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Member since: Thu Feb 9, 2017, 01:31 PM
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Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What's the Secret? ( Annals of Medicine August Issue )

We’ve starved our public-health sector. The Costa Rica model demonstrates what happens when you put it first.

By Atul Gawande
August 23, 2021

The cemetery in Atenas, Costa Rica, a small town in the mountains that line the country’s lush Central Valley, contains hundreds of flat white crypt markers laid out in neat rows like mah-jongg tiles, extending in every direction. On a clear afternoon in April, Álvaro Salas Chaves, who was born in Atenas in 1950, guided me through the graves.

“As a child, I witnessed every day two, three, four funerals for kids,” he said. “The cemetery was divided into two. One side for adults, and the other side for children, because the number of deaths was so high.”

Salas grew up in a small, red-roofed farmhouse just down the road. “I was a peasant boy,” he said. He slept on a straw mattress, with a woodstove in the kitchen, and no plumbing. Still, his family was among the better-off in Atenas, then a community of nine thousand people. His parents had a patch of land where they grew coffee, plantains, mangoes, and oranges, and they had three milk cows. His father also had a store on the main road through town, where he sold various staples and local produce. Situated halfway between the capital, San José, and the Pacific port city of Puntarenas, Atenas was a stop for oxcarts travelling to the coast, and the store did good business.

On the cemetery road, however, there was another kind of traffic. When someone died, a long procession of family members and neighbors trailed the coffin, passing in front of Salas’s home. The images of the mourners are still with him.

“At that time, Costa Rica was the most sad country, because the infant-mortality rate was very high,” he said. In 1950, around ten per cent of children died before their first birthday, most often from diarrheal illnesses, respiratory infections, and birth complications. Many youths and young adults died as well. The country’s average life expectancy was fifty-five years, thirteen years shorter than that in the United States at the time.


Charlie Savage @charlie_savage : The shadow docket, explained


The Great American Heist-How the Bayh-Dole Act Wrested Public Science from the People's Hands

Alexander Zaitchik

August 29 2021, 6:00 a.m.

1979: Inventing Competitiveness

On the morning of June 6, 1979, Navy Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the longest-serving officer in the history of the U.S. armed services, sat down before a Senate subcommittee on the Constitution. Famous as the father of the nuclear submarine program, Rickover had recently emerged as that rarest of Washington breeds: a top-brass crusader against waste and corruption in defense contracting. On this day, he deployed his reputation and characteristic bluntness to stop a bill called the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act.

At stake was the government’s long-standing proprietorship of patents on inventions resulting from the research it underwrote. The proposed legislation would hand patents over to the private contractors that conducted research at government expense, essentially gutting the government’s ownership stake and paving the way for monopolization. The bill’s supporters — those in favor of removing this block — included drug companies, venture capital firms, university patent offices, and the nascent biotech industry. Those opposed to this sweeping change in federal patent policy were led by a fading Democratic coalition committed to New Deal ideas about antitrust regulation, patents, and public science controlled in the public interest. Rickover was a lone but strong military voice for this coalition: a war hero with the authority of having overseen the construction of the first nuclear propulsion systems, one of the most complex government science programs since the Manhattan Project.

Speaking before the subcommittee, Rickover railed against the proposed policy changes. “Government contractors should not be given title to inventions developed at government expense,” he said. “These inventions are paid for by the public and therefore should be available for any citizen to use or not as he sees fit.”

This seemed self-evident to Rickover. After all, he noted, “companies generally claim title to the inventions of their employees on the basis that the company pays their wages.” It befuddled and angered him that the U.S. government would consider giving up its own shop rights to industries that would never do the same. In his decades managing the development of nuclear reactors, Rickover had witnessed the very contest between public interest and private greed so clearly anticipated by mid-century advocates for keeping public science under public control.


RIP Ed Asner.

Ed Asner was a great talent and a wonderful human being.

Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality.

How the defense industry helped prolong the war in Afghanistan

CACI is a well-known company with a $907 million contract in Afghanistan — it also has undisclosed ties to think tanks opposed to withdrawal.

August 27, 2021

Written by
Eli Clifton

Weapons firms and defense contractors consume over half of the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget and the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan poses a threat for their share-holders and executives.

That concern was laid bare in a new investigative report by In These Times’ Sarah Lazare on CACI International, a Pentagon contractor currently two years into a five-year $907 million contract to provide “intelligence operations and analytics support” for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. CACI’s CEO warned investors in an August 12 earnings call, “we have about a 2 percent headwind coming into FY 2022 because of Afghanistan,” referring to a negative impact on profits from the withdrawal.

