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HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR----I WILL BLOG NEXT ON SATURDAY!
Let's finish the week on gun control by moving from the threats from a global military occupation of what they see as US International Economic Zones to simply getting guns out of our communities. Everyone in the US knows all laws that try to prohibit----from Prohibition of Alcohol-----to War on Drugs-----always fail because a black market that is worse than the original problem is created. So, we already know that will happen with guns AND SO DO CLINTON/OBAMA NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH NEO-CONS. The goal is simply to dismantle all US Constitutional rights so US cities can act like China, Malaysia, India where global FOXCONN corporate campuses are allowed to have their own police/security forces that act with impunity----
THAT MOVE WILL MAKE THE GUN PROBLEM IN US SOAR IN BLACK MARKET/INTERNATIONAL CARTEL SMUGGLING OF GUNS FAR WORSE THAN THE HANDGUNS WE HAVE TODAY.
Crime and violence is soaring in US cities because these several years under Obama saw what was left of the black middle-class be fired in city and state government and public school downsizing---that middle-class being the last help an extended poor family had for stability. White and Latino families are facing the same struggles.
Who owns guns in underserved communities? The King Pins of black market sex industry---drug industry----robbery rings--and gun running. The middle-tier working for those King Pins-----the street players selling sex, drugs, guns-----and the victims of all this---women, drug addicts, people living in communities who are honest but trying to keep their families and themselves safe. Then you have the poor robbing to survive using guns. Multiply this across cultural populations in cities----Asian, African, Latino, South Pacific King Pins all having these layers and you see the problem with guns IS HUGE.
YOU COULD WAVE A MAGIC WAND OVER BALTIMORE TO REMOVE ALL GUNS----AND WITHIN A FEW MONTHS--THE GUN-RUNNERS WOULD HAVE THEM ALL BACK.
Strict Gun Laws in Chicago Can’t Stem Fatal Shots
By MONICA DAVEYJAN. 29, 2013
The funeral for a 14-year-old boy who was killed Jan. 11 in Chicago, where there were more than 500 homicides last year and at least 40 killings already in 2013. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images
CHICAGO — Not a single gun shop can be found in this city because they are outlawed. Handguns were banned in Chicago for decades, too, until 2010, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that was going too far, leading city leaders to settle for restrictions some describe as the closest they could get legally to a ban without a ban. Despite a continuing legal fight, Illinois remains the only state in the nation with no provision to let private citizens carry guns in public.
And yet Chicago, a city with no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, finds itself laboring to stem a flood of gun violence that contributed to more than 500 homicides last year and at least 40 killings already in 2013, including a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl on Tuesday.
To gun rights advocates, the city provides stark evidence that even some of the toughest restrictions fail to make places safer. “The gun laws in Chicago only restrict the law-abiding citizens and they’ve essentially made the citizens prey,” said Richard A. Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. To gun control proponents, the struggles here underscore the opposite — a need for strict, uniform national gun laws to eliminate the current patchwork of state and local rules that allow guns to flow into this city from outside.
The Rev. Ira J. Acree and other ministers are trying to end to gun violence in Chicago. Credit Nathan Weber for The New York Times
“Chicago is like a house with two parents that may try to have good rules and do what they can, but it’s like you’ve got this single house sitting on a whole block where there’s anarchy,” said the Rev. Ira J. Acree, one among a group of pastors here who have marched and gathered signatures for an end to so much shooting. “Chicago is an argument for laws that are statewide or, better yet, national.”
Chicago’s experience reveals the complications inherent in carrying out local gun laws around the nation. Less restrictive laws in neighboring communities and states not only make guns easy to obtain nearby, but layers of differing laws — local and state — make it difficult to police violations. And though many describe the local and state gun laws here as relatively stringent, penalties for violating them — from jail time to fines — have not proven as severe as they are in some other places, reducing the incentive to comply.
Lately, the police say they are discovering far more guns on the streets of Chicago than in the nation’s two more populous cities, Los Angeles and New York. They seized 7,400 guns here in crimes or unpermitted uses last year (compared with 3,285 in New York City), and have confiscated 574 guns just since Jan. 1 — 124 of them last week alone.
More than a quarter of the firearms seized on the streets here by the Chicago Police Department over the past five years were bought just outside city limits in Cook County suburbs, according to an analysis by the University of Chicago Crime Lab. Others came from stores around Illinois and from other states, like Indiana, less than an hour’s drive away. Since 2008, more than 1,300 of the confiscated guns, the analysis showed, were bought from just one store, Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale, Ill., within a few miles of Chicago’s city limits.
Efforts to compare the strictness of gun laws and the level of violence across major American cities are fraught with contradiction and complication, not least because of varying degrees of coordination between local and state laws and differing levels of enforcement. In New York City, where homicides and shootings have decreased, the gun laws are generally seen as at least as strict as Chicago’s, and the state laws in New York and many of its neighboring states are viewed as still tougher than those in and around Illinois. Philadelphia, like cities in many states, is limited in writing gun measures that go beyond those set by Pennsylvania law. Some city officials there have chafed under what they see as relatively lax state controls.
In Chicago, the rules for owning a handgun — rewritten after the outright ban was deemed too restrictive in 2010 — sound arduous. Owners must seek a Chicago firearms permit, which requires firearms training, a background check and a state-mandated firearm owner’s identification card, which requires a different background review for felonies and mental illness. To prevent straw buyers from selling or giving their weapons to people who would not meet the restrictions — girlfriends buying guns for gang members is a common problem, the police here say — the city requires permitted gun owners to report their weapons lost, sold or stolen.
Still, for all the regulations, the reality here looks different. Some 7,640 people currently hold a firearms permit, but nearly that many illicit weapons were confiscated from the city’s streets during last year alone. Chicago officials say Illinois has no requirement, comparable to Chicago’s, that gun owners immediately report their lost or stolen weapons to deter straw buyers. Consequently those outside the city can, in the words of one city official, carry guns to gang members in the city with “zero accountability.”
And a relatively common sentence in state court for gun possession for offenders without other felonies is one year in prison, which really may mean a penalty of six months, said Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state’s attorney, who said such punishments failed to serve as a significant enough deterrent for seasoned criminals who may see a modest prison stint as the price of doing business.
“The way the laws are structured facilitates the flow of those guns to hit our streets,” Garry F. McCarthy, the Chicago police superintendent, said in an interview, later adding, “Chicago may have comprehensive gun laws, but they are not strict because the sanctions don’t exist.”
In the weeks since the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board president, has introduced a countywide provision requiring gun owners beyond the city limits to report lost or stolen guns, though a first offense would result simply in a $1,000 fine. In the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pressed for increased penalties for those who violate the city’s gun ordinance by failing to report their guns missing or possessing an assault weapon.
“Our gun strategy is only as strong as it is comprehensive, and it is constantly being undermined by events and occurrences happening outside the city — gun shows in surrounding counties, weak gun laws in neighboring states like Indiana and the inability to track purchasing,” Mr. Emanuel said. “This must change.”
State lawmakers, too, are soon expected to weigh new state provisions like an assault weapons ban, as Chicago already has. But the fate of the proposals is uncertain in a state with wide-open farming and hunting territory downstate.
“It’s going to be a fight,” said State Representative Jack D. Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, 60 miles outside Chicago. Complicating matters, an appellate court in December struck down the state’s ban on carrying guns in public, saying that a complete ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional. Illinois is seeking a review of the ruling, even as state lawmakers have been given a matter of months to contemplate conditions under which guns could be allowed in public.
Many here say that even the strictest, most punitive gun laws would not alone be an answer to this city’s violence. “Poverty, race, guns and drugs — you’ve got to deal with all these issues, but you’ve got to start somewhere” said the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who was arrested in 2007 while protesting outside Chuck’s Gun Shop, the suburban store long known as a supplier of weapons that make their way to Chicago.
At the store, a clerk said the business followed all pertinent federal, state and local laws, then declined to be interviewed further. Among seized guns that had moved from purchase to the streets of Chicago in a year’s time or less, nearly 20 percent came from Chuck’s, the analysis found. Other guns arrived here that rapidly from gun shops in other parts of this state, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa and more.
“Chicago is not an island,” said David Spielfogel, senior adviser to Mr. Emanuel. “We’re only as strong as the weakest gun law in surrounding states.”
Clinton/Obama neo-liberals joined Bush/Hopkins neo-cons in breaking down all social Democratic structures at the same time moving US corporations overseas with no rebuilding of local economies in US cities just to allow US citizens to devolve into a third world desperation---as the article says---conditions of violence are third world---and global pols are trying to install third world solutions----from heightened policing force to installing NGOs to replace the US public institutions and government at all levels.
THE ANSWER IS OF COURSE----REBUILD THE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY AND LOCAL ECONOMIES THAT KEEP PEOPLE FROM BECOMING SO IMPOVERISHED AND UNABLE TO FIND WORK.
Linking public institutions to communities key to tackling poverty, report says
Province’s hospitals and universities could inject hundreds of millions of dollars into local communities through smarter spending, report says.
University of Toronto Scarborough
University of Toronto Scarborough is trying to pump economic opportunity back into its community. One initiative is asking businesses with university contracts to take on young people like Kareem Francis, 26, a member of the Hammerheads program that gives construction training and apprenticeships to at-risk youth.
By: Sara Mojtehedzadeh
Work and Wealth reporter, Published on Mon Aug 24 2015
He’s a man with a vision, and Andrew Arifuzzaman’s latest ambition is to bring the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus out of the woods. Literally.
“UTSC has been here in the community for 50 years,” says its chief administrative officer. “But up to eight years ago, it was literally behind a forest.”
According to a report to be released Monday by the Atkinson Foundation and the Mowat Centre, bringing big public institutions closer to their communities could be one of Ontario’s best hopes of tackling poverty.
“If institutions can begin to work together and create good economic opportunities for companies to succeed locally, I think that’s a great opportunity for everybody,” says Arifuzzaman.
“The university could be very important to helping revitalize what Scarborough is.”
That embodies the spirit of the so-called “anchor mission,” outlined by the Atkinson/Mowat report. Anchors are public bodies like universities, hospitals and municipal governments that are rooted in a particular community and are unlikely to ever leave.
The report suggests that if the province’s higher education and medical institutions spent more of their collective $9.9-billion goods and services budget locally, they could kick-start local economic growth and job creation.
“Diverting just 2 per cent of these expenditures to local small business and communities could inject $230 million into local communities,” the study says.
Currently, when Ontario’s public sector is tendering contracts for goods and services, it focuses mainly on who makes the cheapest bid. But anchor mission advocates say it makes more long-term sense to prioritize local and minority-owned businesses where possible — to create more vibrant, self-sufficient and egalitarian economies.
“It’s really a smarter way to use existing funds, especially at a time of increasing public debt and rising demand for services,” says Nevena Dragicevic, the report’s author and a policy associate at the Mowat Centre.
The Star has previously profiled the success of such anchor missions in Cleveland, a Rust Belt city whose universities and hospitals joined forces to buy about a quarter of all goods and services locally and to contract more local and minority businesses in infrastructure projects.
The effort, which also includes skill development programs and worker-owned co-operative businesses, is revitalizing low-income neighbourhoods hollowed out by long-gone manufacturing jobs and a housing market crash.
This month, a delegation from the City of Toronto and top philanthropic bodies, universities, and hospitals in the GTA visited the place now known as Comeback City to learn from its achievements.
“I was so impressed with what’s going on in Cleveland,” adds Arifuzzaman, who joined the weeklong trip. “You really get a sense that there’s something changing there.”
He is hoping to effect similar change at University of Toronto Scarborough, which is in the midst of a seven-year expansion plan with construction projects with the potential to create 2,500 full-time jobs.
One new initiative includes getting construction companies with UTSC contracts to take on students from the local Hammerheads program, which gives construction training and apprenticeships to at-risk youth.
Kareem Francis, 26, credits his mentors at Hammerheads for getting him out of his low-wage job as a mover and into a well-paid apprenticeship with VF Mechanical, which is currently doing work on the new UTSC environmental science building.
“They gave me a sustainable career,” says the Scarborough dad. “This program is definitely good for communities where youth don’t necessarily have a solid direction as to where they’re headed.”
Like the leadership at UTSC, Denise Andrea Campbell, the city’s director of social policy, wants to bring a little bit of Cleveland to Toronto. With city council considering a new poverty reduction strategy that talks of economic inclusion and community wealth building, Campbell says it’s time to spend public sector money in a smarter way.
“We’ve got a lot of successes but not a coherent integrated strategy. And that’s why Cleveland is inspiring to Toronto, for sure.”
By the numbers
$130 billion: amount the province will spend on infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.
$4.2 billion: amount Ontario universities spent on goods and services in 2011.
$5.7 billion: amount Ontario hospitals spent on goods and services in 2011.
$1.5 billion: average amount City of Toronto spends annually on procurement.
133,000: number of people employed by Ontario colleges and universities.
Successful anchor strategies
Baltimore has what is one effort that is not police and SWAT team oriented----that is the gun buyback and as this article shows-----these really do nothing. When guns are easily replaced-------it simply becomes a way towards a temporary money source.
Organizations in Baltimore kmow what the problem is-----and many of these organizations work hand in hand with the problem-----a very criminal Wall Street Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins sucking all revenue and assets from all communities around Baltimore. So, these organizations wanting to help gun violence would not be connected to these two institutions and would be outing them as the problem in our underserved communities.
Are gun buybacks worth it?The programs don’t have a great track record, but organizers say saving one life makes them worthwhile.
June 12, 2015 | 9:20 AM
Allison Pohle @AllisonPohle
Guns from the citywide gun buyback program at Boston Police Headquarters in March 2014.
Kayana Szymczak/The Boston Globe
In February 2014, a 14 year old was playing with a gun in his family’s Mattapan home when he accidentally shot his 9-year-old brother and killed him.
In response to the shooting and other gun-related homicides in early 2014, Mayor Marty Walsh planned a gun buyback program to last from March to December 2014. Boston Police said they collected 411 guns.
Whether or not the buyback worked remains to be seen, but studies don’t paint an optimistic picture. Some studies, like one by criminologist Anthony Barga, show buybacks don’t reduce street crimes. Others show they don’t put a dent in the number of guns in a community, or attract the people most likely to commit crimes.
But they remain popular. Many organizers argue that they are worth it if they save even one life. And so gun buybacks continue, including one in Cambridge this Saturday.
The organizers of the first-ever Gift Cards for Guns event hope any residents who have unwanted or unsecured guns in their homes will trade them for grocery store gift cards ranging from $50 to $200.
Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick said the push for the event came from both faith-based and non-profit organizations that are covering the costs through donations.
One of those faith-based leaders is Lori Lander, founder of Many Helping Hands 365, who said she has watched gun buybacks in other communities to learn what works.
Warnick knows about the critical studies. So does Lander. The event will happen anyway.
“Whether we have guns turned in or not, we’re creating awareness from a public health standpoint,” Warnick said. “We’re not sure how many we’re going to get, but we figured we might as well give it a shot.”
Gun buybacks became especially popular after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Mother Jones estimated 5,661 guns were bought back in 27 events nationwide in the year after the shooting. That’s 5,661 out of an estimated 300 million guns nationwide.
Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said buybacks aren’t effective at reducing street crime for three reasons.
First, the people who participate are generally women and older adults, but young men are most likely to be involved in gun-related crimes.
Second, people tend to bring dysfunctional, old guns to buybacks. The guns used in crimes, Vernick said, tend to be newer—or, at the very least, functional.
Third, not many people bring in guns. Even the most successful events, he said, yield 1,000 guns. If each of the 1,000 guns results in a $100 gift card being given away, that’s $100,000. Vernick said that money could be better spent on a targeted policing strategy, or a community outreach program designed to decrease violence, such as Baltimore’s Safe Streets program.
It’s not all bad news. Removing guns from homes decreases the household risk of an accidental shooting or suicide by gun, Vernick said. He also said the programs can be effective as long as they’re the first thing the community does in response to potential gun violence, not the last.
In addition to collecting guns, which will be destroyed by state police, organizers will also give away free gun locks so residents can use them for other guns in their homes.
“If only one gun is turned in, that’s one less possibility of someone getting killed with a unsecured gun in the home,” Lander said. “In that sense, even one gun is a success.”
Obama and Eric Holder afer several years of allowing the most abusive and brutal policing to occur in US cities without intervening are now in an election year posing progressive with the idea of reforming the criminal justice system. Remember, states like Maryland and cities like Baltimore allowed the worst of policing and incarceration and conditions in jail because Clinton and Obama as Presidents signed the Federalist Act----which states the Federal government will not enforce Federal laws unless asked to by a state's Governor or city's Mayor. Obama used Executive Order to do as Clinton and Bush did because he does not recognize US Constitutional rights----Equal Protection----Bill of Rights----he embraces and pushed his entire terms in office for International Economic Zone and Trans Pacific Trade Pact to replace all status of US citizens as having rights.
So, what does it mean when Obama/Holder LOOKS at how to fix a criminal justice system? Well, if I were the underserved----I would be worried.
Right now, public justice systems around the nation have been dismantled especially across the South in Republican states and in neo- conservative cities like Baltimore. There is no sign of public justice in Baltimore and Maryland Assembly spent these several years under Obama further dismantling any ability of the public towards justice that is not able to be handled by JUDGE JUDY.
This is why crime and violence in cities like Baltimore is soaring-----the citizens have lost hope in attaining simple justice ---------it is rights and pathway to justice THAT EMPOWER PEOPLE ------if this disappears---then personal justice become meted with violence as the empowerment.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE BALTIMORE CITIZENS HAVE BEEN BROUGHT AND IT IS EXACTLY HOW THIRD WORLD DEVELOPING NATIONS ACT.
So, REAL reforms of BAltimore criminal and public justice systems----looking at unconstitutional laws from Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Hall to deliberately and illegally keep Baltimore citizens from accessing justice IS THE STEP TOWARDS GETTING GUNS OUT OF THE BLACK MARKET SYSTEM OF JUSTICE.
Getting Smart About Local Governments and Criminal Justice
There are some essential elements for an effective system for reducing arrests and incarceration.
by Edwina Dorch | November 17, 2015
In 2013, then-Attorney General Eric Holder launched a comprehensive review of the nation's criminal justice system to identify reforms that would ensure that federal laws were enforced more fairly and more efficiently. The initial package of recommended reforms was dubbed the Smart on Crime Initiative. Now the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bipartisan bill intended to reduce the federal prison population and reform mandatory minimum sentencing, is before the Senate.
These federal initiatives point the way, but for real progress to be made much of the action will have to come at the local level of government, where offenders typically have their first encounters with the criminal-justice system. That need is reflected in the recent call by more than 130 police chiefs and other top law-enforcement officials to reduce incarceration rates.
What does "smart" mean for our local governments in the context of these issues? It refers to an approach that is citizen-centric and fosters social justice, civic engagement, activism, and transparent and accountable governance; one that provides equal opportunities and reduces inequalities.
A smart arrest-reduction model, and the budget redistribution that such a model would entail, would rebalance police responsibilities. It would return some of the duties now performed by law enforcement back to health professionals, social workers and schools, creating opportunities for more effective forms of intervention and helping to reduce inequalities.
There is much work to be done. More specifically, a smart-city model would need to encompass several essential features:
• Improved case management: The Standards of Practice for Case Management were first introduced in 1995 and then revised in 2002. There are six standards, but one of them -- service evaluation -- is rarely performed. A smart city would provide data on parolee/probationer employment, housing and Medicaid outcomes on the home pages of its police, jail and court websites.
• Silo busting: Parolees and probationers seek services offered by numerous city agencies, but these agencies often operate as silos - that is, with little interaction with other agencies. Maneuvers that harmonize information and activities across agencies would allow city officials to measure the collective impact of a variety of city services on the outcomes of parolees and those on probation.
• Data sharing: Many cities have connected the data systems of their law-enforcement, court and jail systems, but few have connected these data systems to those serving the "no wrong door" social-service systems they have been building. These Web-based systems aim to provide caseworkers with a 360-degree view of a client's needs and available services. Allowing public-safety personnel and social-services caseworkers to collaborate electronically with each other is a smart idea.
• Data analysis: Many major cities now have performance-management-focused "stat" systems. However, a few local governments are taking that to a new level with a focus on performance analytics. Chicago, for example, has begun to identify predictor variables and develop simulated models that forecast, prioritize and allocate city resources more efficiently. These analytics would be fine substitutes for our current recidivism-prediction logic models.
• Evidence-based practice: Real-time data, easily accessible by both government agencies and the public, could be used to establish evidence-based practices, perhaps employing a mechanism similar to the executive-branch commission that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed to provide "rigorous impact analysis into program design." As two Brookings Institution scholars put it, "A focus on evidence-based policy making (as opposed to its evil twin, policy-based evidence making) is an important goal." But to create evidence-based practice, we need data on how program inputs translate into outcomes.
• Budgeting: Since efforts to reduce arrests, and therefore incarceration and recidivism, will call on a different array of services from today's models, public-safety budgets will need to be reallocated. That will need to involve a process of budget simulation: collecting and analyzing data on arrests, goals for arrest reduction, savings that would result from meeting those goals, and the impact of redistribution across public, private and nonprofit social-service providers.
What many of these steps have in common is a reliance on government that is networked as never before. That's something that public-management experts have been advocating for decades, and modern tools provide the best opportunity yet to achieve it. Every area of government can benefit, but none more than our efforts to bring greater social justice into our criminal-justice system.
If middle-class America thinks the statement below doesn't include them----WAKE UP. When the election system is fixed so WE THE PEOPLE cannot get bad pols out----then we will see an explosion of crime and violence which global pols intend to meet with global militarized forces and not long after this will be how everyone lives.
'If you support an elected official that is owned, then you are owned. You are still a slave.'
This is where a reduction in gun violence starts-----with a Baltimore States Attorney that wants to mete out justice for victims of crime---not only street crime-----but government corruption and Wall Street frauds because that is where the future lies for citizens in underserved communities waiting for REAL job opportunities and not the same old non-profit and job training leading nowhere routine.
Everyone understands if a person feels they cannot access justice through a legal system----they are driven to be that justice. Much of the violence between groups of citizens are just that----getting guns out of communities starts with empowering people with rights and a pathway to justice.
Below you see what is true------every election for this important Baltimore Attorney's position is filled with people having no intention of doing any of this......
THIS IS WHERE A MAYOR OF BALTIMORE AND CITY COUNCIL COMES IN AND MAKES THESE JUSTICE PROCESSES WORK AND/OR TAKES IT TO THE US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO DO SO.
During political campaigns, especially local campaigns, many of us vote for the people we like or the ones that look most appealing. A reporter asked me one day " Have you noticed that no one elected in Baltimore City is unattractive?" I didn't notice at the time, but I do now. Because we often look at the wrong issues, we miss the most important issue of MONEY. For example: Marilyn Mosby mailed out 1 million dollars worth a campaign literature in the last 2 weeks of the primary election. This money was never raised in her campaign. Many police brutality activist believe they put Marilyn in office, but they didn't; the people that paid the 1 million dollars +, put her in office. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) gave her the max of $4000. City Councilman Ed Reisinger exceeded the max and gave her $6000, because he wants Black people in Cherry Hill to have felony charges, so when they are forced out, they won't get housing vouchers (truth). Now tell me, who owns Marilyn Mosby and why did you vote for her? Elder C D Witherspoon
Below you see the top gun control policies from Johns Hopkins and beyond the popular banning assault rifles/ammo, background checks, and licensed gun dealers you see lots of what will become reasons to deny most Americans the right to own guns. Bringing in what are very vague descriptions of high-risk people and mental health will inevitably capture just about all Americans. From bar room fights comes alcohol and from treatment for depression comes mental health and VOILA----every college student found drunk on the street would lose their rights to own a gun.
Hopkins deliberately fails to address what we all know will become true------as more and more handguns are taken from US cities-----more and more movement by international cartels of BUSH/CHENEY WAR WEAPONS DROPPED IN UNSTABLE NATIONS will move into the US----they will arrive just as drugs do----cartels have their own submarines----they have frog men crawling onto beaches----they drop from small engine planes into rural areas-----and now Obama and Congress have made it super-easy------
MILITARY DRONES ARE NOW COMMERCIAL----FLYING BELOW RADAR AND UNDETECTABLE WILL CARRY DRUGS AND GUNS RIGHT TO SOMEONE'S DOOR.
Hopkins knows this. Hopkins makes clear----THERE ARE NO EXCUSES when one brings in poverty and unemployment which Hopkins creates in Baltimore as the top source to gun violence and crime. Hopkins is also the one with attachment to global military and security corporations spending the last few decades building militarized policing in International Economic Zones in Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific. This is all Hopkins has planned for Baltimore.
CITIZENS OF BALTIMORE MUST HAVE A MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL THAT MOVES AWAY FROM WALL STREET BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT AND A VERY, VERY VERY GLOBAL NEO-CONSERVATIVE JOHNS HOPKINS TO FIX THIS PROBLEM WITH GUNS IN COMMUNITIES UNDER A US CONSTITUTIONAL/RULE OF LAW/EQUAL PROTECTION/SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC MODEL.
Gun Policy Summit: Expert Recommendations
More than 20 of the world's leading gun policy experts have identified several research-based policies to reduce gun violence in the United States. The recommendations are the result of the summit on gun violence convened by Johns Hopkins on Jan. 14 and 15.
"The purpose of putting forth these recommendations is to provide a research-based framework for reducing the staggering toll of gun violence in America," says summit organizer Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Importantly, most recommended policies have broad public support and would not violate constitutional rights."
Collectively, the summit participants recommend the following:
• Establish a universal background check system, which would apply to all persons purchasing a firearm (inheritance exception).
• Require all sales to be facilitated through a federally licensed gun dealer. This would have the effect of mandating the same record keeping for all firearm transfers.
• Increase the maximum amount of time for the FBI to complete a background check from three to 10 business days.
• Require that all firearm owners report the theft or loss of their firearm within 72 hours of becoming aware of its loss.
• Ensure that persons who have a license to carry a firearm be subjected to a background check when purchasing a firearm.
Expanded conditions prohibiting high-risk individuals from purchasing guns
• Persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor would be prohibited from firearm purchase for 15 years.
• Persons committing a violent crime as a juvenile would be prohibited from firearm purchase until age 30.
• Persons convicted of two or more crimes involving drugs or alcohol within a three-year period would be prohibited from firearm purchase for 10 years.
• Persons convicted of a single drug-trafficking offense would be prohibited from gun purchase.
• Persons determined by a judge to be a gang member would be prohibited from gun purchase.
• A minimum age of 21 should be required for handgun purchase or possession.
• Persons who have violated a restraining order issued because of the threat of violence (including permanent, temporary, and emergency) would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
• Federal restrictions of gun purchase for persons with serious mental illness should be focused on the dangerousness of the individual.
• Federal incentives for states to provide information about disqualifying mental health conditions to the National Instant Check System for gun buyers should be fully funded.
Trafficking and dealer licensing
• A permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should be appointed and confirmed.
• ATF should be required to provide adequate resources to inspect and otherwise engage in oversight of federally licensed gun dealers.
• Restrictions imposed under the Firearm Owners Protections Act limiting ATF to one routine inspection of gun dealers per year should be repealed.
• Provisions of the Firearm Owners Protection Act raising the evidentiary standard for prosecuting dealers who make unlawful sales should be repealed.
• ATF should be granted authority to develop a range of sanctions for gun dealers who violate gun sales or other laws.
• The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, providing gun dealers and manufacturers protection from tort liability, should be repealed.
• Federal restrictions on access to firearms trace data, other than for ongoing criminal investigations, should be repealed.
• Federal law mandating reporting of multiple sales of handguns should be expanded to include long guns.
• Adequate penalties are needed for violations of the above provisions.
• Congress should provide financial incentives to states to mandate childproof or personalized guns.
• The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission should be granted authority to regulate the safety of firearms and ammunition as consumer products.
• Ban the future sale of assault weapons, incorporating a more carefully crafted definition—compared with the 1994 ban—to reduce the risk that the law can be easily evaded.
• Ban the future sale and possession of large-capacity (greater than 10 rounds) ammunition magazines.
For those living in US cities like Baltimore who wonder how police abuse and militarization became worse these few years----the answer is the combination of growing Homeland Security allowed to bring global private military security corporations into the US to train and/or replace police officials-----and Obama's commitment to the War on Drugs funding ----a record $2 billion-----tied with Obama's embracement of the War on Guns policies of global corporations posing progressive as getting guns off the street to protect citizens. Obama did this not because he is the progressive social Democrat he campaigned in 2008---he did it because he lied in 2008---he is a raging global corporate pol-----as neo-conservative as Bush. Look locally at Baltimore City Hall and Baltimore's Maryland Assembly pols---and you see the same thing---the Maryland Black Caucus----as with the Baltimore Black Caucus are tied completely to these far-right Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons.
AS ARE ALL MARYLAND POLS---THEY ARE ALL CLINTON WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS AND/OR BUSH/HOPKINS NEO-CONS.
So, as Republicans pretend these policies are coming from Democrats-----Republicans are the loudest at shouting Obama is a traitor and needs to be impeached----AS HE SHOULD HAVE AS WELL AS BUSH----because they know where all this global police militarization leads-----
AND THE DEMOCRATIC BASE OF LABOR AND JUSTICE DON'T BECAUSE ALL THE LEADERS IN LABOR AND JUSTICE ARE CAPTURED TO THESE GLOBAL POLICIES.
That's why I state that in this 2016 Baltimore City Hall election the young black candidates are all STILL shouting global market and neo-liberal policy because that is what black organizations tied to building young black leaders are teaching them. So, citizens in cities being literally killed by policy that is slated to get far worse----don't even know what is causing it---they are still protecting Obama because people like Al Sharpton are criss-crossing the US telling black citizens to support Obama's LEGACY.
THIS IS WHY OBAMA/CLINTON/BUSH SEE A GLOBAL PRIVATE MILITARY FORCE INSIDE THE US AS THE NEXT STEP--------INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ZONES OPERATE UNDER GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL LAW-------NOT US LAW.
Take a look at this webpage to see where in your state these zones are being built and know what happens in Baltimore area will expand and effect all of Maryland.
Nothing American happening in US FEZ -------say global pols. The same foreign military and security corporations being installed in US have been installed in China, India, Malaysia et al--------in International Economic Zones.
last update: December 21, 2015
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It would be public universities shouting and educating against this global corporate standing army being brought to replace our US military and police forces.....but they are corporatized with university leaders working for global corporations. THEY ARE SILENCED. White citizens are being played by class and race issues not knowing either what the goals are-----and VOILA----the US is no longer---it is an International Economic Zone colonial structure.
'During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized [George W.] Bush and the Republicans for cutting Byrne, a federal police program beloved by his running mate Joe Biden. Despite Tulia … and a growing pile of bodies from botched drug raids, and the objections of groups as diverse as the ACLU, the Heritage Foundation, La Raza and the Cato Institute, Obama promised to restore full funding to the program, which, he said, “has been critical to creating the anti-gang and anti-drug task forces our communities need.”
He kept his promise. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resuscitated the Byrne grants with a whopping $2 billion infusion, by far the largest budget in the program’s 20-year history'.
Obama Administration and UN Announce Global Police Force to Fight ‘Extremism’ In U.S.
by Pamela Geller2 Oct 2015
On Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced at the United Nations that her office would be working in several American cities to form what she called the Strong Cities Network (SCN), a law enforcement initiative that would encompass the globe.
This amounts to nothing less than the overriding of American laws, up to and including the United States Constitution, in favor of United Nations laws that would henceforth be implemented in the United States itself – without any consultation of Congress at all.
The United Nations is a sharia-compliant world body, and Obama, speaking there just days ago, insisted that “violent extremism” is not exclusive to Islam (which it is). Obama is redefining jihad terror to include everyone but the jihadists. So will the UN, driven largely by the sharia-enforcing Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the pro-Islamic post-American President Obama, use a “global police force” to crush counter-jihad forces?
After all, with Obama knowingly aiding al-Qaeda forces in Syria, how likely is it that he will use his “global police force” against actual Islamic jihadists? I suspect that instead, this global police force will be used to impose the blasphemy laws under the sharia (Islamic law), and to silence all criticism of Islam for the President who proclaimed that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
What is a global police force doing in our cities? This is exactly the abdication of American sovereignty that I warned about in my book, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America. The Obama Department of Justice made it clear that it was exactly that when it distributed a press release last week announcing the “Launch of Strong Cities Network to Strengthen Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism.” In that press release, the DoJ complained that “while many cities and local authorities are developing innovative responses to address this challenge, no systematic efforts are in place to share experiences, pool resources and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale.”
So if the local and municipal effort to counter the euphemistic and disingenuous “violent extremism” is inadequate and hasn’t developed “systematic efforts are in place to share experiences, pool resources and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale,” the feds – and the UN – have to step in. Thus the groundwork is being laid for federal and international interference down to the local level. “The Strong Cities Network,” Lynch declared, “will serve as a vital tool to strengthen capacity-building and improve collaboration” – i.e., local dependence on federal and international authorities.
Lynch made the global (that is, United Nations) involvement clear when she added: “As we continue to counter a range of domestic and global terror threats, this innovative platform will enable cities to learn from one another, to develop best practices and to build social cohesion and community resilience here at home and around the world.”
This internationalist character was brought to the fore by the fact that the Strong Cities Network was launched on September 29 not at the White House or the Department of Homeland Security, or at the FBI headquarters or anywhere else that might be fitting for a national project, but at the United Nations.
Even more ominously, the DoJ press release says that the Strong Cities Network “will strengthen strategic planning and practices to address violent extremism in all its forms by fostering collaboration among cities, municipalities and other sub-national authorities.” Sub-national and international: the press release then quotes Governing Mayor Stian Berger Røsland of Oslo, Norway, a participant in the Strong Cities Network, saying: “To counter violent extremism we need determined action at all levels of governance. To succeed, we must coordinate our efforts and cooperate across borders. The Strong Cities Network will enable cities across the globe pool our resources, knowledge and best practices together and thus leave us standing stronger in the fight against one of the greatest threats to modern society.”
But what is that greatest threat, exactly? Remember, the DoJ presser says that the SCN will “address violent extremism in all its forms.” It also says that it will aid initiatives that are working toward “building social cohesion and resilience to violent extremism.” “Building social cohesion” is a euphemism for keeping peace between non-Muslim and Muslim communities – mostly by making sure that non-Muslims don’t complain too loudly about, much less work against, rapidly expanding Muslim populations and the Islamization of their communities.
The DoJ presser noted that at the launch of the Strong Cities Network, “welcoming remarks” would be offered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. The involvement of New York City’s Marxist internationalist mayor is yet another warning sign.
Assert American sovereignty and individual rights. Contact your representatives now. Exhort them to oppose SCN now. Exhort them to keep America free – while it still is.
I shared the article telling the history of US Constitutional law around gun ownership because I wanted to show the intent of the words----PROTECTION AGAINST ANY STANDING FOREIGN ARMY ON US SOIL-----AND WELL-ARMED PUBLIC MILITIA are centered on just what is happening today under Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons. Obama's terms in office have with our Congressional pols been about creating laws to weaken these US Constitutional protections against foreign armies---WHICH ARE THE SAME AS GLOBAL CORPORATE MILITARY AND SECURITY CORPORATIONS-----the Homeland Security Department created by Bush and super-sized by Obama deliberately creates this network inside the US and the billions of dollars sent by Obama and Congress to fund this War on Drugs is what brings all the militarized equipment and training to US cities.
The US always brought foreign military to US military bases to aid in defense overseas----but the numbers and expansion of these foreign troops are growing around the nation. Think what Wall Street has as a goal-----with the coming economic crash that will be near Great Depression with unemployment soaring and Federals social programs defunded because all government coffers have been tied to massive amounts of US Treasury and municipal bond debt----the movement to make US cities like Baltimore into International Economic Zones will cause HUGE CITIZEN PROTEST AND RIOTS....WHETHER BLACK, WHITE----MIDDLE-CLASS OR POOR-----there will be huge unrest----and that is why Wall Street has pushed Obama and Clinton neo-liberals in Congress with Bush/Hopkins neo-cons to build this heightened global military presence in the US.
Where Is the Proof that UN Soldiers are Actively Operating on American Soil? Oh, Right Here…
August 17, 2012 | Frank Drover | The Daily Sheeple
As talk of the US government’s police state expansion heats up and the threat of martial law becomes the topic of conversation for many who are concerned about recent legislative actions and Executive branch orders, many Americans remain skeptical that foreign troops have even stepped foot on American sovereign soil.
They argue that there’s no way that we’d allow foreigners access to our military, technology, strategies or tactics.
Where’s the proof that there are thousands of United Nations soldiers and units in America?
It turns out the proof is right here.
Not only are foreign troops under the banner of the United Nations stationed within the continental United States, they are and have been actively training, and not just for traditional military engagements.
As depicted in the following video, troops and personnel under the command of the United Nations have been training all over the United States in joint exercises that include policing operations and terrorist suppression:
The 502nd was in Arkansas practicing house-to-house searches and seizures in a joint U.N. training mission called Agile Provider in the Spring of 1994.
Agile Provider involved 44,000 U.N troops including troops for France and the Netherlands training n the states of Georgia, North and South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee.
Yes, UN troops have been trained in this country in the past, but not in brigade strengths and not in domestic support house-to-house searches and seizures.
Many of our Congressman deny that UN troops are being trained in this country at all.
Numerous videos, like the one that follows below, have been made available on the internet and show satellite photos of United Nations vehicles stationed on military bases within the United States – so yes, not only are UN troops being trained in the United States, they would also have UN desginated vehicles already available for operational use should they be called upon to deploy in US cities:
In a report made available at Before It’s News and originally published by Steve Quayle, a reader with inside ties to the US military and DHS warns that thousands of Spetnatz operatives, Russia’s Special Purpose Forces, have been infiltrating the United States:
All of us have heard over the years rumors of foreign troops in the USA. I’ve always been reluctant to mention on-air because I have no way of verifying the reports. I received a call today from a long-time trusted Christian friend whom I have known for many years. The couple is wealthy and well-connected to movers and shakers in the USA and Europe. Trust me, if they want to “name drop” it’s not an exaggeration for them. I was was informed by the wife that they have a friend in DHS who promised to pass on anything significant that would be a sign for immediate preparation. That agent called yesterday. He is hearing talk inside DHS that thousands of Sp….N…Z boys from that place connected to Alaska have been infiltrating from Canada into USA throughout this summer. He estimated the number so far exceeds 20,000 commandos. He advised my friends to take action immediately for food, water, ammo. I told her forget it! You need a plane ticket. The greatest shock to the American people will not be the invasion, but the merger of DHS with the invaders. Then they will understand the purpose of the 750 million rounds of hollow point ammo. Marxist Communist Valery Jarrett is the real power in DHS – not Napolitano. The nation has been compromised and sold out. Colonel Lunev told me in 1999 that the Sp…N…Z…boys will start arriving in large numbers months before the war.
These are not the only reports of foreign troops within the borders of the United States. Alex Jones documented the training of foreign troops in his documentary Police State 2000. During the development of the movie Jones took the following snapshot, which depicts Dutch troops training during operation Urban Warrior:
Foreign troops trained alongside US Marines, practicing taking over American cities, rounding up American civilians and imprisoning them in barbed wire “containment” camps. Conditioning of the troops included having the actors posing as US citizens beg them for food and loudly proclaim that their Constitutional Rights were being violated. The troops were trained to ignore these pleas and accept them as part of “urban warfare.” (source: Infowars)
Video excerpt of Police State 2000 (full movie here) showing foreign troops in the US:
(Interviews of soldiers and training exercises begin at 3:00)
Thus, despite arguments to the contrary from Congressman and average Americans alike, foreign troops have and are training on US soil, they are operating under the banner of the United Nations, and they are involved not in conventional war operations, but operations that include the searching of homes, the detainment of non-combatants and the controlling of mass populations in large metropolitan areas.
As recently as April 2012 the Defense Department confirmed that foreigners would be operating within the United States as reported by Alex Thomas:
The drills, which will take place throughout May, mark the first time that Russian and US troops will train along side each other on American soil and correlate with a long line of Foreign military’s training to take on the American people.
Interestingly, Russia is actually conducting a joint naval training exercise with Communist China at this very moment.
(Source: The Intel Hub)
This particular anti-terrorism exercise was designed to simulate a take-over of Denver International airport.
So, to answer the question, where is the proof that UN troops and foreign soldiers are training and stationed in the United States?
The proof is everywhere – you just have to be willing to accept it.
Special thanks to N.O. for sharing his research for this report
I wrote a few years ago of having attended Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health symposium on C-SPAN on gun control in which Hopkins outlined what was the War on Gun policies with over 20 gun control rules that would make owning a gun almost impossible because to be disqualified from owning a gun was easy. This was played to be a progressive gun control policy to protect citizens against gun violence and mass killings----but it is a global corporate policy meant to get all guns out of the hands of citizens at the same time a foreign army is building to occupy the US.
If we weren't in the throws of a global, autocratic, repressive and criminal government----gun control would be fine----get rid of them. When your US military is mostly private global military contractors and foreign troops----we need to slow down on what THE WAR ON GUNS LOOKS LIKE.
