“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Recently, the United Kingdom appointed a Minister of Loneliness to attend to the growing public health crisis of loneliness reported by 9 million people in their country. Our culture has mastered the art of relational distance. Too many of us are content to view one another from a long way off. Our past hurts, pains, disappointments and biases keep us so isolated and alone. But like this father who saw his son and became proximal to him, we are being nudged to close the chasm of difference and remember our shared humanity.
Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. Pastor McBride’s commitment to holistic ministry can be seen through his leadership roles in both the church and community organizations. A graduate of Duke University’s Divinity School, with a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor McBride founded The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, where he presently serves as the Lead Pastor.
Bestselling author Stephen King on Monday weighed in on President Trump’s recent warnings to the migrant caravan moving through Mexico toward the United States. King’s criticism came in response to a tweet Trump shared on Sunday stating that “full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther (sic) Border.” “Jesus, man,” King said in response to the tweet. “You act like the Red Chinese army was invading.” “They’re just a bunch of scared and hungry people,” the author said.
“It’s a long road from exciting things happening in the lab to getting through a clinical process to the patient’s bedside,” Kathy Talkington, director of Pew’s antibiotic resistance project, explains in a Chicago Tribune editorial.
Antibiotics are fundamental to modern medicine, essential for treating everything from routine skin infections to strep throat, and for protecting vulnerable patients receiving chemotherapy or being treated in intensive care units.
Pew’s antibiotic resistance project is working to ensure both the prudent use of existing drugs and a robust pipeline of new drugs in order to meet current and future patient needs.
For ten years, we’ve successfully fought back against the bad actors that poison our media with right-wing lies and smears. It’s been an amazing beginning, and we couldn’t have done it without your support.
You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show.
Beck was targeted after he slandered President Obama by saying, “This president has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don’t know what it is… This guy, I believe, is a racist.”
Activists at ColorOfChange, Media Matters, StopBeck, FoxNewsBoycott, and of course Democrats.com responded with a boycott of advertisers on Glenn Beck’s show. Ultimately over 300 advertisers pulled their ads from Beck, costing FOX over $40 million.
Advertiser boycotts work! And it’s time to boycott all FOX News advertisers: http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
We’re starting our boycott of all FOX News with Proactiv, which sells acne medicine to teenagers and young adults. Why?
First, there are lots of other acne treatments. Second, young adults above all are hurt by FOX News, which promotes right-wing policies on race, education, healthcare, the environment, and war. Let’s get our future leaders to lead the fight against FOX News!
Sign the petition to Proactiv and enter the email address of every young adult over 18 you know: http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
Beyond President Obama, FOX regularly slanders nearly everyone: Democrats, unionized workers, the unemployed (including veterans and 99ers), environmentalists, feminists, blacks, Hiics, Jews, Muslims, progressives, scientists, and any other group it disagrees with.
FOX News broadcasts rightwing extremist slander, incitement to violence, political propaganda, and outright lies to promote its rightwing political agenda. This is not “news,” but rather a never-ending “war on news” – and it’s all documented in our petition.
Why would any decent company want to fund it? Tell Proactiv to stop advertising on FOX News: http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv
Thanks for all you do!
GLEN BECK ADMITTED in 2007, “I Am RACIST and Barack Obama is very White” THIS MAKES Boycotting FOX NEWS needed NOW
By Kevin Stoda
Dear, American supporters of the Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) news networks.
AMERICANS are getting less tolerant of your racism and stronghold on our major media.
For example, we have noted that in his 2007 TV program from FOX (See on You-Tube), Glen Beck admitted he himself was racist. Further, Beck then, in contrast to 2009, called Barrack Obama much more white than black. (Apparently, Beck now he has other nonsense to mush men’s minds.)
Using a major news platform to promote racism and to tell people to disrespect a whole presidential administration through mixed truths, outright lies, and xenophobia, is not to be tolerated any more.