Lazare points out that CACI is a corporate sponsor of the Institute for Study of War, a hawkish think tank whose experts argued in an August 20 paper that “Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are weighing how to take advantage of the United States’ hurried withdrawal.” ISW’s board chair, Jack Keane, a former General Dynamics board member and current chairman of Humvee manufacturer AM General, has been making the rounds of Fox News shows, blasting the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

ISW has not disclosed the financial conflict of interest between its criticisms of Biden’s withdrawal and its corporate sponsor’s financial ties to the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Fox News does not disclose Keane’s role as chairman of a Pentagon contractor or ISW’s funding from defense contractors including CACI and General Dynamics.

CACI enjoys one other important connection to the effort to slow down or oppose Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. CACI board member Susan M. Gordon served on the congressionally established Afghanistan Study Group which recommended extending the withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan. The potential conflicts of interest within the ASG were vast, as two of the three co-chairs and nine of the group’s 12 plenary members have current or recent financial ties to the weapons industry. Like ISW, the Study Group provided no disclosure that its co-chairs and plenary members received nearly $4 million in compensation for their work on the boards of defense contractors.


Sam Haselby @samhaselby: The U.S. can't convince almost half of its own citizens to take a vaccine


( That's a question I would love to hear msm ask all the hawks out there )

'Showing Climate Change as it Happens':A Veteran Photojournalist on Capturing California's Wildfires

'Showing Climate Change as it Happens': A Veteran Photojournalist on Capturing California's Intensifying Wildfires

Kent Porter's specialty as a photographer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat is capturing images of wildfires, but he broke format to write an essay about how he sees reporting on fire as documenting climate change.

“I’ve just passed my 34th year as a photojournalist with The Press Democrat,” he writes. “Every year I think fire season can’t get worse, and it does.”

Porter writes about a “wake-up moment” in 2015, when the Valley Fire and two other wildfires torched Lake County, where he grew up. He describes it as “a preview of the new era of catastrophic wildfire in California.”

Porter recalls fire racing through “bug-killed and parched forest atop Cobb Mountain before storming into Middletown, destroying more than 1,300 homes in all and killing four people.”

Ever since then, Porter writes, he has felt a sense of responsibility to show how that “threat is escalating amid the onslaught of climate change.”


( No words )

Charles M. Blow @CharlesMBlow: Read my column, "The Anti-Gay Agenda


(The exceptional, Charles Blow, as always.)

What Parents Need To Know About Long Covid In Children

Alison Escalante Contributor

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has changed the game when it comes to kids. Significantly more contagious than original COVID, it is filling pediatric hospitals with sick children. Meanwhile, it’s become increasingly clear that even kids with mild illness may not be getting through COVID unscathed. It turns out that children are getting the long COVID syndrome that had initially thought to be only a problem in adults.

Parents need to know what to do about long COVID in kids, and it starts with masks and vaccines.

According to an article by Helen Thomson in New Science, “Symptoms of long covid were first thought to include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, insomnia, respiratory problems and heart palpitations. Now, support groups and researchers say there may be up to 100 other symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, nausea, dizziness, seizures, hallucinations and testicular pain.”

And long COVID is not unique to people who got more seriously ill during their infection. In fact, long COVID happens regularly in people who had mild cases of COVID-19 initially, both in children and adults.

In my own clinical practice, many of my patients’ parents have shared their Long COVID symptoms with me. “My chest still hurts all the time,” said one mother, a healthcare worker who felt lucky to have survived her case of COVID three months prior. Others can’t smell or have developed phantosmia, and can smell only unpleasant odors like feces more than six months after COVID. But the most common complaints I hear are brain fog and fatigue.


Two former California police officers charged with painting swastika on car

By Ron Kampeas Today, 11:55 am

TA — The Los Angeles County District Attorney charged two former police officers with vandalism for allegedly spray-painting a swastika on the back seat of an impounded car.

The investigation into the vandalism also uncovered messages exchanged between the two former officers in Torrance, a city in Los Angeles County, and at least another 13 officers that included racist, homophobic and antisemitic statements, CBS2, the local CBS affiliate, reported last week.

The 13 other officers were placed on leave.

Torrance officers responding to a report of mail theft on January 27, 2020, impounded a car they believed to be implicated in the alleged crime. When the owner retrieved the car he found a happy face spray-painted on the front seat and a swastika spray-painted on the back seat.

The DA is still considering whether the charges rise to the level of a hate crime.


( America's sickness is ours to fix. )
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