Memorial Day

I wish you all a good Memorial Day. I’m off to work so I will post a link to where columnist Bob Kerr, himself a veteran, interviews Earl Northrup.

“Some people say that didn’t happen,” says Earl, jabbing at a photograph he says he took with a forbidden camera as his unit entered Dachau in 1945. It shows stacks of bodies.

There are far more lighthearted moments in the fading black and white prints. Earl points at a picture of his troop ship coming home, laughing as he points into a sea of faces to claim “that’s me.”

He took part in six invasions, he says. He was in North Africa and Italy and Germany with the 3407th Ordnance Group. It was his job to keep things running.

“I did what I was supposed to do,” he says. “I got no regrets about it, but I was a nervous wreck.”

Go here, for the rest of the story.

To all who fought, who suffered, who waited on the ones they loved, who were civilians caught in events they did not cause or comprehend…

May your sacrifice not be forgotten. May we find our way to peace.

That’s Reassuring

I’m relieved that a fish contaminated with the deadly radioactive isotope Strontium-90 found in the river near the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is just a normal radioactive fish. They don’t think it came from the plant, because all that’s leaking from there is Tritium.

They think the fish picked up the radioactivity from decades of nuclear weapons tests and the Chernobyl disaster. So all that means is that NUCLEAR POLLUTION TRAVELS AROUND THE WORLD AND IT NEVER GOES AWAY. You knew that already, didn’t you? Nothing we’re not used to.

We get occasional hits from people searching for Robert Peabody, the Rhode Island man who was killed in an accident at United Nuclear in Charlestown. He left a wife and nine children who were never adequately compensated for the loss of their father and the damage to their health. As tragic as Mr.Peabody’s death was, the exposure of rescue and medical workers and the cleanup of the site take it to a whole new level. Go here to read the story.

What’s This Pill For, Anyway?

That’s what you should ask your doctor if you are taking any unidentified pills. Follow this link to new evidence that proton pump inhibitors increase risk of fractures, especially in the elderly.

These drugs cut down stomach acid, and they are good for people who have ulcers or bad acid reflux. Otherwise, I suspect, they are a drug in search of a disease. I often ask patients who take these drugs if they have any stomach trouble. They say no. They say they never had stomach trouble. They don’t know why they are on these pills.

I’m going to make the effort to update doctors on the patient’s symptoms, and respectfully ask if the prescriptions can be changed to ‘as needed’. They work pretty fast, and that’s a way to keep the benefit and cut the risk.

Don Botts Challenging Peter Palumbo in Cranston District 16

Well, the news is out on Facebook. Don Botts, a local Republican activist and Facebook controversy stirrer, is going to challenge Peter Palumbo (DINO of all DINO’s) for his State Representative seat. What will be the result of this daring move? Will Democrats in Cranston support Don in an effort to oust Palumbo? Could Don siphon off the more conservative voters to support him in a primary, leaving Palumbo more vulnerable to a primary challenge from a more progressive candidate?

If you want to “like” Don’s candidacy, you can go to this page on Facebook. I hope Don will agree to do an interview with me for Kmareka, to let the good people of District 16 know exactly where he stands on all those really hairy issues like immigration and abortion. Thanks to Don for being willing to brave the political waters here in Cranston. We need more people who have the guts to get out there.

Mea Culpa

I have to apologize to Rand Paul and all his loved ones. I snarked at him unjustly here when I accused him of making up the claim that Obama admin people were blustering about putting their ‘boot heel on the throat’ of BP. He said it sounded ‘un-American’ and it does. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said it. He didn’t actually say ‘heel’, maybe he meant he would poke them with the pointy toe, but it still is an echo of some of the more paranoid language used by the people who think they are being followed by black helicopters. Why bait them?

Worse, the tough talk is empty when BP just dithers on about how much they are spending with their failed attempts to stop the oil.

My fear is that Obama has not thrown them out because the US has no good way to stop this unprecedented disaster. BP has its boot heel on our throat. I’m going to spend the day burning petroleum, and so will you.

Back in the 70’s there was a meat boycott when the price of groceries got out of hand. It actually had an effect. It’s way easier to go vegetarian for a week than to go a day without driving. Still, conservation is one essential part of energy independence. We have to take it to the streets, and walk and bike on them.

And let me indulge in some self-pity while I’m at it. Back in the glory days of Kmareka if I posted something inaccurate our RW readers would have been all over me like oil on a pelican. I’m hurt. Is anyone reading us? Are we but a voice in the wilderness?

Care Where It’s Needed

Very cool news out of Cranston, a new medical director at the ACI…

CRANSTON — For decades, from apartment buildings in the devastated South Bronx to a medical practice in rural Foster, Dr. Michael D. Fine has been trying to reinvent the medical-care system.

Now, he’s going to prison to do it.

Since February, Fine, 56, has been director of medical services for the Department of Corrections, a job that gives him authority over a 76-member staff that is responsible for dealing with the medical and health issues for around 20,000 people a year; 4,000 sentenced inmates in the Adult Correctional Institutions and the 16,000 who cycle through the Travisono Intake Service Center, which holds suspects for anywhere from a few hours to months as they await court appearances.

And from a medical perspective, they need help. According to a 2005 analysis of health care at the ACI, the HIV rate there was four times the state average. About 20 percent of inmates had hepatitis B virus and 25 percent had hepatitis C.

Fine said some estimates are that as many as 85 percent of those in the ACI have a substance-abuse problem. The other major area is mental health care, with 10 percent to 15 percent of ACI inmates in need of some type of treatment.

Rather than be daunted by those numbers, Fine said, he’s excited. The ACI is a chance for nurses and doctors to work in a place where they are unquestionably needed and can do a lot of good every day.

“This is going to be the most exciting primary-care center in the country,” he said.

Read the whole article at

Reading between the lines, it’s clear that investing more in drug treatment and mental health will save us grief and money, but it’s a tough sell in hard times. A CCC and WPA would do us a lot of good. Maybe we can buy the Pres a cigarette holder and a squishy hat.

Blind to the Good of Socialized Medicine

Again, not to pile on Rand Paul, but health care is my thing, and I’ve spent the last winter freezing my garbanzos at rallies for health care reform. So this is intensely interesting to me.

Should the taxpayers have to carry the burden of some old guy’s cataract surgery, or should we just let him go blind? Well, under the current nanny-state system he is covered by Medicare. Medicare patients make up the bulk of the business for eye surgeons.

So Dr.Paul has benefited directly and indirectly from government involvement in medical insurance, in research and in setting standards so that patients can trust something as precious as their eyes to a qualified doctor.

Very good discussion of this in Daily Kos.

And if you want to say to the visually impaired, ‘get a job’, here’s Steve Benin of Washington Monthly, taking apart Rand Paul’s distortion and mis-information about the Americans With Disabilities Act. Paul is again building a straw man, claiming the ADA requires things that it doesn’t.