartis. He told me that in the early 1990s his team created a “microdrop” that eliminated the waste. The microdrops were effective and reduced the burning caused by larger drops. But Alcon’s leaders killed the project because they were worried it could reduce sales.

Vials of cancer drugs are also made too large, which one study said wastes about $1.8 billion a year in the valuable medication. Earlier this year, one drug company switched from a multiuse vial, which could be shared by patients, to a single-use vial that could not be shared, thereby increasing the amount of wasted cancer medication. The change would make the supply chain more reliable worldwide, the company said. But one cancer center calculated that the change would cost each patient an average of $1,000 in waste per infusion. Imagine: You’re fighting cancer and then get billed an extra thousand dollars for medication they toss in the trash. Two U.S. senators responded to my story by introducing legislation to solve the problem of oversized eyedrops and cancer drug vials.

These are not isolated examples or small sums being squandered. Let’s say my reporting identified about $10 billion in wasted spending. That’s a rough estimate because no one is actually tracking how much we’re wasting. What else could we be doing with that money? The Kaiser Family Foundation says it costs an average of $6,690 to pay one person’s insurance premium in 2017. At that rate, the $10 billion saved could insure about 1.5 million people for a year. Tell those people it isn’t important to reduce our wasted health care spending.

The Academy of Medicine did something smart when it reframed our health care overspending as waste. We may be a wasteful country, but we still teach our kids to eat everything on their plates. “Waste not, want not,” is baked into our cultural DNA. It’s a powerful concept because it’s a moral one. It’s wrong to squander the hard-earned dollars Americans are paying into the health care system and then demand they pay more.

We can’t be naive and think it will be easy to fix this problem. Our wasted spending represents revenue and profit for the medical industry. But our health care spending should not be an entitlement program for the medical industrial complex. I put together a prescription for reducing the wasted spending I identified. Our policymakers should stand up to the medical industry and stamp out the waste.

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