3 March 2007

It would be reprehensible if the deplorable conditions were caused or aggravated by an ideological commitment to privatize government services

For the controversy over the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for which now top official resignations are occurring.

Here is a typical neocon reaction to the ensuing investigation, located not in the main blog post, but one of the comments:

Blaming the Bush administration for this situation is absolutely predictable Liberal fodder. We all agree it's a horrible discovery, and it angers us on many levels. Bush will coninue to address it, and we can fairly hold him accountable to see that happens.

A defense that is totally ignorant of the truth, at least from what this Army Times story is reporting, that the blame can be squarely placed on the Bush administration and its zeal for privatization:

The memorandum “describes how the Army’s decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was causing an exodus of ‘highly skilled and experienced personnel,’” the committee’s letter states. “According to multiple sources, the decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed led to a precipitous drop in support personnel at Walter Reed.”

The letter said Walter Reed also awarded a five-year, $120-million contract to IAP Worldwide Services, which is run by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official.

They also found that more than 300 federal employees providing facilities management services at Walter Reed had dropped to fewer than 60 by Feb. 3, 2007, the day before IAP took over facilities management. IAP replaced the remaining 60 employees with only 50 private workers.

“The conditions that have been described at Walter Reed are disgraceful,” the letter states. “Part of our mission on the Oversight Committee is to investigate what led to the breakdown in services. It would be reprehensible if the deplorable conditions were caused or aggravated by an ideological commitment to privatize government services regardless of the costs to taxpayers and the consequences for wounded soldiers.”

The letter said the Defense Department “systemically” tried to replace federal workers at Walter Reed with private companies for facilities management, patient care and guard duty – a process that began in 2000.

But the push to privatize support services there accelerated under President Bush’s ‘competitive sourcing’ initiative, which was launched in 2002,” the letter states.

During the year between awarding the contract to IAP and when the company started, “skilled government workers apparently began leaving Walter Reed in droves,” the letter states. “The memorandum also indicates that officials at the highest levels of Walter Reed and the U.S. Army Medical Command were informed about the dangers of privatization, but appeared to do little to prevent them.”

What a surprise that the word "Halliburton" makes an appearance, again, in another scandalous revelation about a Bush administration action that is deeply emblematic of a culture of corruption…

I imagine there is a lot more of this about, and perhaps we will see more of these accounts, or maybe we only get to glance at the tip of the iceberg, as the sordid depths of this depravity will fail to be exposed, due to a media that is more concerned with cult of celebrity than substantive issues.

Another tragic note in a war started by scared old men who used fear and ignorance to persuade trusting people to sacrifice their children.

1 October 2006

It's hard to insure your citizens when half your tax revenue is going to feed your war machine

A factual comparison of Canada vs. United States on the issue of heatlh care, minus the misconceptions.
As a health-care-card-carrying Canadian resident and uninsured American citizen who regularly sees doctors on both sides of the border, I'm in a unique position to address the pros and cons of both systems first-hand. If the health-care debates are going to begin again in the US -- and it's way past high time they should -- then let's please start with actual facts, instead of ideological posturing, wishful thinking, hearsay, and random guessing about how things get done up here. Here are a few things y'all need to have the straight goods on before this goes any further.

30 August 2006

Six snacks and drinks that deserve an immediate pardon

Genius Junk Food — pork rinds, alcohol, beef jerky, sour cream, coconut and chocolate bars.

Now excuse me while I run off to the store to procure a case of beer and a box of chocolate bars…

11 July 2006

Obesity in America

Animated map of obesity levels in America.

3 July 2006

When we talk about globalization, it's not only globalization of goods and services; it's people and their history, including incubating diseases

Another dark side fo globalization, an "externality" incurred by Americans both in terms of physical health and taxpayer cost.
The virus landed in Boston on April 26, a Wednesday. It was brewing inside a young computer programmer who had flown in from India, brought over for his expertise by a financial services company headquartered in the city's tallest skyscraper.

He went to work on the 18th floor of the John Hancock Tower, and on May 5 the hallmark symptoms of measles began to appear: fever, cough, rash. Then, like a stone tossed into a lake, the disease rippled outward, with measles striking a half-dozen other workers at Investors Bank & Trust, five on the same floor.

By last week, four additional cases of the potentially lethal illness had been confirmed. Their link to the programmer is more tenuous, but city health authorities say they believe that all 11 cases in the state's first measles outbreak since 1999 can be traced to that single visitor.

The result: The state has distributed or ordered 23,000 doses of measles vaccine, at a cost of nearly $400,000. Hundreds of people at three workplaces have been ordered to stay home until they can prove they aren't susceptible or until they have passed the incubation period for the disease. And disease detectives have scoured medical records, examined office air-flow patterns, and conducted dozens of interviews in their quest to understand and stop the outbreak.

While I don't subscribe to the all-out hysteria ventured by some on this matter, it is an aspect of immigration and globalization that is hardly acknowledged, but a truth that places a cost on natives in more than one manner.

21 March 2006

The 29 Healthiest Foods on the Planet

The 29 Healthiest Foods on the Planet
  1. Apricots
  2. Avocados
  3. Raspberries
  4. Mango
  5. Cantaloupe
  6. Cranberry Juice
  7. Tomato
  8. Raisins
  9. Figs
  10. Lemons/Limes
  11. Onions
  12. Artichokes
  13. Ginger
  14. Broccoli
  15. Spinach
  16. Bok Choy (Chinese cabbage)
  17. Squash
  18. Watercress and Arugula
  19. Garlic
  20. Quinoa
  21. Wheat Germ
  22. Lentils
  23. Peanuts
  24. Pinto Beans
  25. Low fat Yogurt
  26. Skim Milk
  27. Shellfish (Clams, Mussels)
  28. Salmon
  29. Crab

22 February 2006

These bacteria don't belong there

Fast-Food Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water
Jasmine Roberts never expected her award-winning middle school science project to get so much attention. But the project produced some disturbing results: 70 percent of the time, ice from fast food restaurants was dirtier than toilet water.

The 12-year-old collected ice samples from five restaurants in South Florida — from both self-serve machines inside the restaurant and from drive-thru windows. She then collected toilet water samples from the same restaurants and tested all of them for bacteria at the University of South Florida.

In several cases, the ice tested positive for E. coli bacteria, which comes from human waste and has been linked to several illness outbreaks across the country.