Category Archives: Corporate Influence

How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us – WSJ.com

There are so many things we could be doing better in hospitals.  This is a great article that explores 5 ways to make hospitals safer.

How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us – WSJ.com.

Perception is Something People Care About — Chafee Caves to Angus Davis

Angus Davis feels better, so I guess everything is right and good in the fiefdom of downtown Providence.  Lame duck Governor Chafee is not feeling like having a big fight, so Angus will get his way.  As the new corporate zoning Czar for the city, I wonder if Mr. Davis would consider helping to rehabilitate the poor and downtrodden, rather than just exiling them from his high tech encampment.

Read more from Natasha Lennard at Salon.  

Diane Ravitch Featured in The New Yorker

Truly, Diane Ravitch is an amazing woman — no matter what side of the education reform movement you are on, you must admit this. She is 74 years old and blogs about 10 times a day, runs all over the country defending public education and helping to build morale for an industry being brutally attacked, and still finds time work on a book. Since she started her blog last April, I have learned so much from her.

Diane Ravitch Vs. The Education Reform Movement

America, Whose Country Are You? 26 Billionaires Who Are Buying the 2012 Election

Here’s an eye-opener from Vermont’s Bernie Sanders: a report on the 26 men who have spent $61 Billion dollars in this year’s election.

Here is a list of the billionaires:

1. Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, is worth nearly $25 billion, making him the 14th wealthiest person in the world and the 7th richest person in America.

While median family income plummeted by nearly 40% from 2007-2010, Mr. Adelson has experienced a nearly eightfold increase in his wealth over the past three years (from $3.4 billion to $24.9 billion).

Forbes recently reported that Adelson is willing to spend a “limitless” amount of money or more than $100 million to help defeat President Obama in November.

While $100 million sounds like a lot, it equals the same percentage of Adelson’s wealth that $300 to $400 does for the typical middle class family (with a net worth of about $77,000).

Sheldon Adelson owns more wealth than the bottom 40.2% of American households or 47.2 million American families.

2. The Kochs (David, Charles, and William) are worth a combined $103 billion, according to Forbes. They have pledged to spend about $400 million during the 2012 election season.

The Kochs own more wealth than the bottom 41.7 percent of American households or more than 49 million Americans.

3. Jim Walton is worth $23.7 billion. He has donated $300,000 to super PACs in 2012.
4. Harold Simmons is worth $9 billion. He has donated $15.2 million to super PACs this year.
5. Peter Thiel is worth $1.5 billion. He has donated $6.7 million to Super PACs this year.
6. Jerrold Perenchio is worth $2.3 billion. He has donated $2.6 million to super PACs this year.
7. Kenneth Griffin is worth $3 billion and he has given $2.08 million to super PACs in 2012.
8. James Simons is worth $10.7 billion and he has given $1.5 million to super Pacs this year.
9. Julian Robertson is worth $2.5 billion and he has given $1.25 million to super PACs this year.
10. Robert Rowling is worth $4.8 billion and he has given $1.1 million to super PACs.
11. John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made his fortune betting that the sub-prime mortgage market would collapse, is worth $12.5 billion. He has donated $1 million to super PACs.
12. Richard and J.W. Marriott are worth a combined $3.1 billion and they have donated $2 million to super PACs this year.
13. James Davis is worth $1.9 billion and he has given $1 million to super PACs this year.
14. Harold Hamm is worth $11 billion and he has given $985,000 to super PACs this year.
15. Kenny Trout is worth more than $1.2 billion and he has given $900,000 to super PACs this year.
16. Louis Bacon is worth $1.4 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
17. Bruce Kovner is worth $4.5 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
18. Warren Stephens is worth $2.7 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
19. David Tepper is worth $5.1 billion and he has given $375,000 to super PACs this year.
20. Samuel Zell is worth $4.9 billion and he has given $270,000 to super PACs this year.
21. Leslie Wexner is worth $4.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
22. Charles Schwab is worth $3.5 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
23. Kelcy Warren is worth $2.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.

Full report here.

Whitehouse Tries to Get DISCLOSE Passed in Worst Congress ever

While being a member of Congress definitely has its benefits, it seems to be a pretty frustrating job these days. Take, for instance, this article by Ezra Klein outlining why this is the worst Congress ever:

14 reasons why this is the worst Congress ever.

Nevertheless, some people are trying to get work done, or at least make it look that way. In fact, some are willing to stay up all night if that’s what it takes to get some attention:

Senate Democrats to Hold “Midnight Vigil” on DISCLOSE Act

If GOP Blocks Effort to End Secret Election Spending, Democrats Will Continue Debating Past Midnight and Ask for Second Vote Tomorrow

Washington, DC – With Senate Republicans threatening to block debate this evening on the DISCLOSE Act, Senate Democrats are sending a clear message that they won’t back down easily. If Republicans succeed in blocking a key procedural vote on the measure today, a group of Democrats have pledged to hold onto the Senate floor late into the night tonight in an effort to bring greater attention to the issue and force a second vote on the bill tomorrow.