If you are a citizen in Baltimore you know what it looks like-----Baltimore unofficially uses Hopkins' War on Guns even though the Maryland Assembly could not pass it under O'Malley----and Obama uses this Hopkins' gun policy as his national gun policy. Citizens in Baltimore are having to face all kinds of fear of being found with a gun---even if it is legally registered and owned----they are being jail under false pretense for having guns and then forced to plea deal in order to get out of jail----in other words---citizens in Baltimore are being charged with gun crimes as much as they were with drug crimes----and we know what ZERO TOLERANCE looks like for drugs----and it is coming for guns.
So, as a social Democrat I am being forced to look at what most social Democrats want---gun control policy -----while shouting that the goals of global corporate pols will be so autocratic and repressive as to leave citizens with no government force working for them----THIS IS CORPORATE STATE FASCISM. A government acts illegally----moving all power to corporations and their profit-----and leaves citizens feeling repressed, without power, and fearful of normal government functions---LIKE POLICING.
Has The Department of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army?
If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies.
By John Whitehead | June 17, 2014
“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison
“Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.”—Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant
If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.
The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61 billion budget and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”
In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.
A better plan would be to abolish the DHS altogether. In making the case for shutting down the de facto national police agency, analyst Charles Kenny offers the following six reasons: one, the agency lacks leadership; two, terrorism is far less of a threat than it is made out to be; three, the FBI has actually stopped more alleged terrorist attacks than DHS; four, the agency wastes exorbitant amounts of money with little to show for it; five, “An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification”; and six, the agency is just plain bloated.
To Kenny’s list, I will add the following: The menace of a national police force, a.k.a. a standing army, vested with so much power cannot be overstated, nor can its danger be ignored. Indeed, as the following list shows, just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to police agencies in the form of grants.
Militarizing police and SWAT teams. The DHS routinely hands out six-figure grants to enable local municipalities to purchase military-style vehicles, as well as a veritable war chest of weaponry, ranging from tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, assault weapons and combat uniforms. This rise in military equipment purchases funded by the DHS has, according to analysts Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, “paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams.” The end result? An explosive growth in the use of SWAT teams for otherwise routine police matters, an increased tendency on the part of police to shoot first and ask questions later, and an overall mindset within police forces that they are at war—and the citizenry are the enemy combatants.
Spying on activists, dissidents and veterans. In 2009, DHS released three infamous reports on Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism,” and another entitled Operation Vigilant Eagle, outlining a surveillance program targeting veterans. The reports collectively and broadly define extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” In 2013, it was revealed that DHS, the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the private sector were working together to conduct nationwide surveillance on protesters’ First Amendment activities.
Stockpiling ammunition. DHS, along with other government agencies, has been stockpiling an alarming amount of ammunition in recent years, which only adds to the discomfort of those already leery of the government. As of 2013, DHS had 260 million rounds of ammo in stock, which averages out to between 1,300 to 1,600 rounds per officer. The US Army, in contrast, has roughly 350 rounds per soldier. DHS has since requisitioned more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammo, “enough,” concludes Forbes magazine, “to sustain a hot war for 20+ years.”
Distributing license plate readers. DHS has already distributed more than $50 million in grants to enable local police agencies to acquire license plate readers, which rely on mobile cameras to photograph and identify cars, match them against a national database, and track their movements. Relying on private contractors to maintain a license plate database allows the DHS and its affiliates to access millions of records without much in the way of oversight.
Contracting to build detention camps.
In 2006, DHS awarded a $385 million contract to a Halliburton subsidiary to build detention centers on American soil. Although the government and Halliburton were not forthcoming about where or when these domestic detention centers would be built, they rationalized the need for them in case of “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of other emergencies such as “natural disasters.” Viewed in conjunction with the NDAA provision allowing the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, it would seem the building blocks are already in place for such an eventuality.
Tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices.
Distributed to local police agencies as a result of grants from the DHS, these Stingray devices enable police to track individuals’ cell phones—and their owners—without a court warrant or court order. The amount of information conveyed by these devices about one’s activities, whereabouts and interactions is considerable. As one attorney explained: “Because we carry our cellphones with us virtually everywhere we go, stingrays can paint a precise picture of where we are and who we spend time with, including our location in a lover’s house, in a psychologist’s office or at a political protest.”
Carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities.
Each year, DHS funds military-style training drills in cities across the country. These Urban Shield exercises, elaborately staged with their own set of professionally trained Crisis Actors playing the parts of shooters, bystanders and victims, fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers, bystanders and the media into thinking it’s a real crisis.
Using the TSA as an advance guard. The TSA now searches a variety of government and private databases, including things like car registrations and employment information, in order to track travelers’ before they ever get near an airport. Other information collected includes “tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information.”
Conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners.
Under the direction of the TSA, American travelers have been subjected to all manner of searches ranging from whole-body scanners and enhanced patdowns at airports to bag searches in train stations. In response to public outrage over what amounted to a virtual strip search, the TSA has begun replacing the scanners with equally costly yet less detailed models. The old scanners will be used by prisons for now.
Carrying out soft target checkpoints.
VIPR task forces, comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams have laid the groundwork for the government’s effort to secure so-called “soft” targets such as malls, stadiums, bridges, etc. Some security experts predict that checkpoints and screening stations will eventually be established at all soft targets, such as department stores, restaurants, and schools. DHS’ Operation Shield, a program which seeks to check up on security protocols around the country with unannounced visits, conducted a surprise security exercise at the Social Security Administration building in Leesburg, Fla., when they subjected people who went to pick up their checks to random ID checks by federal agents armed with semi-automatic weapons.
Directing government workers to spy on Americans.
Terrorism Liaison Officers are firefighters, police officers, and even corporate employees who have received training to spy on and report back to government entities on the day-to-day activities of their fellow citizens. These individuals are authorized to report “suspicious activity” which can include such innocuous activities as taking pictures with no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements and drawings, taking notes, conversing in code, espousing radical beliefs, and buying items in bulk.
Conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers. Data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency, fusions centers—of which there are at least 78 scattered around the U.S.— constantly monitor our communications, collecting and cataloguing everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails. This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected: the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police. Despite a budget estimated to be somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion, these fusion centers have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on “flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras and other gadgets.”
Carrying out Constitution-free border control searches.
On orders from the DHS, the government’s efforts along the border have become little more than an exercise in police state power, ranging from aggressive checkpoints to the widespread use of drone technology, often used against American citizens traveling within the country. Border patrol operations occur within 100 miles of an international crossing, putting some 200 million Americans within the bounds of aggressive border patrol searches and seizures, as well as increasingly expansive drone surveillance. With 71 checkpoints found along the southwest border of the United States alone, suspicionless search and seizures on the border are rampant. Border patrol agents also search the personal electronic devices of people crossing the border without a warrant.
Funding city-wide surveillance cameras. As Charlie Savage reports for the Boston Globe, the DHS has funneled “millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a ‘surveillance society’ in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost.” These camera systems, installed on city streets, in parks and transit systems, operating in conjunction with sophisticated computer systems that boast intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification, military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime and facial recognition software, create a vast surveillance network that can target millions of innocent individuals.
Utilizing drones and other spybots
. The DHS has been at the forefront of funding and deploying surveillance robots and drones for land, sea and air, including robots that resemble fish and tunnel-bots that can travel underground. Despite repeated concerns over the danger surveillance drones used domestically pose to Americans’ privacy rights, the DHS has continued to expand its fleet of Predator drones, which come equipped with video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar. DHS also loans its drones out to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for a variety of tasks, although the agency refuses to divulge any details as to how, why and in what capacity these drones are being used by police. Incredibly, the DHS has also been handing out millions of dollars in grants to local police agencies to “accelerate the adoption” of drones in their localities.
It’s not difficult to see why the DHS has been described as a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast.” If it is a beast, however, it is a beast that is accelerating our nation’s transformation into a police state through its establishment of a standing army, a.k.a. national police force.
This, too, is nothing new. Historically, as I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the establishment of a national police force has served as a fundamental and final building block for every totalitarian regime that has ever wreaked havoc on humanity, from Hitler’s all-too-real Nazi Germany to George Orwell’s fictional Oceania. Whether fictional or historical, however, the calling cards of these national police agencies remain the same: brutality, inhumanity, corruption, intolerance, rigidity, and bureaucracy—in other words, evil.
You can just look at the players in this Hopkins gun conference and know---there is no one there that cares about crime and violence. When I moved to Baltimore several years ago I was openly told---Baltimore is one big black market economy. From top of the income scale to bottom and this is what drives the gun violence and crime in Baltimore. These conditions exist because of Johns Hopkins and Wall Street Baltimore Development----WALL STREET'S MAYOR BLOOMBERG -----home of looting US cities and Federal coffers of tens of trillions of dollars in fraud.
I went to the summit below and ask this question on C-SPAN----the problem with guns is the massive corporate frauds against the American people and government coffers and citizens watching as a US Justice Department and President allows the fraud to stand-------with ever deepening poverty and unemployment.
THAT IS WHY REPUBLICANS ON THE RIGHT ARE LOADING UP WITH GUN PURCHASES AND CITIZENS ON THE LEFT ARE BEING FORCED INTO BLACK MARKETS THAT END WITH GUN RUNNING AND EMPOWERMENT BY VIOLENCE.
No one knows this better than a university public health department-----the response by that Hopkins symposium leader-----WE DON'T SEE IT THAT WAY---THERE IS NO EXCUSE.
If you are the force behind all the social ills that makes BAltimore known for being completely black market----then you don't care about crime and violence----YOU ARE USING THEM FOR OTHER GOALS.
My Citizens Oversight Maryland has me talking to homeless saying police are planting guns on them to scare them from city streets------black citizens are having guns planted on them on the streets and in homes raided by SWAT teams allowed to force themselves into homes as if they were in Iraq-----each time people are being charged with gun crimes when many are not even involved with guns----SEE HOW THAT ALREADY LOOKS LIKE THE WAR ON DRUGS?
Toughening gun convictions will lead to the same long-term incarceration and Johns Hopkins----home of the original tough on drug laws and watching Baltimore abuse this enforcement----is now ready to make people afraid to even legally own a gun. This is why progressive social Democrats do not see this movement towards gun control by global corporate pols just as criminal and corrupt as any global cartel----as having good intent.
Complete coverage: Johns Hopkins gun policy summit
Top gun policy experts from around the world convene at Johns Hopkins to recommend federal actions to curb gun violence in the U.S.Hub staff report / January 14, 2013 Posted in University News, Politics+Society Tagged gun policy, school shootings
Video: Opening remarks from the summit
Photos / Gun policy summit at Johns Hopkins
One month to the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, global experts on gun policy gathered at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to present the latest data on gun violence in the U.S. and develop consensus recommendations to help inform policy.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the two-day Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America by outlining gun policy measures that he said need urgent attention by President Barack Obama and Congress. Bloomberg's complete remarks are available at mikebloomberg.com.
Bloomberg was introduced by Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, whose remarks are available at governor.maryland.gov.
Following Bloomberg's opening remarks, more than a dozen global experts in gun violence presented methodologically rigorous studies revealing provocative data and discoveries from research involving everything from suicide and domestic partner violence to the effectiveness of current gun possession prohibitions with regard to age.
There is a reason Maryland's O'Malley and Obama ran with this Mayor Bloomberg Johns Hopkins long list of gun control rules----it is tied to global corporate intent to take the US under International Economic Zone laws---global pols from Bush to Obama have used these War on Drugs et al policies in ways that repress and abuse with almost no results with the original goal---they simply loosen US Constitutional protections in the guise of public health.
If Bloomberg-----Johns Hopkins ------O'Malley were really concerned about the sky-rocketing crime and gun violence and death in BAltimore caused by the soaring impoverishment, unemployment, and loss of public community institutions coming from government cuts needed because of massive frauds of tens of trillions of dollars by WALL STREET AND MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND JOHNS HOPKINS THROUGH DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS AROUND THE NATION------then they would reform the criminal actions at the top of the income ladder so people in underserved communities could live with dignity and have a way to earn a living that is NOT BLACK MARKET.
Social Democrats know all these actions that move more and more NSA spying, Homeland Security militarization, open fleecing of citizens with public justice being dismantled----IS THE PROBLEM AS REGARDS GUN POLICY.
America Has a Black-Market Problem, Not a Drug Problem
The head of the military's Southern Command wants more money to fight a losing battle.
Here's how the Associated Press summed up his statement:
The U.S. doesn’t have the ships and surveillance capabilities to go after the illegal drugs flowing into the U.S. from Latin America, the top military commander for the region told senators Thursday, adding that the lack of resources means he has to “sit and watch it go by.”
Gen. John Kelly told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he is able to get about 20 percent of the drugs leaving Colombia for the U.S., but the rest gets through.
Think about that.
Though the U.S. spends billions of dollars each year fighting the War on Drugs, and despite having done so for many years, 80 percent of the drugs from one of the countries we've focused on the most still gets through all of our interdiction efforts.
Is the answer to throw more money at the prohibitionist strategy?
Kelly requests more resources:
Kelly ... said he would be able to interdict more drugs if he had 16 ships that could be used as the base for helicopters. Generally, law enforcement officials use the helicopters to quickly go after traffickers operating small boats, forcing them to stop and surrender. Currently, Kelly said he has one U.S. Navy ship and two Coast Guard vessels that can be used for the drug operations. The overall goal has been to reduce the amount of drugs coming into the U.S. from Latin America by 40 percent, which officials believe would cut into the profits of the cartels and perhaps turn them against each other.
To reach that goal, he said, would require the 16 ships.
So best-case scenario, we could spend more ... and maybe, if we're "lucky," spark a bloody cartel war abroad. Somehow, that inclines me to spend those extra billions elsewhere! If we turn to Kelly's full statement, we find a frustrating refusal to frankly state the tradeoffs that we've chosen in our present approach to drug policy.
In his telling, transnational criminal organizations are a security problem for several reasons. If you think about it, almost all of those reasons are exacerbated by the black market.
Kelly isn't to blame. He doesn't make policy. He tries to carry it out. But the policy that he's been given is as doomed to fail as it always has been. Prohibition may make some (though not all) people inclined to addiction safer in some ways. But it makes all of us less safe in other ways, and wreaks havoc in foreign countries. It would be nice if hearings on U.S. drug policy acknowledged such tradeoffs.
Meanwhile, innocent citizens living in US underserved city neighborhoods are living as if they are in a war zone----with mental health issues that go with third world living conditions all caused by bad public policy from Baltimore City Hall installing laws written by Wall Street Baltimore Development and very, very, very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins.
We do need to get guns out of our communities. We need citizens feeling safe in their neighborhoods. You ask most citizens in these neighborhoods what or who is the problem---they KNOW what causes this and often it is a member of their family who gets caught in this black market deliberately created by global Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons.
Please watch this video-----
Communities Under Siege! Violence and Occupation part 1
Published on Nov 20, 2013
On October 5, 2013, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) held a conference titled "Violence and Occupation of the African community; How do we Heal?"
Bernie Sanders as a social Democrat has for decades shouted out against this growing Homeland Security/NSA/militarized policing-----in this video he is one of a few politicians that call for the police acting unconstitutionally and illegally to be held accountable----THEY ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW BECAUSE BERNIE SEE THE US CONSTITUTION AND BILL OF RIGHTS AS STILL INTACT----while Clinton/Bush/Obama as global Wall Street pols do not see the US Constitution---they see International Economic Zones under a Trans Pacific Trade Pact getting rid of our US Constitution and Bill of Rights/Rule of Law----THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN DEMOCRATIC BASE OF LABOR AND JUSTICE BEING SOCIAL DEMOCRATS.
So, Bernie would fight all of this Wall Street fraud and corruption that is draining revenue from our government coffers and people's pockets-----he sees rebuilding small and regional businesses as key to any Federal work stimulus=====not outsourcing all work to corporations and global corporations-----he sees the need to rebuild public community structures that support family and mental health-----AND THIS IS WHAT ENDS GUN VIOLENCE IN US CITY COMMUNITIES. Bernie doesn't declare a WAR ON GUNS----he knows where that leads-----he supports simple gun control policy while protecting US Constitutional rights to own a gun.
PLEASE MAKE SURE THERE ARE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS IN ALL DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES FOR BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL AND MARYLAND CONGRESSIONAL RACES-----SO FAR WE SEE LOTS OF THE SAME CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS! VOTE FOR CINDY WALSH FOR MAYOR OF BALTIMORE!
Please watch this video----
Bernie Sanders on Militarization of Police and Accountability
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Presidential runner Bernie Sanders on Militarization of Police and Accountability.
I want to return this week to a critical public policy that once again is being played as progressive by global pols when it is very, very, very posing ----autocratic and militarization of US national societal structure. This is very controversial as it plays to all of the unconstitutional policing as well as to the soaring gun violence in underserved communities across America as poverty deepens and widens and more people are pushed into the black market to survive----
AS HAPPENS IN ALL THIRD WORLD NATIONS AS GLOBAL POLS ARE TRYING TO MAKE OF THE US.
First, let's be clear---the REAL gun control needs to start with US military arms dealers and the weapons that are finding their way into US communities and all of the hype global pols use to expand militarization in the US under the guise of WAR ON TERROR. We all know Bush/Cheney are the Halliburton/XE military contracting corporations that profiteered and used systemic defense industry fraud to make US global military corporation profits soar----and in doing so spread so many military weapons around the world in unstable nations under the excuse of arming friends of US that always become the enemy(terrorists) of the US. So, gun control starts with dismantling the privatization of our US military----and getting militarization out of our communities. As Bush/Hopkins neo-cons and Clinton/Obama neo-liberals use fear of domestic terrorism to expand presence in our communities----
CITIZENS AROUND THE NATION ARE MADE TO FEEL THEY NEED TO ARM TO PROTECT AGAINST WHAT THEY SEE AS A HOSTILE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF GLOBAL POLS WORKING FOR GLOBAL CORPORATIONS---NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
This article was from 2002------as Bush was just coming to office after Clinton-----think what a decade and two wars have done to these stats!
New World Disorder: Arms Dealers Profit from War on Terror
The following article from Lip Magazine looks at the issue of arms trade and the military in the context of the war on terror. You can see the original article at http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/featawehali_194.shtml.
New World Disorder: How U.S. Arms Dealers and Their Cabinet-Level Cronies Profit from the War on Terror
By Brian Awehali
November 11, 2002
What's wrong with this picture?
The world's lone superpower, fearful of being attacked by one of many real or perceived enemies, sets out to solve the problem by increasing weapon sales and military aid to the world. But the sales and aid aren't just made available to existing allies; indeed in the wake of Sept. 11th, the race is on to arm governments formerly considered unstable or otherwise "off-limits" due to gross human rights violations, on grounds that these nations are assisting in the sweeping "war against terrorism."
If that sounds illogical, then perhaps you're beginning to understand the perverse logic that pervades the U.S. arms industry. After Sept 11th, the industry has - with the support of the Bush Administration - stepped up its efforts to further reduce oversight and regulation of arms sales and military aid. This, despite a clear track record of providing weapons to the very forces now portrayed to a frightened public as threats.
In the process, the administration is apparently jettisoning efforts to use military aid as a carrot to encourage the advancement of human rights. In the past year, restrictions on military aid and arms sales to formerly off-limits regimes have largely been eliminated. Of the 67 countries which have received or are set to receive U.S. military aid, 32 have been identified by the State Department as having "poor" or worse human rights records.
"Two key [FY2002] Defense Department funding allocations - $390 million to reimburse nations providing support to U.S. operations in the war on terror and $120 million 'for certain classified activities,'" according to a report in the Arms Sales Monitor (Aug. 2002), can now be delivered "notwithstanding any other provision of the law."
In other words, Congress has approved a staggeringly large sum of military aid for regimes fighting an ill-defined "war on terror," and is working to ensure that there will be little or no public scrutiny of how such aid is spent.
The central question is: does this make the world a safer place for anyone but arms manufacturers and the politicians who love them?
Conflicts of Interest
From 1991 to 2000, the U.S. delivered $74 billion worth of military equipment, services and training to countries in the Middle East, according to a Sept. 2002 General Accounting Office (GAO) report. You might expect that a majority of that military aid went to our staunch ally in the region, Israel, which has been cited repeatedly by the U.N. and Amnesty International for human rights abuses. However, military aid to Saudi Arabia - where a majority of the terrorists reported to be involved in the Sept 11 attacks were from - topped $33 billion for the period, outpacing aid to Israel by a more than 5-to-1 margin.
What's more, there is ample evidence that arms sales to the Middle East are, in fact, destabilizing and dangerous.
"Foreign [military] assistance to the Middle East," noted West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd in 2001, "virtually ignores the spiraling violence in the region."
In a November 9, 2001 interview with Pakistan's Ausaf newspaper, none other than Osama bin Laden justified the Sept. 11 attacks by noting that the U.S. sells advanced weaponry to Israel, which is in turn used in the military occupation of Palestinian territories. Bin Laden was specifically discussing the sale of Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter planes. It's worth noting that Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney, was on the board of Lockheed Martin from 1994 until 2001, and would have been involved in overseeing this sale.
On July 13, 2002, the New York Times also reported that Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer, the Halliburton Company, is "benefiting very directly from the United States' effort to combat terrorism." From building cells for detainees at Guantanamo Bay ($300 million) to feeding American troops in Uzbekistan, the Times reported, "the Pentagon is increasingly relying on a unit of Halliburton called KBR, sometimes referred to as Kellogg Brown & Root." KBR is the "exclusive logistics supplier for both the Navy and the Army, providing services like cooking, construction, power generation and fuel transportation."
And then there's the Carlyle Group, described by the The Industry Standard as "the world's largest private equity firm," with more than $12 billion in assets. A Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies, the Carlyle Group stands to make a substantial sum of money from a global "war on terror." Former U.S. President George Bush, Sr. - whom current President Bush is known to consult about policy matters almost daily - works for the firm. According to the Baltimore Sun, so do former Secretary of State James Baker III and former Bush Sr. campaign manager Fred Malek. Former Republican Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci (a college roommate of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld), is the Carlyle Group's chairman and managing director.
The bin Laden family, hailing from Saudi Arabia, is also heavily invested in the Carlyle Group. On Sept. 27, 2001, the Wall Sreet Journal published an article entitled "Bin Laden Family Could Profit From Jump in Defense Spending Due to Ties to U.S. Bank." The "bank" in question? You guessed it: the Carlyle Group.
Cold War Communism vs. New World Terrorism
One of the more disturbing aspects of post-9/11 arms sales is the wanton redefinition of various dissident groups around the world as "terrorists." Even longstanding conflicts such as the 38-year-old civil war in Colombia have been re-cast as a war between our Colombian allies and "terrorists." In the Phillipines, "counter-terrorism aid" has been released to fight a band of Islamic militants, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), despite the fact that even government analysts admit the ASG poses no credible threat to the U.S. In Nepal, counter-terrorism aid has been allocated to help the Nepalese military quell Maoist dissent, despite State Department testimony that there's no evidence that these dissidents are connected to al-Qaeda.
Military aid flowing to Central Asia under the auspices of fighting terrorism seems equally ill-justified, with virtually every country in the region receiving increases in U.S. military aid despite connections to the war on terrorism that are, at best, tenuous.
What seems clear from a close look at military aid policy over the past year is that the U.S. military is using the threat of terrorism to garner support for its ambitious goals for extending its reach around the world, and that it doesn't mind arming unstable or anti-democratic regimes in the process.
The "weapons against terror" rationale is strained even further by a 2001 report released by the Centre for Defense Information, an independent non-profit research group. The report, entitled "US Arms Exports to Countries Where Terror Thrives," found the following:
"There are 28 terrorist groups currently operating in 18 countries, according to the State Department's bi-annual list of active foreign terrorist organizations....In the period of 1990-1999, the United States supplied 16 of the 18 countries on the State Department list with arms.....In addition, the U.S. military (and CIA) has trained the forces of many of these 18 countries in U.S. war fighting tactics, in some cases including individuals now involved in terrorism."
In sum, the U.S. has sold weapons or training to almost 90% of the countries it has identified as harboring terrorists. A severe restructuring of U.S. arms export policy is in order, but little or nothing is being done to ensure a safer future.
Guns and History in the Middle East: Why Insecurity Sells
Perhaps nowhere is the correlation between arms sales and violence more apparent than in the Middle East, where the U.S. sells an enormous amount of weapons.
According to an August 6, 2002 congressional report on arms sales to developing countries, "The Persian Gulf War....played a major role in further stimulating already high levels of arms transfer agreements with nations in the Near East region. The war created new demands by key purchasers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for a variety of advanced weapons systems."
"The Gulf states' arms purchase demands," the report continued, "were not only a response to Iraq's aggression against Kuwait, but a reflection of concerns regarding perceived threats from a potentially hostile Iran."
The U.S. dominated the arms market in the region from 1994-2001, selling more than $13 billion worth of weapons to Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Russia and China also sold $8 billion worth of weapons to Iran, Algeria, Syria, Yemen, and Libya. Judging by numbers alone, it's hard to miss the parallels to Cold War-era geopolitical strategy.
Also hard to miss is the profit motive. 2001 marked a slump for arms dealers, as sales to developing nations dropped 43%, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report. Peace, obviously, is not good business for the "defense" industry.
Why would countries siphon money from all manner of social programs in order to purchase expensive weapons systems if they didn't feel threatened? The reason has more to do with insecurity than fiscal logic, as evidenced by the fact that Israel, despite a declining economy, was the number one U.S. arms importer in 2001, purchasing, among other weapons, 52 F-16 fighter jets and six Apache helicopters.
Given that Israel has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law with its advanced U.S. weapons systems, it's clear that profits - and geopolitical advantage - trump human rights when it comes to selling weapons.
Focusing on the War, Not the Battle
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed," proclaimed former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. "The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
Fifty years later, the figures seem to back Eisenhower up. The 2002 Federal Military Budget stands at a mind-boggling $343 billion. Consider that the same budget allocates a comparatively paltry $39 billion to children's health, $6 billion to the Headstart program, and $1 billion to combat world hunger. It's estimated that it would cost just $6 billion a year - or approximately 1/57th of the military budget - to provide healthcare for all uninsured children in the United States.
Given the broad bipartisan support for a war with Iraq, and considering the largely-abysmal quality of most mainstream coverage of the subject, even the encouragingly large number of spirited anti-war protests around the world may not be enough to prevent an attack. However, there are battles and there are wars: the battle to prevent an attack on Iraq might fail, but the war to end a global arms race and U.S. militarism can still be won.
The U.S. military-industrial complex is a giant enterprise, employing hundreds of thousands of people, raking in billions of dollars in profits every year, and utilizing a veritable army of lobbyists and Washington insiders to maintain its dominant position in the U.S. economy. As such, the struggle to wean the country from its dependence on the defense industry has been - and will continue to be - a difficult one.
The good news is that the defense industry is not a monolith, and that opposition to U.S. arms sales is actually a popular, majoritarian stance. The problem is not so much one of educating the public on why arming the world to the teeth is a bad idea, but what can be done about it.
We can start by supporting efforts to end export subsidies on U.S. arms sales. Ever year, defense contractors receive billions of dollars in subsidies: that's taxpayer money poured right into the pockets of arms dealers, and it needs to stop. Defense industry types claim they need these subsidies in order to remain competitive around the globe, but at a time when U.S. military spending dwarfs our nearest competitor - Russia - by a margin of more than 9-to-1, this argument simply demonstrates the greed and lack of restraint that defines the defense industry.
The Bush Administration has been working, with relative success, to end all export controls on weapons in the name of fighting terrorism. Rebuffed in their efforts to completely do away with weapons controls, they have turned to a strategy of incrementalism, successfully weakening or circumventing a host of weapons export controls, including the Export Administration Act. All efforts to weaken the control, oversight, and regulation of arms exports should be challenged vigorously.
Most importantly, the defense industry must not be allowed the secrecy it seeks. Public servants of both major parties must be scrutinized for conflicts of interest, and barred from public office if such conflicts come to light. This should include virtually everyone in the Bush Administration.
The agency once called the Bureau of Export Administration, which controls weapons exports, recently changed its name to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). The BIS is part of the Commerce Department, and although lip service is paid to the office's responsibility for controlling arms exports, the BIS is also charged with promoting arms exports.
Politicians cannot simultaneously serve the interests of peace and war, nor can an office like the BIS serve two masters well. This office must be restructured or split in two if the concept of arms "control" is to be taken seriously. Instead of crowing on its website about its Defense Trade Advocacy Program generating "high-level, government-to-government advocacy on behalf of U.S. firms," helping them "succeed in today's highly competitive global defense market," and supporting "$22 billion in U.S. [weapons] exports since 1994," the BIS might instead make it its business to actually help stem the flow of arms to the rest of the world.
In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge uttered the famous line, "The business of America is business." However repugnant a truth that may be, fighting over the long haul against U.S. arms exports to the world - and diminishing the political influence of the defense industry - is important if we, as a nation wish to avoid the continuation of an even uglier truth: that the business of America is the business of war.
As I watch local TV news showing a police relations officers telling citizens in the Baltimore area to simply do what they are told by police no matter the illegal actions being used-----we here this spokesperson tell us----YOU DON'T KNOW THE KINDS OF PEOPLE WE ARE DEALING WITH.
The American people are being told police are up against street criminals having military weapons that penetrate police bullet-proof vests et al-----and this is why US police have to treat US citizens as if they were insurgents in a war zone.
'Today, police departments—or some of their key enforcement operations—appear to be on a war footing. Many dress in commando black, instead of the traditional blue. They own military-grade weapons, armored personnel carriers, helicopters and Humvees. Their training is military. Their approach is military. They are in a war against crime and violence and terror that they argue never ends. Just ask those at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15'.
'During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized [George W.] Bush and the Republicans for cutting Byrne, a federal police program beloved by his running mate Joe Biden. Despite Tulia … and a growing pile of bodies from botched drug raids, and the objections of groups as diverse as the ACLU, the Heritage Foundation, La Raza and the Cato Institute, Obama promised to restore full funding to the program, which, he said, “has been critical to creating the anti-gang and anti-drug task forces our communities need.”'
I wanted to include this long article because it starts with the history of the American Revolution where Founding Fathers wrote into the US Constitution the RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS----THE IDEA OF A WELL-ARMED PUBLIC MILITIA.
Now, REAL social Democrats do not like guns----we don't want citizens to own them but we certainly don't want our US military privatized to global corporations moving them into our communities to 'PROTECT US'.
So, here is the progressive posing--------you have a Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal in Hillary that is behind all of this Bush global military corporations and arms dealing worldwide running as a progressive wanting 'gun control'. Then, a REAL progressive social Democrat runs as wanting to protect the US Constitutional right to own guns. Is that social Democrat acting Republican and working for NRA----or is this social Democrat looking at the attack on our US sovereign nation by global corporations and private militarized policing as a need to protect THIS WELL-ARMED PUBLIC MILITIA.
This is what is so critical in this 2016 election and it figures deeply into Baltimore City and its policing and gun policies. We have the most Bush neo-conservative institution in Johns Hopkins working for global corporations and privatized military policing writing public policy that poses progressive by looking as though they are concerned with the gun violence in Baltimore brought about mostly by public policy Hopkins wrote.
How did America’s police become a military force on the streets?
Posted Jul 01, 2013 10:10 am CDT
By Radley Balko
Editor’s Note: In a remarkable speech at the National Defense University in May, President Barack Obama signaled an end to the war on terrorism; maybe not an end, it turns out, but a winding down of the costly deployments, the wholesale use of drone warfare, and even the very rhetoric of war. Click here to read the full editor’s note.
Are cops constitutional?
In a 2001 article for the Seton Hall Constitutional Law Journal, the legal scholar and civil liberties activist Roger Roots posed just that question. Roots, a fairly radical libertarian, believes that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow for police as they exist today. At the very least, he argues, police departments, powers and practices today violate the document’s spirit and intent. “Under the criminal justice model known to the framers, professional police ofﬁcers were unknown,” Roots writes.
Civil liberties activists say our nation’s police forces have become too militaristic—like this SWAT team participating in a drill in October–and are deployed even in nonviolent situations. Photo by AP/Elaine Thompson.
The founders and their contemporaries would probably have seen even the early-19th-century police forces as a standing army, and a particularly odious one at that. Just before the American Revolution, it wasn’t the stationing of British troops in the colonies that irked patriots in Boston and Virginia; it was England’s decision to use the troops for everyday law enforcement. This wariness of standing armies was born of experience and a study of history—early American statesmen like Madison, Washington and Adams were well-versed in the history of such armies in Europe, especially in ancient Rome.
If even the earliest attempts at centralized police forces would have alarmed the founders, today’s policing would have terriﬁed them. Today in America SWAT teams violently smash into private homes more than 100 times per day. The vast majority of these raids are to enforce laws against consensual crimes. In many cities, police departments have given up the traditional blue uniforms for “battle dress uniforms” modeled after soldier attire.
Police departments across the country now sport armored personnel carriers designed for use on a battleﬁeld. Some have helicopters, tanks and Humvees. They carry military-grade weapons. Most of this equipment comes from the military itself. Many SWAT teams today are trained by current and former personnel from special forces units like the Navy SEALs or Army Rangers. National Guard helicopters now routinely swoop through rural areas in search of pot plants and, when they ﬁnd something, send gun-toting troops dressed for battle rappelling down to chop and conﬁscate the contraband. But it isn’t just drugs. Aggressive, SWAT-style tactics are now used to raid neighborhood poker games, doctors’ ofﬁces, bars and restaurants, and head shops—despite the fact that the targets of these raids pose little threat to anyone. This sort of force was once reserved as the last option to defuse a dangerous situation. It’s increasingly used as the ﬁrst option to apprehend people who aren’t dangerous at all.
The Third Amendment reads, in full: “No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
You might call it the runt piglet of the Bill of Rights amendments—short, overlooked, sometimes the butt of jokes. The Supreme Court has yet to hear a case that turns on the Third Amendment, and only one such case has reached a federal appeals court. There have been a few periods in American history when the government probably violated the amendment [the War of 1812, the Civil War and on the Aleutian Islands during World War II], but those incursions into quartering didn’t produce any significant court challenges. Not surprisingly, then, Third Amendment scholarship is a thin field, comprising just a handful of law review articles, most of which either look at the amendment’s history or pontificate on its obsolescence.
Given the apparent irrelevance of the amendment today, we might ask why the framers found it so important in the first place. One answer [lies in] the “castle doctrine.” If you revere the principle that a man’s home is his castle, it hardly seems just to force him to share a portion of it with soldiers—particularly when the country isn’t even at war. But the historical context behind the Third Amendment shows that the framers were worried about something more profound than fat soldier hands stripping the country’s larders.
At the time the Third Amendment was ratified, the images and memories of British troops in Boston and other cities were still fresh, and the clashes with colonists that drew the country into war still evoked strong emotions. What we might call the “symbolic Third Amendment” wasn’t just a prohibition on peacetime quartering, but a more robust expression of the threat that standing armies pose to free societies. It represented a long-standing, deeply ingrained resistance to armies patrolling American streets and policing American communities.
And, in that sense, the spirit of the Third Amendment is anything but anachronistic.
As with the castle doctrine, colonial America inherited its aversion to quartering from England. And as with the castle doctrine, England wasn’t nearly as respectful of the principle in the colonies as it was at home. The first significant escalation of the issue came in the 1750s, when the British sent over thousands of troops to fight the Seven Years’ War (known in the United States as the French and Indian War). In the face of increasing complaints from the colonies about the soldiers stationed in their towns, Parliament responded with more provocation. The Quartering Act of 1765 required the colonists to house, feed and supply British soldiers (albeit in public facilities). Parliament also helpfully provided a funding mechanism with the hated Stamp Act.
Protests erupted throughout the colonies, [and] some spilled over into violence, most notably the Boston Massacre in 1770. England only further angered the colonists by responding with even more restrictions on trade and imports. Parliament then passed a second Quartering Act in 1774, this time specifically authorizing British generals to put soldiers in colonists’ homes. The law was aimed squarely at correcting the colonies’ insubordination. England then sent troops to emphasize the point.
Using general warrants, British soldiers were allowed to enter private homes, confiscate what they found, and often keep the bounty for themselves. The policy was reminiscent of today’s civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow police to seize and keep for their departments cash, cars, luxury goods and even homes, often under only the thinnest allegation of criminality.
A BATTLE OVER ARMIES
After the American Revolution, the leaders of the new American republic had some difficult decisions to make. They debated whether the abuses that British soldiers had visited upon colonial America were attributable to quartering alone or to the general aura of militarism that came with maintaining standing armies in peacetime—and whether restricting, prohibiting or providing checks on either practice would prevent the abuses they feared.
Antifederalists like George Mason, Patrick Henry, Sam Adams and Elbridge Gerry opposed any sort of national army. They believed that voluntary, civilian militias should handle issues of national security. To a degree, the federalists were sympathetic to this idea. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had all written on the threat to liberty posed by a permanent army. But the federalists still believed that the federal government needed the power to raise an army.
In the end, the federalists won the argument. There would be a standing army. But protection from its potential threats would come in an amendment contained in the Bill of Rights that created an individual right against quartering in peacetime. Even during wartime, quartering would need to be approved by the legislature, the branch more answerable to the people than the executive.
Taken together, the Second, Third and Tenth amendments indicate the founders’ desire for the power to enforce laws and maintain order to be primarily left with the states. As a whole, the Constitution embodies the rough consensus at the time that there would be occasions when federal force might be necessary to carry out federal law and dispel violence or disorder that threatened the stability of the republic, but that such endeavors were to be undertaken cautiously, and only as a last resort.
More important, the often volatile debate between the federalists and the antifederalists shows that the Third Amendment itself represented much more than the sum of its words. The amendment was in some ways a compromise, but it reflects the broader sentiment—shared by both sides—about militarism in a free society. Ultimately, the founders decided that a standing army was a necessary evil, but that the role of soldiers would be only to dispel foreign threats, not to enforce laws against American citizens.
FEDERAL FORCE ARISES
Before the Bill of Rights could even be ratified, however, a rebellion led by a bitter veteran tested those principles. Daniel Shays was part of the Massachusetts militia during the Revolutionary War. He was wounded in action and received a decorative sword from the French general the Marquis de Lafayette in recognition of his service.
After the war ended, Shays returned to his farm in Massachusetts. It wasn’t long before he began receiving court summonses to account for the debts he had accumulated while he was off fighting the British. Shays went broke. He even sold the sword from Lafayette to help pay his debts. Other veterans were going through the same thing.
The debt collectors weren’t exactly villains either. Businesses too had taken on debt to support the war. They set about collecting those debts to avoid going under. Shays and other veterans attempted to get relief from the state legislature in the form of debtor protection laws or the printing of more money, but the legislature balked.
In the fall of 1786, Shays assembled a group of 800 veterans and supporters to march on Boston. The movement subsequently succeeded in shutting down some courtrooms, and some began to fear that it threatened to erupt into a full-scale rebellion.
In January 1787, Massachusetts Gov. James Bowdoin asked the Continental Congress to raise troops to help put down the rebels, but under the Articles of Confederation the federal government didn’t have the power. So Bowdoin instead assembled a small army of mercenaries paid for by the same creditors who were hounding men like Shays. After a series of skirmishes, the rebellion had been broken by the following summer.
Shays’ Rebellion was never a serious threat to overthrow the Massachusetts government—much less that of the United States—and it was put down relatively quickly, without the use of federal troops and with little loss of life beyond the rebels themselves. But its success in temporarily shutting down courthouses in Boston convinced many political leaders in early America that a stronger federal government was needed. Inadvertently, Shays spurred momentum for what became the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
The impact of Shays’ Rebellion didn’t end, however, at Philadelphia. Memories of the rebellion and fears that something like it could destabilize the new republic blunted memories of the abuses suffered at the hands of British troops and made many in the new government more comfortable with the use of federal force to put down domestic uprisings.
In 1792, just five years after the ratification of the Bill of Rights, Congress passed the Calling Forth Act. The new law gave the president the authority to unilaterally call up and command state militias to repel insurrections, fend off attacks from hostile American Indian tribes, and address other threats that presented themselves while Congress wasn’t in session. In addition to the concerns raised by Shays’ Rebellion, growing discontent over one of the country’s first federal taxes—a tax on whiskey—was also making the law’s supporters anxious. Two years later, in 1794, President George Washington used the act to call up a militia to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.
So ideas about law and order were already evolving. The young republic had gone from a country of rebels lashing out at the British troops in their midst to a country with a government unafraid to use its troops to put down rebellions. But American presidents had still generally adhered to the symbolic Third Amendment. For the first 50 years or so after ratification of the Constitution, military troops were rarely, if ever, used for routine law enforcement. But, over time, that would change.
The Civil War and Reconstruction rekindled historic antipathy toward the use of military troops in the streets. And four major wars during the 20th century kept militarization in its intended context—protecting Americans by fighting overseas.
But as the Vietnam War abated, policymakers turned the war footing inward, transforming law enforcement against illegal drugs into a “war.” There was nothing secretive about this transformation. President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in June 1971. But as that war has unfolded over several decades, we seem not to have noticed its implications.
