Patient Dumping in the US

This is not a new story, but certainly a news story as the cruel practice is still going on in several parts of the United States. And also, as it is hardly any news for the mainstream media whose eyes are trained on Paris Hiltons or Britney Spearses.

Patient dumping – that is the issue. By definition, patient dumping is the practice of only treating patients that can pay, leaving the poor to government or charitable organizations. It is denial of treatment to emergency patients or women in labor, or transferring them to another hospital in an unstable condition. But, that is a euphemism for ruthlessness. As far as I have understood, hospitals are service oriented, even though they (especially private ones) have to make some profit to run. But, in the US, lots of them are big corporations with the whole and sole goal to make profits.  When an indigent patient gets admitted, some hospitals treat them and leave the bills to charity, either government or NGOs. While some others, after administering first aid, leave the patient in the streets.

Patient dumping became shockingly evident in 2006 when surveillance cameras captured the sad plight of Carol Ann Reyes, a 63-year-old homeless woman with dementia, who was treated at Kaiser Permanente’s Bellflower hospital in Los Angeles. A taxicab dropped her off in the city’s crime-plagued Skid Row area. The video footage showed this hapless woman wandering, wearing a hospital gown and a diaper, completely disoriented. The hospital lost her clothes and even left her without pants and shoes. When interrogated, the hospital confirmed that she was put in a taxi and the driver was told to take her to Skid Row. Remember, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, part of Kaiser Permanente, is the largest health maintenance organizations HMO in the country.
Reyes’ movements were recorded by ‘dumping cams’ mounted outside the entrance of Union Rescue Mission, the largest homeless shelter in LA. The cameras were installed a year before after Los Angeles Police Department accused hospitals of dumping people on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. While, the mission sent tapes and written logs of dumping incidents to the city’s attorney’s office.

In L.A, patient-dumping hospitals ordinarily ‘discharge’ homeless patients onto the streets of Skid Row. Why this dumping fixation with Skid Row? Because, this area has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of homeless people, and is known for its shelters and services. People’s Medical Society, which has long advocated against the too-early discharge of people from hospitals, says dumping helps hospitals to make bigger profits at the expense of dumped patients.

In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which forbids the practice known as patient dumping. However, a report by Public Citizen says hospitals in almost every state have violated this federal law. During the first ten years since the law had come into existence (Sept. 86 to Sept. 96), almost 700 hospitals violated the law. Actual number was more than this as many cases were not reported to the government. The situation is getting worse as more people are becoming homeless and more insured people becoming uninsured.


Misplaced Superlatives

superlative2Not my area of interest. Nevertheless, let me key down what I felt about this…

FHM magazine recently named Megan Fox as the sexiest woman on earth by an annual online poll. Twenty one year-old Fox starred in last year’s movie ‘Transformers’. According to FHM, nearly ten million of its readers voted in the poll to select hundred sexiest women!

Sexiest – that is what these women are now qualified by. Who decided they are the ‘sexiest’? By what parameters? Can ten million people decide for six billion, especially on aesthetics where your food is my poison? How many of us know these hundred women on the list? Forget the hundred. How many in the world know this so-called ‘sexiest’ Megan Fox? How many non-Americans are there on the list? The word ‘sexy’ means causing/feeling sexual desire. How many online voters ‘felt’ so? That itself online!

Did they have any ‘system’ to measure the ‘sexy’ in those women? I could  understand if they had at least used sexiest woman ‘in America’. If it was just an exaggerated expression that ordinarily critics of less scruples and honesty do, I am sorry. You can stop reading this…

P.S:- Superlative degree of an adjective or adverb expresses ‘the highest or a very high degree’. Therefore, whenever you use a superlative, it should not only qualify the subject/noun it is attributed to, it should also be true in generally agreed upon parameters. For instance, when you say Burj Dubai is the tallest man-made structure in the world, it primarily qualifies the building as excelling all other man-made structures in the world in terms of height. Secondly, it is a truth nobody can dispute as the structure has been measured by parameters recognized all over the world – like the metric system. Similarly, when you say cheetah as the fastest animal on earth, it is also understood the animal’s speed is calculated by measures understandable and recognizable across the world.

That is Why I Hate You…So-called Jihadists!

terrorismYou plan for weeks, months and, sometimes, years to hit a crowded market or a moving train. That, any person can do. After all, you are going to die. When you are determined to die, consequences hardly matter. Look at the bodies strewn around you. Those faces are not even recognizable, nor is yours. Look at their limbs – you have literally turned them into smithereens, like yours. Is this the way they thought would end up like? Did you know, you were giggling while shooting those children, lying beside their bloodied mother? Don’t you see her bindi that has crimsoned her brow? Is this the ‘brotherhood’ you learnt while bobbing your head? Lying there is the cane of that old man, who couldn’t even walk. Near the pillar, see the shrapnel-riddled body of the cabbie that brought you here. He carried your back-pack and you tipped him with a grenade. The blood seen on the wall is what a stray bullet left of a mendicant. This is the basket of the woman who peddled bananas. The lump of khaki lying around the corner belonged to the policeman, who had promised his son that he would come home earlier. You know, your bullets didn’t even spare this wandering dog. Are these the ones you were looking for to carry your message? Is their blood that you thought would quench your thirst? They are no infidels, nor the ones that invaded your country, nor the people who walled you out in your own land, nor the ones who raped your mothers and sisters at gun-point and deprived you of your rights. They are not, I swear. They are innocent pedestrians, market-goers and commuters like me…him…and them. Alas! On deaf ears your message has fallen. Not bullets and bombs, it’s just a boot that you need to send your message across. Just a ten-size boot!!!