On Democracy Now today, Amy Goodman asked Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP what he thought of Wal-Mart’s pull-out from advertising on the Glen Beck program on FOX.
NOTE: Goodman had simply asked , “The whole attack by Glenn Beck that drove this (resignation)? In your response from the NAACP to Van Jones, it says, ´The only thing more outrageous than Mr. Beck’s attack on Van Jones is the fact that there are sponsors that continue to pay him to provide this type of offensive commentary.` Do you support the continued boycott of companies like Wal-Mart of Beck’s show on Fox?”
Mr. Jealous said, “We certainly support them (Walmart) choosing with their dollars who they’re going to support. I mean, it’s—Glenn Beck is somebody who’s told a seven-year-old girl, a seven-year-old black girl, that he would buy her a ticket back to Africa, that she needed to go back to Africa. And then he comes out, and he says that healthcare is the beginning of reparations. I mean, this guy plays the race card on a weekly basis. He does it very aggressive—you know, in a very hateful way.”
Recall, first, that Van Jones is one of the most important and thoughtful men in America—however, the FOX (Fascist Oddball Xenophobic) news network chose to support a man, like Glen Beck, rather than seeing that tens of millions of Americans need to get health care from promoters like Jones and that our America economy needs to move starting today to the kind of economy that its competitors worldwide are already doing.
Let’s quote the wisdom and influential words of Van Jones on the absolute necessity to green the American economy NOW!
“I think it’s really important to point out that we’re sort of at the end of an era of American capitalism, where we thought we could run the economy based on consumption rather than production, credit rather than creativity, borrowing rather than building, and also, most importantly, environmental destruction rather than environmental restoration.”
Jones continued, “We’re trying to make the case in this book that that era is over. We now have to move in a very different direction. And key to that will be basing the US economy not on credit cards, but based on clean energy and the clean energy revolution that would put literally millions of people to work, putting up solar panels all across the United States, weatherizing buildings so they don’t leak so much energy and put up so much carbon, building wind farms and wave farms, manufacturing wind turbines. We argue you could put Detroit back to work not making SUVs to destroy the world, but making wind turbines, 8,000 finely machine parts in each one, twenty tons of steel in each wind tower, making wind turbines to help save the world.”
Finally, Van Jones wisely noted, “So we think that you can fight pollution and poverty at the same time. We think that you can actually power our way through this recession by putting people to work, but we’re going to have to start building things here and re-powering, retrofitting, retooling America, and that that’s the way forward both for the economy, for the earth and for everyday people.”
Note: These statements came from a program on DN from October of last year:
Films such as “National Treasure” love to play on conspiracy theories, and the Eye of Providence is a favorite that shows up time and again. But what does it actually mean, and is there any real conspiracy behind it?
What is this thing? You’ve probably seen this eye in a bunch of conspiracy theories and illuminati references. It’s the same eye you see on the back of a dollar bill, and it’s even part of the Great Seal of the United States. No, not there: It’s actually on the other side. Yes, the seal has two sides. But this symbol’s meaning and creation actually have nothing to do with any of that.
But this symbol’s meaning and creation actually have nothing to do with any of that. It shows an eye, often surrounded by rays of light, enclosed by a triangle. Artists used it to represent the all-seeing eye of God. The three points of the triangle represent the Christian mythology of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The rays of light are stand-ins for holiness and divinity. One of the first known appearances of it is in this painting: the Supper of Emmaus painted for the Carthusians in 1525.
If you go even farther back in history, you can find an eye being used in ancient Egyptian times. For example, the “Eye of Horus” belongs to Horus, the sky god, often depicted as a falcon. It’s a falcon’s eye. Fast-forward to the founding of the United States, and it ended up on the back end of the Great Seal on top of a pyramid. Why?
Steven C. Bullock: The pyramid is a sign of strength and survival and long-lasting, and that’s showing that the new nation is going to survive and last a long time, and it’s built on 13 different steps meaning the 13 new states, the 13 former colonies.