On Feb. 11, 2010, in Columbia, Mo., the police department’s SWAT team served a drug warrant at the home of Jonathan Whitworth, his wife and their 7-year-old son. Police claimed that eight days earlier they had received a tip from a conﬁdential informant that Whitworth had a large supply of marijuana in his home. They then conducted a trash pull, which turned up marijuana “residue” in the family’s garbage. That was the basis for a violent, nighttime, forced-entry raid on the couple’s home. The cops stormed in screaming, swearing and ﬁring their weapons; and within seconds of breaking down the door they intentionally shot and killed one of the family’s dogs, a pit bull. At least one bullet ricocheted and struck the family’s pet corgi. The wounded dogs whimpered in agony. Upon learning that the police had killed one of his pets, Whitworth burst into tears.
The Columbia Police Department SWAT team recorded many of its drug raids for training purposes, including this one. After battling with the police over its release, a local newspaper was ﬁnally able to get the video through state open records laws and posted it to the Internet. It quickly went viral, climbing to over 1 million YouTube views within a week. People were outraged.
The video also made national headlines. On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly discussed it with newspaper columnist and pundit Charles Krauthammer, who assured O’Reilly’s audience that botched raids like the one in the video were unusual; he warned viewers not to judge the war on drugs based on the images coming out of Columbia. Krauthammer was wrong. This was not a “botched” raid. In fact, the only thing unusual about the raid was that it was recorded. Everything else—from the relatively little evidence to the lack of a corroborating investigation, the killing of the dog, the fact that the raid was for nothing more than pot, the police misﬁring and their unawareness that a child was in the home—was fairly standard. The police raided the house they intended to raid, and they even found some pot. The problem for them was that possession of small amounts of pot in Columbia had been decriminalized. They did charge Whitworth with possession of drug paraphernalia for the pipe they found near the marijuana—a $300 ﬁne.
Most Americans still believe we live in a free society and revere its core values. These principles are pretty well-known: freedom of speech, religion and the press; the right to a fair trial; representative democracy; equality before the law; and so on. These aren’t principles we hold sacred because they’re enshrined in the Constitution, or because they were cherished by the founders. These principles were enshrined in the Constitution and cherished by the framers precisely because they’re indispensable to a free society. How did we get here? How did we evolve from a country whose founding statesmen were adamant about the dangers of armed, standing government forces—a country that enshrined the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights and revered and protected the age-old notion that the home is a place of privacy and sanctuary—to a country where it has become acceptable for armed government agents dressed in battle garb to storm private homes in the middle of the night—not to apprehend violent fugitives or thwart terrorist attacks, but to enforce laws against nonviolent, consensual activities?
How did a country pushed into a revolution by protest and political speech become one where protests are met with ﬂash grenades, pepper spray and platoons of riot teams dressed like RoboCops? How did we go from a system in which laws were enforced by the citizens—often with noncoercive methods—to one in which order is preserved by armed government agents too often conditioned to see streets and neighborhoods as battleﬁelds and the citizens they serve as the enemy?
Although there are plenty of anecdotes about bad cops, there are plenty of good cops. The fact is that we need cops, and there are limited situations in which we need SWAT teams. If anything, bad cops are the product of bad policy. And policy is ultimately made by politicians. A bad system loaded with bad incentives will unfailingly produce bad cops. The good ones will never enter the ﬁeld in the ﬁrst place, or they will become frustrated and leave police work, or they’ll simply turn bad. At best, they’ll have unrewarding, unfulﬁlling jobs. There are consequences to having cops who are too angry and too eager to kick down doors, and who approach their jobs with entirely the wrong mindset. But we need to keep an eye toward identifying and changing the policies that allow such people to become cops in the ﬁrst place—and that allow them to ﬂourish in police work.
FUNDING THE FLAME
By the mid-1990s, the Byrne Formula Grant Program that Congress had started in 1988 had pushed police departments across the country to prioritize drug crimes over other investigations. When applying for grants, departments are rewarded with funding for statistics such as the number of overall arrests, the number of warrants served or the number of drug seizures. Those priorities, then, are passed down to police ofﬁcers themselves and are reﬂected in how they’re evaluated, reviewed and promoted.
Perversely, actual success in reducing crime is generally not rewarded with federal money, on the presumption that the money ought to go where it’s most needed—high-crime areas. So the grants reward police departments for making lots of easy arrests (i.e., low-level drug offenders) and lots of seizures (regardless of size) and for serving lots of warrants. When it comes to tapping into federal funds, whether any of that actually reduces crime or makes the community safer is irrelevant—and in fact, successfully ﬁghting crime could hurt a department’s ability to rake in federal money.
But the most harmful product of the Byrne grant program may be its creation of hundreds of regional and multijurisdictional narcotics task forces. That term—narcotics task force—pops up frequently in case studies and horror stories. There’s a reason for that. While the Reagan and [first] Bush administrations had set up a number of drug task forces in border zones, the Byrne grant program established similar task forces all across the country. They seemed particularly likely to pop up in rural areas that didn’t yet have a paramilitary police team (what few were left).
The task forces are staffed with local cops drawn from the police agencies in the jurisdictions where the task force operates. Some squads loosely report to a state law enforcement agency, but oversight tends to be minimal to nonexistent. Because their funding comes from the federal government—and whatever asset forfeiture proceeds they reap from their investigations—local ofﬁcials can’t even control them by cutting their budget. This organizational structure makes some task forces virtually unaccountable, and certainly not accountable to any public ofﬁcial in the region they cover.
As a result, we have roving squads of drug cops loaded with SWAT gear who get more money if they conduct more raids, make more arrests and seize more property, and they are virtually immune to accountability if they get out of line. In 2009 the U.S. Department of Justice attempted a cost-beneﬁt analysis of these task forces but couldn’t even get to the point of crunching the numbers. The task forces weren’t producing any numbers to crunch. “Not only were data insufﬁcient to estimate what task forces accomplished,” the report read, “data were inadequate to even tell what the task forces did for routine work.”
Not surprisingly, the proliferation of heavily armed task forces that have little accountability and are rewarded for making lots of busts has resulted in some abuse.
THE TULIA RAID
The most notorious scandal involving these task forces came in the form of a massive drug sting in the town of Tulia, Texas. On July 23, 1999, the task force donned black ski-mask caps and full SWAT gear to conduct a series of coordinated predawn raids across Tulia. By 4 a.m., six white people and 40 blacks—10 percent of Tulia’s black population—were in handcuffs. The Tulia Sentinel declared: “We do not like these scumbags doing business in our town. [They are] a cancer in our community; it’s time to give them a major dose of chemotherapy behind bars.” The paper followed up with the headline “Tulia’s Streets Cleared of Garbage.”
The raids were based on the investigative work of Tom Coleman, a sort of freelance cop who, it would later be revealed, had simply invented drug transactions that had never occurred.
The ﬁrst trials resulted in convictions—based entirely on the credibility of Coleman. The defendants received long sentences. For those who were arrested but still awaiting trial, plea bargains that let them avoid prison time began to look attractive, even if they were innocent. Coleman was even named Texas lawman of the year.
But there were some curious details about the raids. For such a large drug bust, the task force hadn’t recovered any actual drugs. Or any weapons, for that matter. And it wasn’t for a lack of looking: The task force cops had all but destroyed the interiors of the homes they raided. Then some cases started falling apart. One woman Coleman claimed sold him drugs could prove she was in Oklahoma City at the time. Coleman had described another woman as six months’ pregnant—she wasn’t. Another suspect could prove he was at work during the alleged drug sale. By 2004, nearly all of the 46 suspects were either cleared or pardoned by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The jurisdictions the task force served eventually settled a lawsuit with the defendants for $6 million. In 2005 Coleman was convicted of perjury. He received 10 years’ probation and was ﬁned $7,500.
In the following years, there were numerous other corruption scandals, botched raids, sloppy police work, and other allegations of misconduct against the federally funded task forces in Texas. Things got so bad that by the middle of the 2000s Perry began diverting state matching funds away from the task forces to other programs. The cut in funding forced many task forces to shut down. The stream of lawsuits shut down or limited the operations of others. In 2001 the state had 51 federally funded task forces. By the spring of 2006, it was down to 22.
Funding for the Byrne grant program had held steady at about $500 million through most of the Clinton administration. The Bush administration began to pare the program down—to about $170 million by 2008. This was more out of an interest in limiting federal inﬂuence on law enforcement than concern for police abuse or drug war excesses.
But the reaction from law enforcement was interesting. In March 2008, Byrne-funded task forces across the country staged a series of coordinated drug raids dubbed Operation Byrne Blitz. The intent was to make a series of large drug seizures to demonstrate how important the Byrne grants were to ﬁghting the drug war. In Kentucky alone, for example, task forces uncovered 23 methamphetamine labs, seized more than 2,400 pounds of marijuana, and arrested 565 people for illegal drug use. Of course, if police in a single state could simply go out and ﬁnd 23 meth labs and 2,400 pounds of marijuana in 24 hours just to make a political point about drug war funding, that was probably a good indication that 20 years of Byrne grants and four decades of drug warring hadn’t really accomplished much.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized [George W.] Bush and the Republicans for cutting Byrne, a federal police program beloved by his running mate Joe Biden. Despite Tulia … and a growing pile of bodies from botched drug raids, and the objections of groups as diverse as the ACLU, the Heritage Foundation, La Raza and the Cato Institute, Obama promised to restore full funding to the program, which, he said, “has been critical to creating the anti-gang and anti-drug task forces our communities need.”
He kept his promise. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resuscitated the Byrne grants with a whopping $2 billion infusion, by far the largest budget in the program’s 20-year history.
9/11 OPENS A SPIGOT
Police militarization would accelerate in the 2000s. The ﬁrst half of the decade brought a new and lucrative source of funding and equipment: homeland security. In response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, the federal government opened a new spigot of funding in the name of ﬁghting terrorism. Terrorism would also provide new excuses for police agencies across the country to build up their arsenals and for yet smaller towns to start up yet more SWAT teams.
The second half of the decade also saw more mission creep for SWAT teams and more pronounced militarization, even outside of drug policing. The 1990s trend of government ofﬁcials using paramilitary tactics and heavy-handed force to make political statements or to make an example of certain classes of nonviolent offenders would continue, especially in response to political protests. The battle gear and aggressive policing would also start to move into more mundane crimes—SWAT teams have recently been used even for regulatory inspections.
But the last few years have also seen some trends that could spur some movement toward reform. Technological advances in personal electronic devices have armed a large percentage of the public with the power to hold police more accountable with video and audio recordings. The rise of social media has enabled citizens to get accounts of police abuses out and quickly disseminated. This has led to more widespread coverage of botched raids and spread awareness of how, how often and for what purpose this sort of force is being used.
Over just the last six years, media accounts of drug raids have become less deferential to police. Reporters have become more willing to ask questions about the appropriateness of police tactics and more likely to look at how a given raid ﬁts into broader policing trends, both locally and nationally. Internet commenters on articles about incidents in which police may have used excessive force also seem to have grown more skeptical about police actions, particularly in botched drug raids.
It’s taken nearly a half-century to get from those Supreme Court decisions [upholding questionable searches and police tactics] in the mid-1960s to where we are today—police militarization has happened gradually, over decades. We tend not to take notice of such long-developing trends, even when they directly affect us. The ﬁrst and perhaps largest barrier to halting police militarization has probably been awareness. And that at least seems to be changing.
Whether it leads to any substantive change may be the theme of the current decade.
As someone who has followed police and community interaction in Baltimore several years----I have not heard of an incident in which a police officer was harmed by militarized weapons. It has occurred in LA------maybe Chicago-----but the idea that there are lots of militarized weapons on the street and every citizen has to be treated as if he/she is ready to use such a weapon is what we are hearing police departments tell us to justify unconstitutional and illegal policing. We all know if this kind of policing continues and grows----THEN US CITIZENS WILL LOOK FOR THOSE VERY KINDS OF WEAPONS BECAUSE THEY NOW THINK THERE IS NO RULE OF LAW OR PUBLIC JUSTICE PROTECTING THEM. So, global pols are deliberately creating the conditions to grow the presence of guns and violence in communities----just as they did overseas in unstable developing nations-----to have a reason to build up third world military presence in our US communities....IT IS DELIBERATE.
These police officers are empowered to act as they want-----they are sure no Baltimore or Maryland State's Attorney is going to prosecute anything they do----which has been the case in Baltimore------and the hostility between community and police grows----police are more fearful because they are openly humiliating and abusing citizens stoking the anger-----
this is the tactic used in war zones against insurgents -------
making people surrender all rights to power.
What you see here is a confrontation by police with a white student crowd----you can bet when this happens to a black citizen---they are likely not to survive.
Video Shows Officer Confronting Man Filming Arrests In Towson
February 25, 2014 3:14 PM By Meghan McCorkell WJZ-TV
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—Controversial confrontation. A man videotaped Baltimore County Police as they arrested two people in Towson, but an altercation broke out between the man and officer. Now an investigation is underway.
Meghan McCorkell reports Baltimore County police officials say they are concerned by the video and they’ve launched an investigation.
Early Sunday morning, a man videotaped as Baltimore County Police arrested two people in Towson. As the video rolled, he was confronted by an officer.
View video here.
“I’m allowed to do this,” he told the officer.
“Get it out of my face,” the officer replied.
“I have my rights,” the man said.
“You have no rights,” the officer said.
But the man didn’t stop rolling and was once again aggressively approached.
“Do you see the police presence here? Do you see us all? We’re not [expletive] around. Do you understand? Do not disrespect us and do not not listen to us,” the officer said. “Now walk away and shut your [expletive] mouth or you’re going to jail, do you understand?”
After backing away, the officer came at the man a third time, appearing to grab him.
“I thought I had freedom of speech here,” the man said.
“You don’t. You just lost it,” the officer replied.
Baltimore County Police, auxiliary officers and Maryland State Police were all responding to a large crowd and disturbance on York Road. County police officials became aware of the video of the altercation Tuesday morning and have launched an investigation.
“We are concerned about what we saw in the video and the department will be taking a thorough look at that video,” said Elise Armacost.
But officials with the ACLU say the video clearly shows illegal and improper police conduct.
“I think the officer in the video is extraordinarily agitated, hostile and unprofessional. I think it’s highly problematic,” said David Rocah, ACLU Maryland. “The fact that officers can act this way, knowing that they’re being filmed, I think shows a level of impunity that is quite troubling.”
Delegate Sandy Rosenberg says he’s also concerned.
“There needs to be either further training for the police and perhaps some appropriate disciplinary action for this individual policeman,” Rosenberg said.
The man who was filming was not arrested and has not filed a complaint in this case.
In a statement, Baltimore County police officials say they recognize and respect the rights of citizens to film officers on duty in a public place, unless the person filming has violated a law or statute.
Most of these global private military personnel have operated for a few decades under no Rule of Law----as the US ignored International Law since Bush and now Obama-------these military contractors have long documented histories of taunting and abusing civilians------having no respect of laws or human rights------and they are used to getting away with it.
Flash forward to today's US police departments----we are seeing these same ex-military filling our police forces being trained by the same global military security corporations and yes------these people think they are above the law. The actions of police in Baltimore these several years shows just that-----it is incredible that it occurs---and it is incredible that no avenue to justice can be attained...JUST AS IF BALTIMORE WERE THOSE INSURGENT COMMUNITIES IN WAR ZONES.
So, when we talk of gun control the overwhelming feeling of many citizens zero in on policing and less on these rare-occurring mass shootings by people generally mentally ill. This is what Bernie Sanders and his gun stance is about-----it looks less at the civilian guns as the problem other than needing to get them out of underserved communities by resolving black market economy needs over JUST REGULAR EMPLOYMENT-----and feels the sense of urgency against this global security buildup filling our states and cities. Sanders has been outspoken against all of the expansive NSA and militarized policing -----attacks on US Constitutional civil liberties----and that is why he protects gun rights and it is why Republican voters like him as much as Democratic----
WE ALL KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEMS WITH GUN CONTROL ARE TODAY IN THE US-----THE MASSIVE LOOTING OF OUR ECONOMY BY CORPORATE FRAUD AND THE UNEMPLOYMENT GLOBAL MARKETS CREATE----AND THE MOVEMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY TO BEING A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT AND DOMINATION IN OUR NATION.
It is easy to think-----are global pols that think of people as human capital really worried about what are the same levels of mass shootings that have happened for decades in America---or are they trying to disarm a WELL-ARMED PUBLIC MILITIA. This is the debate around gun control-----and social Democrats who hate guns period are more fearful of a militarized global police force in our US communities.
'And nearly 40 percent had witnessed armed contractors acting in ways that were unnecessarily threatening, arrogant, or belligerent while deployed, including throwing objects at local civilians to clear them off roadways.A complicating factor is that security contractors currently operate in something like legal “limbo.” There are no clear-cut guidelines for their status under international law, and many US laws don’t apply to non-US citizen contractors. But any provocative behavior by contractors has the potential to hinder military efforts'.
A lesson from Iraq war: How to outsource war to private contractors
During the Iraq war, private defense contractors providing security and support outnumbered troops on the ground at points. Contractors can enhance US military capacity but also entail risks. US experience with private security contractors holds several key lessons.
By Molly Dunigan March 19, 2013
Pittsburgh — Ten years after it began, the Iraq war might best be remembered as America’s most privatized military engagement to date, with contractors hired by the Pentagon actually outnumbering troops on the ground at various points.
This might come as a surprise to many, since the sheer number of contractors used in Iraq was often overshadowed by events. By 2008, the US Department of Defense employed 155,826 private contractors in Iraq – and 152,275 troops. This degree of privatization is unprecedented in modern warfare.
One of the most important lessons of the Iraq war is that this military privatization is likely to continue in future conflicts. This could be a good thing, as contractors can enhance US military capacity. But any large-scale use of private military contractors also entails risks. Recent US experience with private security contractors, in particular, holds several critical lessons for the future.
Of course, private contractors are not new to war zones. They supported all the major US conflicts of the late 20th century, including in Vietnam, the Balkans, and Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. But in these cases, they mainly provided logistical and base support.
Now, the US military has developed a growing dependence on private contractors – and for a wide range of functions traditionally handled by military personnel. The Army spent roughly $815 million ($163 million per year, or about $200 million per year in 2012 dollars) to employ contractors under its Logistics Civil Augmentation Program between 1992 and 1997. But between 2001 and 2010, that expenditure grew to nearly $5 billion per year. Of course, this latter cost coincides with US involvement in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.
A more pertinent question – and what truly sets the Iraq war apart – concerns the role of these private civilian contractors. Throughout the war, the majority (61 percent) of contracted jobs continued to be base-support functions. The next-largest group (18 percent) of Department of Defense contractors were security contractors. They provided security services, such as guarding installations, protecting convoys, or acting as bodyguards.
Moreover, this outsourcing trend continued in Afghanistan, where there were 94,413 contractors in 2010, compared with 91,600 US troops.
Military outsourcing in this vein developed as a result of an increased supply of private military services combined with increased demand. The boom in supply was borne out of larger privatization trends in both the US and Britain in the 1980s and 1990s, which spread over into the military arena. The increased demand was due to the strains that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan placed on the US military.
Some have speculated that this degree of outsourcing will end with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that assumption is unrealistic. The private military and security industry is now incredibly large, powerful, and – perhaps most important – adaptable. Rather than scaling back, the industry is broadening its territory, expanding into maritime security, providing security to business and governments in Africa, and exploring other new markets.
Both to repeat the successes of private military contracting and to avoid the mistakes of contractors in the recent wars, the Department of Defense must consider several points specific to security contractors in particular.
First, security contractors can have a decisive impact on the perceptions of local citizens in the areas where they operate. This can be either useful or problematic for military forces on the ground, particularly when contractors are deployed alongside troops engaged in population-focused operations.
This was indeed a problem in Iraq. In a 2008 RAND survey, 35 percent of diplomatic personnel who had worked with armed contractors in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 reported having to manage the consequences of actions by armed contractors against local citizens. And nearly 40 percent had witnessed armed contractors acting in ways that were unnecessarily threatening, arrogant, or belligerent while deployed, including throwing objects at local civilians to clear them off roadways.
A complicating factor is that security contractors currently operate in something like legal “limbo.” There are no clear-cut guidelines for their status under international law, and many US laws don’t apply to non-US citizen contractors. But any provocative behavior by contractors has the potential to hinder military efforts.
For this reason, the United States must protect its interests and ensure that the contractors it employs are carefully vetted and well trained. It should also continue to work toward a commonly accepted means of holding contractors accountable for their behavior. One promising mechanism in this regard is the International Code of Conduct, which is being finalized by an international consortium of national governments, civil society organizations, and, as of now, 592 private security companies.
The US also needs to ensure that contractors and military forces can coordinate effectively when deployed together, and that civilian personnel operating on its behalf can easily be identified as friendly forces. At least 78 friendly-fire incidents in Iraq between November 2004 and August 2006 were reported to involve private security contractors; in 49 of those incidents, coalition forces fired at contractors.
Ten years on, the war in Iraq may have ended, but its impact on the way the US goes to war is far from over.
If you look at Bernie Sanders and his history on gun policy he stands for just what I spoke -------his Vermont is heavy into hunting and citizens using guns responsibility so yes, he wants to protect that US Constitutional right. Not to forget Vermont was right there in the original American Revolutionary War where citizens were the WELL-ARMED MILITIA.
Bernie goes on to separate the needs in our cities and this gun violence to that of rural gun use. His way of addressing urban gun violence is just what all social Democrats agree-----we need to address the issues of poverty and unemployment and rebuild a strong public mental health and community system to help people pushed towards violence. Does he support the global military complex just because he has a military manufacturing facility in Vermont?
NO-----BERNIE HAS BEEN THE ONLY POLITICIAN SHOUTING AGAINST THE US GLOBAL MILITARY POLICIES AND AGAINST THE GROWING NSA/HOMELAND SECURITY BUILDUP IN OUR COMMUNITIES.
Please listen to this debate with the knowledge that Clinton/Obama Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals and Bush/Hopkins neo-cons are posing progressive when they push gun control policies as they are militarizing our communities.
Yes, we need to get guns out of city communities-----but we don't want a WAR ON GUNS to replace the WAR ON DRUGS in the next mass incarceration of urban citizens.
Bernie Sanders on Gun Policy
Overall, Bernie Sanders believes in a middle-ground solution in the national gun debate, saying in a recent interview:
“Folks who do not like guns [are] fine. But we have millions of people who are gun owners in this country — 99.9 percent of those people obey the law. I want to see real, serious debate and action on guns, but it is not going to take place if we simply have extreme positions on both sides. I think I can bring us to the middle.”
Gun Control: Gun control legislation should ultimately fall on individual states, with the exception of instant background checks to prevent firearms from finding their way into the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and a federal ban on assault weapons.
Manufacturer Liability: Gun manufacturers should not be held liable for the misuse of their products, just as any other industry isn’t held accountable for how end-consumers use their products.
Bernie believes that gun control is largely a state issue because attitudes and actions with regards to firearms differ greatly between rural and urban communities. Nevertheless, Bernie believes there are situations where the federal government should intervene. He voted in favor of requiring background checks to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of felons and the mentally ill, passing a federal ban on assault weapons, and closing loopholes which allows private sellers at gun shows and on the internet to sell to individuals without background checks.
What examples are there to show this divide between rural and urban communities?The state of Vermont, which Bernie represents as senator, is the most gun-friendly state in the nation, while at the same time it boasts the absolute lowest rate of gun-related crime.
How does Bernie believe gun legislation in the United States should be handled?Bernie believes in middle-ground legislation. As such, he understands that Americans in rural areas have a very different view towards guns as do those who live in densely populated urban environments. Bernie believes in a solution which promotes gun rights for those who wish to possess them while also ensuring their safe and secure use so that they cannot be used to harm fellow human beings.
To what extent does Bernie believe that gun regulation should be a federal issue?Bernie has voted in favor of a nationwide ban on assault weapons, a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines of over ten rounds, and nationwide expanded background checks that address unsafe loopholes.
Bernie believes assault weapons, as well as magazines holding more than ten bullets, should be banned nationwide. Why?In a recent speech, Bernie explained that, in his view, assault weapons should be categorically banned:
The gun show loophole should be closed to prevent private sellers from selling firearms without background checks.What is the gun show loophole?Federal law currently stipulates that only licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct background checks.Bernie supports closing the gun show loophole, which allows private sellers to sell firearms to private buyers without background checks. Currently only ten states require background checks for purchases at gun shows. Moreover, according to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, a private seller is classified as any seller who doesn’t rely on gun sales as the principal way of making their living. Because of this, it is easy to imagine that many individuals who have a regular source of income outside of selling firearms can claim that they are private sellers. This allows these individuals to exploit the gun show loophole and sell guns without requiring background checks.
What does Bernie propose to do about this?Bernie has voted in favor of expanded background checks for all commercial sales with an exemption for sales between “family, friends, and neighbors”. Bernie has also voted in favor of a national instant background check system.
How does Bernie believe we should address mass shootings and other gun-related violence?Bernie believes that we have a crisis in addressing mental health issues in this country, saying in a recent interview:
“We need strong sensible gun control, and I will support it. But some people think it’s going to solve all of our problems, and it’s not. You know what, we have a crisis in the capability of addressing mental health illness in this country. When people are hurting and are prepared to do something terrible, we need to do something immediately. We don’t have that and we should have that.”
Given that 23 percent of the perpetrators of mass shootings have been found to suffer from mental health issues, Bernie believes that expanding access to mental healthcare can address some of the root causes of gun-related violent crime.
Learn more about Bernie’s stances regarding access to mental healthcare here. Also, learn about his policies with regards to addressing other structural causes of violent crime here.
Manufacturer LiabilityManufacturers and sellers of firearms should not be held accountable for the misuse of their products.
What legislation has Bernie voted in favor of to support this?Bernie voted in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which prevents firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence as a result of the misuse of their products.
Why does Bernie support this?In a recent interview, Bernie said:
“Now, the issues that you’re talking about is, if somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer, and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not anymore than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beat somebody over the head with a hammer. That is not what a lawsuit should be about.”
In other words, the instrument itself cannot be held responsible for the being misused by the individual.
I'll end today with discussion on the dismantling of all Federal, state, and local public health in the US as a move towards third world global corporate control----by reminding folks that it was the FDR New Deal that created the Department of AG just to promote small farmers across the US ====support them and at the same time regulate meat and agriculture to assure public safety. Clinton neo-liberals and Republicans turned this into global BIG AG and MEAT in the 1990s====using all public health funds overseas to expand US global food taking our food quality and safety with them. Since then food from developing nations like China and India have filled our national food chains and the American people have spent these few decades getting sicker and sicker from food. They are calling it a rise in FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS-----which if you read the list of food-borne diseases you see all the symptoms right there.
So, businesses are complaining the American workers are taking too many bathroom breaks---missing too much work----and workers are afraid to go to the hospital because of cost and work or lose wages because of the bad food from lack of Federal oversight and global markets.
These few decades saw Clinton neo-liberals and Bush/Hopkins neo-cons moving global food from China and India and other Asian nations in return for opening up those markets to US global BIG AG and MEAT. This hit the low-income and poor hardest as much of this developing nation food went to cheap food national chains as we find in Maryland and especially Baltimore. Baltimore City pols push those cheap food national chains in what has been labeled FOOD deserts rather than build a REAL local food economy in each community in Baltimore. Immigrants and low-wage workers both have been hit hard with FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS but these last several years of Obama has all venues of food being filled with developing nation food while food grown and processed in the US is being sold to overseas rich. I am sure I am fighting digestive problems from dairy products from WholeFoods for example. So, this open door to global foods with no nation of origin will have Americans experiencing every food-borne illness and disease listed in my last blog.
AS CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS PRETEND TO BE BUILDING PREVENTATIVE HEALTH CARE EVERY POLICY THEY IMPLEMENT IS TEARING DOWN THE STRUCTURES THAT ACTUALLY DID ALL THIS.
U.S. Flu Cases Continue to Climb
Southwestern states hardest hit, but infections still not at epidemic levels, CDC says
WebMD News from HealthDay
WebMD News Archive
By Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, Jan. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Flu season continues to tighten its grip on the United States, with 35 states now experiencing widespread influenza activity, federal officials reported Friday.
The flu seems to be hitting young and middle-aged adults the hardest this year, rather than seniors or children, said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Influenza Division.
About 61 percent of the 2,622 flu-related hospitalizations this season have been for people between 18 and 64 years old, Jhung said. Typically, seniors 65 and older account for more than half of flu hospitalizations during a season.
This could be because the H1N1 strain of flu is the most prevalent this season, and most younger adults don't get a flu shot, said Dr. Daniel Spogen, chair of the department of family and community medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
"The ones that tend to be sick this season are young and otherwise healthy adults," added Spogen, who's also a board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "If you take a look at the data, the people who are getting sick enough to be hospitalized are the ones who didn't get their flu shot."
Across all age ranges, about 40 percent to 45 percent of people get an annual flu shot, Jhung said. But only 31 percent of people 18 to 49 years old usually receive a flu vaccination, he said.
Young and middle-aged adults also were disproportionately affected during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, Jhung added.
Another reason for that trend: Until the 2009 pandemic, the H1N1 flu strain had been dormant for several decades, leaving younger adults with little immunity to the virus.
Still, the number of deaths related to either the flu or pneumonia this season remains slightly below epidemic levels, the CDC said.
An estimated 6.9 percent of all deaths in the United States this season have been caused by flu or pneumonia -- just under the epidemic threshold of 7.1 percent. Ten children have died from the flu so far this season, the CDC said.
I have spoken before about how it was the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and its local counterpart that would have required by law that city infrastructure from water to waste was rebuilt a few decades ago as everyone knew system failure was near---THAT IS BUILT INTO OUR WATER AND SEWAGE MONTHLY BILLS. When a city gets to the point Baltimore is with its third world breakdown and pollution of public waterways that run through neighborhoods---YOU HAVE NO PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE CITY OF BALTIMORE. Very, very, very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins has been public health for decades and it controls where all that Baltimore City revenue from water and sewage bills went because WE ALL KNOW BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT AND JOHNS HOPKINS HAS CONTROLLED CITY HALL FOR DECADES.
When Bernie Sanders passed through Baltimore and shouted----this is a third world city-----he was simply looking at the building infrastructure----he didn't even cover the third world public health brought to Baltimore by Wall Street Baltimore Development and very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins and their pols.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor has algae blooms in the summer with huge fish kills and signs saying DO NOT FISH all because we have no public health department.
I have no doubt $700 million was spent on fixes------we know how fixes don't result in anything!
VEOLA ENVIRONMENT and other large corporations have had control of Baltimore's water and waste for a decade or so-----rather than have a functioning Baltimore public works staffed with local workers steadily fixing this problem.
Baltimore faulted for dumping raw sewage into Jones Falls
By Timothy B. Wheeler December 15
A new report details how Baltimore has deliberately dumped more than 330 million gallons of raw sewage over the past five years into the Jones Falls, which flows to the Inner Harbor.
Elsewhere in the city’s 1,400-mile network of aged underground pipes, the report by the Environmental Integrity Project notes, there have been more than 400 complaints of sewage backing up into homes.
The intentional overflows — releasing 15 times as much sewage as the city has reported spilling from pipe breaks and blockages — are coming from two openings in the sewer system that the city was supposed to close years ago, according to the Washington-based environmental group. The releases are intended to avoid sewage backups into homes from the city’s leaky, overloaded sewer system.
The report, based on public information requests, comes as the city is nearing a deadline for fixing the system that it will not meet.
City officials say they have spent $700 million on sewer repairs to comply with a consent order signed in 2002 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment. The order, settling a lawsuit brought against the city for polluting local waters, requires an end to chronic overflows by Jan. 1.
But with just over two weeks to go before the deadline, the city has completed only about half the repairs and upgrades it pledged to make, according to the report.
Jeff Raymond, spokesman for the city’s Department of Public Works, said municipal officials hope to get an extension from state and federal regulators. But he added that he couldn’t discuss how much longer the overhaul would take until a new timetable is filed with the federal court. Officials previously said they expect to spend more than $1 billion to complete it.
The environmental group and local activists are calling on state and federal regulators to grant the city no more than five more years to finish its sewer work, in keeping with a campaign the city has embraced to make the harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020.
“They need to get it done,” said Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA official who directs the Environmental Integrity Project. “It’s been 13 years now,” he said. “They need to pick up the pace.”
Activists also are insisting on alerting people around the Inner Harbor to the health risks of kayaking, sailing or otherwise coming into contact with water frequently contaminated with sewage.
“We’re seeing a lot more people out on the water boating and fishing,” said David Flores, the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, contending that the city ought to be more open about how much sewage is being spilled into the harbor and the streams that feed it.
Decades ago, the city designed its sewer system to overflow into the nearest stream whenever sewage backed up in the lines. Since signing the consent decree, the city has closed 60 of 62 built-in relief valves. But officials say that if they close the last two overflow outfalls on the Jones Falls, it could cause sewage to back up into homes and businesses throughout much of the city.
“Our regulators are aware that these are open,” Raymond said. City officials plan to plug the overflows “down the line,” he added.
Many of the overflows are occurring because of a problem with the pipe feeding into the century-old Back River wastewater treatment plant, officials say. The city planned to issue a contract last summer to remedy the backups by pumping sewage into massive holding tanks, but officials rejected the low bid because it was more than $100 million over the $300 million municipal engineers had estimated.
City officials are reviewing the project to figure out how to lower the cost, Raymond said. Construction is now projected to begin in 2017 and take three years.
Activists contend that the city isn’t being open enough about how much sewage is being spilled or what risks the public faces. Water samples taken regularly by the city since 2009 show potentially unsafe levels of fecal bacteria occur frequently in the Inner Harbor and the lower Jones Falls.
Republicans worked from the time FDR and New Deal created this Federal system of protections for public interest health and human services and anti-monopoly laws to protect small businesses to get rid of all those Federal departments-----from Department of AG----to FDA----to Department of Education----to Medicare and Medicaid------all geared to protecting American health and environment so what happened in Asia and especially China did not happen in the US and for several decades it worked-----bringing Reagan/Clinton to office to move US corporations overseas to avoid all those protections. The devastation brought by US global FOXCONN corporate campuses and factories to citizens in Asia was remarkable -----complete disregard to human life brought by Clinton Initiative and Bush neo-cons partnered by Chinese et al leadership made rich by handing its citizens to this mess.
Below you see Obama doing just as Republicans have been wanting for decades------dismantling every Federal agency tied to public health and welfare and he is doing it as he promotes Trans Pacific Trade Pact and International Economic Zones -----because we cannot have those Federal agencies when the goal is to devastate the US worker and environment.
If you look at the health disparity in BAltimore as regards people of color and low-income you see the results of Clinton neo-liberalism and Baltimore's tie to a neo-conservative Hopkins all while politicians in BAltimore run as Democrats and media even call them 'progressive'. The young black leaders coming out to run for office in Baltimore all are trained in this same global neo-liberal policy not knowing where it takes their communities----THEY HAVE SIMPLY BEEN TOLD TO SAY THIS.
WAKE UP BALTIMORE----IT'S TIME TO GO SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC TO BRING QUALITY OF LIFE TO CITIZENS IN BALTIMORE.
Obama wants to reorganize, merge federal agencies
Andy Medici, Staff Writer 1:42 p.m. EST February 2, 2015(Photo: William Thomas Cain, Getty Images)
President Obama wants Congress to give him the power to consolidate agencies and create new departments – merging parts of agencies such as the FDA, Health and Human Services and Commerce Departments.
The Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development agency would all be merged into one new department, under President Obama's 2016 budget proposal.
The budget also combines the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the FDA's food-related inspection programs into one new agency with HHS. The different programs already have significant overlap, according to the budget.
"FDA and FSIS can each have jurisdiction over the same category of food at different points in the food chain: a cheese pizza and its ingredients are regulated solely by FDA, but both agencies play roles in regulating the components and manufacturing of a pepperoni pizza," according to the budget request.
Under the budget proposal President Obama would submit plans to consolidate and reorganize executive branch agencies to Congress for fast-track consideration as long as it reduces the size of government or cuts costs.
"The Administration will continue to work with the Congress and stakeholders to identify opportunities to make the Government more efficient and effective," according to the budget request.
This is how you know you have NO PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT IN BALTIMORE. These conditions will expand all over the US under Trans Pacific Trade Pact and International Economic Zone policies-----Baltimore was simply allowed to live under these conditions for decades because a very, very, very neo--conservative Johns Hopkins and Wall Street Baltimore Development was allowed to gain complete control of Baltimore City Hall because of crony corrupt political machines and politics brought down by Congressional pols like Ben Cardin----John Sarbanes------Elijiah Cummings----and Barbara Mikulski----all serving Hopkins running as Democrats and bringing all that corporate lobbying money back to Baltimore to keep the political system crony----THAT IS WHY BALTIMORE WAS ALLOWED TO BECOME THIRD WORLD. THIS IS WHY BALTIMORE IS FILLED WITH FRAUD AND CORRUPTION.
All any social democratic pol needs are Baltimore citizens creating voter networks to support a candidate -----don't worry about the crony campaign donations and media.
This is how you know all the health related funding that pretends to come to BAltimore never makes it and you know health organizations like Maryland Health Care for All----a Hopkins organization that works to install global corporate health policy while posing progressive----are all lying----and the non-profits tied to them know this.
Baltimore Youths Have It Worse Than Those in Nigeria
A global survey of 15- to 19-year-olds living in vulnerable cities shows that social support and outlook are driving factors in health outcomes
When a teenager from East Baltimore was asked to describe his neighborhood, he spoke of “big rats going around in people’s trash, vacant houses full of squatters and needles on the ground.” A young woman in New Delhi, asked the same question, described the dirt and the “dirty water found lying on the roads,” while a young man in Ibadan, a large city in Nigeria, spoke of the smell of urine and streets “littered with paper and other refuse.”
All three teenagers live in the poorest neighborhoods in their communities and were surveyed as part of the “WAVE” study, a global research project that examines the well-being of adolescents in vulnerable environments around the world. Led by Dr. Kristen Mmari, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, the survey assessed health challenges faced by 2,400 15- to 19-year-olds from impoverished areas in Baltimore, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Ibadan and New Delhi, as well as their perceptions of their environments.
The researchers found many similarities—in all five cities, adolescents were exposed to unsanitary conditions, substance abuse and violence—but the differences between each area were especially compelling. Overall, teenagers in Baltimore and Johannesburg, despite being located in comparably wealthy countries, had far worse health outcomes and tended to perceive their communities more negatively.
In Baltimore, which is located in the world’s richest nation per capita and just 40 miles from the White House, adolescents exhibited considerably high rates of mental health issues, substance abuse, sexual risk-taking, sexual violence and teen pregnancy. In comparison, adolescents in New Delhi exhibited far fewer of those behaviors and outcomes, despite residing in a much less prosperous nation.
The reason for this, Mmari discovered, is rooted in the way teenagers interpret their surroundings. “How kids perceive their environments is really important,” she says. “That’s what’s driving many of these behaviors.” For example, a young man in New Delhi and a young man in Baltimore may both live in neighborhoods with poor living conditions and little opportunity, but because the teenager in New Delhi is able to see his environment in a more positive light, he is less likely to experience to adverse health problems. “He paints a different picture.”
But why do teenagers in Baltimore and Johannesburg have such a dark outlook? According to Mmari, one could point to a combination of environmental and social factors, including the exposure to violence and a lack of social support, which were found to be less prevalent in the three other cities.
“When you look at how they perceive their environments, kids in both Baltimore and Johannesburg are fearful. They don’t feel safe from violence,” says Mmari. “This is something we didn’t really see in other cities. In Shanghai, for example, there wasn’t a great deal of violence. You’d ask kids about their safety concerns, and they would say something like, ‘I’m afraid of crossing a busy street.’”
Community violence was a major concern for girls in Baltimore and Johannesburg, many of whom didn’t feel safe even in their own homes. Violence was also found to predict comparably higher rates of pregnancy and sexual assault in the two cities. A staggering 50 percent of 15- to 19-year-old girls in Baltimore, and 29 percent of those in Johannesburg, had been pregnant in their lifetime, and more than 10 percent of girls in both cities report being raped or assaulted by someone other than their partner in the previous year.
Adolescents in Baltimore and Johannesburg also had relatively lower levels of “social cohesion,” a phrase used to describe the emotional support provided by one’s family and neighbors. In Baltimore, many poor teens grow up in single-parent homes and have a father in prison, while those in Johannesburg tend to lose their parents to AIDS.
“In those cities, kids were much more likely to live in a one-parent household,” Mmari says. (Or, as a youth in Baltimore described it, “The kids are being raised by themselves.”) “Whereas in Delhi, most of these kids are still living in two-parent homes, so they are getting much more support.”
It’s clear we have a lot of work to do in the United States. “When you think about poor adolescents, you may instantly think of a child in Africa because there are poorer countries there, but it’s not really the country that is important,” Mmari says. “Right here in Baltimore, we have kids who are much worse off than those in African cities. The inner-city kids who are exposed to all this violence are who we should be thinking about.”