Fitting Farewell Gift to Bush the Murderer

BushHis trip was shrouded in secrecy, but was known all over the world. His intention was to pose victorious, but returned vanquished. He expected palm leaves on his way, but shoes came flying at his face. In place of ‘beginning of democracy’, the protesting scribe shouted ‘This is the end’ . A pachyderm-skinned Bush later unabashedly joked, “All I can report is a size 10.” Yes, he is very good at measuring sizes, especially of shoes. Obvious was, his reflex worked good. Now, contentedly he can retire. Brilliant !

Gas-Guzzling Pentagon

pentagonIf asked, which the largest oil consuming vehicle is, I wouldn’t say, ‘Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster’. My answer would be ‘PENTAGON’. If my answer is puzzling you, I would suggest to you to read on.

According to Michael T. Klare, Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, Massachusetts, an average American soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan consumes sixteen gallons of oil on a daily basis – either directly (through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters) or indirectly (by calling in air strikes). Multiply this figure by 216,000 soldiers (i.e., 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region, including sailors aboard US warships in the Persian Gulf). You arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil – the daily petroleum tab for US combat operations in the Middle East war zone, which is more than the daily oil consumption of Greece. If you multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons, you get the estimated annual oil expenditure. That is greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh. (other military experts also give similar statistics).

Prof. Klare, who is also the author of ‘Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum’, further states, during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the average American soldier consumed only four gallons of oil per day. However, a US soldier in Iraq is now using four times as much. “If this rate of increase continues unabated”, he warns, “the next major war could entail an expenditure of 64 gallons per soldier per day.”

In his opinion, these foreign wars only account for a small fraction of the Pentagon’s total petroleum consumption. Possessing the world’s largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems – all powered by oil – Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest oil consuming government body in the US and in the world. Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day, which is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland. There are only 35 countries (out of 195) in the world that consume more oil per day than the Pentagon. In fact, the Air Force is the LAMBORGHINI of Pentagon with its planes burning more than half the fuel supply for the entire military.

Incidentally, all these figures gleaned from official sources do not include fuel obtained at no cost overseas like through ‘burden sharing’, fuel consumed by contractors, fuel consumed in some leased and privatized facilities, and the oil consumed by certain leased and rented fleet vehicles. If added, that would exceed the total consumption of a few major European countries!


Courtesy: Prof: Michael T. Klare

Why Don’t They Get a Space Yet?

no-spaceFor newsmen in the US, this year’s Thanksgiving holidays didn’t go lean as usual. As they were packing up for the long weekend, there descended the windfall – Mumbai terror attack. Most of the television networks here ‘celebrated’ the sixty-hour-long hostage crisis and firing. Unlike the previous major bomb blasts in India’s business capital and in the national capital and other sporadic terror strikes in other parts of the country, this time the networks telecast the event twenty four hours a day and continued for three successive days. (Serial train bombings in Mumbai on July11, 2006 that killed 209 people and injured over 700 was only a story of a few seconds here). Details of the siege were discussed and analysed for days on end. South Asia terrorism experts were invited to discuss it out on the panels. But, what took me by surprise was their focus – the Oberoi/Trident and Taj Mahal Palace, throughout. In fact, the ten-member terror team struck at ten different places in Mumbai, starting with Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), where they killed 72 people and injured 98. Were the lives of ordinary railway commuters less important than the patrons of Taj and Oberoi?

Forget American media not covering the faceless and voiceless. They often do so unless it pertains to their nation and nationals. More surprising was the way Indian television channels, including NDTV, skipped most of the CST episode to focus more on the Taj and Oberoi, where the cream of the society stayed. So far, I had this feeling – at least in death there was no difference, it being a leveller. But, the imbalance and prejudice with which the broadcast media handled the wild gory night at CST got me think otherwise – death could also be different depending on socio-economic standing.

It was at CST, the bloody drama set its first scene, with attackers raining bullets at the innocent commuters. Seventy two people died here, more than the death toll of Taj-Oberoi combined. But, at least initially, nobody was interested in talking about the people killed at the railway station. Cameras overlooked the blown up taxi that brought terrorists to CST and its hapless driver. The innocent children who had fallen prey to flying bullets at the station didn’t interest reporters. They forgot Vishnu Dattaram Jhande and Jullu Yadav, two railways employees, whose timely action saved many lives. Also, the brave motorman O.M. Palli, who defied gun shots and alerted hundreds of passengers alighting from a train. And, scores of others who ceased to exist on that deadly night. None had the glamour the media were looking for.