It was a few years later that the Freemasons started using the eye. Some think it’s the masons’ way of projecting their own watchful power, but it’s actually the opposite.
Steven C. Bullock: The all-seeing eye of God was designed for freemasons was designed to be a message to themselves. “We are being watched over, therefore we need to live up to the standards of not only religion but also Freemasonry.”
Freemasons were reminding themselves to keep to their own strict moral standards, not push their values on the general public. Other conspiracies say the eye on the seal of the United States and the dollar bill means the government is always watching us. But again, its real meaning goes back to a higher power.
Steven C. Bullock: It’s supposed to represent America being watched over by God, America being created under God’s watchful eye.
So how did the symbol get so tarnished? Why is it tangled in so many conspiracy theories?
Joseph Uscinski: All symbols are easy for people to digest. Their easy on the brain, you know, whereas data and evidence is much tougher for us we have to digest it and think about it and come to new conclusions. Symbols can be very powerful. Here’s this symbol, it’s on the back of the dollar bill. You can attach a picture to it. And it’s much easier to do that than to say, “Well listen, we have free markets and we have democracy and both those things are incredibly messy and no one is really controlling it,” but if I give you a few symbols and attach a name to it, all of a sudden you have an evil villain that you can pin the blame on.
OK. But evil villains do exist … is it really such a stretch to believe others like them might be using symbols to signal their secret intentions?
Joseph Uscinski: There are all sorts of things that people see that they think are clues put out there. So the dollar bill, the way the roads are made in Washington, DC. There’s a painting in the airport in Colorado that people think is really an illuminati base because there’s a weird painting painted on the wall there. People think there are secret messages in the movies in the music. The truth is if you’re pulling off a grand conspiracy the idea is that you want to do this in secret, you don’t want to be caught, you don’t want to put out clues. It doesn’t make sense. None of this makes sense.
So instead of signifying an all-seeing power that watches over us all, and hints to greater and more sinister plans ahead, maybe the simpler explanation is true: It’s just a symbol
The film’s cast and crew included two people who had appeared in an earlier Van Damme film: Michel Qissi (a good friend of his) and Sheldon Lettich. This was the second time Qissi played a villain in a Van Damme film, the first being notably as Tong Po in Kickboxer (1989). Lettich helped write one of Van Damme’s breakthrough films, Bloodsport, along with another Van Damme film, Double Impact. The film grossed $24.3 million on a $6 million budget.
Lyon Gaultier is in the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Djibouti, North Africa. His brother, who is married to an American in Los Angeles, is set on fire during a drug deal gone bad. He is badly burned and taken to intensive care where he screams out his brothers name over and over – “Lyon!”.
Lyon is a convict serving out his sentence in the French Foreign Legion. He receives a letter from his sister-in-law asking him to come back to L.A. as his brother is dying.
He escapes the Legion in a daring break out after senior officers try to imprison him and stop him returning to see his brother. He heads out across the desert to the coast in a jeep and ends up on foot before coming to the coast to a dockyard.
He finds boileroom work on a tramp steamer headed for the U.S. and after the Captain tries to prevent him leaving the ship Lyon overpowers him and dives overboard to swim to some docks in the distance.
Cold and hungry with nothing but the wet boileroom clothes he has scrounged he sets off to try and find a way to make the journey across country to L.A.
Lyon is attracted to an illegal street fight being run by a New Yorker called Joshua. He steps forward to take part in the next fight and destroys his opponent, leaving Joshua astounded. Joshua calls Lyon “the Lion – King of the Jungle” based on his unusual name. Joshua takes Lyon to meet a person called Cynthia, also known as ‘The Lady,’ who organizes underground fights for the rich elite and she decides to sponsor him – dubbing her new fighter “Lionheart”
Figuring that this would be the best way to earn the money he needs to get to L.A., Lyon fights in another no-holds-barred bare-knuckle fight to finance the trip. His next opponent “Sonny” has great distain for his opponents kicking his first opponent squarely inone his groin after the fight is all but over and spitting on him once he is left writhing on the floor in pain. Lyon returns the treatment by counterpunching Sonny straight in the groin with one single focused blow after intimidating him into attacking first.