Clinton neo-liberals are trying their best to rewrite FDR New Deal history ----basically it was a recovery policy moving large amounts of Federal revenue to public works projects-----taxing the rich and corporations 90% to recover the massive frauds that brought the Great Depression----where Obama and Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons are taking the US right now------these public works included all kinds of public hospitals and clinics-----public water and sewage ------all kinds of things that lifted quality of life and health----and the Department of AG and FDA amongst others were tasked to see this quality health was kept. It all worked well------until global pols took control to defund and dismantle all those Federal agencies a few decades ago. What these global pols are waiting for in moving forward with the next FEDERAL PUBLIC WORKS-------is whether we install Trans Pacific Trade Pact or not. If installed TPP would sent $1 trillion in public works to global corporations where much of it would be lost to fraud and immigrant labor getting most of the jobs. If we have a social Democrat like Bernie Sanders who speaks of a Federal Public Works----we see him mention more than not the need to keep it public and not outsource. If this is the case----then Baltimore for example would rebuild its public works department hiring tons of city citizens to do all these same public institutions including those tied to public health.
IT MATTERS HOW WE VOTE----IT MATTERS THAT WE KNOW PUBLIC POLICY -----WE CANNOT KEEP ALLOWING CLINTON/OBAMA WALL STREET NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH/HOPKINS NEO-CONS LIE/CHEAT/STEAL THE US INTO BEING A THIRD WORLD ECONOMIC COLONY.
You notice Obama is making a civilian corp of non-profits-----further dismantling our public sector.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" Sealed the Deal in 1932Mark Twain and Henry James both used it, but it was FDR who etched it into the history books.By Alex Kingsbury Jan. 17, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. + More
Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
The phrase "new deal" came into the English lexicon long before its mention at the 1932 Democratic convention that propelled Franklin D. Roosevelt to the White House. Mark Twain and Henry James both used it, but it was FDR who etched it into the history books. It wasn't intended to be so. A speechwriter penned the line, but neither he nor FDR thought it was particularly memorable. Nor did it refer to any specific set of remedies for the serious crisis in which the republic found itself.
America was in dire straits three years after the crash of 1929. The New York Stock Exchange had lost nearly 90 percent of its value. Thirteen million people were out of work, and an estimated 34 million Americans had no income whatsoever. People in Iowa and Minnesota armed themselves to prevent banks from foreclosing on their farms. And by the summer of 1932, some 25,000 World War I vets had descended on Washington, camping out near the steps of Congress and asking for money. When they were forced out of the city at bayonet point, revolution seemed very much in the air. No wonder Americans wanted a reshuffling of the cards they'd been dealt.
It mattered little to the public that Roosevelt had no idea what the New Deal would entail. "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people," Roosevelt told the convention during his acceptance speech. Once in office, Roosevelt pushed a litter of new programs into existence, each marked by an acronym synonymous with New Deal legislation: the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), the CWA (Civil Works Administration), and the WPA (Works Progress Administration), to name but a few.
But the New Deal's eventual impact went beyond staving off social upheaval, re-establishing trust in the currency, and putting people back to work. "It was the first time that Americans thought of their government as a solution to the problems that individuals and society at large were experiencing," says Jean Edward Smith, a political science professor at Marshall University and author of FDR. Roosevelt stopped pushing New Deal legislation by 1938, after the courts ruled some programs unconstitutional.
I like the author's comments to Bernie's economic plans----Bernie does more to mirror FDR but falls short on what all would look like-----being vague is unfortunately an election ploy. What he states that is important is building small businesses---his emphasis on co-ops is simply mainstream talk----his emphasis on breaking from global trade deals makes it more possible to rebuild those local economies---and his emphasis on Expanded and Improved Medicare for All will see Federal revenue coming again to build public health institutions. All of this can work for the American people or can be co-opted by Wall Street if we leave nothing but Clinton/Obama neo-liberals in office in Congress----the state houses----and our local city halls.
WE NEED SOCIAL DEMOCRATS IN ALL DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES. ALL OF MARYLAND POLS ARE CLINTON NEO-LIBERAL OR IN BALTIMORE BUSH/HOPKINS NEO-CONS. GET RID OF THEM!
A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM TO RESTORE PROSPERITY: THE BERNIE SANDERS PLAN
Posted on December 7, 2014 by L. Randall Wray | 18 CommentsBy L. Randall Wray
Here’s a summary of the plan Bernie Sanders has set out, along with my comments (in italics).
1.) We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. $1 trillion investment to create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive.
Agreed, but let’s not settle for a mere 13 million jobs. We need twice that. And, of course, the “price tag” is irrelevant—so long as we create useful jobs that pay living wages, we can “always afford” to pay for them. By creating jobs we are not just investing in infrastructure, but we are also investing in our people, enhancing their participation in our society and providing them with the means to support their families. We can always afford that.
2.) The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change and make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient and we need to greatly accelerate the progress we are already seeing in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other forms of sustainable energy. Transforming our energy system will not only protect the environment, it will create good paying jobs.
Agreed. Millions of additional jobs can be created, at the wage and benefit package we decide to pay. We can train an army of the employed to bring the USA into the 21st century, much as the New Deal’s job programs brought America into the 20th century. We’re going to need to go well beyond these infrastructure-type jobs, however. We also need to put people to work providing care services for our aging population.
3.) We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.
Mostly Agreed. We need to think beyond restricting job creation to our nation’s private undertakers. A federal government program of direct job creation—at a living wage—eliminates the necessity of using tax breaks and wage subsidies to try to induce the undertakers to create jobs. A Universal Job Guarantee Program ensures everyone can work at a living wage. Private undertakers will need to offer similar conditions in order to compete. However, there is room for workers’ cooperatives: let workers join together and propose projects. (This is what Argentina experimented with in its Jefes program.) The Job Guarantee program can pay wages in the coops for some predetermined period (say, 18 months), letting them get on their feet. If the coops can out-compete private undertakers, let the undertakers go under.
4.) Union workers who are able to collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits earn substantially more than non-union workers. Today, corporate opposition to union organizing makes it extremely difficult for workers to join a union. We need legislation which makes it clear that when a majority of workers sign cards in support of a union, they can form a union.
Agreed. Eliminate the barriers to unionization. Capitalism is a rigged game, giving far too much power to the undertakers. As J.K. Galbraith argued long ago, unions are a necessary second leg to the countervailing powers stool. The third leg, of course, is government. But our government’s leg is hanging on by a thin thread. If anything, unions need more power today than they had in the early postwar period because our government is practically impotent.
5.) The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. No one in this country who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty.
Yes. $15 per hour with full and free health, childcare, education, maternity leave, and retirement benefits would be a start.
6.) Women workers today earn 78 percent of what their male counterparts make. We need pay equity in our country — equal pay for equal work.
Agreed, and the best way to ensure that is to provide a universal job guarantee program that pays a living wage with full health, childcare, education, maternity leave, and retirement benefits to ensure that no private undertaker could pay women less than that. Beyond that, we’ll need to ramp up anti-discrimination enforcement.
7.) Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.
Here I have to mostly disagree, because I think the Senator is focusing on the wrong issue. We do need fair trade—to ensure that global undertakers do not exploit desperate workers around the world. We need to block imports of any goods or services produced in inhumane conditions anywhere in the world. However, NAFTA and so on have little to do with trade. These have to do with protecting “intellectual property rights” and forcing “free markets” run amuck on the rest of the world. We need to overturn all of these “agreements” that have devastated developing nations and enriched Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and USA Agri-business. Forget the factory jobs. Factories will never again be an important source of work for Americans. Most factory jobs will be taken by robots, anyway. What we need, instead, are good jobs in America. Forget about taking jobs away from China and the developing world. When the USA and the UK developed, they did not have to compete for factory jobs with more developed and wealthier nations. Give the developing world a chance to join the developed world. The already wealthy nations need to focus in jobs in services, with a scattering of jobs in high tech industry, agriculture, and construction. Our workers today and in the future will work with humans, not with machines.
8.) In today’s highly competitive global economy, millions of Americans are unable to afford the higher education they need in order to get good-paying jobs. Further, with both parents now often at work, most working-class families can’t locate the high-quality and affordable child care they need for their kids. Quality education in America, from child care to higher education, must be affordable for all. Without a high-quality and affordable educational system, we will be unable to compete globally and our standard of living will continue to decline.
Universal, free, education is needed from cradle to grave. In public schools. All Americans, no matter their age, should have a right to free public school education from pre-school through graduate school. There is no plausible excuse for rationing public school education. Our nation can no more have “too much education” than it can have “too much happiness” or “too much kindness”. Here the only question is whether we have the resources to expand the supply of public education. At the college and university level, the answer is obvious: the supply of PhDs greatly outstrips the number of openings for faculty; all we need to do is ramp up federal government financing of public universities. At the elementary and highschool levels, we need more teachers. The solution is better pay, and free education at our teacher’s colleges. One of the main barriers to producing more teachers is that the cost of college is prohibitive—who wants to incur tens of thousands of dollars of debts to become a lowly paid school teacher? Eliminate all financial barriers to college education.
9.) The function of banking is to facilitate the flow of capital into productive and job-creating activities. Financial institutions cannot be an island unto themselves, standing as huge profit centers outside of the real economy. Today, six huge Wall Street financial institutions have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product – over $9.8 trillion. These institutions underwrite more than half the mortgages in this country and more than two-thirds of the credit cards. The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. They are too powerful to be reformed. They must be broken up.
Agreed with the sentiments but we must go further. Shut them down and investigate their leadership for crimes. Indict where there is evidence. Prosecute and convict as many as possible. And then incarcerate the guilty. Breaking up Wall Street’s banks is not sufficient. They should be shut down, and a stake driven through their evil vampire blood sucking hearts. Return to small, segmented banks and mutual saving and loan associations. They promoted the capital development of the economy.
10.) The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege. Despite the fact that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.
Yes, take Wall Street out of our health care system. Provide free universal health care with a single payer—the federal government. Limit private health insurance to elective nose jobs and tummy tucks.
11.) Millions of seniors live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. We must strengthen the social safety net, not weaken it. Instead of cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs, we should be expanding these programs.
Agreed. Eliminate financial barriers to seniors working—let them collect their Social Security benefits while they continue to work without penalties. And guarantee employment at a living wage to any senior who wants to work. And, yes, raise all Social Security benefits to the maximum now paid. It makes no sense to penalize workers who made less during their working lives with less retirement pay. Those who earned more while working had a chance to accumulate private savings and private pensions. There is no justification for giving them more generous Social Security benefits. Pay all seniors a living pension through Social Security and give them free healthcare through Medicare.
12.) At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on ability to pay. It is not acceptable that major profitable corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes, and that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than their secretaries. It is absurd that we lose over $100 billion a year in revenue because corporations and the wealthy stash their cash in offshore tax havens around the world. The time is long overdue for real tax reform.
Partially correct. Eliminate preferential treatment of capital gains and unearned income. Tax all income—no matter the source—at a progressive rate. Impute all corporate profits to owners and tax it as income. Eliminate all corporate tax breaks and subsidies, but also eliminate corporate taxes. Tighten accounting standards to eliminate tax avoidance by shifting or hiding profits. Punish off-shore income by imputing it to owners with double the tax rate applied to income earned domestically. The issue is not “lost” tax revenue. Uncle Sam has the magic porridge pot—he doesn’t need the revenue. The issue is fairness and promoting the public interest. All income—no matter the source—benefits the recipient. As we economists say “money is fungible”. Whether it is wage income, interest income, or capital gains. At the same time, no public purpose is evident in moving income offshore for tax purposes. Discourage that by taxing it at twice the normal rate. Not because Uncle Sam needs it, but because he ought to discourage creation of tax havens. Yes, I know it is hard to catch. So tax it and then impose very high penalties for evasion. Uncle Sam will never catch all evaders, but he can make them fearful.
Outlaw corporate buy-backs. Eliminate stock options awarded to CEOs, or tax gains on those at confiscatory rates. No public purpose is served by either corporate buy-backs or stock options. If corporations do not serve identifiable public purposes, take back their corporate charters and subject owners to full personal liability for all debts and misdeeds of the firms.
Let’s see how many people would want to own Citibank or British Petroleum if they would be held liable for crimes and misdemeanors of those firms.
I HOPE ALL ARE HAVING A GREAT HOLIDAY----but the activism must go on! I will finish the discussion for now on public health this weekend by looking at our national readiness for disease epidemics and what that means locally.
Below you see a list of food-borne illnesses the American people are already hearing of these last few decades hitting populations with greater frequency---and we are now hearing that the FDA and Department of AG are no longer issuing re-calls to clear the market of contaminated lots----they are allowing corporations to wait and/or decide to ride out the contagion. When our public health system is dismantled locally in a city like Baltimore---AS IT IS-------this means as well the network that once made the city ready to fight epidemics no longer exists. Hopkins may claim it controls this process----but we saw what happens when corporate health systems control who and how PHARMA and health center access is left to corporate control. When Obama first came on board in 2009 we had such a national event----a avian flu scare----and later a threat from EBOLI from Africa. In both cases the Centers for Disease Control was shown not to have any way of effectively handling a major national epidemic. We were lucky these two incidences were not the real deal with epidemics----WE THE PEOPLE RECEIVED A WARNING SHOT ----letting us know that the Clinton/Bush/Obama dismantling of all Federal public health agencies have left all Americans vulnerable to grave harm at the same time global markets and movement of immigrants from one nation to another to work in FOXCONN factories opens the door to great pandemics/epidemics.
American citizens today do not remember or know what kinds of terrible chronic diseases filled American cities and towns before the New Deal FDR public health policies that created this Federal system of public health centers designed to keep ALL AMERICANS safe from preventable disease. Already we are seeing Polio and Tuberculosis regaining hold because public health and poverty safety nets are being defunded and dismantled. Look over in Asian cities to see what the poor ghettos look like----and that is what comes when the US is made an International Economic Zone with third world quality of life. Citizens in Baltimore know what that is like----as public health was dismantled decades ago.
IT'S MORE THAN GOING IN FOR AN HIV/HEP C TEST FOLKS.
US meat was the best quality and most safe in the world for almost a century until Reagan/Clinton started dismantling all Federal regulations and oversight---now nations of the world are fighting to keep US meat out of their countries because of poor quality and health safety threats. Add to that bringing meats in from developing nations to the US never having any food safety----AND A MAJOR EPIDEMIC IS ON THE HORIZON FOLKS.
Please glance through this long article to see what major outbreaks will look like. If you are like me------I never experienced digestive distress----AKA diarrhea------and now I am frequently dealing with this-----AND IT IS THE FOOD QUALITY. Is it the milk----the vegetables----the meat-----IT IS ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Think of all the layers of food safety that existed here in the US to keep all this from our food supply---then think of having none of this overseas----and even the fact that developing nations have no sewage systems----
EUFIC REVIEW 04/2006
Some Animal Diseases and their Possible Impact On Food Safety
Zoonoses are infectious diseases that are transmissible from animals (i.e. non-humans) to man. Humans may acquire zoonotic infections through a number of routes, including food, water, direct contact and insect vectors. Transmission of certain diseases through food remains an important cause of illness in both developing and developed countries .
The recent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
crises in Europe and the Avian Influenza crisis in Asia have heightened public concerns over the safety of foods of animal origin. In some cases, the mere presence of disease in herds or flocks of food-producing animals is perceived by consumers as a risk that undermines their confidence in derived food products. However, the risks for human health associated with some of these diseases may be negligible or non-existent, as will be explained in this review.
In industrialized countries, potential risks associated with foodborne pathogens are minimised through stringent animal health control measures. Diseased animals cannot be used to produce human food. For instance, milk from cows with an udder infection cannot be sold or delivered to the dairy plant. Animals arriving at the abattoir to be slaughtered are first inspected for signs of clinical illness before they enter the premises. Throughout the slaughter process, meat inspection procedures are carried out by trained personnel to identify signs of disease in the carcass. Needless to say, any deviation from normality leads to rejection of the carcass for further use.
Some zoonotic pathogens may, however, cause little or no disease in their animal hosts and, unfortunately, these unapparent infections (carrier states) are more difficult to detect, either on farm or at slaughterhouse level. Many of these pathogens reside in the intestinal tract of healthy animals and may spread through faecal contamination of the environment and products such as meat, milk or eggs. Small amounts of intestinal contents may contaminate milk during milking, the carcass at slaughter and the egg during laying. The risk associated with this type of contamination is minimised where proper food hygiene is applied throughout the entire food chain from production, through processing to preparation at home.
This review discusses some of the main animal diseases of importance that may affect man and the risks of contracting the disease via the food chain.
SalmonellaSalmonellosis is the disease caused by one of the many serotypes of the bacterium, Salmonella enterica. It is one of the most common causes of bacterial foodborne illness worldwide, second only to campylobacteriosis [2,3,4]. All species, including humans, may be infected by Salmonella bacteria, which live in the intestine and may be shed in faeces. However, Salmonella can survive and multiply very well outside the intestinal tract, which makes eradication impossible. Moreover, faecal contamination of carcasses, milk and eggs cannot be completely prevented.
In animals, the disease may manifest as one or more of three major syndromes: septicaemia, acute enteritis and chronic enteritis. Some serotypes of Salmonella, such as S. Choleraesuis in pigs, S. Dublin in cattle and S. Pullorum in poultry, can cause severe disease in animals, but livestock can also be carriers without showing clinical signs of infection. The most common serotypes involved in human foodborne illness are S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium, but these often cause only mild, if any, disease in livestock.
In humans, salmonellosis causes fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Symptoms usually develop within 12-72 hours after ingestion, and last for 4-7 days. Most cases are self-limiting, but severe cases require hospitalisation, and may be fatal. The more severe cases are associated with septicaemia, when the organism spreads, via the blood stream, to other body sites. Particularly vulnerable groups include the elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems. Some people may become carriers following infection and in some cases, there may be long term complications, such as reactive arthritis. ‘Typhoid fever’ is caused by S. Typhi, which only infects humans and is not spread by animals.
Food sources of animal origin include poultry and other meats, eggs and raw milk. However, infection may also be acquired from vegetables that have been irrigated with, or washed in, contaminated water. Although the organism can survive at refrigeration temperatures, it is destroyed by proper cooking and pasteurisation. Cooked foods may, however, be cross-contaminated by raw foods or other unhygienic practices.
Poultry and eggs are particularly high risk foods. Egg-associated salmonellosis is usually transmitted through faecal contamination of the shell, but S. Enteritidis may, rarely, also infect the ovaries of apparently healthy chickens and contaminate their eggs before the shells are formed.
Control measures and voluntary codes of practice for the control of Salmonella are implemented at national and European levels. Compulsory measures are currently in place through EU regulations to control S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis in breeding poultry flocks, and these are due to be extended to other groups of poultry and other species .
Humans that are carriers may inadvertently spread infection if they handle food without washing their hands after using the toilet. Direct contact with infected animals, including pets, can also be a source of infection. Reptiles are particularly likely to harbour Salmonella and hands should always be washed after handling pets e.g. reptiles.
Campylobacter jejuni was identified in the early 1980’s as an important enteric pathogen in humans . Prior to this, the organism was thought to be a minor animal pathogen, causing abortion and enteritis in cattle and sheep. Other Campylobacter species are occasionally involved in human disease, including Campylobacter coli. The organism is widespread in the intestines of most warm blooded animals, including cattle, sheep and poultry, and survives particularly well in birds. It rarely causes disease in livestock, although a significant number may be asymptomatic carriers.
Campylobacter is now considered the most common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis in humans throughout the world . In humans, infection causes fever, headache and general malaise, followed by abdominal pain and profuse, often bloody, diarrhoea. The incubation period is typically 3-6 days, but may be as long as 10 days, and the illness can last from two days to two weeks. In most patients, the disease is self-limiting and cases recover without specific treatment. In patients with compromised immune systems, however, infection can result in life-threatening septicaemia. Children and elderly patients may also be more severely affected. Complications occur in a small number of cases (2-10%) and include reactive arthritis or a form of paralysis known as ‘Guillain-Barré Syndrome’. These complications usually resolve within a few months.
Transmission of Campylobacter to humans can occur via contaminated raw or undercooked poultry and meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. The organism is particularly common on poultry carcasses, and poultry meat is thought to be an important vehicle for infection. Contact with infected pets can also be a source of infection.
Relatively small number of bacteria are required to cause illness in humans, which can result from a single drop of juice from raw chicken meat . The bacteria are readily destroyed on cooking and during the pasteurisation process and freezing reduces the numbers on food. The organism does not readily grow in foods and, moreover, needs ‘warmer’ temperatures for multiplication. Hygiene in food storage and preparation is important for preventing disease, as is thorough cooking of poultry products and pasteurisation of milk, in particular.
Listeriosis is the disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, although other species of Listeria may very rarely be involved. The organism is ubiquitous in the environment and is found throughout the world.
In healthy adult humans, infection does not result in significant disease, but severe illness may occur in the unborn child, infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. The incubation period is variable from 3-21 days depending on the clinical form. Symptoms range from a mild flu-like condition to severe, life-threatening disease characterised by meningitis and septicaemia. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to become infected, with about one third of Listeria cases occurring in pregnant women . Although their own symptoms may be mild, infections can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or infection of the newborn child.
Of the farm animals, cattle, sheep, goats and, rarely, pigs, are the most commonly affected. In these species, infection causes encephalitis, septicaemia, abortion and kerato-conjunctivitis. L. monocytogenes can also found in healthy animals. In most cases, listeriosis is foodborne but transmission to humans can occasionally occur through direct contact with infected animals.
Because Listeria is widespread in the environment, even in households, it may be transferred to food from a variety of sources. L. monocytogenes is destroyed by cooking and pasteurisation, but contamination of prepared foods can occur after processing and before packaging. Unlike some other foodborne pathogens, the organism grows at low temperatures, and can often be found in refrigerators. Typically, listeriosis in humans is associated with consumption of prepared, ready-to-eat foods that have an extended shelf life and are stored in chilled environment. Soft cheeses, meat pâtés and other delicatessen meat products, in particular, have been sources of infection and should be avoided by pregnant women and other at-risk individuals.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease of humans and many animals (including birds) that is caused by different species of Mycobacterium. Most cases of human TB are caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which primarily affects humans. The disease in cattle is caused by M. bovis, but this organism can also affect other species, including humans. Birds may be affected by M. avium, which can also infect mammalian species. M. avium does not normally cause disease in humans unless the individual is immunocompromised, as in Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
The disease is characterised by the formation of caseous ‘tubercles’ in various organs of the body. In humans, TB most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) causing chronic coughing, spitting of blood, fever, nights sweats and weight loss. In some cases, infection may spread to other organs, including the central nervous system, lymph nodes, bones and joints. Many individuals may be infected without showing signs of disease, but the infection lies dormant and may be activated in later years when the immune system is weakened.
Similarly, in cattle, TB usually affects the lungs but may also spread to other organs, including the udder. In the early stages of disease, affected animals may not show signs of clinical disease.
Transmission of the organism is via exhaled air and in excretions and secretions. Today, the main source of TB in humans is other humans infected with M. tuberculosis . During the 1930’s, however, many cattle were infected with M. bovis, and this was a significant cause of TB in humans. The organism spread readily to humans via raw milk, although direct contact with infected animals and person-to-person contact have also been implicated.
The incidence of human M. bovis infections dropped markedly with the introduction of milk pasteurisation and compulsory eradication programmes in cattle. In many European countries these measures have, for 30 years or more, prevented many cases of TB. In the UK, for example, less than 1% of all confirmed tuberculosis cases are due to M. bovis . However, these can usually be attributed to infections acquired abroad, or to reactivation of dormant infections in elderly people who were probably infected before the mandatory pasteurisation of market milk .
The organism is destroyed by heat and there is no risk from pasteurised milk. The risk of contracting bovine TB from meat is extremely small, particularly as the organism is killed readily on cooking, and no cases have ever been recorded.
To control TB in cattle, a system of testing and routine meat inspection is undertaken according to EU legislation [8,9]. Infected animals are slaughtered and cattle may not be moved from farms where TB is diagnosed. Austria, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are currently designated by the EU as being officially free of bovine TB .
Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by the various species of the bacterium Brucella. The organism affects cattle, sheep, goats, deer, elk, pigs, dogs and many other species, including humans. Brucella organisms persist within the host’s own cells, where they are protected from the animal’s immune response and can give rise to chronic, recurrent infections.
In animals, brucellosis is primarily a disease of the reproductive tract, causing abortion, retained placenta and impaired fertility. Brucella abortus causes brucellosis in cattle (‘Bang’s Disease’, contagious abortion, infectious abortion) although it may also infect other species including humans. B. melitensis causes brucellosis primarily in sheep and goats.
In humans, B. abortus causes ‘undulant fever’ whereas B. melitensis causes the slightly more severe ‘Malta fever’. Symptoms of acute brucellosis are flu-like, including fever, sweats, headache, back pains and physical weakness. Infections usually become chronic, causing recurrent fever, fatigue and joint pain.
Humans may be infected through eating contaminated food or drink or through close contact with an infected animal when the organism may be inhaled or acquired via skin wounds. Most cases occur following consumption of contaminated raw milk or dairy products.
Areas of Europe that are currently listed as high risk for brucellosis include the ‘Mediterranean Basin’ (Portugal, Spain, Southern France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, North Africa) and Eastern Europe [12,13]. It also occurs in South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Consumption of ‘village cheeses’ in these areas may pose a risk.
EU legislation provides for continued monitoring of areas designated officially free of B. melitensis through annual testing, and places restrictions on sheep and goats that are moved into the area. Currently, officially free regions include the UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and parts of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal .
Control measures for B. abortus in cattle include eradication schemes in a number of European countries. The UK, for example, is currently brucellosis-free and operates a national surveillance scheme in which bulk milk samples from dairy herds are tested monthly and blood samples from other breeding cattle are tested every two years. In addition, all cases of abortion or premature birth in cattle are tested for brucellosis and checks are carried out on all imported females after they calve for the first time in the UK.
Pathogenic E. coli
Escherichia coli is a common bacterium that is found as part of the normal flora in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals, including humans. There are many strains of E. coli, and most do not cause disease. However, some strains can result in serious illness in both man and animals. The presence of high numbers of E. coli in raw food or water may be a sign of faecal contamination by humans or animals, but does not cause illness in most cases. E. coli multiplies readily wherever the temperature, humidity and nutrients are favourable.
Pathogenic strains cause gastroenteritis or more serious forms of disease, and are generally grouped according to their mechanism of virulence. Of the five groups, enterotoxigenic strains of E. coli (ETEC) are the major cause of bacterial diarrhoea in developing countries and of ‘traveller’s diarrhoea’ in developed countries . These organisms cause disease by producing toxins that stimulate the lining of the intestines to secrete fluid, resulting in profuse, watery diarrhoea. Most cases recover with fluids alone, particularly oral rehydration solutions, although a number may require antibiotic treatment.
Enterohaemorragic E. coli (EHEC)
is a highly pathogenic group of E. coli that has emerged in recent years. The most widely recognised serotype is E. coli O157:H7. This serotype causes symptoms that range from mild diarrhoea to severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea (haemorrhagic colitis). In some cases, infection can lead to more serious complications including haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) in which the rapid destruction of red blood cells (causing anaemia and spontaneous bleeding) results in kidney failure and, occasionally, neurological signs. Young children and the elderly are the most vulnerable groups and in these patients, infection has proved fatal in a small percentage of cases.
Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli are usually transmitted by contaminated, undercooked minced (ground) beef, but other foods such as sprouts, lettuce and apple juice have also been vectors . Large outbreaks have been caused by contaminated water. If a carcass is contaminated, the organism can be thoroughly mixed in when the meat is minced (ground), resulting in the contamination of a large quantity of meat. Indeed, E. coli O157:H7 was first identified in the USA following an outbreak caused by eating contaminated hamburgers from a fast food outlet . Raw milk has also been a source of infection, resulting from contamination of the milk by faecal material on the udder or on milking equipment. Transmission can also occur through direct contact with infected people or animal carriers, or through contact with contaminated land. It should be reiterated that the animals that carry and excrete EHEC are asymptomatic and are thus not identified on farm or during meat inspection.
The number of organisms required to cause disease is thought to be relatively small . Thorough cooking is required to kill the organism, and minced beef should not be eaten if it is still pink. Beef burgers, for example should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 70ºC for two minutes.
Foodborne yersiniosis is usually caused by the bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica, although Yersinia pseudotuberculosis may occasionally be involved . The organism occurs in the digestive tract of animals and in the environment, but not all strains are harmful. Strains of Y. enterocolitica that are most likely to cause illness in humans are found most commonly in pigs but have also been isolated from cattle, sheep and poultry. Although Y. enterocolitica can cause enteritis in piglets and lambs, most infections in animals are clinically silent.
Yersiniosis in humans is most common in young children and is characterised by acute diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain and vomiting. In older children and adults the disease can mimic appendicitis, with fever and right-sided abdominal pain being the predominant signs. Rarely, infection can lead to complications including reactive arthritis or a skin condition called erythema nodosum, but most cases are self-limiting.
Most cases of yersiniosis occur after eating or handling contaminated meat, particularly raw or undercooked pork products. Unpasteurised milk or untreated water that is contaminated can also pose a risk. Children may be infected through cross contamination of their toys, bottles or pacifiers by carers after handling contaminated food. Prevention is dependent on scrupulous hygiene measures in food preparation and storage, and avoiding consumption of raw meat, unpasteurised milk or untreated water.
Anthrax has been recognised as an infectious disease of people and animals for centuries. In nineteenth century Europe, 20-30% of sheep and cattle died of anthrax each year. Today, anthrax still exists in most countries of sub-Sahelian Africa and Asia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, some Southern and Eastern European countries and the Middle East . In other countries, the disease may occur sporadically.
The anthrax organism is a spore-forming bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. Spores form when the organism is exposed to air and, being very resistant, they can survive for decades in soil. Animals are infected when they are exposed to spores by inhalation, ingestion or via the skin.
Anthrax can affect most species, including humans, but is most commonly seen in cattle and sheep, sometimes, pigs. In cattle and sheep, the disease is usually rapidly fatal and affected animals may be found dead without prior clinical signs. The course of the disease tends to be slightly longer in pigs and horses, which may show swelling of the head and neck, although the disease is usually fatal. Where anthrax is suspected, the carcass is not opened, to prevent the anthrax bacilli forming spores on exposure to air. In cattle, anthrax is always considered a possible cause of unexplained sudden death and a blood smear is always carried out to investigate that possibility. Affected carcasses must be disposed of in an approved manner, usually by incineration.
In humans, there are three forms of the disease: • Cutaneous anthrax when the spore enters the skin via a cut or abrasion. This is the most common form, accounting for 95% of human cases worldwide. Skin infections start as a raised itchy lump and develop into blisters then ulcers with a characteristic black centre. • Pulmonary or inhalation anthrax acquired from breathing in spores. Symptoms are initially flu-like, but progress to severe breathing difficulties and shock after 2-6 days. • Gastrointestinal anthrax when spores are consumed in contaminated food, usually undercooked meat from an infected animal. This form of anthrax is extremely rare but, when it occurs, results in severe acute gastroenteritis.
Cutaneous anthrax is milder than the other two forms of disease and can be treated effectively with antibiotics. If untreated, however, the disease can be fatal in approximately 20% of cases. Although inhalation and intestinal anthrax are often fatal, recovery is possible if antibiotic treatment is initiated prior to or immediately after the onset of symptoms. An effective vaccine is available for both humans and animals in at-risk areas.
Humans usually contract anthrax through occupational exposure to the tissues or products, such as skins or wool, of infected animals. In Europe and North America, cases of human anthrax are rare and usually result from contact with imported animal products from countries where the disease is endemic .
Foot and Mouth Disease Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is caused by a virus and is one of the most contagious diseases of animals. It affects mainly cloven-hoofed animals, particularly cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and deer, although other animals including elephants, hedgehogs and rats are also susceptible. Foot and Mouth Disease is endemic in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America . In disease-free areas, sporadic outbreaks may occur.
The disease causes the formation of vesicles (blisters), mainly in the mouth and on the feet. Vesicles subsequently rupture leaving painful erosions. The disease is rarely fatal, although it can cause sudden death in very young animals. After infection, there may be a drop in milk yield, which can be permanent and chronic lameness. Economic losses as a result of the disease can be very severe, so disease-free areas employ stringent precautions to prevent import of the virus, and measures to eradicate the disease if it occurs.
Although humans can be affected by FMD, this is extremely rare . When it occurs, the disease in humans is relatively benign. During the large outbreak in the UK in 2001, there were no confirmed cases of transmission of FMD from animals to humans [22,23]. Less than 40 cases of FMD in humans have been confirmed worldwide throughout the last century . Although it is not entirely clear how transmission occurred, these cases are believed to have had close contact with infected animals or to have consumed raw milk. No cases of infection from pasteurised milk or from consuming meat from infected animals have been reported. It is generally agreed that FMD has no implications for the human food chain .
Avian influenza is an infectious, viral disease that causes respiratory, digestive and/or neurological disease in many species of birds. Some species, such as migratory wildfowl, can be asymptomatic carriers, and may represent a natural reservoir of virus .
Avian influenza is caused by Type A strains of the influenza virus. There are a number of different subtypes of influenza that affect birds, some of which cause relatively mild disease whilst others cause a highly contagious, rapidly fatal form of the disease, resulting in severe epidemics. The latter form of the disease is referred to as ‘highly pathogenic avian influenza’ (HPAI), with a mortality rate that can approach 100%. Domestic poultry, including chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, occasionally ducks and geese, are particularly susceptible to epidemics of rapidly fatal influenza.
Avian influenza viruses normally only infect birds, but can also infect pigs and other mammals. The first documented cases of avian influenza infecting humans occurred in Hong Kong in 1997 . The HPAI strain (H5N1) that was involved caused severe respiratory disease, resulting in six human fatalities. Further spread of the virus was prevented through the rapid destruction of Hong Kong’s entire poultry population. Subsequently, outbreaks in flocks the Netherlands and Hong Kong, involving other avian influenza viruses caused relatively mild disease in humans, although one fatality occurred in the Netherlands. In 2004, cases involving H5N1 strain occurred in humans in Viet Nam and Thailand with more severe consequences and, since then, cases have also been confirmed in Cambodia, Indonesia, China and Turkey .
Although trade restrictions have been imposed on some countries to protect animal health, there is no epidemiological evidence that avian influenza can be transmitted to humans via properly cooked food [25,26,27]. The WHO and other expert bodies, therefore, do not currently consider avian influenza a food safety risk for consumers. Humans have acquired avian influenza infections through close contact with live poultry, not through eating poultry meat.
Infected birds generally die or are slaughtered before they can enter the food chain and any remaining potential risk is reduced to insignificant levels when the meat is processed. Although HPAI virus strains can survive for long periods of time at low temperatures, they are inactivated at temperatures above 70ºC. Poultry meat and eggs that are properly cooked do not pose a risk to consumers.
Trichinellosis, or trichinosis, is a parasitic disease of mammals caused by a nematode worm (roundworm) of the Trichinella genus, mainly Trichinella spiralis. The worm gains entry to the body when larval cysts are eaten in infected muscle meat. Gastric juices break down the tough cysts and release infective larvae, which then invade the small intestinal lining and mature to adults. Adult female worms subsequently release larvae that penetrate the intestinal wall and are distributed throughout the body via blood and lymphatic vessels. Only in skeletal muscles, they form cysts, which can remain viable for several years. The life cycle is perpetuated when the infected muscle is eaten by another host.
Although all mammals are probably susceptible, infection is usually confined to carnivorous species, mainly pigs, dogs, cats, carnivorous game, rodents and humans. Horses may occasionally be infected after eating fodder contaminated by decaying rodents. Most infections in domestic and wild animals go undiagnosed, but heavy infestations can give similar signs to those seen in humans.
In humans, trichinellosis is very variable in the symptoms it causes. Light infections may go unnoticed, whilst heavy infestations can cause severe symptoms and may, occasionally, be fatal. The intestinal phase of infection may be associated with diarrhoea and abdominal pain, whilst the period of larval migration may be associated with fever, sweating, chills, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue and swelling and pain around the eyes. Symptoms are directly or indirectly associated with the damage caused by the larvae penetrating the tissues. Symptoms gradually subside but, occasionally, complications develop when heart, brain or lungs are involved. Rarely, death may result from heart failure.
Human infections are traditionally associated with eating raw or undercooked pork (such as ham or sausage) or wild carnivorous game (including wild boar, bear and seal). However, recent outbreaks in Europe have been linked to eating undercooked horse meat . Current EU regulations dictate that all pig, horse and wild boar meat intended for Community trade must be inspected for the presence of Trichinella according to EU standards. There is no evidence to suggest that Trichinella is currently present in UK pigs or horses, and a recent survey found no evidence of infection in the UK fox population .
Taeniasis is a parasitic disease of humans caused by the tapeworms Taenia saginata (from cattle) or Taenia solium (from pigs). The adult tapeworms are found only in humans, where they attach to the wall of the small intestine and can grow to several metres in length. Egg-containing segments, which are independently motile, are shed by the tapeworm and passed in faeces or migrate through the anus. Infection is usually asymptomatic, but may be associated with diarrhoea, flatulence, abdominal discomfort and weight loss.
For both tapeworms, the intermediate host is infected when they eat material contaminated by infected human sewage. For T. saginata, the intermediate host is cattle, whereas both pigs and humans can act as intermediate hosts for T. solium. Ingested eggs hatch in the intestine and migrate to other tissues where they form small larva-containing vesicles (cysticerci), which may survive for several years. T. saginata cysticerci form only in muscle tissue whereas T. solium cysticerci can form in muscle, liver, lung, brain and other tissues. The condition in which cysticerci are present in muscle or other organs is known as ‘cysticercosis’.
In cattle and pigs, infected individuals may show no obvious clinical signs unless the infestation is severe. In humans with cysticercosis, however, symptoms may be moderate to severe depending on the number and location of the cysticerci. Where cysticerci are present in muscles, patients are frequently asymptomatic although heavy infestations can cause muscle inflammation with swelling and weakness. Severe involvement of heart muscle can lead to heart failure whilst the presence of cysticerci in the brain (neurocysticercosis) can cause seizures and other neurological signs.
EU regulations dictate that carcasses are inspected routinely for the presence of cysticerci . However, light infections may not be detected. Taeniasis (adult tapeworm infection) in humans may thus occur by eating undercooked beef or pig meat that contains viable cysticerci. Tapeworm carriers are the source of infection for human cysticercosis, when poor hygiene measures allow contamination of food, water and other surfaces with T. solium eggs.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a transmissible brain disease of cattle, which was first recognised in November 1986 in the UK . In this country, the number of cases grew considerably over the next few years but, following the introduction of protective measures, has been declining steadily since the epidemic peaked in 1993. Since 1989, cases have also been reported in native cattle in a range of other European countries, with most of these occurring in France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
BSE is one of a group of neurological disorders known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE), which affect a variety of animal species and humans. These include scrapie in sheep and goats, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. The TSEs are characterised by degeneration of the central nervous system, giving the brain a spongy appearance on microscopic examination. This results in the development of severe neurological signs and is invariably fatal.
In cattle, BSE has a long incubation period of four to five years but death occurs within weeks to months of the onset of clinical signs. The neurological signs associated with BSE include incoordination and behavioural abnormalities, which give rise to its colloquial name, ‘Mad Cow Disease’.
The causal agent of BSE and other TSEs is still a matter of scientific debate, although the weight of evidence points to a protein, named ‘prion’, rather than a microorganism, such as bacteria or viruses [30,31]. The prion theory hypothesises that the agent responsible for BSE and other TSEs is a ‘misfolded’ form of a normal host prion protein, which is found mainly on brain cell membranes. The abnormal prion accumulates in the brain by transforming normal prion proteins adjacent to it, and forms amyloid-like deposits, which are insoluble and eventually cause neuronal death and astrogliosis.
Transmission of the acquired form of the disease usually occurs by ingestion of infective material. The main vector of BSE in cattle is meat and bone meal (MBM) which, at the time BSE was first recognised, was commonly fed to cattle as a recycled protein source. This animal feed may have become contaminated through the incorporation of carcasses of TSE-affected animals, such as sheep with scrapie or cattle with BSE. It is thought that changes in the rendering process used to manufacture MBM, particularly changes in the temperature and pressure applied, may have favoured the survival of the infectious agent in the feed . Although the original source of BSE is still not clear, its rapid spread was almost certainly due to the feeding of contaminated MBM to other cattle.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is one of a number of TSEs that affect humans. This is a rare and fatal condition that occurs sporadically in middle aged and older individuals, causing dementia and progressively severe neurological signs. In 1996, a new form of CJD, called variant CJD (vCJD), was described in the UK . This form differed from classic CJD as it affected younger patients and had a longer duration of illness. It has been shown that vCJD was probably linked to potential dietary exposure to beef products contaminated with infected tissues. More recently, it has been shown that the prion protein that accumulates in the brain of patients with vCJD is similar to that found in cattle with BSE.