But, it was not that people didn’t notice this prejudice. A more sensible viewers inundated media mail boxes, questioning media attitude and their approach to the CST carnage. Public reaction spurred the media into action. Camera crews were soon sent to the hub of Mumbai railway. Questions like ‘Could you have been more aware of the suffering and tragedy of those killed in the first few hours at the CST railway station and not got singularly focused on the two hotels? graveled committed journalists. Confessed Barkha Dutt of NDTV, “On this one point, I would concede that perhaps, this was a balance we lost and needed to redress earlier on during the coverage.” But, she ruled out any deliberate prejudice, saying the hotels were more focused because ‘they were the sites of the live encounters”. It would have been more than justified had the CST killing also been given due importance. (Of course, Barkha is one of the most talented and brave television reporters I have ever seen. And, I said ‘including NDTV’ just because I had never expected this treatment from India’s best news channel headed by journalists, not businessmen).

It is true, this time around, elite India has been affected and the affected are people with faces and voices. This was more evident when the star of Bollywood Amitabh Bachhan said, for the first time he had slept with a gun under his pillow. Hence, the politicians have woken up to reality. The first signal in this regard was the stepping down of Home Minister Shivraj Patil. (You know, the aircraft that carried NSG personnel to Mumbai was reportedly delayed for the Home Minister. More lives could have been saved had it arrived on time. My sources in the IB told me, when was in office, the minister kept five-six pairs of safari suit of the same colour and wore a fresh pair for every (media) appearance. He would buy a roll of the same textile material and get many pairs stitched so that none would suspect his theatrics). Bomb blasts and terrorist attacks, therefore, are no longer attacks that kill train commuters and market goers like you and me. It can kill the rich and the powerful too. Let this awareness dawn upon the politicians and media.

Bush the Murderer Blames Intelligence Again

bush_riding106In a recent interview with Charles Gibson on ABC News, the outgoing president George Bush tried to evade the responsibility for the war in Iraq. When asked whether there wouldn’t have been any war if the intelligence was ‘right’ (that there were no WWDs), his answer was, “It’s hard for me to speculate.” Simply means, there would have been a war even if the intelligence was right. For, the war was already planned, much before the 9/11. And, business was already being discussed with Halliburton, Blackwater and their ilk.

Excerpts from the interview:

Gibson: You always said there was no do-over (on the war) as president if you had one?

Bush: Um…I don’t know…the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said, you know … the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my administration, and um … You know, that’s not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

Gibson: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?

Bush: If he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

Gibson: No, if you had known he didn’t.

Bush: Oh, I see what you’re saying. Uh … You know, that’s an interesting question. That is a do-over I can’t do. It’s hard for me to speculate.

At one point, he even says, one of his greatest disappointments was that there were no ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMDs). To Gibson’s question, “As you leave, what do you think is the country’s feeling about George W. Bush?, he simply answers, “I don’t know,”  and rushes to add the tough decisions he had to take and also the principles he didn’t compromise. Realizing her husband’s answer was inadequate, a more alert first lady intervenes, referring to the ‘feedback’ she had received, which were of course ‘accolades’ for the President’s efforts to protect the nation and to make the world a safer place. But, is the world a safer place now?

This is not the first time, Bush admits in public that intelligence was wrong. On December 14, 2005, he confessed that the intelligence, his Bible for the war, was flawed. “It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong,” the President said unabashedly. “As president, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.” Even then, he justified the war saying Saddam Hussein was a threat and he was connected to World Trade  Centre/Pentagon attacks.

A Christian zealot, Bush confessed again on Dec 5, 2008, “It is true, as I have said many times, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to 9/11 attacks.” In fact, most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals acting for Al Qaeda. Bin Laden was also a Saudi national. If terrorism were the cause, Bush should have targeted Saudi, not Iraq. Ironically, this man from Texas (and the entire Bush family) is a close associate of the Saudi Royal family, who has been funding Islamic terrorists over the years, if US intelligence dossiers are anything to go by.

With all his flip-flops and Goebbelsian lies Bush has disproved all the grounds he has waged war on – Iraq making WMDs, Saddam Hussein connected to 9/11 and Iraq sheltering Al-Qaeda. What answer he, who pardons turkeys on Thanksgiving, has for the one million deaths (mostly women and children) of Iraqis? With what face he would meet the wife/mother/children of 4209 American soldiers killed and 30852 wounded in Iraq? And, what account he would produce before the tax payers for the over $600 billion war spending in Iraq? (Incidentally, before the war, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsay estimated the cost at $100 to $200 billion. To hoodwink the public, the White House fired him and ‘re-estimated’ the cost at $50 to $60 billion).

For having told lies to his country and misled the world community, invaded a sovereign nation defying a UN Security Council decision, killed its President and family members, massacred thousands of innocent people and run torture camps across the world including Guantanamo in the name of fighting terror, this ‘gentleman’ has proved to the world that he is a warmonger and enemy of humanity. He should face a fair trial, unlike his enemy Saddam Hussein, in the international court of justice and be penalized for all war crimes including genocide. People should decide whether he should go to the gallows or the 3.8 million mansion he has bought in a billionaire row in Dallas to spend his retired life.