After leaving the fight Lyon and Joshua look for a phone but get accosted by a street gang who pull guns and knives. Lyon and Joshua fight them off. Joshua calls in a favour from Cynthia and she gets them both across the states to L.A.
Meanwhile Lyon’s Legion Commander travels to Paris and finds that Lyon’s desertion is ranked at low importance with the LAPD, so the Commandant sends two of his own men to bring Gaultier back.
Once in L.A., Lyon goes to the hospital where he finds his brother has died and had done nothing but call for him for weeks up to his death.
He is told by the doctor that the culprits of his murder were never caught but that his brother’s wife Helen and young daughter Nicole are broke and have a stack of unpaid medical bills.
Lyon and Joshua track down Helen’s address. She refuses to accept any financial aid from Lyon, even though she obviously needs it, because she is angry with Lyon for “deserting” his brother years ago and blames him for his involvement in drugs. She threatens to call the cops and Lyon leaves.
To help their financial situation Lyon agrees with Cynthia to continue fighting in the L.A. street fighting circuit but spurns her repeated advances – which angers her.
Lyon next fights a martial artist similar to his own style of Taekwondo / Muai Thai in a mostly drained swimming pool eventually beating him with an elbow uppercut to the jaw which knocks his opponent unconscious in the shallow water from which Lyon drags him out.
Later on he fights a wrestler in a squash court in a different match up. Just as the wrestler picks Lyon up head high to body slam him he manages to elbow him in the head whereupon the wrestler drops him allowing him to be perform a series of side piercing kicks – the last sending the wrestler through the viewing glass on the back wall.
Since Helen refuses to interact with Lyon, Joshua poses as an insurance agent and gives her the winnings in the form of checks, which they claim are from a life insurance policy her husband had. Cynthia is angered that Lyon isn’t keeping the money and becomes suspicious of his motives and possibly jealous of Helen.
Lyon’s next fight involves a proud Scotsman (complete with ceremonial kilt). The fight takes place in a garage with the ring being illuminated by prestige car headlights. Lyon gets distracted by the Scotsman and changes his fighting style to match and ends up using all his energy clambering over the cars and trading blow for blow with his opponent. However the Scotsman is similarly exhausted and all Lyon needs to do at the end of the fight is to let him fall out of his hands.
Two Legionnaires sent from the desert catch up with Lyon in Los Angeles after staking out his sister-in-law’s appartment. Lyon fights them off, but suffers a broken rib. He is saved from the fight when Cynthia’s assistant (who has been tracking him) arrives and takes him away.
Cynthia meets with the Legionnaires and shows them a tape of a fighter named “Attila,” and says that she has booked Lyon a fight with him. Attila is undefeated and appears to permanently disable his opponents with callous finishing moves. Cynthia agrees to hand Lyon over to the Legionnaires after the fight. In order to skew the odds, Cynthia arranges a meeting with potential betters where she shows an altered tape of Attila which makes him look like a poor fighter.
Just prior to the fight, Joshua realizes Lyon is hurt. He encourages him not to fight and recalls a time when he was a fighter and Cynthia set him up similarly, but Lyon ignores him and is determined to win the money to take Helen and Nicole away. Lyon has already placed his stake on the fight, but Joshua is torn whether he should bet on Lyon or Attila.
As the fight proceeds, Lyon is obviously hurt by his rib which Attila takes full advantage of. However Lyon refuses to be intimidated by Attila’s strength and brutal fighting style which infuriates him.