A range of protective measures have been introduced throughout the EU, and are under constant review, to minimise the risk of BSE spreading amongst cattle and of infective material entering the human food chain. Suspected cases of BSE are slaughtered and their carcasses incinerated. In the UK, a ban on feeding MBM to ruminants was introduced in 1988 and led to a drastic reduction in the incidence of BSE in cattle [32,33]. Current EU regulations prohibit the feeding of any mammalian protein (MBM and, for example, bloodmeal) to ruminants and the feeding of mammalian MBM to all other farm livestock.
The active surveillance of TSEs consists of the removal, at slaughter, of all specified risk materials (SRM) from cattle, sheep and goat carcasses of animals older than one year. SRMs include brain, spinal cord, eyes. The whole intestine in cattle, and the spleen in sheep are removed from all animals regardless of their age. EU regulations also now prohibit the use of mechanically recovered meat from ruminant bones.
In the UK, the risk to consumers has been further reduced by the Over Thirty Month (OTM) rule, in which cattle over thirty months are not permitted to enter the human food chain. No clinical cases have occurred in the UK in cattle under thirty months, and animals below this age are unlikely to contain significant BSE infectivity. This rule is not applicable in other EU countries, where older animals may enter the food chain if a post-mortem test for BSE proves negative.
In January 2006, however, the UK government introduced a replacement of the OTM rule with a system of robust testing for OTM cattle born after July 1996 . This change acknowledges the reduced, very low risk to UK consumers that has been achieved and the effectiveness of other control measures, which will remain in place. The new scheme, known as the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme (OCDS), will bring the UK in line with other EU countries.
Prevention of foodborne infections requires an integrated (‘Farm to Fork’) approach to food production. This involves measures aimed at eradication of zoonotic diseases within the animal population and prevention of contamination at all stages of the food supply chain.
In developed countries, governments have established food safety and sanitary regulations to control zoonoses, which are under continual reassessment. The EU food safety strategy, for example, provides extensive legislation and outlines the responsibilities of both producers and suppliers in ensuring the safety of the food supply . Specific control measures for a number of zoonotic pathogens are discussed in the relevant sections of this review.
EU regulations are amongst the most stringent in the world and cover: • The rejection of animal feed materials that could pose a risk to animal and human health. • Monitoring of disease within the resident animal population and implementation of eradication and control strategies. • Health requirements for animals and animal products imported into or traded within the EU. • Identification and traceability of individual animals. • Animal welfare standards. • Food hygiene standards at critical points throughout the food production process.
The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), an arm of the European Commission, plays an important role in verifying whether EU food safety regulations are being enforced . A team of about 80 FVO inspectors carry out spot checks at the premises of producers, slaughterhouses or processing plants, both within and outside the EU, to ensure that adequate control and enforcement mechanisms are in place and are effective in practice.
Food safety has a high priority within the food chain, but consumers must also share the responsibility for ensuring food safety within the home because contamination of certain foods cannot be prevented. A few simple procedures should be employed to minimise the risk of foodborne disease, and these may be summarised in accordance with the WHO’s ‘Five Keys to Safer Food’ strategy :
Separate raw and cooked food
Keep food at safe temperatures
You would have to be very, very, very naive and uninformed to believe all the hype from the BIG MEAT chicken and port corporations partnering with Chinese corporations supposedly making sure the meat is from the US-----being 'processed' in China where slave labor can be used. Do we really think this will last if it even exists now??????? Spending all that money to ship US meat to China to be processed and then shipped back?
Latino immigrants have borne the brunt of BIG AG MEAT processing sweat shops for decades-----they exist right here on Maryland/Virginia Eastern Shore. Think how bad those conditions are in the US---then think how bad they must be in Asia for corporate meat to want these FOXCONN global meat factories in China. That is how bad it can get. Not long after this is allowed with Trans Pacific Trade Pact ----International Economic Zone policy will bring these conditions back to the US----this time minus the few protections Latino immigrants have had. The point is this-----Republicans and Clinton neo-liberals have erased all the gains of food safety and workplace safety in our food system-----BIG AG and BIG MEAT----and now they intend to erase all developed world status by bringing the US down to third world anything goes.
Smithfield Ham has partnered with China as have beef and chicken corporations----all with the same intentions.
As I said-----diseases are carried to great extent in meat-----and as Obama super-sized the dismantling of public health----and is now bringing global corporations to be government-----the US will become as bad as India and China.
Lorraine Chow | July 14, 2015 9:18 am Don’t miss out. Stay Informed. Get EcoWatch’s Top News of the Day.
Although the news came out more than a year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) controversial chicken arrangement with China is still ruffling feathers. As EcoWatch reported in March 2014, the USDA now allows chicken to be sent to China for processing before being shipped back to the states for human consumption. One reason this story is resurfacing is a recent Facebook post by Erin Brockovich, who is outraged that this export/import policy exists.
Most Americans would probably agree with Brockovich that sending homegrown chicken on a 14,000-mile round trip is unnecessary and absurd, especially with China’s appalling food safety standards. Even National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super said that the arrangement “doesn’t make much sense” economically.
The big question then is why would the U.S. allow frozen chicken to be shipped to China from America, then have a Chinese company cook the chicken, refreeze it and send it back to the states?
The answer, as it was later reported by Newsweek and other publications, is that the USDA’s Chinese chicken arrangement is much more about the profitable meat product or beef, than it is about chicken.
According to Vice, “The USDA’s move to bring Chinese plants into the American fold is just the first step in a politically motivated process to get the country to give the U.S. something in return. In 2003, when mad cow disease was discovered in cattle in Washington state, China enacted a ban on imported U.S. beef that continues to this day. With China’s meat consumption on the rise, it makes sense that U.S. beef producers would want to recapture that lucrative market. By starting to accept China’s processed chicken, the U.S. is apparently warming to the idea of soon accepting the country’s raw, unprocessed poultry—a move that might convince China to lift its beef ban.”
Brockovich’s Facebook post has been causing quite a stir with more than 4,700 likes and 6,200 shares. In the post she calls out the dubious relationship between the respective countries’ chicken and beef industries.
Brockovich also added in the comment section: “We export rice to China … farmed with California water … so we get chicken? What is wrong with us?”
But the good news is, we’re not likely eating U.S. chicken by way of the Far East. Even though a similar process is already being used for U.S. seafood and outsourcing labor to China might be desirable for some stakeholders (China’s chicken workers earn about $1 to 2 per hour), lobbyists and chicken industry proponents argue no U.S. company will ever ship chicken to China for processing because it wouldn’t work economically.
Newsweek also reported that the country’s four major chicken companies (Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms) have not yet put any money into this export/import plan, nor have the National Chicken Council or the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.
Tyson Foods even felt compelled to issue an official statement on the matter and respond directly to a concerned Twitter user.
Americans already knew national grocery chains were using all kinds of questionable tactics to keep seafood longer than they should to avoid discarding -------think what will be necessary when sending all this seafood from Asian nations that do not have a distribution system that if efficient to get this food from Asian fish farms to export terminals -----
THERE IS NO DISTRIBUTION STRUCTURES IN MOST DEVELOPING NATIONS FOR SPEEDY TRIPS TO MARKET---SO THEY TAKE SHORTCUTS OF COURSE.
When our food sources become national and then---internationally owned as is happening now----more and more developing nation tactics become mainstream in the US----and no one is watching the food imports as they enter the US and VOILA----the American people are being driven into weakened health just from trying to by their food supply. Remember the mantra of PREVENTATIVE HEALTH CARE from Obama and Clinton neo-liberals?????? As they work with Republicans to make the US market flooded with food from around the world as per Trans Pacific Trade Pact---Republicans are trying as hard as Obama to take all food labelling off our food so we don't know from where it comes----BECAUSE THAT HARMS FREE MARKET THEY SAY.
Formaldehyde Detected in Supermarket Fish Imported from Asia
1 in 4 sampled fish contaminated
By James Andrews | September 11, 2013
A large number of fish imported from China and Vietnam and sold in at least some U.S. supermarkets contain unnatural levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, according to tests performed and verified by researchers at a North Carolina chemical engineering firm and North Carolina State University.
Around 25 percent of all the fish purchased from supermarkets by researchers in the Raleigh, N.C., area were found to contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical compound commonly used as a medical disinfectant or embalming agent. All of the fish found to contain the compound were imported from Asian countries, and it was not found in fish from the U.S. or other regions.
The researchers only collected samples from supermarkets around Raleigh, N.C., and could not comment on whether or not the same results could be applied to fish sold nationwide.
Formaldehyde is illegal in food beyond any naturally occurring trace amounts. But, according to chemical engineer A. James Attar and his colleagues who conducted the tests, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not test any imported fish for formaldehyde contamination, and only 4 percent of imported fish gets tested for any contaminants at all.
“The look on my face when we found this – it was a complete shocker,” said Jason Morton, Attar’s colleague at N.C.-based Appealing Products, Inc.
Attar, Morton and another colleague at Appealing Products, Matthew Schwartz, came across the alarming revelation when they set out to validate a new formaldehyde test they developed for Bangladeshi clients who needed a cheap way to detect contaminated fish.
To verify the accuracy of their test, the team purchased domestic and imported fish from supermarkets around Raleigh, NC, with the intent of purposefully contaminating them with formaldehyde and then verifying that their test worked.
Instead, they found that about one in four fish was already contaminated with formaldehyde. The commonality between all the contaminated fish? They were imported from Asian countries, predominantly China and Vietnam.
Not all of the Asian fish were contaminated, but many were, Attar said.
The FDA has not had the opportunity to analyze the fish samples tested by Appealing Products, nor has the agency had the opportunity to review the test methods utilized.
“The FDA’s priority is to ensure that both domestic and imported seafood is safe and that we are protecting consumers from products that can cause illness,” the agency told Food Safety News. “To accomplish this, FDA oversees a comprehensive food safety program designed to ensure the safety of all seafood sold in the United States. This prevention-oriented program includes risk based inspections, product testing, and assessments of foreign countries regulation of aquaculture facilities.”
All foods imports entering the U.S. are screened electronically by the FDA. A subset of those foods are physically inspected at rates based on the potential risk associated with them, with some samples undergoing lab analysis.
“FDA encourages anyone who has evidence that an FDA regulated product violates food safety laws and regulations to contact FDA,” the agency added.
Attar and Morton stopped short of accusing Asian fish companies of intentionally adding formaldehyde to fish to prevent spoilage, though it appears to be a common problem in Bangladesh, where formaldehyde might preserve fish when refrigerators or ice aren’t available. (Think of frogs preserved for dissection in a high-school science lab.)
Attar and his team first uncovered the issue in February 2013, and then spent six months routinely testing samples, finding the same results. Their results were then verified by researchers at North Carolina State.
Attar said the sampling was restricted to purchases from Raleigh only and might not reflect fish in supermarkets nationwide.
“But, empirically, this is what we found,” he added.
Formaldehyde is present in some fish at small, naturally occurring levels. But everything observed in the Asian fish found that they were contaminated with far higher-than-normal or acceptable levels, Attar said.
The team tested whether or not levels of formaldehyde increased in cuts of fish as they aged, but the levels remained the same. They also tested the same species harvested from both Chinese and U.S. companies, finding that the Chinese-caught fish contained formaldehyde, while the U.S.-caught fish of the same species did not.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the U.S. imports approximately 91 percent of its seafood. China alone accounts for approximately 89 percent of global aquaculture production.
Appealing Products’ formaldehyde test costs approximately $1 per swab, which is applied to a cut of fish and turns purple in the presence of formaldehyde. The company has shipped 100,000 tests to Bangladesh and anticipates orders from companies in other Asian countries. More information on the tests can be found at formaldehydetests.com.
Documented instances of intentional formaldehyde contamination of food have occurred in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.
Attar and Morton said that their evidence makes a strong case for improved testing on seafood imports in the U.S., especially from Asian countries.
“I cannot say that companies are adding formaldehyde to fish, but our findings are higher than what naturally occurs,” Morton said.
We are reading that all over the US stores and restaurants are lying about what they are feeding us-----and this is an epidemic because NO ONE IS PROVIDING OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT NATIONAL, STATE, OR LOCAL LEVEL.
This is what public health department does-----it monitors for food safety and makes stores and restaurants too afraid to pull this mess. You will never hear of any audit or findings like this in Baltimore or Maryland because corporate pols are fine with citizens being taken.
ALL MARYLAND POLS ARE CLINTON/OBAMA NEO-LIBERALS OR BUSH/HOPKINS NEO-CONS.
Baltimore has absolutely no system in place to prevent health epidemics/pandemics and any system that does address it will be directing PHARMA and hospital resources to a select group and not to a public health system for everyone. We saw that in the avian flu outbreak when a shortage of vaccine led to profiteering sales of vaccine to highest bidders---with the vaccines being bought to Wall Street ------to national pharmacy chains----but not to be had in public clinics and schools.
You may think this audit done last decade may be picky-----but think of what happens as all food labelling and country of origin disappears. Prices for certain kinds of fish-----prices for fish from wild USA areas-----are high. Farmed fish are usually from Asia with no safety protections and lots of health violations. Soon, there will be no protections for how much we pay to get what we think is a better product.
The label said red snapper, the lab said baloney
Last reviewed: December 2011
This article appeared in
December 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.
Americans spent $80.2 billion on seafood last year, $5 billion more than in 2009, but they aren't always buying what they think they are. More than one-fifth of 190 pieces of seafood we bought at retail stores and restaurants in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were mislabeled as different species of fish, incompletely labeled, or misidentified by employees.
Whether deliberate or not, substitution hurts consumers three ways: in their wallet, when expensive seafood is switched for less desirable, cheaper fish; in their health, when they mistakenly eat species that are high in mercury or other contaminants; and in their conscience, if they find out they've mistakenly bought species whose numbers are low.
We sent our fresh and frozen fish samples to an outside lab for DNA testing. Researchers extracted genetic material from each sample and compared the genetic sequences against standardized gene fragments that identify its species in much the same way that criminal investigators use genetic fingerprinting. (See How we tested: Using DNA to solve a mystery.) Some fish were sampled more widely than others. Still, our results provide a snapshot of what a shopper might buy. Among our findings:
Our findings are in line with those from other recent studies showing that 20 to 25 percent of seafood around the world is mislabeled.
It's impossible to determine where species substitution and mislabeling occur—fish pass through many hands from hook to cook. After harvesters farm or catch seafood, they ice it or flash-freeze it. Sometimes they transfer their catch to larger vessels, where the fish might be mixed with other species. The fish may be processed at sea or shipped to foreign or domestic facilities where it's prepared for distribution.
Processing at sea, which includes removing heads and guts, slows spoilage but can make species more difficult to identify, as can breading or sauces that seafood-preparation facilities might add. When sending fish and shellfish to retailers, suppliers must note their country of origin and whether they were wild or farm-raised. (Prepared fish products such as fish sticks aren't subject to that rule.)
Unscrupulous people may try to falsify documentation or hide illegally caught fish with legally captured ones, according to a report released last May by Oceana, an international organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. They could commingle species and try to sell the lot as the highest-priced species. As a result, mislabeled fish could end up in stores and restaurants. "The likelihood of being caught is so low, there's no incentive to play by the rules," says Margot Stiles, a marine scientist at Oceana.
Still, federal law requires seafood to be labeled in a way that's truthful, not misleading, and in accordance with federal regulations. It is "not acceptable" to misrepresent the identity of seafood products to consumers, says Doug Karas, a spokesman for the FDA, which oversees seafood labeling. If the FDA discovers fish fraud, it has the authority to slap companies with warning letters, seize seafood, and prevent businesses from importing fish. But FDA experts say it's primarily the responsibility of state and local agencies, not the FDA, to regulate retail food stores and restaurants.
In New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, where we bought the tested fish, state officials told us that their inspectors aren't trained to differentiate among fish species and that they focus their limited resources on food safety.
The FDA has spent little time looking for seafood fraud in recent years.Here's what our DNA tests revealed and what companies told us when we asked about their seafood-selling policies. (We didn't reveal our test results.) Fish are listed in descending order of percentage mislabeled.
None of the 22 "red snappers" we bought at 18 markets could be positively identified as such. Eight were deemed possible DNA matches, one was described incorrectly by a store employee, and the species of another could not be conclusively determined at all. The remaining 12 turned out to be ocean perch and other kinds of snapper.
At a Whole Foods Market in White Plains, N.Y., our shoppers paid $22.99 a pound for "red snapper" that our testing showed was actually vermilion snapper, a smaller, poorer cousin.
Nevertheless, Carrie Brownstein, Whole Foods' global seafood quality standards coordinator, told us that the company has its own seafood facilities where its buyers see the species received first-hand. "Since the buyers are experts at species identification, this makes us less vulnerable than competitors to species substitution," she says, adding that the company is also working to ensure the traceability of seafood from the fishery or farm to its stores.
Just 9 of 20 samples told the truth. A "grey sole" fillet that cost $3.99 a pound was really sutchi catfish, often farmed in Asia. Of 10 misidentified lemon soles, one turned out to be Greenland turbot; three were blackback flounder, commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as lemon sole; three were identified as summer flounder; and three were not lemon sole, though the particular species could not be determined.
To avoid confusion, the FDA says that most fish nicknames are unacceptable identification, but that's merely guidance, not a regulation.
Atlantic halibut has been overfished, according to the Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), but Pacific halibut has healthier populations. It's not easy being green, though, because labels don't have to distinguish between the two. Eight samples labeled simply as halibut were the more vulnerable Atlantic species; at four stores, employees told our shoppers that Atlantic halibut was Pacific. Of the 11 other "halibut" samples, one was summer flounder, a different kind of fish altogether.
Three of our 21 "catfish" samples were Pangasius hypophthalmus, or sutchi catfish. None of the three bore country-of-origin labels (they were bought in small fish markets, where such labeling isn't required), but sutchi catfish are largely imported from Vietnam, where some fish farmers use drugs that are unapproved in the U.S.
The rest were Ictaluridae, the only family that can be marketed in the U.S. as plain ol' "catfish," according to a law Congress passed in 2002. The law had support from the U.S. catfish industry, which has accused Vietnam of dumping catfish on the American market. Six years later, Congress passed a law transferring catfish inspection authority from the FDA, which seldom examines imported seafood, to the Department of Agriculture, which requires foreign facilities to meet U.S. standards. Now the USDA must decide whether it will inspect only catfish in the Ictaluridae family or all domestic and imported catfish.
SalmonOur tests found that 24 of 28 salmon were labeled correctly. But two "king salmon" and two "sockeye salmon" fillets were actually coho, generally the least expensive of the three salmon species we bought. At a Wegmans in Manalapan Township, N.J., we paid $17.99 a pound for "king salmon" that was actually coho. At the same store, we also bought correctly labeled coho salmon for $3 less per pound.
Jo Natale, director of media relations at Wegmans, told us that among other actions, the company has worked with the same vendors for many years; buys whole fresh fish and skin-on fillets, making it easier to identify the species; and has worked with organizations that help monitor the fish that Wegmans sells.
Thirteen of 15 grouper samples were correctly labeled—but many species of grouper are overfished. As for the two mislabeled samples, one fillet was pollock, and the other was tilefish, that high-mercury species.
All 24 samples labeled as cod or scrod cod were indeed cod. But we bought two samples labeled only "scrod"--unacceptable to the FDA because that word describes a small fish, not a species. Labels should say "scrod cod," "scrod haddock," or "scrod pollock." One of our solo scrod was a cod, the other a pollock.
As with halibut labels, cod labels don't have to specify whether the species is Atlantic cod, whose populations are considered low by the NMFS, or Pacific cod, considered more abundant and sustainable. Seven of the samples we bought were Atlantic cod. They included broiled fish bought at Red Lobster restaurants in Scarsdale, N.Y., and Paramus, N.J., as well as a fillet from a Whole Foods store in Edgewater, N.J.
We asked Red Lobster and Whole Foods representatives whether they have policies against selling fish that are vulnerable or overfished. Roger Bing, vice president of seafood purchasing for Darden, the parent company of Red Lobster, says the company doesn't serve species considered at risk and cited a policy of using third-party certification of "best aquaculture practices" for a growing number of farmed species.
Whole Foods' Brownstein told us that the company has partnered with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which certifies sustainable, well-managed fisheries. Stores display the MSC eco-label, which is somewhat helpful. (See "Overfished or not?".) By Earth Day 2012 (April 22), she says, Whole Foods will stop selling most wild-caught seafood ranked "red" by the Blue Ocean Institute or Monterey Bay Aquarium, eco-watchdog groups. A red ranking indicates that the population has been overfished or caught in ways that might harm other marine life or habitat. Brownstein says that cod and sole have a deadline of Earth Day 2013. She says that the extra time is needed to try to find solutions, such as lower-impact fishing methods, that could improve the sustainability rankings of those fisheries. "It takes time to make changes on the water," she says.
The two most expensive samples of fish in our test, bought for $49.99 and $64.99 per pound at a specialty store in New Jersey, were correctly labeled as bluefin tuna. But bluefin are in decline, eco-watchdog groups report, and should be avoided. One of our 10 tuna samples labeled "yellowfin" was actually bigeye. Four samples labeled "ahi tuna" were yellowfin, and four others, including three sashimis from Bonefish Grill, were bigeye. According to FDA officials, it's acceptable for various species of tuna to be labeled as ahi tuna as long as that doesn't confuse consumers.
Anyone wishing to avoid seafood high in mercury should take note: The mercury content of different tuna species that may be labeled as ahi tuna can vary. According to FDA data, bigeye averages about twice the mercury concentration of yellowfin and albacore.
Chilean sea bass
We bought 19 steaks and fillets from 19 restaurants and stores of various sizes. Among them: an A&P in Greenwich, Conn.; three Bonefish Grills in New York and New Jersey; and two Whole Foods stores in New York and New Jersey. All of our samples matched their labels. That's good news, except that some Chilean sea bass should be avoided, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium, for a variety of ecological reasons.
Marcy Connor, a spokeswoman for A&P, says that the chain makes every effort not to sell species considered unsustainable. A Bonefish Grill representative says that the company is dedicated to responsible fishing practices and the healthy stewardship of the world's marine resources. And Whole Foods' Brownstein says that the company has prohibited the sale of especially vulnerable species unless they come from fisheries that the MSC has certified as sustainable.
MSC's certification of some Chilean sea bass was recently called into question by researchers at Clemson University and elsewhere who tested 36 MSC-certified Chilean sea bass bought at retail stores and found that three were other species. Amy Jackson, deputy standards director at the MSC, says that the organization has launched an investigation.
FDA spokesman Karas says that all imports are screened before they enter the country and that a subset are inspected based on their potential risk. All investigators are trained to identify and document evidence of fraud and will detain seafood mislabeled with fictitious names such as "salmon trout" and "mackerel pike." He says the agency has purchased DNA sequencing equipment for five FDA field laboratories and anticipates using the equipment to start testing imported and domestic seafood species, usually before they reach the retail market. "With this new technology, the FDA can more easily identify instances of seafood misbranding," Karas says. "We plan on using it regularly as part of our efforts to combat mislabeling, where it affects both seafood safety and economic fraud."
That will be good news to Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, a seafood trade association. He says that the FDA has the authority to deal with species substitution and other types of fraud, "but they basically don't use it, saying essentially that that's an unfunded mandate."
According to a February 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the FDA has spent very little time looking for seafood fraud in recent years. Eighty-six percent of the seafood that Americans consumed in 2010 was imported, mainly from Canada, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. But FDA officials physically examined only about 2 percent of imported seafood from fiscal 2003 to 2008. Only about 0.05 percent of the examined seafood was checked for seafood fraud (mislabeled, substituted, or shortweighted items), according to the GAO report. And during that time, the FDA looked for fraud during only 0.5 percent of domestic seafood inspections. That involved mainly reviewing seafood labels (to make sure that they listed the fish by its correct name, for instance); the agency conducted very little lab analysis, GAO officials told us.
Two other federal agencies play important roles in detecting and preventing seafood-species substitution: the NMFS and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection. Each has its own labs for testing seafood, but the two haven't effectively collaborated with each other or the FDA in fighting fish fraud, the GAO reported in 2009.
Our interviews suggest that limited progress is under way: Representatives for all three agencies say they've recently shared resources on fish-fraud detection.
Last year, for example, an investigation by the three agencies and others led to the sentencing of a New Jersey man for importing Vietnamese catfish labeled as grouper. His goal: to evade more than $60 million in tariffs. (Vietnamese catfish is subject to federal tariffs; grouper is not.)
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, supports legislation introduced this year in the U.S. Senate to help prevent seafood fraud, standardize labeling, and strengthen cooperation among federal agencies that oversee seafood safety.
Our advocates also support the USDA's new oversight of catfish safety. We've called for the USDA to define catfish broadly, so inspectors will be able to regulate all domestic and imported catfish species, and to require testing for aquaculture drugs that are illegal in the U.S. but are sometimes used overseas.
What you can do
Before deciding what fish to buy, ask the person behind the counter (or the server in a restaurant) which fish, if any, is in season, and where and how the fish was caught or farmed. Ask for the manager (or chef) if you aren't satisfied with the answers or want to learn more. Just letting the seller know that customers are interested might raise his or her consciousness about the seafood being sold.
Buy from a well-run, clean fish retailer. Make sure that employees working behind the counter are wearing clean clothes, hair coverings, and disposable gloves. In a supermarket, shop for fish last.
Whatever fish you buy, look for:
Prices range widely, even for the same type of fish, but be suspicious if fish is supercheap. For what turned out to be real grouper steaks, we paid $6.80 and $9.99 per pound. The "grouper steaks" that were really pollock and tilefish cost us just $4.99 and $5.60 per pound, respectively.
For those not knowing what terms like disease vector means----it means that a local public health department identifies a sickness that is can be spread to others and it works immediately to isolate people to stop the spreading of the disease. At the same time word is spread nationally so people eating or exposed to the same food source are protected. This has stopped food illnesses from harming and/or killing many people. Without this public health system----thousands of people can die from what they eat.
The same goes for insects that spread disease-----many of the newest diseases are being imported from global shipping ---as the diseases being brought to the US from developing nations get more serious----the network that would protect the American people is disappearing.
Emerging vector-borne diseases create new public health challenges
November 30, 2012
University of California - Santa Cruz
West Nile virus, Lyme disease, dengue fever, and plague are examples of "vector-borne zoonotic diseases," caused by pathogens that naturally infect wildlife and are transmitted to humans by vectors such as mosquitoes or ticks. Land-use change, globalization of trade and travel, and social upheaval are driving the emergence of such diseases in many regions.
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Mosquitoes are an important vector for many emerging zoonotic diseases.
Credit: Photo by Joseph HoytWest Nile virus, Lyme disease, dengue fever, and plague are examples of "vector-borne zoonotic diseases," caused by pathogens that naturally infect wildlife and are transmitted to humans by vectors such as mosquitoes or ticks.
According to Marm Kilpatrick, who studies the ecology of infectious diseases at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a broad range of human activities can affect the spread of zoonotic diseases. In an article in the December 1 issue of the British medical journal Lancet, Kilpatrick and coauthor Sarah Randolph of the University of Oxford describe how widespread land-use change, globalization of trade and travel, and social upheaval are driving the emergence of zoonotic vector-borne diseases around the world. The article is part of a special series of papers focused on emerging zoonotic diseases.
"This collection of papers offers a bridge between ecologists and clinicians whose combined efforts are needed to address the ongoing challenges of emerging zoonotic diseases," said Kilpatrick, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz.
Emerging infectious diseases can be roughly split between introduced and locally emerging diseases. Introduced diseases arise from the spread of a pathogen to a new location, as when West Nile virus arrived in New York in 1999 and subsequently spread across North America. Locally emerging diseases increase in importance in areas where they are endemic, as with Lyme disease in the United States over the past three decades. These two types of emerging diseases can differ markedly with respect to infection dynamics, or the number of cases over time, Kilpatrick said.
"Introduced diseases often cause a big spike in infections and then decrease substantially. Locally emerging diseases often show a steady, sustained increase," he said.
The movement of pathogens by global trade and travel results in the emergence of diseases in new regions. Once established, introduced pathogens often evolve to take advantage of their new environment, including new hosts and vectors. With so much of the landscape shaped by human activities, pathogens may thrive by infecting hosts and vectors that do well in humanmade environments.
"Increasing human population and the urbanization and agricultural intensification of landscapes puts strong selective pressure on vector-borne pathogens to infect humans and be transmitted by vectors and hosts that live around humans," Kilpatrick said.
Emergence of endemic vector-borne diseases can result from changes in land use, such as expansion of people into new habitats, or environmental changes affecting the wild animals that serve as natural hosts or the insect vectors that spread the disease to humans. Although vector-borne diseases are highly sensitive to climate, climate change does not appear to be a major driving force behind emerging diseases, the authors said.
"So far, climate change has been a relatively minor player compared to land use and socioeconomic factors in the emergence of vector-borne disease," Kilpatrick said.
Social and economic changes, ranging from economic downturns to displacement of populations by armed conflict, frequently precipitate disease outbreaks through their impacts on public health systems, sanitation systems, behavioral patterns, and uses of natural environmental resources. One example cited in the article is a large upsurge of tick-borne encephalitis after an economic downturn in eastern Europe resulted in more people harvesting food from forests.
The incidence of any vector-borne disease involves a complex interplay of multiple factors affecting animal hosts, vectors, and people. Kilpatrick and Randolph emphasize that control of these diseases requires combined efforts by clinicians and public health officials to treat patients, promote behavior likely to minimize the risk of infection, and advise on efforts to reverse the ecological drivers of transmission through vector control, urban planning, and ecological restoration.
Publication of the Lancet series coincides with an Institute of Medicine (IOM) symposium on Emerging Infections, Microbial Threats to Health, and the Microbiome, December 11-12 in Washington, D.C. The symposium marks the 20th anniversary of an influential 1992 IOM report on emerging diseases.
"Humans are altering the environment and moving themselves and other organisms around the globe at an ever-increasing pace," said Sam Scheiner, program director for the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program at the National Science Foundation (NSF), a joint effort with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "That has led to a growing disease threat. These papers show how and why that's happening, and what we need to know to ease the disease burden."
What Obama touts as creating better standards is as this article suggests simply cheapening the process and handing control of an entire food safety system full of checks and balances with differing departments keeping each other honest-----being centered into one central agency tied to the Department of Health which has been outsourced to global health corporations and their executives as leaders.
POSING PROGRESSIVE OBAMA HAS DISMANTLED AND DEFUNDED OUR FOOD SAFETY PROCESS MORE THAN ANY OTHER PREPARING FOR HIS TRANS PACIFIC TRADE PACT PUSH OPENING THE US TO GLOBAL CORPORATIONS ACTING IN THE US AS THEY DO OVERSEAS.
'But not everyone is convinced. After Obama’s announcement, the Consumer Federation of America released an opposing statement, warning against adding more functions to HHS, which accounts for one-quarter of federal expenditures'.
'And Douglas Powell, a former professor food safety at Kansas State University, believes the proposal is more of a cost-saving move. Powell said that, centralized or not, the success of a food system depends on the standards that all players in the food production process uphold. That was illustrated in the case of a 2009 recall, during which 700 people fell ill after eating peanut butter that the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America falsely classified as safe. That incident forced the largest national food recall in history and the first trial of a food manufacturer'.
Obama is purely preparing for Trans Pacific Trade Pact and global corporate control is easier when all functions are handled in one agency----Republicans have tried for decades to consolidate oversight so all the checks and balances between agencies held all accountable. Remember, right now Obama has a Gates Foundation/Monsanto executice Burwell as head of HHS-------this will assure NO OVERSIGHT occurs or if so-----the data will protect against class action from citizens harmed.
For those not knowing Department of AG Vilsack is BIG AG AND MEAT------that is why he thinks this condsolidation is great. The food safety has been bad these few decades because the FDA and DEPT OF AG have been overseas working to expand BIG AG AND BIG MEAT----not working in the US to enforce food regulations. Before Clinton/Bush the US had decades of the safest food products in the world.
President Obama Is Proposing A New Way To Deal With Food Safety. But Will It Work?
by Sam P.K. Collins Mar 6, 2015 8:00 am
CREDIT: AP Photo/Al Behrman
President Barack Obama’s proposal to consolidate more than a dozen regulatory offices into an agency that would oversee food safety is drawing the intrigue and ire of some food safety advocates, producers, and experts — some of whom question the feasibility of a move that’s decades in the making.
The federal government has long struggled to address food safety issues. A report released by a trio of federal agencies last month confirmed that bacteria like E.coli, campylobacter, listeria, and salmonella are found in common food like beef, chicken, dairy, vegetables, and fruit. Even with some legal changes, the rate of foodborne illnesses haven’t declined in recent years, according to the latest food safety reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Right now, two entities — the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Inspection Service and Food and the Drug Administration — split food inspection responsibilities, with the former taking on meat, poultry, and processed eggs and the latter overseeing 80 percent of the nation’s food supply. Critics of the status quo say that overlaps in inspection processes and lack of oversight play a part in the spread of foodborne illnesses that strike more than 46 million people annually.
President Barack Obama wants to change that. In his 2016 budget, he suggests merging more than a dozen regulatory offices into a new agency named the Food Safety Administration. If the proposal comes to fruition, the Food Safety Administration would be housed under the Department of Health and Human Services, where its head would act as the centralized voice on all matters of food safety and regulation.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack vehemently defended Obama’s proposal during an appropriations hearing, stressing that the president wanted to streamline food inspection processes and ensure the safety of American consumers. “It’s not about tradition. It’s not about turf. It’s about food safety. We have a system that no one can contend is as effective or efficient as it needs to be,” Vilsack told lawmakers.
But not everyone is convinced. After Obama’s announcement, the Consumer Federation of America released an opposing statement, warning against adding more functions to HHS, which accounts for one-quarter of federal expenditures.
And Douglas Powell, a former professor food safety at Kansas State University, believes the proposal is more of a cost-saving move. Powell said that, centralized or not, the success of a food system depends on the standards that all players in the food production process uphold. That was illustrated in the case of a 2009 recall, during which 700 people fell ill after eating peanut butter that the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America falsely classified as safe. That incident forced the largest national food recall in history and the first trial of a food manufacturer.
“Having fewer people sick has to be the overriding concern and I don’t think that’s the case here. There’s no evidence that a single food agency would improve food inspection,” Powell said. “Having competing agencies may be wasteful but it’s good sometimes. In the case of Peanut Corporation, you had federal, state, and organic regulators involved, and they all missed the signs. The best way to go about this issue is for everyone in the food supply system to recommit to food safety.”
Donna Rosenbaum, the CEO of Food Safety Partners, LTD, told ThinkProgress that reforming food safety in the United States means improving the functions of the existing agencies. She remains skeptical that the food inspection system could improve with what she described as a hasty change that might just worsen the problem.
“What people don’t realize is that even if you’re combining the FDA and USDA, you will have some interdepartmental problems,” Rosenbaum said. “While this seems like it would be a logical step, it requires a lot of background thought. We’re not designing this system from the get-go. Oversight for canned good and animal products is different and requires different processes, oversight, and regulatory authority. The example of the pizza and the different ingredients that go through different agencies has been used as an example but I believe there are different ways to go around that problem that wouldn’t require melding the agencies together.”
Instead, she suggested there could be greater cooperation between higher level food safety officials.
“You could accomplish more by having interagency work done at the top so they’re not so compartmentalized. We had some things happen in the past even at the cabinet level where we had some movement toward getting some of that interagency work done so food safety could happen,” said Rosenbaum.
Other food safety advocates are more optimistic. Caroline Smith DeWaal, a food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called Obama’s proposal a step in the right direction. However, she said that its success depends whether the right person helms the new agency during the consolidation.
“It’s critical that there’s someone in place who can oversee that merger,” DeWaal said. “We need a strong and effective government agency to give oversight and improve inspections. Making this change will take a number of years but reorganization, whether it’s by administration or legislation should start with the appointment of a food safety administrator who oversees the merger of existing federal agencies. It’s critical that there is someone there who can do that.”
Congress has tried to reform food safety laws, passing the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, a policy intended to allow the Food and Drug Administration to act proactively against the spread of foodborne pathogens. However, organic farmers didn’t warm up to the law, compelling the agency to revise it to allow easier application of raw manure, relaxed oversight of irrigation water, and the exemption of small farms from produce safety rules. Budget shortfalls have also threatened progress in implementing the law.
While some lawmakers support the idea of a single food safety agency, they envision it standing alone. In late January, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Safe Food Act of 2015, which would make the consolidate food safety agency independent of any federal department.
For those that follow Congress----you know public health was devastated with funding cuts---from Medicare and Medicaid to administration at state and local levels --------it was as huge as Obama's consolidation of all public health to one department----Health and Human Services. Now think------when Congress pushed these state health systems and all the reforms----did any citizen have a voice----was there any discussion about what all this meant? From Maryland Assembly pols that simply pass whatever Congress tells them to Baltimore City Hall that simply passed whatever Johns Hopkins tells them. So, having one agency completely captured by global pols means there will be no data or oversight leading to citizen justice as health care becomes a predatory and profit-driven global corporation. Absolutely no public control of Baltimore City Public Health exists-----Maryland is commissioned most of public health from our elected officials to appointed leaders-----serving global corporations. This is how you know where all this leads-----it leads to
NO CITIZEN VOICE---NO CITIZEN PATHWAY TO JUSTICE WHEN HARMED-----AND HEALTH DATA THAT PROMOTES A CORPORATE PATENT ------NOT PROTECT CITIZENS FROM A BAD PATENT.
Funding Cuts Threaten Public Health Preparedness
As the funding decreases, who will take over the various public health initiatives and programs?Raphael Barishansky | October 22, 2012
Food-Safety Inspectors Struggle to Keep Up
Real-Time Public Health Data Improves Situational Awareness
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, considerable funding has been provided to local, state and federal public health agencies and organizations to better prepare them to cope with the continually changing and increasingly dangerous realities of today’s world. These realities include the possibility of public health entities needing to plan for and respond to the full spectrum of weapons of mass destruction threats (i.e., chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) as well as other threats such as pandemic influenza.
But the various funding streams used by these programs are slowly being cut — specifically the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and Cities Readiness Initiative grants released by the federal government to support state and local health departments. As they decrease, health departments are coping as best they can. But according to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, some 55 percent of the nation’s local health departments reduced or eliminated at least one program between July 2010 and June 2011, and 20 percent of these programs focused on emergency preparedness. Also because of the budget cuts, 53 percent of all health departments experienced some sort of negative job impact (e.g., employee furloughs or reduced staff working hours) that cuts into their overall state of readiness.
So what happens next? The aforementioned funding allows for dedicated personnel, equipment, National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) classes, various training and even participation in exercises. As that funding decreases, who will take over the various initiatives implemented by these programs if and when they go away? Does the emergency management discipline have enough knowledge to seamlessly pick up the critical public health preparedness pieces?
Understanding Public Health Preparedness
The list of public health's accomplishments includes:
-- development of all-hazards preparedness plans;
-- implementing NIMS;
-- administering workforce training in emergency response;
-- creating public education campaigns;
-- implementing new or improved communication systems;
-- completion of various public health emergency exercises;
-- collaboration with nonprofit and faith-based organizations on emergency response planning;
-- enhancement of disease surveillance systems;
-- hiring new staff to work on preparedness planning;
-- implementation or improvement of syndromic surveillance systems;
-- development of a medical surge capacity plan;
-- improved the physical security of their facilities;
-- implementing a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer program;
-- enhanced local public health laboratories;
-- implementing a Community Emergency Response Team program; and
-- stockpiling various vaccines or antivirals
Another element that must be understood is what types of emergency incidents the PHEP programs and their overarching health departments typically respond to. In a 2010 report by the National Association of County and City Health Officials detailing local health department capabilities, these entities reported responding to the following emergency incidents during the time period outlined: infectious disease (26 percent), natural disaster (23 percent), foodborne outbreak (21 percent), chemical spills or releases (9 percent), and exposure to a potential biological agent (5 percent).
The responsibilities of public health entities in an emergency aren’t limited to those situations detailed above — they also must respond during weather-based emergencies like hurricanes and snowstorms. The duties involved in these incidents can include health system readiness, mass care responsibilities and assistance with shelters/sheltering. Additional areas of emergency preparedness and response typically include epidemiological investigations, foodborne emergency preparedness and response to various environmental hazards.
On a daily basis, the responsibilities of PHEP units or programs include:
Perhaps one of the most important areas that PHEP programs cover is the development of realistic, operational and well researched pandemic influenza plans. These plans are seen as fundamental and necessary to federal, state and local public health entities. During recent events, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2002-2003 and H1N1 pandemic seen in 2009-2010, these planning efforts and other public health measures — including the isolation of infected individuals, quarantine of exposed individuals, implementation of community control and social distancing measures, dissemination of information and issuing travel advisories — were widely seen as being successful in staunching the progression.
This is what bringing International Economic Zones and Trans Pacific Trade Pact looks like------Baltimore is slated to be filled with huge global FOXCONN corporate campuses and factories that will operate just as they do in Asian nations.