The late night “midnight vigil” effort will be led by the members of the Citizens United Task Force, which includes U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Al Franken (D-MN). The group was organized by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, who will also take part in tonight’s effort.

“We recognize that you don’t win every fight in round one, and this is a fight worth continuing,” said Whitehouse, the lead sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act. “Putting an end to secret election spending by special interests is an essential step in protecting middle class priorities. For that reason, we are committed to continuing the debate on the DISCLOSE Act late into the night and asking for a second vote tomorrow if need be. We can’t let the special interests off the hook after just one round.”

The DISCLOSE Act requires any organization that spends $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report within 24 hours, identifying any donors who gave $10,000 or more. It will require political groups posing as social welfare organizations to disclose their donors and will prevent corporations and other wealthy interests from using shell corporations to funnel secret money to super PACs.

“We are determined to prove that transparency is not a radical concept,” said Udall. “Our bill is as simple and straightforward as it gets – if you are making large donations to influence an election, the voters in that election should know who you are. The American people are blessed with common sense. They know that when someone will not admit to something, it is usually because there is something to hide.”

“This is too important an issue to let it lie quietly,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire voters were subjected to a flood of negative ads this primary season, many of them fueled by unregulated, secret money. It isn’t right. We need to stand up for accountability and fairness in our politics.”

“Tonight we will debate whether we truly believe in the first three words of our Constitution: ‘We the People.’ The flood of secret money unleashed by Citizens United is drowning out the voice of the people,” said Merkley. “Indeed, those who oppose disclosure are seeking to replace ‘We the People’ with ‘We the Powerful.’ This is wrong in so many ways. It’s way past time to shine a light on the darkness and discover who or what this money really stands for.”

“Coloradans have been inundated with attack ads funded by a small number of people through anonymous groups,” Bennet said. “Disclosure would at least provide information about who is behind these ads and bring accountability that bolsters democracy in our elections. Unfortunately, a minority of senators are poised to block progress on the DISCLOSE Act and prevent necessary transparency in our election system.”

“The DISCLOSE Act will not fix all of the evil effects of Citizens United, but it is certainly a step forward,” said Sen. Franken. “And it will bring much needed sunshine to our political system, which will go a long way toward reducing the number and dishonesty of negative attack ads that further corrode our public dialogue and ultimately threaten our democratic system.”

“We believe that all of the unlimited cash allowed by the Citizens United decision must at least be disclosed,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer. “This legislation seeks to limit the damage of the Supreme Court decision that has given corporations and the very wealthy unprecedented sway over our elections, and represents one of the most serious threats to the future of our democracy.”

Individuals are encouraged to follow the floor debate throughout the night on Twitter, using the hashtag #DISCLOSEVote.

Diet, Pharmaceuticals and Diabetes

Kmareka is proud to cross-post with Elizabeth Carrollton, from Drugwatch.com. Ninjanurse spends her working days nagging people to take their meds, and needs to add the caveat that general advice and debate on the internet is no substitute for medical care for your own individual situation. So talk to your doctor and don’t even think about ignoring diabetes if you like doing stuff like seeing and walking and staying alive.

A Balanced Diet and Healthy Lifestyle for Type 2 Diabetes

The course of action a physician takes to manage diabetes is directly related to the severity of the patient’s diabetes. In some instances, diabetes health can be controlled through diet, exercise and other similar healthy lifestyle modifications. Although prescription drugs may be needed in addition to eating a balanced diet, only a physician can make this call.

Diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are much higher than the normal range, which on a glucometer is around 90. Once a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes has been established, it is imperative for a physician or registered dietician to create a course of action based on the patient’s weight and lifestyle.

Diabetes medications are also taken into consideration at this time. Patients need to be aware of the severe side effects of certain medications like Actos, which increases the risk of bladder cancer. Additionally, other diseases and health issues are part of the diagnosis and treatment process.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s MedlinePlus, the main factor in eating for diabetes health is to limit sugar intake. The National Institutes of Health also declares that eating smaller portions more frequently is essential in regulating glucose levels. In other words, rather than eating three larger meals per day, a person with diabetes should aim to eat smaller meals about five times a day.

Besides sugar being an issue, carbohydrates are also a variety of food that should be limited, due to their effect on glucose levels. This is because carbohydrates like white bread and crackers generally cause sugar levels in the body to increase.