What would a Baltimore Public Health Department be doing? SHOUTING LOUDLY AGAINST AND EDUCATING AGAINST FEZ--- What is Baltimore Public Health doing-----partnering with global Johns Hopkins in building their global health tourism and making connections for Asian global corporations to come to the US. Taxpayers are paying for this partnership and getting NO PUBLIC HEALTH.
We all know as Asian nations push out US global corporations in favor of growing their own national corporate structure----US global corporations are coming back to the US with the same International Economic Zone structure they had in Asia----feeling free to devastate the US as was done to China....Clinton neo-liberals DO NOT CARE ABOUT HUMAN WELFARE----THEY ARE ONLY SHOW ME THE MONEY.
What each US city needs is a strong Baltimore Public Health Department that would fight against the plans of Wall Street Baltimore Development and a very, very, very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins.
Now, global Johns Hopkins is no doubt over in China making a killing off of this crazy free-for-all industrialization and all of its devastation----
This is what Clinton/Obama neo-liberals are trying to Fast Track with Republicans as hard as they can----and already cities are feeling the results of a dismantled Baltimore Public Health Department with no Federal agency oversight.
China's Environmental Crisis
Author: Beina Xu
Updated: April 25, 2014
Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters
China's environmental crisis is one of the most pressing challenges to emerge from the country's rapid industrialization.
Cost of Environmental Damage
Environmental depredations pose a serious threat to China's economic growth, costing the country roughly 9 percent (PDF) of its gross national income, according to most recent figures from the World Bank. China's Ministry of Environmental Protection calculates its own "green GDP" number, estimating the cost of pollution at around 1.5 trillion RMB, or roughly 3.5 percent of GDP, according to its 2010 figures. Due to the sensitivity of the topic, the ministry has only been releasing such figures since 2006, and intermittently.
Data on the public-health toll of China's pollution paint a devastating picture. According to a Global Burden of Disease study, air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010. In late 2013, an eight-year-old girl in Jiangsu province became China's youngest lung cancer patient; doctors attribute her illness to air pollution. Epidemiological studies conducted since the 1980s in northern China suggest that urban air in China causes significant health complications, including respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular diseases. The pollution has also been linked to the proliferation of acute and chronic diseases; estimates suggest that around 11 percent of digestive system cancers in China may stem from unsafe drinking water. Human cases of the avian flu (H7N9 virus), which broke out in China in March 2013 and has claimed more than forty lives, were caused by exposure to infected poultry and contaminated environments.
The Affordable Care Act has based its entire idea of reducing health costs to giving the same health industry executives that drive the highest costs in the world from fraud and profiteering to handing control of redesigning cost structures TO THESE SAME PEOPLE.
The progressive posing in this picture is that opening up what was proprietary medical data protected by Federal law is being done FOR THE PATIENTS AND THEIR ABILITY TO ASSESS WHICH IS BEST. We all knew that was not the case from the beginning and we see where it is going-----
They will not provide meaningful discussions or delivery of health care delivery and end results for hospitals because the goal is not competition or patient choice----it is monopoly with a small group of rich telling the American people what they will get for health care. When health care is public-----public universities and hospitals across the US shared research data collected with the goal of public interest outcomes-----what Clinton/Obama neo-liberals have built is a closed corporate university and corporate policy think tank creating policies that maximize profits and protect against any loss of profit.
People understand that when they have just a few minutes with a primary care doctor ----there is no interest in educating the patient. As the article below states as well-----again Obama and Republicans reduced from 4 to 3 years the degree requirements for getting an MD----pushing the process to one of unsupervised on-the-job training.
Taking away individual doctor decisions for treatment is a disaster in waiting. The American people needed reform in the other direction-----getting our personal doctors spending more time talking to us as to what their treatment options are. Now, Affordable Care Act seeks to take not only that personal discussion between doctor and patient away----but take the doctor's voice in treatment away as well.
'However, more than 2 years after enactment of the ACA, little has been done to promote shared decision making. We believe that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should begin certifying and implementing patient decision aids, aiming to achieve three important goals: promote an ideal approach to clinician–patient decision making, improve the quality of medical decisions, and reduce costs.” '
THERE IS NOTHING PROGRESSIVE HERE FOLKS-----THEY ARE SIMPLY CREATING YET ANOTHER CORPORATE COMMISSION THAT WILL LOOK LIKE THE CORPORATE UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES----WHERE CORPORATE ADMINISTRATION DRIVES THE HIGHER STUDENT TUITION.
So, this doctor is right----and it is not SOCIALIST to create these huge corporate administrations simply designed to create policy that moves global connections and profit----
Obamacare’s “shared decision-making” rules take money from docs without helping patients
By Westby G. Fisher, MD
/ Jan 6, 2013 at 2:38 PMThis week’s New England Journal of Medicine contains a perspective piece by Emily Oshima Lee, M.A., and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D. entitled “Shared Decision Making to Improve Care and Reduce Costs.” The original paragraph of the piece sets the tone:
“A sleeper provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) encourages greater use of shared decision making in health care. For many health situations in which there’s not one clearly superior course of treatment, shared decision making can ensure that medical care better aligns with patients’ preferences and values. One way to implement this approach is by using patient decision aids — written materials, videos, or interactive electronic presentations designed to inform patients and their families about care options; each option’s outcomes, including benefits and possible side effects; the health care team’s skills; and costs. Shared decision making has the potential to provide numerous benefits for patients, clinicians, and the health care system, including increased patient knowledge, less anxiety over the care process, improved health outcomes, reductions in unwarranted variation in care and costs, and greater alignment of care with patients’ values.
However, more than 2 years after enactment of the ACA, little has been done to promote shared decision making. We believe that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should begin certifying and implementing patient decision aids, aiming to achieve three important goals: promote an ideal approach to clinician–patient decision making, improve the quality of medical decisions, and reduce costs.”
What a nice, lovely, fuzzy bunny. Who couldn’t want such “shared” decisions in complex medical care? Especially nice simple teaching aids for Medicare’s top 20 procedures printed at the “8th grade level” that are “brief?”
Doctors, don’t you know that this will become simply another box to check on your EMR for Medicare reimbursement?
And yet the benefits of cost savings that these “shared” decision making tools’ will have on health care are assumed, especially when deployed nationwide, despite what the authors claim. Note that the 2011 Cochrane Collaborative review of the 86 studies they reference said nothing about cost savings.
Doctors know this and so do the authors.
Why else would the authors require a cudgel to impose their “shared” decision making benefit if other real life clinical doctors fail to follow along?
“Providers who did not document the shared-decision-making process could face a 10% reduction in Medicare payment for claims related to the procedure in year 1, with reductions gradually increasing to 20% over 10 years. This payment scheme is similar to that currently tied to hospital-readmissions metrics.”
Ms. Lee and Dr. Emanuel, in their zeal to impose their Progressive mindset upon America’s physicians have forgotten several important tenets of health care delivery:
If that doesn’t matter to all of us, then share away.
IF YOU THINK THE UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS IS GOING TO KEEP WHAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ACCESS TO ALL HOSPITAL PROCEDURES THINK TWICE----WALL STREET WILL SOAK THOSE WITH MORE DISPOSIBLE INCOME WITH HIGHER AND HIGHER RATES AND DEDUCTIBLES AND CO-PAYS.
People were led to believe their were all kinds of competition being built into this profit-state health system-------but already the bulk of Americans are falling into two-----Medicaid and Bronze-----both preventative care only -----and the next ---Silver Plan is seeing its network narrow and costs climbing as the lowest giving ordinary access to hospital care.
Obama and Clinton neo-liberals touted that Affordable Care Act will allow Americans to go to any hospital or doctor------and already as this article shows----what are called PPOs----the wide-network plans----are disappearing en masse. What we will have ---as we are seeing in Baltimore is two big systems at best----both pushing private Medicare Advantage over our Federal public Medicare----and pharmacies and health insurers ---KAISER KAISER KAISER----making for the narrowest of systems----
You see the narrowing of networks because the goal was always creating health system monopolies that go global.....never about competitive markets to drive down cost.
Where does a Baltimore City Public Health Department fit in? The first thing it recognizes is most people are being forced out of basic hospital care and the Public Health Department promotes EXPANDED AND IMPROVED MEDICARE FOR ALL!
What Hopkins has created instead with its alumni Beilenstein-----is EverGreen non-profit---which will become a corporate non-profit handling all of what used to be Medicaid and Medicare while Baltimore's for-profit hospitals are advertising for health tourists all across the nation and globally---yes, even Catholic Mercy is a global marketing health tourism hospital -----with less and less room at the inn for city citizens.
'The amount that premiums are increasing also varies on specific type of plans. For example, the McKinsey analysis looked at the lowest-priced silver plan. The federal government, meanwhile, said the average premiums for silver-level benchmark plans—the second-lowest-cost options—are going up by 7.5% next year. Both data sets give a narrow snapshot, albeit for the most popular plans.
Perhaps more concerning for some consumers is the continued shift toward narrow networks. Health insurers have argued they can keep premiums lower if they restrict patients to a more limited set of higher-quality, low-cost hospitals and doctors'.
Blog: Health plans getting more expensive, narrower for 2016
By Bob Herman | November 10, 2015
The picture of health insurance sold on the exchanges for 2016 is becoming clearer: Premiums are rising at a faster pace than the previous year, and insurers are gradually ditching broader networks.
This comes on top of the trend for many exchange plans to have high deductibles and out-of-pocket obligations.
Monthly premiums for the lowest-priced silver plans, which cover 70% of a person's health costs, have median rate increases of 11%, compared with 7% for 2015, according to a new analysis from consulting firm McKinsey & Co (PDF). In fact, the rate hikes for each of the lowest-priced options in each metal tier are going up by double digits. Bronze plans, the second-most popular offering on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges due to their cheap premiums, will have 13% higher premiums next year.
Further, roughly two-thirds of PPO plans on the exchanges are either being dropped or reduced for 2016, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report found. PPO products usually have broader networks of hospitals and doctors, but many insurers, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, have adjusted or dropped the PPOs to save on costs.
Many health experts expected 2016 premiums would go up faster than this year's plans. Health insurers finally had a full year of data from 2014 to base their medical cost assumptions on, whereas they were mostly guessing in the dark for the first two years. The final rate hikes have generally been lower than what was requested. Shopping around, as well as premium and cost-sharing subsidies, will protect most people from the high rate increases.
The amount that premiums are increasing also varies on specific type of plans. For example, the McKinsey analysis looked at the lowest-priced silver plan. The federal government, meanwhile, said the average premiums for silver-level benchmark plans—the second-lowest-cost options—are going up by 7.5% next year. Both data sets give a narrow snapshot, albeit for the most popular plans.
Perhaps more concerning for some consumers is the continued shift toward narrow networks. Health insurers have argued they can keep premiums lower if they restrict patients to a more limited set of higher-quality, low-cost hospitals and doctors.
Although many consumers may not understand the nuances of their health plan's networks, or the surprise bills that could accompany them, they are choosing narrower options because they want the most affordable coverage.
“Despite the concerns that have been raised about narrow-network plans, surveys show many consumers are willing to give up access to a broader group of providers in exchange for lower premiums,” Katherine Hempstead, the health insurance director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, wrote in her report.
The McKinsey analysis also showed that hospital-owned health plan offerings on the exchanges increasingly have the cheapest silver options and are eating into the dominance of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Approximately 17% of the lowest-priced silver plans for 2016 are from provider plans, up from 10% in 2014. Blues plans have 24% of the cheapest silver plans for 2016, down from 45% in 2014.
Below you see the continuing use of a model created by Clinton neo-liberals and Republicans to make sure there is no real solid structures placed in communities that will actually stabilize and grow these communities. Before Clinton/Bush/Obama dismantled PUBLIC HEALTH in communities there was always this network in place staffed by citizens in communities giving all kinds of mental and physical health open to all. Clinton and Republicans break down public structures to create a BLOCK GRANT situation that leads to no continuity----no integration-----no lasting effects----and most of the money lost and misappropriated----
THAT IS THE REASON REPUBLICANS AND CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS DO BLOCK GRANTS TO REPLACE OUR BALTIMORE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM.
We do not need grants----we need to return to a city that has a tax base and Federal funds that come to the city to be distributed to public health community clinics and community centers. WE WANT CONTROL OF OUR TAX REVENUE ------
You can ask any citizen in Baltimore and they are shouting----THERE IS NO STRUCTURE OF OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY THAT TIES PAST AND PRESENT ACTIVITIES TO GROW RESULTS-----THAT IS THE PROBLEM.
This exists because the US NGOs that work overseas in developing nations do the same-----they create a system of non-profits controlled by wealthy developers that simply move the funds to themselves or use them as pay-to-play----NEVER CREATING ANYTHING LASTING FOR THOSE DEVELOPING NATION'S CITIZENS.
So, we now have a Baltimore Public Health Department working for Johns Hopkins moving its global corporate health empire and telemedicine business while abdicating all local public health to a ton of corporate non--profits.
WE TAKE JOHNS HOPKINS AND WALL STREET BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT OUT OF BALTIMORE PUBLIC HEALTH----REBUILD ALL COMMUNITY PUBLIC STRUCTURES-----HIRING FROM COMMUNITIES----AND ONLY HAVE SMALL LOCAL NON-PROFITS/SMALL BUSINESSES TO HELP THESE PUBLIC HEALTH CLINICS COMMUNITY CENTERS.
Below you see what kinds of global organizations the Affordable CAre Act ties to its idea of health care reform.
BUILD Health Challenge Aids Communities in NeedGrants Program Names 18 Award Recipients
June 16, 2015 01:25 pm Michael Laff Washington, D.C. – Maintaining one's health means more just than visiting a physician for regular preventive care or taking prescription medications appropriately.
Karen DeSalvo, M.D., acting assistant secretary for health at HHS, discusses how a patient's daily living conditions affect his or her physical health during a recent event in Washington, D.C.
Patients who live in safe neighborhoods with access to basic community services, ample sources of nutritious food and health facilities are typically able to obtain needed health care services. But people living in low-income areas are less likely to be able to do that.
Enter the BUILD Health Challenge,(www.buildhealthchallenge.org) a competitive awards program that is attempting to reverse the socioeconomic trends that contribute to poor health by supporting local initiatives that address health issues tied to a specific social need. Specifically, the program aims to recognize community collaborations that are taking Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local and Data-driven approaches to improve community health, promote health equity and provide resources to communities that are implementing these strategies.
On June 9, the BUILD Health Challenge awarded grants to 18 such initiatives. Seven initiatives at the implementation stage received $250,000 grants over two years to enhance existing projects through data collection or stronger partnerships. Eleven projects in the planning stage received $75,000 to initiate new projects with specific health problems with a community action group.
A complete list of award recipients(www.buildhealthchallenge.org) is available on the BUILD Health Challenge website.
"We are losing the battle for public health," she said. "Despite all of the progress in medicine, the public is not as healthy as we want them to be."
While working as a physician in New Orleans, DeSalvo recalled treating patients with diabetes who were unable to maintain a healthy lifestyle because their surrounding community had limited resources. What she learned was that social and environmental factors influence health as much as one's physical condition.
"One of the major determinants about mortality and overall health depends upon where you live," DeSalvo said.
Some of her patients, for example, missed appointments because the bus they relied on was late. Others often went to the ER for medication refills because they couldn't afford to pay for the drugs. And despite being warned about high salt intake, many community residents had little choice but to shop at a local convenience store where healthy foods were not available.
Through the years, improvements in public health have been made in tandem with other civic initiatives, said DeSalvo. A drive to provide clean water required enhanced sanitation efforts. To treat tuberculosis, sound housing policy was just as important as prescribing the right medicine, she noted.
That same rationale lies at the heart of the BUILD Health Challenge. Here is a look at some of the newly named grant recipients and what they're doing to improve community health:
Ending Community Violence in Miami
In Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, organizers are seeking to make a safer environment for children. The area has struggled for years against high rates of youth violence and gang activity. As proof, Roderick King, M.D., CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation, cited a recent case in which a 10-year boy simply riding his bicycle became the victim of a drive-by shooting. Fortunately, he said, the boy has now been released from the hospital.
King said children and elderly residents in the area are frequently injured by gun violence. Young school-age children are often in the streets late in the afternoon. By offering more structured after-school activities, organizers hope to place these children in a safe environment before dark.
But that's not all, said King -- violence in the community is linked to other health problems. When public spaces are no longer safe, for example, residents will not walk outside or spend time in parks, which can lead to higher obesity rates. King said physicians can serve as opinion leaders to demonstrate how the violence is a threat to public health in the entire community.
Boosting Health Care Access in Aurora
In a city of 350,000 with residents spread across 17 zip codes, local program organizers in Aurora, Colorado, are targeting three zip codes that reported the highest use of behavioral health services and the most ER visits in the state. The area is home to immigrants and refugees from Latin America, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Many of the residents are poor, have lived in the United States for only a brief period and experienced some form of trauma in their homeland, according to Eliana Mastrangelo, a community organizer with Together Colorado.
Despite their obvious needs, Abby English Waldman, research and prevention coordinator for the Children's Advocacy Institute, said program directors are attempting to identify what barriers to access exist without making any assumptions. A joint initiative is being undertaken by the county health department, Children's Hospital Colorado and Together Colorado.
Cultivating Community Activists in Baltimore
After riots caught the nation's attention in April, Baltimore residents are trying to address the frustration voiced by the city's youth. One grant recipient plans to build a network of young activists who will learn how to advocate for their needs at the city level.
"Baltimore is not just a depressed city, it's an unorganized city," said Jane Henderson, executive director of Communities United. The program intends to help locals navigate city and other public services and demand more from their government. A key component will be developing young leaders who can help recruit their peers to participate in monthly meetings. Rachel Donegan, program director at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, said organizers want to channel young residents' hunger to participate in something.
"They are very aware that the system doesn't support them and is not made for them," Donegan said. "That is the source of their anger and discontent. We want to acknowledge that and provide something that can help them advocate for themselves."
BUILD Health Challenge Evolves
The four groups that launched the BUILD Health Challenge -- the Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- have now been joined by the Colorado Health Foundation. Other partners are Duke University, the Housing Partnership Network, the Prevention Institute and the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
The BUILD Health Challenge is the second phase of a broader project to improve community health dubbed A Practical Playbook: Public Health & Primary Care Together.(www.practicalplaybook.org)
Below you see why health care access and quality in Baltimore has low-income citizens with life spans 20-30 years shorter than affluent and why we have a complete capture of all health stats by Johns Hopkins and its corporate non-profits. There is not a citizen in Baltimore who will not tell you that this block granting to national corporations has helped Baltimore's public health-----this was indeed created during Clinton's terms in office as part of defunding and dismantling public health as he did as well to public education. All of this is Republican policy that took the people's Democratic Party from social Democratic----to naked global capitalism.
Look at what is another attempt by the Maryland Assembly to capture a public system into a quasi-corporate commission-----the Maryland Assembly did this to end public health.
NO QUALITY OF LIFE----HEALTH SOLUTIONS HAPPENING IN BALTIMORE-------HOSPITALS ARE ALLOWED TO IGNORE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS AND BE COMPLETELY PROFIT-DRIVEN.
When you look at what Maryland Assembly sends to counties and cities like Baltimore from a 'pooled health care fund' that includes all Medicare and Medicaid funds from the Federal government----this is where it goes----AND IS LOST. Instead of having one city public health administrative structure----now we have dozens and dozens of non-profits each having a director paid well----each doing their own thing.
Below you see Clinton declaring BAltimore an EMPOWERMENT ZONE-----kind of like the EMPOWERMENT CHURCH------directing funds to build sustainable communities------20 years ago----all of this is why all public health funds coming to the city are misappropriated and lost.
IT IS THE BALTIMORE PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT THAT WOULD KNOW THIS.
The health data in Baltimore is juked on all measures----
'Family League of Baltimore City Research and Evaluation
The Family League of Baltimore City Inc. was founded in 1991 as a quasi-public, non-profit organization to fulfill the Maryland legislative mandate for the establishment of Local Management Boards (LMBs) in all jurisdictions in the state of Maryland. The role of the LMB is to focus attention and resources on improving the well-being of children and families by engaging communities and encouraging public and private partnerships'.
JOHNS HOPKINS URBAN HEALTH INSTITUTE
Baltimore City Statistical Data
Baltimore City Health Status Report
The mission of the Baltimore City Health Department is to provide all Baltimoreans with access to comprehensive, preventive quality health services and care, as well as to ensure a healthy environment.
LeadStat: The Mayor's Initiative on Lead Poisoning Prevention Baltimore City
In January 2000, the city of Baltimore, under the leadership of Mayor Martin O'Malley, identified childhood lead poisoning prevention as a priority public health issue. A plan for a two-phase coordinated initiative involving city and state agencies was developed immediately. Implementation of Phase I began in January 2000 and ended in November 2000. Phase II implementation is under way, funded by Baltimore City, the Governor's Initiative on Lead Poisoning Prevention, and Empower Baltimore Management Corporation.
Baltimore CitiStat Reports and Maps
CitiStat is an accountability tool based on the CompStat program pioneered by Jack Maple in the New York City Police Department. Utilizing computer pin mapping and weekly accountability sessions, CompStat helped the NYPD dramatically reduce crime and is employed today by several police departments around the world. This same process can be used not only for crime but for every city agency, from Public Works to Health. Strategies are developed and employed, managers held accountable, and results measured not yearly, quarterly, or monthly but week to week.
Baltimore City Map Stats
Statistical profiles of states, counties, congressional districts, and federal judicial districts. Information gathered from statistics collected from over 70 federal agencies.
Baltimore Neighborhoods Indicators Alliance
The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) is an alliance of citywide organizations dedicated to providing data and information to support efforts to improve the quality of life in Baltimore City neighborhoods. The partners work together to: provide data about Baltimore and its neighborhoods in a widely available, user-friendly way; offer training on how to access, understand and use data for neighborhood improvement; and designate indicators to measure the success of the city and its neighborhoods over time.
Baltimore Empowerment Zone
On December 21, 1994, President Clinton designated Baltimore a "federal empowerment zone." The federal empowerment zone initiative primes the pump of sustainable redevelopment for local communities and residents by mixing federal seed money and business tax benefits with local public and private investments, all guided by a locally developed and managed strategy.
Family League of Baltimore City Research and Evaluation
The Family League of Baltimore City Inc. was founded in 1991 as a quasi-public, non-profit organization to fulfill the Maryland legislative mandate for the establishment of Local Management Boards (LMBs) in all jurisdictions in the state of Maryland. The role of the LMB is to focus attention and resources on improving the well-being of children and families by engaging communities and encouraging public and private partnerships.
Baltimore City Data Collaborative
The Baltimore City Data Collaborative was established in 1998 as a joint venture of the Family League of Baltimore City, Baltimore Safe and Sound Campaign, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Data Collaborative serves as a resource for members of the Baltimore community and provides data, analysis, and evaluation support for the initiatives spearheaded by the Family League, Safe and Sound, and many other organizations.
Below you see where this breakdown in Federal agencies tasked with protecting public health leads-----to state and local levels. Baltimore Public Health Commissioners have since I have lived in Baltimore simply worked for Johns Hopkins implementing global corporate health policy in the city and state. It has nothing to do with public health----it has to do with using Federal funds to maximize profits for health industries----in Baltimore that is Hopkins and MedStar as the gorillas in health care.
We know Baltimore lost its independent public health department in Reagan/Clinton years if it ever had one. Bloomberg School of Public Health has been Baltimore's public health and guess what......
A MAYOR OF WALL STREET SEES PUBLIC HEALTH AS FEDERAL FUNDING TO MOVE TO CORPORATE PROFIT---PERIOD.
This is when the positioning of ending all New Deal and War on Poverty Federal health plans hit hard-----in the Clinton 1990s era at the same time of financial deregulation that gave us predatory global Wall Street.
'Bloomberg began his career at the securities brokerage Salomon Brothers before forming his company in 1981 and spending the next twenty years as its chairman and CEO. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees at his alma mater Johns Hopkins University from 1996 to 2002'
So, this is the problem and the solution for citizens in Maryland, Baltimore, and the world in rebuilding our first world public health and safety structures====GET VERY, VERY, VERY NEO-CONSERVATIVE JOHNS HOPKINS AND WALL STREET BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT OUT OF PUBLIC HEALTH. Below you see a health commissioner in Dr Wen who has no idea of what US Constitutional and Federal laws are----and for whom she works. Wen is also tied to the corrupt medical examiner's office that protected the officers on the sidewalk in Freddie Gray's death. We know when we have leadership that works for global corporations that they are not providing oversight and accountability in health care outcomes and drug and medical device product safety.....they will provide data that promotes these patents to maximize profits.
Whether Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, or National Institutes of Health---all Federal agencies under Clinton neo-liberals and Republicans break down the public protections and gear these departments to work overseas protecting US health and PHARMA corporations against patent infringements in other nations---
ALL FEDERAL FUNDING TO HEALTH AGENCIES ARE GOING TO POLICING CORPORATE PATENT INFRINGEMENTS.
The importance of data in medical innovation-----how does that fit with the reduction of clinical trials----with a litany of medical class action lawsuits claiming extreme harm and death----indeed, the data coming from BioTech facilities as those connected to Johns Hopkins are juking the stats to move research to patent and then to billions in profit BEFORE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE IDENTIFIED AS HARMED----then the FDA will reprimand the brand and apply a small fine. This has been the process for FDA and NIH since Clinton neo-liberals joined Republicans -----
AND IT IS KILLING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE UNNECESSARILY AND MAKING PEOPLE AFRAID AND UNSURE OF WHAT ACTUALLY HELPS THEM IN HEALTH CARE.
City had plans to make zero degrees the trigger to shelter homeless people this winter
The plan has shocked homeless advocates and providers. "People will die," says one. Mark Reutter December 18, 2015 at 7:45 am
'Fasanelli said the zero-degree plan stems from a “Severe Code Blue Alert” recently established by Dr. Leana Wen, commissioner of the Health Department'.
FDA, NIH Emphasize Importance of Data in Medical Innovation Efforts
Friday, March 13, 2015RELATED TOPICS:Clinical Innovation & Technology reports.
At the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's hearing on Tuesday, Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that the process of developing drugs is slow and costly and called on stakeholders to make improvements.
During the hearing, NIH Director Francis Collins said the agency is planning to launch an initiative involving at least one million volunteers that aims to improve chronic disease prevention.
He said, "This venture will pioneer a new model for doing science that emphasizes engaged participants, technologically advanced collection of many different data types, responsible data sharing and privacy protection."
Meanwhile, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the agency has approved 51 drugs and biologics in the last year -- the most in nearly two decades -- noting that review times are "consistently faster than other ... regulatory agencies" (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 3//11).
Hamburg also discussed the agency's Sentinel program, noting its large use of health care data (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 3/12). In late December 2014, FDA announced plans to expand the five-year pilot program -- which uses electronic health records and claims data to monitor the safety of medical products regulated by the agency -- and launch a full-scale rollout (iHealthBeat, 1/5).
Hamburg said, "Real-world data provides a vital tool to monitor medical products in use in the marketplace." She added that while the "science of using big data to establish product effectiveness is still in its infancy," the use of "appropriate privacy protections" and "leveraging large databases containing patient EHR, disease registry and claims data" has:
One thing we know for sure----the FDA gets next to nothing to monitor food or medical products grown and/or built in developing nations----we know they are not providing protections for what could simply be manufactured in the US. Think of the profit margin on PHARMA and medical devices even as they are made by sweat shop labor and you see why US citizens have no avenue of assurance for medical data or quality of product. If made in China is now on our medical products---is that why Medicare is paying to replace products every three years----like our cheaply made clothing?
The FDA gets absolutely NO funding from Congress to assure overseas safety and quality and they know it----and yet, as the article above showed global pols are using all the progressive language that makes people think they are building all kinds of structures to assure these protections exist. Well, if you are breaking down Federal clinical trial structures for example in deregulation of health care-----that one structure is a major protector and they don't seen to think it necessary.
Focus on funding FDA overseas clinical trial policing, says ACRO
By Alexandria Pešić, 29-Oct-2010
ACRO wants the US FDA’s overseas offices to play more of a role in monitoring clinical trials, and is calling for an additional $35m (€25.3m) to fund the work.
What we see is lots of media being released from Federal agencies that pretend something is being done to monitor food and medical products/PHARMA being outsourced overseas----BUT THAT IS HOGWASH. IT IS NOT HAPPENING.
This is what deregulation looks like-----under Federal drug and medical device safety laws this kind of outsourcing would never have happened. IT IS NOT LEGAL. So, now we have the Congress spending all kinds of Federal taxpayer money to build an oversight system in Asian nations like China that used to go to our US health and safety oversight----and it is being lost to fraud, corruption, and mismanagement.
IT IS INSANE. Cities like Baltimore with a heavy presence of BioTech product mills like Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland Medical Systems already knowing no oversight and accountability occurs in Baltimore and Maryland is set to behave just as in China-----and US citizens are dying right and left from tainted PHARMA and defective medical devices.
Keep in mind----it is not the working class or poor that has health coverage to allow access to all this----this is American citizens with health plans that allow access to hospital procedure and PHARMA.
FDA seeks presence in China
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-21 10:17
While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pushing to establish a presence in China, SFDA spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said yesterday that neither Chinese authorities nor the FDA had contacted them about the presence of hypersulfated chondroitin sulfate in exported heparin products.
"There are set procedures, and the FDA might first apply to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs," she said.
The FDA planned to establish eight full-time, permanent positions at US diplomatic posts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, pending authorization from the Chinese government, a March 14 notice on its website said. OH REALLY????? THESE ARE GLOBAL FACTORIES PRODUCING BILLIONS OF PRODUCT AND WE HAVE 8 STAFF----
Intended to improve information exchange and cooperation, the move is a significant step toward ensuring access to safe food, drugs and medical devices in the global market, the statement said.
"There is a very real interest in pursuing this, and obviously the spotlight has been on China ... but this is not just a China issue," FDA Deputy Commissioner for International and Special Programs Murray Lumpkin said in December.
FDA Works with China to Ensure Medical-Product Safety
Posted on April 17, 2014 by FDA VoiceBy: Christopher Hickey, Ph.D.
Americans benefit greatly from medical products produced by other countries. Approximately 40 percent of finished drugs in the United States come from overseas, as well as more than 50 percent of all medical devices. About 80 percent of the manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients are located outside the United States.
Christopher Hickey, Ph.D., testifies April 3, 2014.
However, this rapid globalization of commerce presents challenges to regulators who oversee the safety and quality of medical products. Many of these challenges manifest themselves in China. As FDA’s country director for the People’s Republic of China, I testified on April 3, 2014 before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an advisory panel created by Congress, on our work to ensure the safety and quality of medical products produced in China and imported into the United States.
China is the source of a large and growing volume of imported foods, medical products and ingredients. In the years spanning fiscal years 2007 and 2013, the total number of shipments of FDA-regulated products from China to the United States almost quadrupled.
The challenges we see in China mirror those we see in other countries with developing regulatory systems. These issues include problems with data integrity, inadequate implementation of quality systems in manufacturing, and inconsistent regulatory oversight, among others.
As China’s role on the global stage expands, FDA has significantly increased drug and medical device inspections there, but we need to continue to strengthen our efforts. FDA is currently working to use Congressionally-appropriated funding to increase from eight to 27 the number of U.S. staff it posts in China. Visa issues that arose with the Chinese government over new FDA staff assigned there were addressed during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Beijing in December, and FDA continues its work to post new staff in Beijing in the coming months.
FDA recognizes that strategic engagement in China starts first and foremost with Chinese regulators. China’s Food and Drug Administration, or CFDA, is responsible for the regulation of food, drugs, and devices for domestic distribution in China, and for regulation of certain exported drugs and medical devices.
Christopher Hickey, Ph.D., testifies before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
FDA has established a strong working relationship with CFDA. Our office has trained hundreds of Chinese inspectors in areas that include inspecting for good manufacturing practices and assessing the quality of data from sites that conduct clinical trials. Experts from FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health now meet regularly with their counterparts from CFDA under the auspices of the International Medical Devices Regulatory Forum. These investments will pay long-term dividends for the American people: a stronger Chinese regulatory system can only strengthen FDA’s efforts to promote and protect U.S. public health.
Finally, in the area of inspections and enforcement, CFDA inspectors now regularly observe FDA inspections in China. And since 2012, FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations has worked closely with CFDA to fight against Internet-based, illegal distribution into the U.S. of falsified, counterfeit and adulterated drugs.
FDA’s priorities in China match its global priorities: we work to ensure the safety and efficacy of FDA-regulated products. Manufacturers are best situated to make certain that appropriate processes are in place to ensure safety and quality in production. Regulatory bodies should hold companies accountable for lapses in the production process. Inspections and testing are important tools in that process, but they must be used as part of a larger system that emphasizes a preventive, approach to the production of safe, effective, high-quality medical products.
And in our globalized world, it’s increasingly important that regulatory partners work together to ensure the safety of products as they move through increasingly complex supply chains. Patients and consumers – whether in Beijing or Boston – deserve no less.
NONE OF THIS ADVANCES QUALITY OF HEALTH CARE---IT SIMPLY ALLOWS A GROCERY STORE SHELF OF CEREALS BECOME OUR HEALTH PRODUCTS.
Americans will remember last decade as it was uncovered by government watchdogs that reformulation facilities across the US were found to fail every measure of safety and sanitation in states like NY, PA,OH here on the East Coast and Maryland was found to allow import of these drugs across state lines never making sure the source was indeed inspected and regulated. Maryland of course does not care-----as long as those reformulation corporations were able to make profit.
What was captured in the US last decade under Bush is what happens overseas in developing nations and it is what will soar now that 'innovation' medicine and medical product mills are set loose in a deregulated and profit-drive health care under Clinton neo-liberals and Republicans. Reformulation of PHARMA means that a slight change in chemical makeup in creating a pill allows a corporation to claim it a different drug all without doing another set of clinical trials to see what that change in drug formulation does to the human body----and it only takes slight changes to do harm and/or death.
So, you have profit-driven Hopkins and its BioTech product mill trying to patent and patent its way to billions of dollars----what is it going to do as BALTIMORE PUBLIC HEALTH when people are found to be killed by these newly-patented drugs?
IT WILL JUKE THE STATS TO COVERUP HOW PEOPLE DIE AND WHAT CAUSED IT---AS HOPKINS HAS DONE IN THE PAST ----NOW THIS WILL BE SUPER-SIZED.
Under social Democracy all of these Federal agencies enforced regulations----did inspections-----made sure outsourcing did not occur without meeting same standards. These Federal, state, and local agencies still exist-----
WE SIMPLY NEED THEM BACK IN THE HANDS OF SOCIAL DEMOCRATS THAT WANT OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY AND PUBLIC INTEREST PUBLIC HEALTH.
Reformulation trend capturing pharma
By Kirsty Barnes, 17-Jan-2007
More and more drug makers are turning to reformulation to prolong the lifecycle of their top sellers and protect precious revenue from generic copies, as well as supplement dwindling pipelines.
THIS IS WHAT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT DID WITH ITS HUNDREDS OF PAGES FILLED WITH DEREGULATION LANGUAGE ALL WHILE MEDIA SHOUTED SOMETHING PROGRESSIVE WAS HAPPENING.
What this article doesn't tell you is most of these new biotech startups taking the place of US PHARMA corporations going overseas are coming from universities like Hopkins tied to global Wall Street investment firms----so these are not small businesses----
Federal regulations would never have allowed US PHARMA and medical devices be outsourced to where absolutely no public protections existed----Affordable Care Act seeks to completely deregulate health care making this outsourcing soar----and it will include actual medical procedure through robotics and telemedicine.
THE FEDERAL AGENCIES ARE STILL THERE---THEY SIMPLY HAVE APPOINTED LEADERS THAT IGNORE CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS AND FEDERAL PUBLIC PROTECTIONS.
A Mayor of Baltimore can use those agencies to provide oversight and accountability and the funds coming to the city to do that. Right now all funds for this simply go to Hopkins as the Baltimore Public Health Department ------they need to come to city coffers and rebuild our public health oversight. All of Baltimore City Council persons in various committees simply sit and wait until Baltimore Development or Hopkins sends down the written public policy and pass it.
Keep in mind generics are not the same either----once the reformulation had to be minor enough to make sure effects on people would not harm-----today, they are reformulating in ways that could create grave harm with no new clinical trial.
N.J. pharmaceutical job losses mirror industry-wide transformation
Changes to the pharmaceutical industry have been felt across the country, nowhere more than in New Jersey, which has lost thousands of drug manufacturing jobs in the last decade. This week, Merck announced it would shutter its Summit campus, where scientists from its animal health division work, in photo above. (Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)
By Alexi Friedman | The Star-Ledger
on October 02, 2013 at 7:46 PM, updated December 11, 2013 at 6:19 PM
Nowhere has the pharmaceutical industry’s tumultuous reformulation been more evident than in New Jersey, which has shed 14,000 manufacturing jobs over the last decade, but which has also recently seen an uptick in smaller biotech firms.
While Big Pharma’s manufacturing job losses in the one-time “Medicine Chest” of the United States have been particularly acute, analysts and state officials say they also reflect a nationwide trend, as name-brand drugs going off patent have been replaced by cheaper generic versions and where research and development has moved to specialty drugs and away from primary care medicines.
This week has cast a spotlight on some of those shifts. On Tuesday, Whitehouse Station-based Merck announced it would shutter its Summit campus. The move was part of a companywide restructuring plan that includes about 16,000 layoffs or, 20 percent of its total global workforce. Merck employs more than 8,500 people in New Jersey, and cuts are expected.
Even generic drug companies are not immune from the layoffs.
On Wednesday, Warner Chilcott disclosed it will eliminate 88 jobs from its Rockaway Township facility, a day after Parsippany-based Actavis, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, was given final approval for its $8.5 billion acquisition.
It is that presence of generics that has turned Big Pharma’s tradition of high-priced name-brand medicines on its head, forcing the industry to change. There have been growing pains along the way.
“There has been a huge wave of drugs going off patent that has drawn billions and billions of dollars away from these companies, which hasn’t been replaced,” said Erik Gordon, a professor of law and business at the University of Michigan. “When the drug companies look into their pipelines, they don’t see those billions coming back. That revenue has disappeared, which is a major factor that drives mergers.”
The past decade has seen numerous pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey merge and scale back operations, like in the case of Schering Plough, when Merck bought it; and Wyeth, when it was acquired by Pfizer, or simply cut staff, like Johnson & Johnson has done.
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Drugmaker Roche last year announced it would vacate its Nutley campus, and lay off 1,000 employees. On Tuesday, company officials celebrated the opening of its new biotech research facility on Manhattan’s East Side.
Still, New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and life-sciences sector remains a strong presence despite a decade of layoffs, employing more than 120,000 people, according to state labor statistics.
Debbie Hart, president of the biotechnology industry trade group BioNJ, said, “the good news is the biotech industry is growing in New Jersey, and is hiring some of those people that have been laid off from the bigger companies.” Companies like Roche and Merck have had to adapt as biotechs pour money into specialty care and cancer drugs R&D. Merck now says it will focus in that area after recent pipeline drug failures and drug patent expirations.
After Merck’s layoff and restructuring plan announcement this week, Union County officials said they will expand job-search programs, preparing for pending layoffs to the 1,600-person Summit office. Merck will also close its Whitehouse Station headquarters in Hunterdon County — where 2,100 people work — shifting its base to the Kenilworth campus.
“We are seeing some downsizing happening in New Jersey but this has been an industry evolution,” Hart said. “There hasn’t been any mass exodus from New Jersey.”
And while Boston and San Francisco are the current hot spots for biotech firms, geography can only offer so much, said Les Funtleyder, a health care strategist at private equity fund Poliwogg.
“Innovation is not something you can just order up like a Big Mac,” he said. “It’s a combination of incrementalism and that eureka moment.”
Throwing money at any idea that will make a new product----I listened to two Hopkins students on a bus disturbed that they were being made to debate whether clinical trials were needed at all-------
The American people were really hoodwinked with the Affordable Care Act in that it sends hundreds of billions of what was funding for quality care with oversight and accountability to expand this compromised model of product mills.
Keep in mind states like Maryland have no public justice-----no Baltimore States Attorney or Maryland Attorney General with branches that protect against this. The Maryland Attorney General's Office has a rule that states it will not become involved until tens of millions of dollars in citizen losses to fraud and illegal actions harm the public----by then, corporations have pocketed huge profits and then get a fine -----and go bankrupt....just as with the subprime mortgage frauds----and now it is happening to our health care.
AGAIN, THE EXECUTIVE OFFICES OF MAYOR AND GOVERNOR CAN ENFORCE FEDERAL LAWS-----WE MUST USE OUR CITIES AS PLATFORMS TO REBUILD OUR SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC STRUCTURES THAT PROTECT CITIZENS.
Defective Medical Device Injuries
Every year, sales from medical devices such as heart valves and stents, bone graft material, heart defibrillators and pacemakers, orthopedic joint prosthetics, surgical mesh, and medical infusion devices, just to name a few, bring in a combined total of over $200 billion in revenue worldwide, making one of the most profitable enterprises in the health care industry. It is for this reason that medical device companies are in a constant race to invent the next groundbreaking medical device or make advancements to existing medical devices, even if it comes at a cost to public safety.
Here you see the progressive posing that resulted when all kinds of major medical frauds and harm was exposed last decade--------Maryland Assembly creates a bill that says----
YOU BAD GUYS HAD BETTER REPORT ALL THOSE INJURIES AND DEATHS CAUSED BY A COMPLETELY DEREGULATED HEALTH INDUSTRY OUTSOURCED AND GLOBAL WITH NO OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
The Maryland Assembly does this all the time----it has tons of legislation with NO TEETH passed to appease public outrage with no intentions of funding oversight and accountability. I speak often to Maryland Department of Health who pushes this deregulation about accountability and the executives get mad----tell me there are no problems -----and tell me to get out of the way.
When you have people who sit around a table able to look beyond public interest at only what will create the next profit------YOU HAVE A CORPORATE EXECUTIVE BOARD----NOT A US GOVERNMENT ASSEMBLY.
Please stop allowing these same pols get re-elected each year-----all Maryland pols are Clinton neo-liberals or Bush neo-cons and need to go!
March 3, 2011
Maryland Bill Aims to Reduce Deadly Medical Errors
Assembly Health Committee to Consider Bill On March 3rd
to Require Hospitals to Publicly Report Medical Errors
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Maryland hospitals would be required to publicly disclose medical errors that occur while patients are being treated under a bill sponsored by Delegate Michael G. Summers. HB 821 is designed to inform the public about a serious patient safety issue and prompt hospitals to improve care and prevent medical harm.
The Assembly Health & Government Operations Committee is scheduled to consider HB 821 at a hearing scheduled for Thursday, March 3, beginning at 1:00pm.
“When mistakes are made in the hospital, the consequences can be serious and even deadly,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project (www.safepatientproject.org). “The public should know their hospitals record on patient harm. Maryland lawmakers should pass this measure to help improve care and protect patients.”
McGiffert submitted testimony to the Assembly Health Committee in support of HB 821.
Recent research has found that medical errors are even more common than previously estimated. A November 2010 study by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that one in seven Medicare patients or 13.5 percent experienced serious or long-term medical harm (including infections) or death, while they were receiving care in the hospital. Another 13 percent of patients experienced temporary harm. The researchers estimated that hospital infections and medical errors contributed to approximately 180,000 deaths and $4.4 billion in additional hospital care costs each year for Medicare patients alone.
Likewise, a November 2010 New England Journal of Medicine study in North Carolina hospitals found that one in four patients were harmed by the care they received, ranging from hospital acquired infections, surgical errors, and medication dosage mistakes. Other medical errors include serious bed sores, patient falls in the hospital from inattentive care, and diagnostic mistakes.
Maryland residents have no way of knowing whether their hospital does a good job when it comes to preventing medical harm. That’s because hospitals in the state are not required to disclose this information to the public. Under HB 821, Maryland hospitals will be required to report to the Department of Health when patients are harmed by the care they receive. Hospitals must file reports no later than five days after the event or within 24 hours if the patient is seriously harmed. To ensure hospitals provide an accurate accounting of these events, the Department will compare hospital reports on errors against other publicly available data on patient harm, including periodic audits of medical records.
Each quarter the Department will publish a report disclosing which hospitals failed to report medical harm events and the fines that were assessed as a result. Every year, the Department will submit to the state legislature and post on its web site a report detailing the number and type of medical harm events at each hospital, the level of arm to patients, fines that were assessed and enforcement actions that were taken. The first report must be made public by April 1, 2013.
“Disclosing medical errors will enable patients to find out how their hospital stacks up against others when it comes to keeping patients safe,” said McGiffert. “And making this information public will motivate hospitals to work harder to prevent medical errors in the first place.”
More information about medical errors can be found at www.safepatientproject.org
Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126 or email@example.com
What kind of data do you get from a completely deregulated health system with no oversight and accountability? Here is Maryland's Health Commission---which acts just like Maryland's Public Service Commission----it has appointed members that are corporate shills.
The law passed above pretends to create mechanisms for data integrity at the same time all structures that would assure that are being dismantled.
A Mayor of Baltimore would be shouting at these meeting at the state level and at the Maryland Health Commission----but Baltimore's mayors are always working for very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins and Wall Street Baltimore Development.
Think about last week when I talked about how the homeless system fails those poorest ----and then look at how it all goes up the income ladder------it does not matter if you have a Silver, Gold, or Platinum health plan---everyone gets these devices and PHARMA from the same places.
Look below----already regulated by Medicare----only, Maryland is the only one having sought exemption from Medicare so that it is not regulated.
"They believe that the access to good quality care would be jeopardized," Weglein said.
Supporters of relaxing regulations argue that home health agencies are already regulated by the federal Medicare program and say the state could benefit by eliminating a time-consuming regulatory process'.
Home health care facing deregulation
Dec 5, 2005, 12:00am EST Updated Dec 1, 2005, 4:11pm EST
Industries & Tags
Alan Zibel Staff
Health care agencies that provide medical care to elderly and sick patients at home, would no longer need state permission to open in Maryland under a new proposal.
The recommendation by a 24-member task force set up by the Maryland Health Care Commission to streamline state health care regulations has sparked opposition from some home health care companies.
They say eliminating state regulations would enable new companies to enter the state and not serve poor patients. Opponents say those firms could pay higher wages to nurses and other staff, making it tougher for existing companies to recruit workers in an already difficult market for nursing staff.
"This will have a serious negative impact on agencies such as ours [that are] committed to servicing all types of patients, a problem that will only stress an already difficult recruitment environment" wrote Daniel B. Smith, president of Johns Hopkins Home Care Group in a September letter to the health care commission.
Elizabeth Weglein, president of the Maryland National Capital Homecare Association, which represents the agencies in Maryland and Washington, D.C., said some of her group's members hope to convince the health care commission not to enact the panel's recommendation.
"They believe that the access to good quality care would be jeopardized," Weglein said.
Supporters of relaxing regulations argue that home health agencies are already regulated by the federal Medicare program and say the state could benefit by eliminating a time-consuming regulatory process.
The panel was split on whether to eliminate the home health care regulations. State law would have to be changed to do so.
The health care commission is scheduled to consider the proposed changes at its Dec. 15 meeting.
The task force worked from May to November examining state regulations for hospitals and other health care facilities. In Maryland, health providers must get state approval, or a "certificate of need" for new buildings or services.
In addition to hospitals, the law also applies to nursing homes, surgery centers and home health and hospice agencies.
It was FDR's social democracy that created Federal agencies tasked with oversight and accountability just so the public interest would be protected over corporate profiteering. Look how all this is called redistributionist-----just as today's Congress calls recovering tens of trillions of dollars in corporate fraud---redistributionist. When Republican voters allow their Republican pols sell them on the idea that all these Federal agencies are a waste of taxpayer money-----look now as they have these few decades dismantled all those Federal agencies to see how twice the funding went to these agencies just to be lost to corporate fraud---and now all that funding is going to build overseas structures. So, the taxpayer funds get used either way------taxation on small business and citizens never goes down---it simply is a decision of whether we are going to have the taxes we pay protect public interest-----social democracy----or simply be lost to expanding corporate wealth and power and all the fraud and corruption to get them there.
'Moreover, the new Bill of Rights requires a redistributionist state that demands an ever-expanding bureaucracy with increasing budgets. The wealth of some pays for others’ newly coined rights. The new conception of rights diminishes the older notion, in particular an individual’s claim on his own property and even his own conscience and intellect, as life becomes more socialized in all its spheres'.
FDR’s Second Bill of Rights
January 11, 1944 Heritage Foundation
President Franklin Roosevelt used his 1944 State of the Union address to advance his “Second Bill of Rights”: a broad vision of the role of government in making lives more secure through expanded government programs. The recurring theme throughout is “security” and the necessary action called for is unrelenting war against the enemies of the New Deal, both foreign and domestic.
“Necessitous men are not free men,” FDR proclaims. Since “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence,” the original Bill of Rights must be supplemented by eight rights that “spell security.” The proposed rights include the “right to a useful and remunerative job”—not the right to work, but the right to demand a job, and a well-paying one at that. “Farmers have the right to obtain “a decent living” from their toil, and businessmen have the right to be free of “unfair competition and domination by monopolies.” There are as well rights to “adequate medical care,” education, and the “right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.”
While no Congress has formally adopted these as rights, legislation has expanded the meaning of these benefits such that we now speak of rights to health care, work, education, housing, and salary levels. In what sense are these goods rights? The original Bill of Rights supposed that self-government required certain civic traits and freedoms, so it declared these activities, such as the freedom of speech, to be protected from federal government interference. By contrast, Roosevelt’s rights require ever-expanding federal government programs for them to exist. The right to “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment” is a right to be free of an anxiety. Yet, if one is free of fear of unemployment, will one ever want work? How much does one need to earn to enjoy “adequate…recreation”? What is a right to “a good education,” a “decent home,” or “good health”? The questions never end, because the standards of what is “good,” “adequate,” or “decent” constantly rise.
Moreover, the new Bill of Rights requires a redistributionist state that demands an ever-expanding bureaucracy with increasing budgets. The wealth of some pays for others’ newly coined rights. The new conception of rights diminishes the older notion, in particular an individual’s claim on his own property and even his own conscience and intellect, as life becomes more socialized in all its spheres.
Roosevelt made it clear what might be the consequence should Congress fail to adopt his Second Bill of Rights. “[I]f history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.” Should Americans elect Presidents such as Calvin Coolidge they would have become allies of Hitler.
Roosevelt tenaciously expanded the state at home, even as he battled America’s enemies abroad. He saw these battles as two fronts in one war to achieve a more secure world.
Everyone knew this----that is what Republican policy does-----there is no FDR moment in this---there is no building of a public option platform in the making------it is Wall Street reforms on steroids-----with all protections for Americans in health care being dismantled.
All national labor and justice organization leaders that marched people out in support of ACA knew this------they again used the Democratic base of labor and justice to promote what they knew would kill health care for all.
Part of knowing public policy is knowing when these pols are lying, cheating, and stealing. If you knew Obama and Clinton are tied to global markets, International Economic Zones, and Trans Pacific Trade Pact---which by 2009 we knew of Obama---you knew these reforms were corporate and global . Social Democrats can reverse all this----it starts as I have stated at local levels by making Baltimore City a public health system--------easily done.
Below you see what everyone knew before Obama was elected-----Obama came to office posing progressive with every intent of doing to health care what Clinton did to banking----and yet not one media outlet exposed these goals until after all of it happens. People like me shouted in 2009-----and now Wall Street is telling us in 2015----while making people seem to be fighting it that corporations want to move up----like Kamala Harris who protected Wall Street from the subprime mortgage fraud justice centered in her state of California and who allowed merger and acquisition in health care long before ACA----with Kaiser Permenente California exploding all over the US as soon as ACA passed.
If you are really fighting against corporate power you shout BEFORE ALL POLICY IS PASSED---NOT AFTER.
This author----Makary is a Johns Hopkins employee and Hopkins has made a monopoly of itself entirely----especially in health care and Makary has not opened his mouth in Baltimore about this since 2009------again, it means nothing to come out with a voice against globalization or corporatization if you do it after all policies to do so are in place.
Coming out in media stating policy is bad AFTER THE POLICY IS INSTALLED is like starting a fire in a theater, coming back to your seat and yelling FIRE.
The ObamaCare Effect: Hospital Monopolies
Makary, Marty. Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition [New York, N.Y] 20 Apr 2015: A.13.
On a national level, physician groups bought by large hospital systems are often prodded to send patients for ambulatory surgery and diagnostic procedures to the departments of their parent hospital, which may charge more than other outpatient centers the doctor might prefer. A study of more than 150 hospital-owned and physician-owned organizations published last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patient costs are 19.8% higher for physician groups in multi-hospital systems compared with physician-owned organizations.
During the 2008 financial crisis, "too big to fail" became a familiar phrase in the U.S. financial system. Now the U.S. health-care system is heading down the same path with a record number of hospital mergers and acquisitions -- 95 last year -- some creating regional monopolies that, as in all monopolies, will likely result in higher prices from decreased competition.
Hospital consolidation, done properly in a competitive marketplace, can have positive effects. Multi-hospital conglomerates can quickly disseminate best practices and quality initiatives, for example. But competition and the choices it provides can also disappear.
Health-care conglomeration aligns with the Affordable Care Act, which created incentives for physicians and hospitals to work together in "accountable care organizations." But an important and often forgotten prerequisite for this model is hospital competition.
Some see the dangers. In a rare move, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders recently blocked Partners HealthCare -- Harvard's affiliated 10-hospital conglomerate and Massachusetts' largest private employer -- from acquiring three competitor hospitals. Judge Sanders argued that the expansion "would cement Partners' already strong position in the health-care market and give it the ability, because of this market muscle, to exact higher prices." This threat is even greater in rural areas where one hospital is often the only provider.
Today's frenzy of hospital mergers and physician practice acquisitions is giving hospital systems even greater leverage to inflate opaque "charge-master" medical bills that even hospitals are sometimes unable to itemize sensibly. With no mechanism to allow free-market forces to keep prices in check, this translates into higher health-insurance deductibles and copays for insured Americans, and in the case of Medicare and Medicaid, higher taxes.
When you're the only game in town, you call the shots. That is one reason California Attorney General Kamala Harris is insisting on "strong conditions" before approving Prime Healthcare Services' $843 million takeover of the six-hospital Daughters of Charity Health System. Prime is a hospital management company operating 34 acute-care hospitals in 10 states.
Ms. Harris required Prime to continue operating four Daughters' facilities as acute-care hospitals with emergency services over the next 10 years. She also required that all six hospitals remain in the state's Medi-Cal program, maintain charity care benefits at their historical levels, and continue providing essential health services such as reproductive health care.
Those conditions only begin to address the concerns surrounding such a merger. A San Bernardino, Calif., court recently held a Prime hospital, Chino Valley Medical Center, in contempt for needlessly admitting patients through the emergency room. On a national level, physician groups bought by large hospital systems are often prodded to send patients for ambulatory surgery and diagnostic procedures to the departments of their parent hospital, which may charge more than other outpatient centers the doctor might prefer.
A study of more than 150 hospital-owned and physician-owned organizations published last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patient costs are 19.8% higher for physician groups in multi-hospital systems compared with physician-owned organizations.
The Affordable Care Act did not repeal antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission prevailed in three litigated hospital mergers in the last three years, and in 2014 it won its first-ever litigated case challenging a health-system acquisition of a physician group. But these victories are few. The great majority of mergers occur with little if any public debate about how they will effect prices or patients.
U.S. Oncology, for example, boasts more than 1,000 oncologists in its network and serves nearly 20% of all U.S. cancer patients. In 2010 it was acquired by McKesson Corp., one of the largest U.S. drug distributors, in what some called a savvy move to get cancer doctors and the drugs they prescribe under the same roof. Specialty hospitals are also sprouting around the country, even franchising, exemplified by the rapid spread of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which aims to have a center within three hours of every American. But is it wise to have one corporation in charge of cancer care for an entire state or region?
Advocates say such expansion brings standardized care and clinical trials to more of the population, but it also results in an undeniable homogenization that may limit options for patients. If management decides that its doctors can only use one chemo drug for a particular cancer, or if the central leadership elects to not adopt a new surgical technology system-wide, will patients be told about the other options?
As a busy surgeon, I have serious concerns about the race to consolidate America's hospitals because of the risk that very large organizations may govern without valuing the wisdom of their front-line employees. Already many doctors are frustrated by the electronic medical records, strategic planning and hospital processes that they feel have marginalized their medical insights into their own patients.
We can encourage the good work of hospitals to create networks of coordinated care, while at the same time insist that hospitals compete on price and quality outcomes. Achieving this balance in the wake of the Affordable Care Act is critical to ensure that one-fifth of the U.S. economy functions in a competitive and competent market.
I will continue this week on the theme of public health this time focusing on health access for the more affluent and middle-class. I last spoke of the move towards telemedicine and global health tourism and use of medical microchips that will pull 90% of Americans to this cheapened vehicle to accessing health care while the consolidated global health systems in the US troll for the world's rich to maximize profits for what was always ordinary health care for all Americans.
When I ended the segment on HUD housing and the shelter system that includes health care access for the poor and working class I showed that Baltimore's system was indeed legally classified as criminal negligence as a lawyer told me as he said he would not represent my homeless friend. This is why I continually shout that almost all Clinton/Obama neo-liberal policies can be simply VOIDED as illegal and unconstitutional---BECAUSE IT IS. So, as we look at the effects of the Affordable Care Act on middle-affluent class we see the same process of blocking access only this time Wall Street is going to soak the US citizens still having money of all their disposable income just to keep ordinary access to care.
THE AFFLUENT MAY STILL ACCESS QUALITY HEALTH CARE IN THE SHORT-TERM---BUT THEY WILL BE BLED DRY OF MONEY TO GET IT.
All national players in ACA knew the goal was to end corporate health plans and reduce them to a minimum preventative care access and the worker's having those plans are mostly middle-class. The health plans for working class low-wage jobs have always been minimal. The window of salaries for this crunch on the middle-class spans from $40,000 to $200,000 a year. Obama and Clinton neo-liberals pretended to protect the lower end of middle-class with a subsidy that willl disappear in no time-----but buying Gold and Platinum health plans will go from manageable to fleecing as these plans on upper-middle class soar.
WHEN CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS SAY THEY ARE WORKING FOR THE MIDDLE-CLASS---THEY SEE THE US AS THE SAME AS THE WORLD'S MIDDLE-CLASS AND BELIEVE ME-----THERE IS A LOW PERCENTAGE OF WORLD CITIZENS CONSIDERED MIDDLE-CLASS----THE GAP GOES FROM RICH TO POOR PRETTY QUICKLY.
So, the ACA to Obama and Clinton ne0-liberals are geared to making what was everyone's access to quality health care now only accessible by families earning greater than $200,000 and that limit is growing fast.
Employees Are Paying More – Much More – for Health Care
By Beth Braverman
November 12, 2015
While wages have been stagnant over the past decade, the amount that workers pay for employer-sponsored health insurance has more than doubled.
Average employees at mid-size and large companies paid $2,490 toward their premiums and $2,208 in out-of-pocket costs (including copayments and deductibles) last year, for a total cost of about $4,700, according to a new report from Aon. The data in the report combines both individual and family plans.
In 2005, those employees’ total healthcare costs were just $2,001. That translates to a 134 percent increase in employee’s share of health care costs in 10 years.
Related: Workers Are Getting Slammed With Higher Health Care Costs
The rate of increase has declined in recent years. Last year the employee share of healthcare costs increased 3.2 percent, the lowest rate in 20 years. Aon projects that costs will increase 4.1 percent next year, which would mean workers would pay almost $4,900 for medical coverage and services.
“As prescription drug costs continue to grow at a double-digit pace and the economy picks up speed, it’s likely these premium rates will start to climb,” Mike Morrow, senior vice president of Aon Health, said in a statement.
In addition to the rising price of treatment, the increased worker expense reflects a trend of employers shifting their costs onto their employees. The amount of total health care costs covered by employers has decreased 1 percent per year over the past three years. Nearly half of employers plan to increase participants’ out-of-pocket costs in the near future and another 38 percent have already done so.
This shift has led to the rise of high-deductible health plans, with 16 percent of companies offering these as the only option for employees, and another 41 percent planning to make it the only option in the next three to five years.
There are two progressive posing stances Obama and Clinton neo-liberals gave in pushing the Affordable Care Act----that is would give most Americans health insurance-----saying nothing about that health insurance doing nothing for access to health care-----and reducing the amount of debt from health care costs the American people would attain. Well, placing a cap on health care debt at the same time the Federal funding subsidy for accessing health care AFTER THAT CAP----is disappearing shows that these health insurance plans will only be required to be responsible for so much payment before a patient simply will not be eligible for a routine medical procedure. Remember, Medicare Trust is being imploded this coming economic crash from collapsing bond market----global pols are taking all Federal funds out of health care....THAT IS WHAT THEY THINK.
As well, the Affordable Care Act deliberately makes the young buy health insurance even when most young adults never use health care----I was never sick or used health care until 40-50s for example. Global pols like to blame the senior cost of health care or the supposed insuring the poor as to why the mandate exists----but the only reason it exists is to boost profits for global health insurance corporations.
This week I will look at what deregulation and consolidation is doing to cost and quality health care for the middle-class and affluent-----as the mantra from Republicans and Clinton neo-liberals become----
GET RID OF MEDICAL BANKRUPTCY AND MEDICAL CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS BY THE PUBLIC BECAUSE THEY COST GLOBAL CORPORATIONS PROFIT.
'Just 30 years ago, debtors rarely filed for bankruptcy as a result of a medical problem. Today, an astonishing 62% of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical debt'.
'To sum up the catastrophe: as a response to the rising cost of care and a growing number of Americans who cannot afford their medical bills, Congress responded by throwing up more barriers to bankruptcy. It’s not that bankruptcy is a real solution, since it does not address the fundamental economic conditions that pushed individuals to bankruptcy in the first place'.
The US Constitution and Bankruptcy
by Douglas Jacobs, Esq.
July 6, 2007
Most of the rights granted to us by the US Constitution are found in the Bill of Rights: the first ten amendments to the document itself. The body (Articles) of this great document is mostly concerned with the operations of the government: the powers of Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court.
Article I, Section 8 lays out the general powers of Congress, and it specifically includes the power to create “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcy throughout the United States.”
This means, according to most Constitutional scholars, that there should be the same bankruptcy law for everyone in the country.
So, we all have a Constitutional Right to file bankruptcy!
The interpretation and extent (or limitation) of that right keeps changing, but know that if you have to file for bankruptcy protection you are exercising one of those rights mandated by the great minds who formed this country.
The article below is great-----read towards the end for policy regarding medical bankruptcy and debt. This is critical because the goal of Clinton neo-liberals is to use these policies to keep American people from accessing health care they cannot afford to pay for outright. The medical code for centuries in Europe and the US has been the Hippocratic Oath------doctors and hospitals are obligated to take anyone in need of health care----and do no harm. This is what the Affordable CAre Act is doing with policy designed to keep Americans from even thinking of accessing care----from high deductibles and co-pays to caps to what insurance will pay followed by a supposed Federal subsidy that will disappear.
Remember, Obama and Clinton neo-liberals defunded that Federal agency that has existed throughout New Deal social democratic policy that served as a safety net for access for all-----whatever a citizen could not afford to pay in medical debt was paid the hospital by this Federal fund----this was a padding protecting the working class and poor that was largely defunded these several years....this is why the working class and poor are being diverted from emergency room and hospital admittance and being made to access a completely different lower-tiered set of medical clinics mostly preventative care only.
THIS IS A LONG ARTICLE BUT PLEASE GLANCE THROUGH----
March 26, 2013
Death By For-Profit Health Care
This report is part of an ongoing effort by a group of health care practitioners, lawyers, researchers, and activists to expose the disastrous impact of medical debt and for-profit health care on families and individuals in the United States. Private health care enriches a few—insurance companies, private equity firms, pharmaceutical companies, debt collectors, and global investors—at the expense of everyone else. Medical debt is a weapon of the class war because when patients cannot afford medical care, they are forced into debt, often with far-ranging and catastrophic consequences. As the rate of uninsured has grown, local governments have looked to state subsidies for private health insurance as a band-aid solution. Massachusetts has implemented such a program, and the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act has expanded this initiative on a national scale. Unfortunately, the ACA will not solve the problem because its primary goal is to expand the market-based system that has already proved to be a miserable failure. Insurance companies profit by denying coverage. As costs rise and benefits shrink, patients will continue to pay the price. We are in a major health care crisis, the consequences of which will be felt for decades to come. The only real solutions are: a grassroots social movement to demand universal health care, an end to the scourge of medical debt, and a national conversation on the meaning of health and wellness.
Medical Debt: A Weapon of Class War
The price of for-profit medical care is increasing at a relentless pace while quality is declining. Fifty million people have no insurance and 77 million have trouble paying medical bills (Rukavina). Despite these inequities, the US spends more on care than any other wealthy country in the world. The for-profit health care industry sucks up 18% of Gross Domestic Product, more than twice what countries that have publicly-financed health care spend. Despite the high cost, Americans are sicker and die earlier than people in other developed nations (“Shorter Lives”).
People without insurance must privately finance health care. Less well understood, however, is that medical debt is not only a problem for those without coverage. One in five adults who are privately insured struggles to pay medical bills. Even more scandalous is the fact that Americans are paying more for weaker coverage (“Shorter Lives”). According to the Commonwealth Fund, the cost of insurance has outpaced wage increases for the last ten years. Employers are shifting these costs to employees and their families. Premiums increased 62% from 2003 to 2011 (“State Trends”). For at least ten million Americans, deductibles are so high that their insurance plans are little more than scams, providing a false sense of security in hard times (Young).
The cost of health care has also risen faster than inflation. As a result, over the last few years, families have had little choice but to accept lower wages to hold on to benefits that, in the case of a serious illness or accident, may not protect them from financial disaster. For many working people, the trade-off is simple: your money or your life. If you have a job and insurance, you may feel that you are protected. But that is false. No one is truly safe from a for-profit health care industry that preys on patients and families at the most vulnerable moments. Since insurance companies and for-profit providers also fund political campaigns, we can expect no help from politicians. The best hope we have is to ally with others in our circumstances to fight back and claim health care as a human right.
We’re All at Risk
Almost everyone is affected by medical debt. The for-profit health care industry is designed to benefit a few at the expense of the rest. Debtors and non-debtors alike are forced to pay out-of- pocket for everything from basic care to life-saving operations. As patients, most of us understand instinctually that someone is making out like a bandit when we get sick. This becomes clear the minute you walk into a doctor’s office or a hospital where you open your wallet to make an up-front payment, sometimes called a co-pay, before seeing a doctor. The costs can start piling up from there, even if you have insurance. If you have a serious illness or accident, it’s unlikely that your insurance will cover all—or even most—of the care you need. What insurance doesn’t pay, you’re responsible for. Predictably, medical debt discriminates along familiar lines. According the Commonwealth Fund,
Among the working-age population, 39% of women have medical bill problems, compared with just 25% of men. More than half of working-age African Americans (52%) report medical bill problems, in contrast with 34% of Hispanics and 28% of whites (“Seeing Red”).
Although medical debt affects some more than others, it cuts across lines of class, race, and gender. In fact, rates of medical indebtedness are comparable for people with and without insurance (“Consequences”). Insurance companies make a profit by denying claims. In the words of Dr. David Himmelstein, of Physicians for a National Health Program,
Private health insurance is akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain. It simply isn’t there for you when you most need it
How long are we willing to stand under our worthless umbrellas and pray that it doesn’t rain? Many health plans don’t cover all the treatments for a serious illness or accident. Others limit the total amount of benefits or require absurdly high deductibles, putting necessary care out of reach for people who believe they are protected (“Seeing Red”). According to the Access Project, a non-profit research and advocacy organization,
Americans spent $300 billion on out-of-pocket costs in 2010; a figure over and above the cost of health insurance premiums (Rukavina).
People will say that we can’t afford universal health care, that those of us who believe otherwise are living a foolish dream. But they are wrong. The dreamers have it right this time. We’re not making an argument about affordability or appealing for the creation of what some call the “Welfare State.” We’re saying that it is time to pay attention to the overwhelming evidence that for-profit health care is killing us. It’s time to wake up from our national health care nightmare.
Eat The Young
Who is paying the price for our profit- based system? It may be obvious that low-income people pay a higher percentage of their income for health care. But the young are also at a high risk for incurring medical debt. This is because those from the ages of 19 to 29 are more likely to lack health insurance
than older Americans. Many low-wage employers that hire young adults do not provide coverage, and since the 2008 financial crisis, new college graduates have disproportionately high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Through a toxic combination of college loans, medical debt, and a recession caused by banks, many people’s financial lives are ruined before they are even out of their twenties. Is this what we want for young people in America? The evidence that publicly-funded care is far better than our current system is staggering.
It turns out, when it comes to medical debt, it is better to be over 65 and sick than to be young and healthy (Garcia). Older people actually have the lowest rates of medical debt because they qualify for government-supported programs like Medicare. From the right and left of the political establishment, we hear no end of fearmongering about “socialism” and how awful it would be if health care became a public benefit, like it is in many countries around the world. But the truth is that Americans on Medicare and Medicaid are much less likely to lay awake at night fearing that the next medical procedure will force them into bankruptcy or foreclosure. It’s time to rethink what obligations we owe to the young, what kind of promises we want to make to those who come after us, and how we intend to keep them.
Medical Debt and Bankruptcy:
The Insurance Hoax
Bankruptcy is often presumed to be the result of profligate living by consumers who overspent on luxury items. Don’t live beyond your means is common advice, as if personal responsibility is the only thing that matters in an economy that almost collapsed only 5 years ago. In fact, people are being forced into bankruptcy in America because they had the audacity to get sick without millions of dollars in the bank. Or, they believed their private health plan would protect them from the worst. By the time many realize that for-profit health care is a hoax, it’s too late. The crisis is gaining steam. Just 30 years ago, debtors rarely filed for bankruptcy as a result of a medical problem. Today, an astonishing 62% of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical debt.
The link between medical debt and bankruptcy also shatters the myth of personal responsibility that makes many of us feel as if we are to blame if we can’t afford basic needs. According to a report in the American Journal of Medicine, most people who declare bankruptcy as a result of medical debt had insurance at the time they incurred the debt (Himmelstein). Furthermore, the majority of medical debtors who declared bankruptcy attended college, owned their own home, and had middle-class jobs. They did everything “right,” yet they were still financially devastated when a member of their family got sick or had an accident.
You might think that a sharp uptick in the number of medical debtors filing for bankruptcy would prompt the government to step in. After all, no one chooses to go into medical debt. Yet, our delusional Congress assumed people were abusing the bankruptcy law when their lives were turned upside down by an unexpected medical expense. In 2005, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act which made it even more difficult for people to file for bankruptcy. During this same period, the number of under-insured grew from 15.6 million people to 25.2 million (Himmelstein).
To sum up the catastrophe: as a response to the rising cost of care and a growing number of Americans who cannot afford their medical bills, Congress responded by throwing up more barriers to bankruptcy. It’s not that bankruptcy is a real solution, since it does not address the fundamental economic conditions that pushed individuals to bankruptcy in the first place. The point is that our elected representatives are out of touch and out of time. They have little to offer us but moralizing and useless reforms. The only reasonable response is collective action to create a health care program that reimagines the meaning of care and puts people before profits.
Disappearing Public Hospitals
If you have ever needed medical care but didn’t have insurance, you most likely went to a public hospital or clinic. There are approximately 1,131 public hospitals in the US (Fraze). These institutions, which serve 75% more uninsured patients than their private counterparts, are a vital resource for low-income and uninsured patients. Yet, public hospitals are disappearing. Like public schools, they have been swept up in a wave of privatization: the public sector is being dismantled to create new profit streams for the superrich, most of whom have never been to the local communities from which they are siphoning wealth. If your public hospital seems disorganized and dilapidated, it is easy to assume that it is being mismanaged at the local level. Hospitals have also been caught up in the same global economic changes that are at the root of the rising cost of care and ballooning rates of medical debt.
Hospital privatization is sweeping the country, and states like New York and Louisiana are leading the way. In early 2013, Governor Cuomo announced a budget that would mark the beginning of the end of publicly-funded hospitals in New York state. He is seeking to close Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center and replace them with private versions (Frost). The property where the hospital sits is also being eyed by developers as a location for a luxury condominium (Lutz). Shuttering LICH is a significant step that has ramifications far beyond the fate of one institution. It would set a precedent for turning public hospitals over to the private sector, a move that Assemblywoman Joan Millman called “troubling” because private hospitals have a “fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders, not their patients.” In an era when tens of millions of patients are drowning in medical debt and the number of uninsured is on the rise, officials like Cuomo actually believe the solution is to eliminate those few institutions that serve people in need to create a new market for the global investor class.
There is no better example of a clueless official who seems to reside on a different planet from his constituents than Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal. In 2012, Jindal proposed funding cuts for the state’s health care programs to plug a $165.5 million budget gap. The impact on public hospitals will be disastrous, forcing them to reduce the care they provide to Medicaid patients and to those without insurance. Louisiana State University alone plans to lay off 1,495 hospital employees and cut services at seven hospitals across the state. Some buildings will simply be abandoned and left to rot (Shuler). Jindal is also planning to restructure the state’s health care system, turning several public hospitals over to the private sector. Private firms would receive public dollars to run hospitals whose first order of business is to earn returns for investors. Louisiana State Sen. Francis Thompson openly declared his opposition to the plan. “I’m afraid…we may get picked like a buzzard does a dead animal,” he said (Millhollon).
Thompson’s description is accurate. The public sector is a carcass being picked to the bone by private sector vultures. Privatization will deepen the debt crisis by forcing hospitals to focus on their credit rating, not patient care. As described below, credit rating agencies are already among the most powerful corporations in the world. Under threat of a reduced rating, hospitals will be under even more pressure to aggressively pursue medical debtors. They will also offer less care to low-income patients because the bond ratings of hospitals can be negatively impacted if hospitals provide too much charitable care. Yes, too much charitable care is a thing that exists in the world of Wall Street finance. When hospitals are privately financed, bond rating agencies determine our future (Zieger).
Another world is possible. Under a humane health care system, we would begin to ask which measures of success really matter. We would start with the big questions: what does it mean to live a healthy life and how do we get there together? But under Wall Street’s influence, hospitals are analyzed according to financial metrics, such as debt per bed and local market competition. The threat of lower bond ratings forces hospitals to hire Wall Street consultants, to cut back on purchases of medical equipment, to postpone the hiring of medical personnel, and to lay off staff. Indeed, in New York City, an investment banker named Stephen Berger has been recruited to drive the nails into the coffins of community hospitals in order to create more opportunities for Wall Street to make money (Benson). Debt starts a vicious cycle that keeps a hospital from focusing on patients. This is a kind of madness, a nightmare from which we must finally awaken.
The Debt Spiral
The madness extends beyond the walls of the hospital. Our cities and towns are being sucked dry by Wall Street and by global investors who demand a profit at any cost. In many cases, hospitals are responding to the crisis by aggressively trying to extract money from patients. It starts before patients even leave the hospital. In 2012, the Minnesota Attorney General began an investigation of Accretive Health, one the largest medical debt collection firms in the country. Documents reveal that debt collectors were allowed into hospitals where they were indistinguishable from regular hospital staff. According to the New York Times, such collectors routinely demand [that patients] pay outstanding bills and may discourage them from seeking emergency care at all.” This is a violation of a federal law requiring hospitals to provide care to anyone who needs it. In Minnesota, the mother of a child who needed surgery reported that collectors hounded her for payment before her son received care. She did not know the agents who approached her were debt collectors. “You really feel hoodwinked,” she said. These collection tactics are becoming business-as-usual. A for-profit health care system means health care is a luxury enjoyed by those who can afford it. The rest of us must beg, borrow, and endure harassment to get the services we deserve.
The debt spiral doesn’t stop with medical debt. Once the bills pile up, studies show that people borrow even more to make ends meet. As described
in the Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual, people who can’t afford medical care turn to credit cards, the so-called “plastic safety net,” to pay for daily necessities (Zandt). Thus, credit card debt, often assumed to be the result of overspending by impulsive shoppers, is actually inseparable from our for-profit health care system. Insurance companies and investors make a killing by withholding care, then credit card companies clean us out a second time by charging usurious interest rates and adding late fees to our accounts when we cannot pay. A report by the public policy group Demos, “Borrowing to Stay Healthy,” reports that
Twenty-nine percent of low- and middle-income households with credit card debt reported that medical expenses contributed to their current level of credit card debt.
Reports like these illustrate the circular logic of the debt spiral. When people can’t pay doctor bills, they often turn to other forms of credit, which compounds the problem. Because health insurance is tied to employment, a serious medical condition can limit a person’s ability to work, earn income, and remain on a health plan. Get sick. Can’t work. Lose health care. Go into debt. Take on more debt. When medical debt leads to consumer debt, it can cause dire consequences. Health Affairs researchers Robert W. Seifert and Mark Rukavina
People with medical debt are often subject to legal judgments, wage garnishment, attachment of assets including bank accounts, or liens on their homes, which can lead to foreclosure.
It might be surprising that many medical debtors own their own homes. In fact, people with medical debt and those without have equal rates of home ownership. But there is one important difference: those with medical debt are more likely to use their homes as collateral for loans or take out a second mortgage to pay the bills. There is no better barometer of our time than the fact that owning a home pushes us deeper into the debt trap. The capitalist dream has led us down a dark path. The future has been gambled away. Millions have tapped into retirement funds to pay medical debt (Garcia). The debt spiral—from medical debt to consumer debt to foreclosure and a dwindling retirement account—shatters the myth of personal responsibility. Debt is a rigged system of overlapping and mutually reinforcing types. For many, there is no exit.
The Shame of Debt
To be in debt is a shameful thing. Most of us have been made to feel like our debts are our fault, even though one in seven adults in the US is currently being pursued by a debt collector and more and more of us are in debt for basic necessities like housing, education, and health care. Medical debt is a source of shame that affects people’s overall health.
It’s quite simple, really. When people can’t afford to see a doctor, they don’t. Patients who can’t afford to pay—or who have accrued medical debt—are less likely to seek out care because they are ashamed about their debt and don’t want to end up owing more (“Consequences”). This ultimately leads to more health problems and increases the costs of care. A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that
Over two-thirds of those who either had a current medical debt or had been referred to a collection agency reported that it caused them to seek alternative sites of care or to delay or avoid seeking subsequent care when needed.
When Republicans in Congress invented a boogeyman called “death panels” during the 2008 presidential campaign, they weren’t talking about the for-profit health care industry. But they should have been. One report showed that 45% of medical debtors put off necessary care to avoid debt (Garcia). The US health care system is making people sick and keeping them that way because illness is profitable (Jacoby). Is that the kind of health care system we want? Is that the kind of world we want?
Medical Debt and the Dystopian Nightmare of Credit Scoring
If you’re wondering why you have a low credit score or why you never seem to qualify for the lowest interest rates on home, car, or other loans, the problem may be medical debt. This is true even if you paid an overdue medical bill. The Federal Reserve has shown that more than half of all collection accounts that negatively impact credit reports are medical debt (Avery). This is a result of the fact that health care costs are on the rise and tens of millions are uninsured. But it is also because medical debt is treated differently from other kinds of debt. Private health insurance reimbursement is incredibly cumbersome. Different benefits are often covered by different companies and at different rates, leading to a lengthy, circuitous billing process that often leaves patients holding the bag. If you have ever received a medical bill that you didn’t understand or that you thought your insurance was supposed to cover, you have been caught up in this Kafkaesque system. If you have ever received a letter from a health care provider stamped with the notice “This Is Not A Bill,” or if you have signed a form at a doctor’s office promising to pay anything your insurance fails to cover, you have been an unwitting victim in the tangled web of medical billing, an industry that thrives on patient and health care provider confusion. According to Rukavina,
One study found that nearly one-third of respondents let a medical bill go to a collection agency because they did not understand the bill or explanation of benefits statement. Another study estimated 14 million American adults said that a medical bill was sent to a collection agency because of a billing mistake.
Confusion is the grease that keeps the wheels of the medical collections industry turning. It’s hard not to think that billing “mistakes” may not be mistakes at all but part of an intentional strategy to keep patients in the dark and in the red. In addition to patient confusion, medical debt is more likely to end up in collection because hospitals routinely sell medical debt to debt collectors after 60-90 days of nonpayment, far less than the customary 180 days for other kinds of debt. Health care providers rarely report paid medical bills to the credit reporting agencies. So, even if you are billed in error, your health care provider may send your bill to a collection agency before you can dispute the charge (Bernard). Once in default, a medical debt stays on a credit report for up to 7 years, even if you pay the bill. Research by the Commonwealth Fund shows that, in 2010, 9.2 million people wound up in default on a medical bill because of a billing mistake (“Help”).
These mistakes have serious consequences. According to evidence obtained by the Access Project, a single paid medical bill can lower a consumer credit score by as many as 80 points. That means you will pay a higher interest rate for almost anything else you want to buy on credit, including a home or a car. The fact that a relatively small medical bill can end up costing thousands in interest charges down the line demonstrates the obscene power of the credit rating agencies. Consumer protection attorney Robert Nahoum told Strike Debt:
I’ve never seen three companies with more power over the American consumer than the top three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. There’s very little consumers can do.
If patients are powerless, so are many health care providers. It’s important to note that your doctor may be just as confused as you are. Strike Debt has talked to health care workers around the country, and they tell us that they are as frustrated as patients when it comes to medical billing. Why do insurance companies and ratings agencies have so much power over our lives? Why do we live in such perpetual confusion? These questions are important to ask when we think of what it means to be healthy and what kind of economy we need to sustain life.
We might also ask why our elected officials don’t put a stop to predatory medical billing and curb the power of the ratings agencies. The Medical Debt Relief Act attempts to prohibit credit reporting agencies from listing medical debts on credit scores. Yet, even this minor reform has little chance of passing because the credit rating agencies and insurance companies are a powerful lobby in Washington. And even if the MDRA were to make it through the Senate, it only applies to paid medical bills. As usual, Congress lacks the political will to challenge the power structure that puts people in debt and keeps them that way. Debt is a tool of capitalist exploitation, and we can’t eliminate the debt without rethinking the larger economic system.