Besides restricting sugar and carbs, a person with diabetes should incorporate foods into his or her diet that are part of a well-balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables, for example, are a vital component of a healthy diet, since they contain the necessary nutrients for cells and organs to function properly. Not to mention, the vitamins and minerals in veggies and fruits help support a healthy immune system.

Plus, the fiber within fruits and vegetables plays a positive role on cholesterol levels and on heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) note that fiber is important to heart health, which is oftentimes comprised by diabetes and certain diabetes medications, such as Actos.

Living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise affects heart health, diabetes health and overall health. Being overweight, especially being in the category of obese, contributes to cardiovascular problems, such as congestive heart failure, which are made worse by taking certain diabetes drugs like Actos. Moreover, being overweight can lead to type II diabetes. It may worsen the severity of the diabetes if a person gains weight after he or she received a diagnosis of diabetes. When a person is considered to be in the stage of prediabetes, gaining weight can force that person into having full-blown diabetes.

Therefore, living an active lifestyle can help one maintain a healthy weight that can help manage diabetes, prevent complications of diabetes and prevent cardiovascular disease. It reduces stress and according to the National Institutes of Health, exercise contributes to a lower blood sugar and prevents future weight gain.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

Kiersten Marek:

Don’t be fooled by the Change.org petition by Students First — it’s a scam for the corporate-funded reform movement.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A reader submitted this post:

http://backburner-nkk.blogspot.com/2011/08/ive-been-conned.html

It tells the now-familiar story of how an unwary person was conned by Michelle Rhee’s Students First. The reader was going through her email, and along came a “puppies-and-kittens” petition from Change.org, and “Click!”

Too late: “And suddenly, there it was…the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the Trojan horse of all Trojan horses: Join the Fight to Save Great Teachers,  a petition initiated by Students First, the education policy lobby run by faux education expert, Michele Rhee.  Remember her?  The mythologized Bee Eater who got results in the Washington, D.C. schools, and then quickly ducked out when her mayoral patron was evicted from office?

This blogger was repentant but not fooled:

Here’s what Students First says they’re for which sounds a lot like “kittens and puppies” at first blush:
  • Elevating the teaching profession by valuing teachers’ impact on students;
  • Empowering parents with real choices and…

View original 367 more words

Interview with Sheldon Whitehouse at Netroots Nation 2012

Short interview with Sen. Whitehouse in which he extolls the virtues of Netroots Nation, appreciates the value of the Occupy Movement, and talks about his efforts to keep funding for wellness and health. He also talks about his phone conversation with President Obama following the Buffet Rule vote in the Senate, and how the fight is not over to change our tax policies to support the middle class.

David Cobb Speaks in Pawtucket

Last night former Green Party candidate David Cobb spoke at the Pawtucket Public Library on the topic of corporate personhood. Mr.Cobb is an organizer for Move to Amend, a citizen’s response to the Citizen’s United decision that, in layman’s terms, says corporations are people just like you and me. Really big people. Who speak money as a first language.

Cobb is a lawyer, and did review the history and uses of corporations, pointing out that all of the 13 original colonies were corporations. He outlined the balances and regulations that would bind a corporation to the public good. Including an expiration date.

I like that, seeing as people have expiration dates it’s tough to compete with Immortal Persons.

I have to get to work, so more later. Here’s a Supreme dissent from Citizens United posted on the Move to Amend home page…

“. . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

~Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010

David Cobb warmly praised Occupy for bringing the issue of economic justice for ordinary citizens, the 99%, to the debate. He drew a Venn diagram showing that this issue unites the Occupation and the Tea Party. Having attended 3 Town Halls and heard considerable hostility toward the president, ‘illegals’ and the unemployed, I am not so optimistic about finding common ground. I tried to do this with people who saw accessible health care as not only expensive, but a moral threat. Still, it does not serve We the People to be fighting each other over crumbs when concentration of wealth and power allow a few to walk off with the whole cake.

Equal opportunity does not sprinkle down from an Invisible Hand. We have to defend the right to a basic, decent public life from private profiteers. Like pulling weeds, it never ends.

The Controversial Placebo Effect of Antidepressants

The article linked below captures many facets of the complicated beast known as psychiatry under the influence of corporate pressure from Big Pharma.  In particular what struck me were the descriptions of how colleagues of Irving Kirsch, whose research exposes that antidepressants on the whole are no more effective than placebo, have been ostracized and dressed down for supporting him.

I could go on for days with shop talk about how as a therapist I approach my clients and their use of pharmaceuticals for mood stabilization.  My overall philosophy is to tread cautiously in those waters, and to support patient education and self-leadership.  I help clients do what they want to do after they have educated themselves as best they can about all of the relevant issues.

Anyway, for those who can stand to have the curtain pulled aside and to look directly at this beast of an issue:  Why Antidepressants Are No Better Than Placebos.

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