Indeed, the evidence actually indicates that if we don’t act things will get worse for patients and debtors before they get better. FICO has begun developing
a special ratings system to rank potential patients on how likely they are to pay their medical bills (Gipson). Like having a bar code tattooed on your forehead, we could be looking at a brave new world in which your credit rating determines not only whether you can obtain a credit card but whether you receive medical care when you get sick.
Who Profits from Medical Debt?
No one disputes that our health care system is for profit. But whose profit? Patients are certainly losing the health care battle. “There’s a tendency to attribute [the high cost of care] to minorities or those with severe health problems,” Matthias Rumpf of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has explained. Actually, the evidence shows that
Even Americans with health insurance and those who have the highest education and income levels fall behind their counterparts in other parts of the world (McHaney).
It is clear that insurance companies, global investors, and credit ratings agencies are reaping a massive windfall. Profiteers are descending on the health care industry from all corners of the finance world. One of the largest and most profitable health care providers, HCA, runs 163 hospitals across the country. The company is also under investigation by the Justice Department for defrauding Medicare by performing unnecessary heart surgeries on unwitting patients (Koleva). And, this year, HCA was ordered to pay a $162 million fine for failing to make agreed-upon repairs to run-down hospitals in Missouri as well as for reneging on a promise to provide charity care to low-income patients.
Who is profiting from this criminal activity? HCA, which was founded by former Senate majority leader Bill Frist’s family, is primarily owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney. Bain investors are not turned off in the least by how HCA treats patients. In fact, according to the New York Times,
The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall (Creswell and Abelson).
In a private health care system, nothing—not fraud or patient abuse or crumbling buildings—interferes with the relentless drive for corporate profit. In fact, the same private equity firms that control many hospitals also have a stake in debt collections companies. This means that companies like Bain Capital that own the hospital networks that put us into debt also invest in many of the firms that try to collect that debt from us. Once the web is spun, there’s no way the 1% can lose. Most of us are focused on daily life: trying to earn enough to put food on the table and care for the people we love. We lay awake at night worrying about a sick child and pray our insurance policies will protect us if tragedy strikes. Wall Street knows that few people have the luxury of paying attention to what’s really going on in their boardrooms. That is why it is more important than ever to change the conversation about medical debt and our for-profit health care system.
Won’t Obama’s Affordable Care Act Reduce Medical Debt?The fact that many liberals greeted the passage of the Obama administration’s health reform law with such delight is downright shocking when we consider its glaring inadequacies. In 2014, states will be required to create exchanges in which people can purchase private insurance. But, as PNHP physician Margaret Flowers has explained, the majority of these plans will not offer full coverage. And people who purchase insurance through an exchange will end up with plans that cover 70% or less of the cost of health care. Since even a short hospital stay can cost tens of thousands of dollars, the math is not on the side of people who don’t already have huge bank accounts. Insurance companies profit by denying coverage. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that strategy will be codified into law. Insurance companies will also gain access to a whole new market for their products while offering worthless umbrellas in return.
It gets worse. The federal subsidy that is supposed to help people purchase health insurance under the new law only applies to individuals, not families. So, depending on your income level, if you want to purchase coverage through an exchange, you’ll be left with two options: pay market rate for private insurance or go without. The people who will benefit from an expansion of our market-based insurance system are not patients. Instead, the 1%, who already control the profit-driven health care system, will get a payout every time the rest of us see a doctor. Most appalling, however, is that more than 20 million people will not be covered under the new law (Babcock).
It makes no sense to expand a failed market and demand that people participate in it, especially when we already have evidence that such reforms don’t work. In Massachusetts, for example, health care reform did not stem the tide of bankruptcies linked to medical debt (Himmelstein, “Medical”). There is simply little evidence that the ACA will do much beyond worsening an already grave labor crisis. Reports are emerging that employers, especially colleges and universities, are planning to cut employees’ hours in order to avoid offering health benefits under the ACA (Zorn).
Considering what we know, the fact that many treated the passage of the ACA as a progressive victory seems like magical thinking. As Flowers noted, public relations and marketing expenses account for more than one-third of the cost of care. Even the deficit-crazed political establishment seems to be suffering from willful blindness. According to the Washington Post, if we had the per-person health costs of France or Germany, two countries with publically-funded health care, “America’s deficits would vanish” (Klein). It’s time to follow the money and it’s time to get real. According to research conducted by Physicians for a National Health Program, a single-payer system could save $400 billion per year. Yet politicians focused on deficit reduction would scoff at the suggestion that we publicly fund health care in America.
Life or Debt?
For-profit health care kills. In 2007, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a twelve-year-old boy named Deamonte Driver died from a toothache. He had an infection, but his mother could not afford to take him to a dentist (Otto). Deamonte lost his life because he did not receive antibiotics that would have cost $80. This is the world we live in today. What kind of world do we want? Universal, single-payer medical care would be a short-term step in the right direction. But it’s not the ultimate solution. State-financed care would give us, above all, a chance to take a step back from the relentless bills and the anxiety that comes from not knowing if we’ll be able to afford to care for ourselves and our loved ones. It would give us a chance to ask if there are really only two choices: private or public, corporate or federal. It would give us, at long last, what we really need: the freedom to ask larger questions about the meaning of health and how we can work together to provide it to ourselves, to our families, and to those who come after us. We have a difficult road ahead. But there is no doubt that the private insurance industry is wholly inadequate to the task. Our lives are in jeopardy because medical care in the US is a profit-making enterprise that enriches the few at the expense of the rest of us. Reform won’t do in the long run. Politicians do not have the will to take the necessary steps. As Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of PNHP makes clear,
It’s not your fault if you’re in debt and it’s particularly not your fault if you’re in debt because of a medical problem. This is unfair. No other developed nation forces people to go into debt because they get sick (“Time To End”).
The situation we face is not our fault, but it’s our job to take a stand together. The only real solution is a bottom-up, grassroots movement that puts people before profits. It will not be given to us by benefactors or by politicians who depend on Wall Street funding for reelection. It’s up to us. The time is now. It’s life or debt.
The Affordable Care Act builds in this advanced directives into its managed care and sees it as addressing cost of health care----now, remember, cost of health care in the US is health industry profiteering and corporate fraud----not patients accessing too much care. The costs a patient accumulates in an emergency crisis may look expensive on paper---but not be as costly as hospitals presume. Look at the considerations in this article of extraordinary care that may need to be written out in a Living Will to see---most are not costly. Families avoid to the end writing these wills because a person does not know what they want until they are in these crisis events. When a hospital requires as they do in Baltimore and Maryland that every patient has a Living Will----it is done strictly to make families consider cost and debt.
GLOBAL POLS ARE TRYING TO CHANGE A DOCTOR'S DIRECTIVE TO KEEP PEOPLE ALIVE----THAT BEING CONSIDERED DO NO HARM----TO THAT OF PATIENT CHOICE----CHOICE BEING SHADOWED BY HEALTH CARE COSTS.
People with chronic illness are particularly susceptible to wanting to 'give up' in the heat of a bad moment when working through these times often leads to years more of quality of life.
Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions
Living wills and advance directives describe your preferences for end-of-life care. These documents speak for you when you're not able to speak for yourself.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Living wills and other advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you're terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.
By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf.
Advance directives aren't just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it's important for all adults to prepare these documents.
Power of attorneyA medical or health care power of attorney is a type of advance directive in which you name a person to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. In some states this directive may also be called a durable power of attorney for health care or a health care proxy.
The person you name may be a spouse, other family member, friend or member of a faith community. You may also choose one or more alternates in case the person you chose is unable to fulfill his or her role.
Depending on where you live, the person you choose to make decisions may be called one of the following:
A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as other decisions such as pain management or organ donation.
In determining your wishes, think about your values, such as the importance to you of being independent and self-sufficient, and what you feel would make your life not worth living. Would you want treatment to extend life in any situation? Would you want treatment only if a cure is possible?
Have discussions with your primary care doctor, your health care agent, family and friends about your personal wishes. Resources for organizing your own thoughts and having conversations with others about medical care and end-of-life care are available through the American Bar Association, the Conversation Project and the Center for Practical Bioethics.
You should address a number of possible end-of-life care decisions in your living will. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about any of these issues:
You don't need to have an advance directive or living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders. You can make your preferences known to your physician, who can write the orders and put them in your medical record.
If you have a living will, however, be sure to mention it it whether you have a DNR or DNI order on file.
I will look this week as well on the breakdown of oversight and accountability in medical research on medical devices and PHARMA that soared under Obama and Clinton neo-liberals as they super-sized funding to build corporate university patent mills tied to global health corporations. At the same time they are privatizing our system of universities that acted to hold power accountable by providing data that is public interest----they are subpriming all Federal laws designed to move new products and PHARMA through a vetting process before being released to the public. Now, global pols are making the American public the vetting process. In Baltimore if we are not seeing advertisements for tons of new PHARMA and devices---we are seeing these same medical products two years later in class action lawsuits for harming and killing people. THIS RARELY HAPPENED THROUGHOUT MODERN HISTORY IN THE US BECAUSE WELL-MANAGED CLINICAL TRIALS DETERMINED IF AND WHEN A PRODUCT WAS SAFE FOR THE PUBLIC.
Below you see just one of these cases-----each time I see the advertisement----I could go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea and come back and this ad would still be listing disclaimers as to how it can harm people. It also thanks THE CLINICAL TRIAL participants.....indicating a single clinical trial occurred and corporate data says it's OK to release.
THE US IS IN CRISIS OVER THE DANGEROUS EFFECTS OF THESE MEDICAL PRODUCTS ALL DUE TO DISMANTLING REGULATIONS AND OVERSIGHT.
Do you know that access to cancer treatment has been lost to most people and especially stage 4 cancer treatment---what do you want to bet the poorest will be allowed this option the first few years of this new brand name? You know---the clinical trial.
Generic Name: nivolumab (nye VOL ue mab)
Brand Names: Opdivo
What is Opdivo?
Opdivo (nivolumab) is a cancer medicine that works with your immune system to interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Opdivo is used to treat a certain type of melanoma (skin cancer) that cannot be treated with surgery, or that has spread to other parts of the body. Nivolumab was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on an "accelerated" basis. In clinical studies, nivolumab produced complete or partial response. However, further studies are needed to determine if this medicine can lengthen survival time in people with melanoma.
Opdivo is also used to treat a certain type of non-small cell lung cancer. Nivolumab may increase the chance of a longer survival time in people with this type of lung cancer.
Opdivo is used only if your tumor has a specific genetic marker that your doctor will test for.
Opdivo is given alone or in combination with other cancer medicines. Nivolumab is sometimes given after other medicines have been tried without success.
Important informationOpdivo can cause side effects that may cause symptoms in many different parts of your body. Some side effects may need to be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed. You will need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine if it is safe for you to keep receiving Opdivo.
Slideshow: Clearing The Air: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Options For Lung Cancer
Before taking this medicine
You should not use Opdivo if you are allergic to nivolumab.
To make sure Opdivo is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
It is not known whether nivolumab passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Obama and Clinton neo-liberals joined Republicans in making our Federal Medicare and Medicaid Trusts about accessing preventative care keeping people from accessing hospital care with higher costs and overnight stays. As a result we are seeing tons of advertisements for every kind of medical device that may help quality of life issues----back and knee braces to every kind of walker----marketing these as Medicare ------spending huge blocks of Medicare Trust on these items that often are replaced every few years. There is where Medicare is going as seniors are being denied vital care and PHARMA -----but the corporations selling those devices are earning billions from Medicare.
Medical Equipment Suppliers and MedicareGeneral information about U.S. medical equipment suppliers
According to industry analysts, the U.S. medical equipment and supplies manufacturing industry includes about 11,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $85 billion. Major companies include Baxter International, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. The industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies account for about 60 percent of revenue.
Medical equipment and supplies cover a vast range of tools and products for hospitals, health care facilities and homes. This includes monitoring systems, glucose meters, pumps, thermometers, syringes, blood processing devices, specialty bags, wound care, wheelchairs (electric, lightweight or standard), commodes, walkers, mobility ramps, bath benches, along with such medical supplies as catheters, adult diapers and latex gloves.
With an aging global population and rising life expectancy, demand for medical equipment and services is set to rise. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, in 2000, the number of people age 65 and older was 35 million. This figure is forecast to rise to 54 million by 2020 and to 86 million by 2050. That's a 146 percent increase in the elderly portion of the U.S. population from 2000 to 2050.
Medicare coverage for medical equipment and suppliesMedicare will cover certain types of medical equipment. In order to be covered by Medicare, medical equipment must be:
Medicare also covers prosthetics, orthotics and certain supplies. Prosthetics are devices that can replace a missing body part, such as a hand or leg. Orthotics may include braces that help to support or correct the malfunction of a limb or torso.
What's not covered by Medicare?In most cases, Medicare does not cover medical supplies, like catheters, that are generally used and thrown away. However, Medicare will cover certain medical supplies, like lancets and test strips for diabetes. Some diabetes supplies are also covered under Medicare Part D. Furthermore, if you qualify for Medicare home health care, Medicare may cover certain disposable supplies, such as intravenous supplies, gauze or catheters.
Your costs for medical equipment and suppliesHow much you pay for medical equipment and supplies depends on whether you have Medicare Part B coverage and where you buy your equipment. In general, if you are enrolled in Medicare Part B, you will pay 20 percent of the approved Medicare amount after you have met your yearly deductible (if you do not have secondary insurance). You may owe little to nothing if you receive coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan. Review all the factors that affect how much coverage you will receive. Make sure all paperwork is completed correctly and that you buy your equipment through a Medicare-approved supplier that "accepts assignment," meaning they agree to accept no more than the Medicare-approved amount for a service.
How to choose your medical equipment supplierYou will save money if you order your items from a Medicare-approved provider. Suppliers must meet strict standards to qualify as a Medicare supplier and will have a Medicare supplier number. You may also buy your equipment from any store that sells it. However, if the supplier from which you order is not enrolled in Medicare, Medicare will not pay for the durable medical equipment.
There are two types of Medicare suppliers: participating suppliers and those who are enrolled, but have chosen not to participate. A Medicare-approved provider who does not want to participate can charge more than the Medicare-approved amount. However, they cannot charge more than 15 percent above the approved rate. They may also ask you to pay the entire bill when you pick up your order. In this situation, Medicare will send the reimbursement directly to you. However, be prepared to wait, as it may take a couple months to receive payment. If you receive your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan (HMO or PPO), it is likely that the plan will have its own rules for equipment purchases.
I do want to spend this weekend talking about the Baltimore CITY Hall and Maryland Assembly pols that make all this injustice and illegal activity possible. The next phase for me with my homeless disabled friend is the network of yet again non-profits filled with private lawyers tied to these same agencies for the homeless. The first thing you are asked---are you his caseworker--we only talk with caseworkers. If that is the legal problem---you see already the system makes sure there is no access to accountability. I did at least get one pro-bond lawyer to admit that the entire Baltimore system was guilty of mass gross criminal negligence.
Below you see two articles showing the circumvention of Federal laws especially with HUD funds. HUD specifically places the disabled at the top of the list for housing----Baltimore uses a lottery that ignores these laws. Below that you see Baltimore using HUD money specifically to move poor out of the city and as the article states uses far more HUD funds placing Baltimore's poor into communities where research shows they do not integrate or get the services they need and often simply abandon those housing deals coming back to the city. HUD does not allow Federal funding to be used in ways that waste what could house 3 people safely in their own communities...this is why they say they are 'changing the rules'.
FOR CITIZENS IN BALTIMORE WANTING TO GET RID OF CONCENTRATED POVERTY---TO GENTRIFY CITY CENTER TO CAN BE DONE JUSTLY. BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT MASTER PLAN WILL MOVE THE MIDDLE-CLASS AND AFFLUENT OUT TOO----SO YOU WILL BE NEXT.
If this relocation came with the wrap-around services they claim as the poor are moved to middle-class neighborhoods it might serve to stabilize. Guess where most of these more affluent neighborhoods are that this Section 8 program targets----black middle-class communities that are now having property devalue taking the brunt of this relocation.
Lottery wait list time unknown for Section 8 housing in Baltimore
25,000 people receive preliminary approval
UPDATED 5:47 PM EDT Oct 16, 2015
BALTIMORE --Last October, the Baltimore City Housing Authority did something it hadn't done in more than a decade. It opened up applications for low-income families to receive rental assistance, and 25,000 people got preliminary approval. But when will they actually get help?
"Not only will they have to fork out more money," Barley said, "but neighborhoods are going to complain about poor people coming in."
HUD considers change to Section 8 rents
Workers renovate low-income, Section 8 housing on East 23rd Street a few years ago.
(ALGERINA PERNA / Baltimore Sun)
Natalie ShermanContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
HUD considers change to Section 8 rents that could upend rental marketThe federal government is considering an overhaul of its subsidized housing program that would change the way it determines rent limits from a one-size-fits-all approach for metro areas to a more localized approach that could allow more people to move to Baltimore's suburbs.
The proposal is designed to allow people to use Section 8 vouchers — known as Housing Choice Vouchers -- for apartments in areas that are currently too expensive, offering families a better chance at the lifelong benefits that come from growing up in more stable neighborhoods with less crime, lower poverty rates and better schools.
The change could have broad implications for the Baltimore region's rental market and for poor families in the city, where at least one recent study found a child's chance of escaping poverty is the worst in the country.
"It would be awesome because of course people want their kids to be in a safer neighborhood, a nicer neighborhood with better schools," said Cynthia Barley, 50, a voucher recipient who is disabled and pays about $130 a month toward the $1,088 rent her landlord charges for a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
Housing advocates welcomed the possible change, calling it long overdue, but some officials voiced concern about its unintended consequences for the city and others said it could disrupt otherwise stable neighborhoods in the counties. Voucher holders represent about 7 percent of the region's renters and 9 percent in the city, according to a recent Baltimore Metropolitan Council report.
Thousands sign up as city's Section 8 wait list opens for first time in a decade "This is nothing more than a big push to try to spread government-subsidized rentals in all the areas of the county," said Del. Patrick L. McDonough, a Republican who represents Baltimore and Harford counties. "I think it's going to turn out to be a big issue. ... I'll fight it in any way I can."
Under the current system, voucher holders typically pay about 30 percent of their incomes in rent, with the voucher covering the difference, up to a HUD-determined limit that supposedly reflects market prices in a metro area.
HUD could change to a ZIP code-based approach by 2017; the department started seeking comments on it this month, said Kathy O'Regan, HUD assistant secretary for policy development and research.
Shortage of housing for poorest families grows Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, a Washington-based civil rights policy organization, said he expects HUD to implement the change, even if it generates some pushback.
"This administration at HUD is not afraid to do reform. The question is how quickly they'll get the rule out and when it will go into effect," he said. "It's not an imminent change but it's a really important policy shift."
Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano worried about the potential effect on the city. Lower rent limits could discourage badly needed investment in vacancy-plagued areas or force voucher holders who wish to remain in the same neighborhoods into lower-quality units, he said. If average subsidies increase, fewer people might be able to participate.
"We're not attacking this thing. We understand the goal of expanding areas of opportunity on the one hand," Graziano said. "But we're very concerned about the impact in the city on the other hand and, again, we just think that it needs a lot more scrutiny and a lot more analysis."
HUD began using the ZIP code system in Dallas in 2010 after a lawsuit that argued that metro-wide voucher rent limits steered recipients to slums, contributing to racial segregation and limiting families' ability to find housing in better neighborhoods.
In Dallas, the switch has already prompted some families to move into better areas, while the program's cost remained neutral because the rent increases as families moved to better neighborhoods were made up for by reduced payments to landlords elsewhere, O'Regan said.
Among the Baltimore region's roughly 25,000 voucher holders, more than 60 percent — or about 14,664 households — live in areas deemed "low opportunity," based on measures including education, poverty and crime, according to a report issued last year by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
A recent study led by Harvard University economists found that for children under 13 whose families moved to better neighborhoods, each year made a difference in terms of higher annual incomes in their 20s and increased college attendance rates. Their research found separately that of 100 metro areas in the United States, children in Baltimore have the lowest chances of escaping poverty.
Stefanie DeLuca, a professor of sociology at the Johns Hopkins University, who has examined the ways neighborhoods affect family outcomes, said the change will go a long way toward expanding opportunity for families in these neighborhoods.
"In many ways," she said, "this change is a no-brainer."
Shonda Billings, 34, is less persuaded that the change will help families.
Accepted into the Section 8 program in 2014 after more than a decade on the waitlist, she found a two-bedroom place in Hamilton Hills for herself and her two children for $855 a month, calling it a big step up from Park Heights, where she rented before.
If the program encourages people to move to more expensive neighborhoods, she said, their other costs could rise.
"That defeats the purpose," she said. "To me, I really think they're trying to push minorities out of the city and bring the majority back in."
To have the desired effect, DeLuca and others said, any change would have to be accompanied by counseling for families about the opportunities in other areas and outreach — or legal action — to change the minds of landlords now unwilling to accept tenants from the program.
Even then, minimal public transport and the scarcity of social networks in outlying areas might sustain the appeal of traditional neighborhoods, said Richard Hall, who served as state planning secretary under former Gov. Martin O'Malley and is now executive director of Citizens Planning & Housing Association Inc. Still, he said, taking a more targeted approach "makes sense."
The ZIP code approach builds on efforts underway in Baltimore, thanks to a lawsuit filed against HUD in 1995. That suit led to the establishment of a Baltimore-area mobility program that allows vouchers to be used for apartments with higher rents if they're located in higher-opportunity areas.
HUD's proposed change goes further by reducing the rent limit for some areas.
Jack BeVier, a partner at The Dominion Group, which rents to about 500 voucher holders in Baltimore and performs rehabs, said reducing voucher payments could discourage investment in low-rent, high-poverty areas.
Graziano shares that concern and expects to seek changes to the formula for the new rates proposed by HUD — many of which are below current levels in the city.
"We're going to look at it a lot more closely, but the preliminary [signs] are that it would really dramatically undermine what we're doing and severely limit people's housing choice and reduce the quality of the housing they would end up with," he said.
If many people used the vouchers for more expensive areas, it also could reduce the total number of recipients — a blow for a city where nearly 74,000 people applied last fall for a spot on the waiting list.
On the other hand, if the average subsidy declined, more people might have access to assistance.
Eva Rosen, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, who lived in Park Heights and researched landlords in the Section 8 program, said many Baltimore property owners seek voucher tenants, for whom they know the government will guarantee the majority of the rental payment at a premium rate.
Tailoring rents to local markets could reduce the incentive to steer voucher recipients to units in lower-rent areas and potentially reduce housing costs, even for people who don't have vouchers, she said.
"If it works the way it's supposed to … then the fair-market rents in poor neighborhoods will go down and fair-market rents in wealthy neighborhoods will go up," she said.
County leaders said they are reviewing the proposal to see what effects it might have.
"These new guidelines could provide increased housing opportunities for families and individuals to give them better access to education, transportation and job opportunities," said Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Clifton Martin, CEO of the Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County, said the idea has merit and he expects it to be implemented, but he worries it could make the program more difficult to administer, more complicated for tenants looking for properties and more opaque for landlords. It also may reduce the number of voucher holders since rent limits increase in Anne Arundel, he said.
Even those who stand to benefit recognize HUD's proposal could spark opposition.
"Not only will they have to fork out more money," Barley said, "but neighborhoods are going to complain about poor people coming in."
Everyone will be killed by the ending of NEW DEAL and War on Poverty. These social policies protected small businesses and local economies---access to food and food quality----environmental justice----worker's rights and wages. By large these policies protected families and by extension WOMEN AND CHILDREN. It was the Women's movement in the 1960-70s that won the protection for families in poverty----for health and welfare and safety nets for seniors and the disabled.
WOMEN ARE THE BACKBONE OF FAMILY AND AN ATTACK ON NEW DEAL AND WAR ON POVERTY IS AN ATTACK ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
Many of the pols leading this systemic corporate fraud are women----many of the leaders of justice organizations----of health and education telling me to go away ARE WOMEN. So, as I have shouted before by educating the difference between Hillary global corporate wealth and power feminism with its idea that civil rights for women is not equal rights---but the right of an individual to become rich.
THAT IS WHAT MARYLAND'S WOMEN ORGANIZATION LEADERS ARE TIED TO. THIS IS WHY WOMEN ARE NOT OUT EN MASSE OVER THE INJUSTICES IN BALTIMORE.
You can tell a Hillary global corporate group because they are almost only backing reproductive and GBLT rights.....not that this is not a good thing. These two issues are the NEW HUMAN RIGHTS----one's that are not tied to social welfare.
The group below may very well have people at the grassroots level wanting women's rights. The leadership promotes Hillary and neo-liberal NEW CIVIL RIGHTS. Unfortunately, they are mentoring and training women candidates to run in Democratic elections in Maryland all using the same global market----innovation/startup/public private partnership policy saying nothing about the dismantling of all New Deal/War on Poverty programs. NEVER HEAR IT IN MARYLAND----WOMEN LEAD IN THESE ISSUES.
Maryland Women’s Legislative Caucus: The First in the Nation
Author: Jill Moss Greenberg 1 February 2012 The Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly, Inc. celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year. Established in 1972, “to foster cooperation among women holding state legislative office and to increase the participation of women in politics.” our Maryland Women’s Caucus was the first of any state in the nation. The founders and members of the Women’s Caucus have earned our congratulations and appreciation.
The Caucus was founded at a time when it was difficult for women to obtain legislative leadership roles, despite being elected by their constituents in the same way as the male legislators, and despite similar years of service in the legislature. The newly issued history of the Caucus notes that, as of the early 1970s, women were completely shut out of key positions in both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates.
After numerous complaints from women legislators, women’s commissions and other women’s organizations, then Speaker of the House, Thomas Hunter Lowe, decided to appoint the first woman chair of a House committee. In front of the assembled delegates, Speaker Lowe announced that he was appointing the first woman chair, Delegate Pauline Menes of Prince George’s County, as Chair of the Ladies Restroom! To add insult to injury, he proceeded to present Delegate Menes with a fur-covered toilet seat as a symbol of her new “leadership” position. Menes managed to turn this around by stating that, since she was now a chairperson, she assumed she would be included in the Speakers’ leadership meetings. After she attended the first House leadership meeting following her appointment, she was notified by Speaker Lowe that she was not to continue to attend—because the men were uncomfortable having a woman present!
Moved to action by this lack of inclusion of women in state-level legislative leadership roles, a shortage of women in other elective offices statewide, and significant disparities in the number of women appointed to Boards and Commissions at local, county, city, and state levels, the Women’s Caucus was established in 1972. Twelve women legislators were among the pioneering founders: Senators Rosalie Silber Abrams, Mary L. Nock, Margaret C. Schweinhaut, and Verda Welcome, and Delegates Hildagardeis Boswell, Ann R. Hull, Helen L. Koss, Lena K. Lee, Lucille S. Maurer, Pauline H. Menes, Margaret A. Murphy, and Loretta Nimmerrichter. Today, the Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly has fifty-eight members and is 31 percent of the Maryland General Assembly.
The mission of the Caucus is: To improve public policy that affects women’s lives and increase the number of women elected and appointed to public office in Maryland. The Caucus continues its important mandate: to research and develop legislation assisting women; to encourage the greater participation of women in Maryland government; and to communicate and cooperate with other women’s organizations.
In 1985, the Women’s Caucus joined with the Maryland Black Caucus for the first time “in a successful effort to increase funding for programs dealing with teenage pregnancy, maternal health, and infant mortality. Also in 1985, the Caucus joined with the Maryland Commission for Women to establish the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, now housed at the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center in Baltimore.
During the four decades since its founding, the Caucus has provided leadership in significant legislative priorities, including many of particular relevance to women. The women’s issues should sound familiar to all of us: centers for displaced homemakers, rape law reform, protection for battered spouses, property rights, pension and insurance equity, and strengthening the Maryland Human Rights Commission. Economic well-being, health care services including developmental disabilities, child care, juvenile services, prison reform, employment practices and pay equity, family violence and sexual offense legislation, and human trafficking were some of the issues that have been—and continue to be—addressed. These women have been dedicated, strong and tireless in their commitment to better the lives of women and girls throughout the State of Maryland. Their efforts, in turn, have improved the lives of every family and community in our state.
To Delegate Susan C. Lee, current Caucus President, to Marsha Wise, Executive Director, and to all of the members—past and present—of the Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly: we send hearty congratulations and profound thanks for a job well done and for what we know you will achieve this year and in the future to address ongoing and emerging issues of importance to all Marylanders.
Please access the Caucus’ website for additional information on this incredible group of women and their work: www.WomenLegislatorsMD.org
Jamal Bryant is known to be Mayor Rawlings-Blake's right hand man----he is a young Al Sharpton who even in the 1970s civil rights movement was called a 'poser and self-promoter' -----everyone knew Sharpton was a Wall Street tool. He made himself the voice all over the nation taking the spotlight from local black leaders as happens in Baltimore with this Jamal Bryant. His voice is heard because Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins knows he will not use his voice against THE GORILLAS IN THE ROOM. Then we see these very 15 black ministers tied to the corruption and policies killing Baltimore communities receiving funds for a youth center----controlling the mentoring of youth. This is Clinton/Obama neo-liberalism controlling black churches just as Hillary is controlling our women's organizations. WE THE PEOPLE----MAKING UP OVER 80% OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY---MUST STOP ALLOWING THESE NEO-LIBERALS CAPTURE VITAL SOCIETAL STRUCTURES----INCLUDING BLACK CHURCHES.
Most of the funding pouring into Baltimore after these riots are going to the same crony structures operating in all of the fraud and corruption creating the injustice in our social services as with my homeless friend. When these leaders come out every election to support the most crony of politicians----then being the ones receiving all the funding for youth mentoring ----neo-liberals are grabbing into the next generation ----- It is critical for social Democrats to build outreach to youth at every level-----universities are being filled with the Clinton Initiative especially here in Baltimore----as is happening in the black communities. These are the target populations Clinton/Obama neo-liberals are desperate to control.
Freddie Gray youth center, mentors aim to protect Baltimore children this summer
$1.1M youth center, hundreds of mentors among efforts to protect Baltimore's children.When April Hopps' son, Jordan, graduated from high school, he left Baltimore. He had grown up, she said, believing the city "didn't have anything for him."
Hopps is proud of her now 21-year-old son's accomplishments — getting into college in Miami, completing an internship with a major sports network — but she wants to make her hometown a better place for youngsters to grow up.
As the city, state and other groups spend millions of dollars to step up summer outreach to children following Freddie Gray's death and April's civil unrest, Hopps and hundreds of other volunteers are working with community and faith leaders to create opportunities for them and keep them safe from violence.
The Empowerment Temple is converting a building in Bolton Hill — where Hopps has been volunteering — to a children's center named for Gray; it will offer free meals and camps. Volunteers are flocking by the hundreds to Big Brothers Big Sisters, offering to mentor youths in Sandtown-Winchester, where Gray was arrested.
Others are collecting money, food and school supplies for some of the city's poorest neighborhoods. A fire dispatcher in the city donated $30,000, and raised even more from businesses, to revitalize the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in West Baltimore. And the 300 Men March, a community group that takes to city streets to de-escalate violence, is recruiting for its youth leadership program, which pays adolescents to take training in peer-to-peer mediation and other violence prevention methods.
Gray, 25, died a week after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody, leading to protests and then riots that prompted officials to declare a state of emergency, deploy the National Guard and implement a citywide curfew.
Ten children have been killed in the city this year, up from seven during the same period last year. The number of children wounded in shootings has jumped to more than 20 this year from three during the comparable period last year, according to City Councilman Brandon M. Scott, the vice chair of the public safety committee.
Hopps and Gail Evans were among the volunteers who have spent recent days painting bright colors on the walls of the Freddie Gray Children's Empowerment Center, in the former Labor Union headquarters building on Eutaw Place.
Murals and gardens in Sandtown-Winchester "Playing outside in Baltimore City is no longer safe," Evans said. "This is a place to feel safe and to have adult supervision."
The massive building has more than 40 rooms, including nine classrooms, a computer lab, a game room, seven offices and a main hall and an auditorium that can each fit 300 people.
The center will offer three free camps, starting Tuesday: a course teaching science, math, language arts and computer skills; a cultural arts program featuring painting, music and creative writing; and an athletic camp with basketball, indoor soccer, fitness and weight training. Programs for younger kids will take place in the morning and afternoon; teenagers will be able to stay until 10 p.m.
Volunteers at the center will also hand out 500 free meals a day to local children ages 8 to 17.
The Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, the Empowerment Temple's pastor, said the church put the building up for sale two years ago but took it off the market after the unrest. When Bryant told his large Northwest Baltimore congregation about the idea for a youth center, they donated nearly $30,000 in one day, he said.
"Part of what it is we're endeavoring to do is be a lamplight example of what can be done when the community comes together," he said.
The renovations will cost about $50,000, Bryant said. He said the church has won a grant to provide the food, which volunteers will serve at breakfast and lunch.
Children must register to attend, and volunteers will canvass poor westside neighborhoods to sign them up, Bryant said. Volunteers will be required to undergo background checks to be involved.
Joseph Greene, the Empowerment Temple's maintenance facilitator, said the center will be an escape for kids who don't have a place to go when they aren't in school.
"At a time where if you turn on the news, it's so much violence outside, I think kids really need a safe house," he said. "This will be a nice, happy, safe house for that time period, where they can come in and feel free to not worry about what's going on on the outside."
The city's youth curfew allows for children between 14 and 16 years old to stay out until 11 p.m. on weekends and in the summer, and 10 p.m. on school nights. Children under 14 must be off the streets by 9 p.m. year-round.
Gray's death and the ensuing unrest grabbed international attention and galvanized many to take part in volunteer work in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
More than 600 people have asked to become mentors with Big Brothers and Sisters of Central Maryland since Gray died. That's about two years of volunteers in two months, said Terry Hickey, president and CEO of the nonprofit group.
"There's a far greater sense of urgency" among those who apply, Hickey said. Applicants are rapidly completing the paperwork and background checks needed to mentor a young person with the organization.
Ashlee Banks, a 23-year-old news anchor for WEAA, Morgan State University's NPR affiliate, is among those who signed up to volunteer with the organization.
"The Freddie Gray situation made me want to help," said Banks, a Howard County resident. "I know I can extend my hand to help a young woman growing up in Baltimore City or County."
Kevan Marvasti, 34, who moved to Baltimore about two months ago, also signed up to become a mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
He and his wife had been living in Germany before moving to Baltimore, and had vowed to become involved in volunteer work here. Gray's death helped cement Marvasti's desire to pitch in.
"We have the opportunity to help shape a kid's life, to empower them to let them know they can achieve," said Marvasti, a consultant living in Brewer's Hill.
Even children have been inspired to help Sandtown.
Jason Byrd, a sixth-grade student at New Market Middle School in Howard County, is raising money to provide school supplies and uniforms to students at Gilmor Elementary, a school a short distance from the location of Gray's arrest.
Jason toured the school with his mother and was struck by the poverty of the surrounding community.
"It seemed way different than you would think of Baltimore … than the skyscrapers and stadium where we normally go," he said. "There were no playgrounds for kids, but lots of liquor stores."
Jason's father, Eric Byrd, helped him set up an online fundraiser called Jason's Backpacks for kids at the school. The 12-year-old has raised more than $5,000 of his goal of $40,000 — which will cover new backpacks, uniforms and school supplies for the school's 328 students.
Women have always come out in majorities for social democracy-----and even the polls that try the hardest to make it appear women are supporting Hillary cannot move that figure high enough The importance of a national election and platform of social democracy is what allowed Obama to win over Hillary---again women moving to Obama. So, the Democratic base want a social democrat----it is simply being made hard at the state and local level after a few decades of Clinton control of the Democratic Party.--especially in cities like Baltimore that has such a crony political pay-to-play simply working for institutions.
Rebuilding social democracy must start locally and statewide as we press for a social democratic President
AMONG THE BERNIACS07.29.151:00 AM ET
Bernie Sanders Builds a People’s Army
Across the country, left-wing activists and veterans of the Occupy movement are organizing for Bernie Sanders—and think the Vermont socialist can topple Hillary.Every year since 2000, Tyson Manker has voted for the winning presidential candidate. And this year, he’s got his sights set on Bernie Sanders.
Manker, a Marine Corps veteran, co-founded the group Veterans for Bernie and said he’s confident the Vermont senator will make it to the Oval Office.
“You could say I’ve got a pretty good history of picking the president, and my support is enthusiastically 100 percent behind Bernie Sanders,” he said. “I expect him to win the nomination.”
Manker isn’t alone. According to organizers, more than 150,000 people have RSVP’d for house parties Wednesday evening to listen to a simulcast from the Democratic presidential candidate and coordinate their volunteer efforts. And what Sanders lacks in funds—he raised about $15.2 million this quarter, while Hillary Clinton raked in more than three times that figure—he may make up in true believers with experience in grassroots organizing. This is not a fluke; some of the most dogged pro-Bernie volunteers are alums of the Occupy movement, where they honed their activism skills.
“The graduates of Occupy are now skilled organizers,” said Katherine Brezler, a Yonkers schoolteacher and national digital organizer at People for Bernie.
She said some of the core organizers at People For Bernie—a grassroots group unaffiliated with Sanders’s campaign that works to mobilize Sanders volunteers—first met in Zuccotti Park during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests.
“After Occupy, people didn’t just go and sit in a hole,” Brezler said. “After Occupy, people became very involved in their communities and broadened their skill sets, broadened their networks, and now are revisiting a new campaign with revived interest in electoral politics because the candidate is speaking the language of their issues.”
There are numerous constituency groups in the People For Bernie family, said organizer Stan Williams. They range from those representing essential constituencies—including Women for Bernie, African Americans for Bernie, and Labor for Bernie—to slightly more niche groups (the Deadheads for Bernie Facebook page had 1,308 likes at press time). And they relish their independence from the official campaign.
“You could write terrible things about me and no one’s going to care because I’m not Bernie,” said Charles Lenchner, one of the co-founders of People For Bernie. “We’re free. We use that freedom to do what we can.”
Sanders supporters slam Clinton for limiting debates
That includes curating social media content, training constituency groups, helping smaller organizations write press releases, and generally cheerleading pro-Bernie efforts around the country. They also reach out to some constituencies where Sanders has struggled—especially African-American voters. Nadya Stevens, who works with African Americans for Bernie, said her group is angling to increase Sanders’s name ID among black voters while reminding them of the damage that Bill Clinton’s tough-on-crime policies incurred.
“The Clinton administration—and that includes Hillary—did some terrible things that adversely impacted the black community,” she said.
She added that she thinks Bill Clinton recently apologized to the NAACP for that legislation because it was the politically expedient thing to do.
“At the end of the day, Hillary supporters will be Bernie supporters after the primary.”“I think that he’s doing that for Hillary because Hillary’s not going to do it herself,” she said.
As for organizers’ levels of confidence in the likelihood of a Sanders presidency? They vary.
“I have so little faith in the system to begin with,” Lenchner said. “I would just say that an election is an opportunity to organize, and the organizing that we’re doing is likely to have an impact for years to come.”
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Brezler, the Yonkers schoolteacher who said she spends 19 hours a day working on the pro-Bernie efforts because school is out, is more bullish.
“I’m really excited about this possibility and I believe that we will win,” she said.
She added that volunteers are in for the long haul.
“We also know that it’s important to practice self-care and to encourage your teammates to go for a walk, and to check in and have a normal non-Bernie conversation from time to time with people,” she said.
“At the end of the day, Hillary supporters will be Bernie supporters after the primary,” she added.
But not all Sanders backers would jump to Team Clinton. Manker, an independent who voted for both Bush and Obama twice, said he would consider voting Republican again if Democrats nominate Clinton.
“I have yet to meet or speak with a single veteran or military person who supports Hillary Clinton for president,” he said, adding that Clinton’s false claims that she ran through sniper fire in Bosnia still anger veterans.
“That’s not a minor deal,” he continued. “That has not gone away. For everyone who has ever served in combat, to attempt to put herself in our shoes without ever taking the time to hear our stories does a disservice to all of those who have given their lives and have served in the line of duty.”
“Nothing bugs a combat veteran more than someone claiming to also be a combat survivor who wasn’t,” he added.
And Rand Wilson, a volunteer at Labor for Bernie, has found hope in a funny place.
“Who would think that Donald Trump would be taken seriously?” he said. “If you’d asked me two months ago, is anybody going to take Donald Trump seriously, I would have said, ‘Are you crazy?’ That guy’s out of his mind. But look what’s happening. It’s weird.”
Winnie Wong, a co-founder of People for Bernie, said the next two months are key to their efforts, and that the crowds and volunteers Sanders has attracted mean his presidential prospects are likely being underestimated by the political media.
“This is unprecedented, this is amazing,” she said. “And what happens next, I think, will be historical.”
Cindy Walsh is a lifelong political activist and academic living in Baltimore, Maryland.