When it appears Attila has won after knocking him down yet again Joshua begs Lyon to give up and tells him he bet on Attila because he feared Lyon would lose and become hurt. Lyon, angered by this news, summons his remaining strength to defeat Attila stating to Joshua he has made the “Wrong bet!”. He manages to perform a series of jump turning kicks followed by a trademark Van Damme jump spin kick in split position. Eventually we see the two fighting in the crowd where Lyon badly pummels Attila but fortunately Lyon backs off before killing him as we are reminded that Lyon has learnt his fighting technique in military service not in the ring.
Cynthia is ruined and is apprehended by the bookies as she put her entire fortune on Attila. And Lyon is taken into custody by the Legionnaires after making amends with Joshua. They take him back to the apartment to say goodbye to his family before returning to Africa, where he will be court-martialed for desertion.
Once they drive away, though, they stop and tell Lyon to get out, wishing him luck as he has fought bravely and he has a family to care for now. He runs back to his family and Joshua, who embrace him.
Director Sheldon Lettich had co-written Bloodsport, the film that turned Van Damme into a star. They had become friends and Van Damme was impressed with a short film Lettich made, Firebase, and agreed for Lettich to direct. The director later recalled
Lionheart was a defining film for Van Damme because I did not shy away from giving him considerable amounts of dialogue and character development throughout the film. I trusted him to pull this off, whereas before nobody else believed he could do much more than just deliver some fancy kicks and simple one-liners. Lionheart was the first movie to demonstrate that Van Damme was more than just a flash-in-the-pan “Karate Guy” who would never rise above simplistic low-budget karate movies.
In the film, Van Damme shows his backside in one scene. While we were filming the scene in Lionheart where he takes a shower in Cynthia’s apartment, he asked me if he might casually “drop his towel” and show off his butt for a brief moment. My reply was “Sure, if you’re willing, why not? We can always use a different take later if we decide it’s not a good idea.” So we did one take where he casually lets the towel drop away, and then we later decided to go ahead and put that shot in the movie. Well, that became a very memorable moment for the ladies in the audience, and for the gay guys as well. Showing off his butt (clothed or unclothed) almost became a signature trademark of his after that.
The critical reception for the film was negative. On the film aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 27% based on 15 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale.
Lionheart performed well at the box office, debuting in 3rd position in the US with sales of about $7 million. The film dropped to 7th in its second week, and to 9th in its third. The film earned $24.3 million worldwide on a budget of $6 million.
Director Sheldon Lettich says the film became very popular among his fans:
People love the characters. They’re particularly fond of Lyon’s motor-mouthed, self-appointed “manager,” Joshua. Van Damme’s female fans seem especially enamored of this film because it was the first (and possibly the best) to showcase JCVD’s softer, more compassionate side. In Lionheart he’s not fighting for revenge or to “honor his Sensei,” or any of the usual motivations that are typical for these sorts of movies; he’s fighting for his family. He’s getting himself bruised and bloodied in these brutal street fights so that his little niece can get a new bicycle.
“There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise”
Albert Camus~~”The Plague”
Camus’ novel of a lethal contagion in the North African city of Oran is filled with characters all too recognizable today: indifferent or incompetent officials, short sighted and selfish citizens, and lots of great courage. What not even Camus could imagine, however, is a society in the midst of a deadly epidemic pouring vast amounts of wealth into instruments of death.
Welcome to the world of the hypersonic weapons, devices that are not only superfluous, but which will almost certainly not work, They will, however, cost enormous amounts of money. At a time when countries across the globe are facing economic chaos, financial deficits and unemployment at Great Depression levels, arms manufacturers are set to cash in big.
Hypersonic weapons are missiles that go five times faster than sound — 3,800 mph — although some reportedly can reach speeds of Mach 20 — 15,000 mph. They come in two basic varieties, one powered by a high-speed scramjet, the other — launched from a plane or missile — glides to its target. The idea behind the weapons is that their speed and maneuverability will make them virtually invulnerable to anti-missile systems.
Currently there is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia and the US, and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.
Truth is the first casualty in an arms race.
In the 1950s, it was the “bomber gap” between the Americans and the Soviets. In the 1960s, it was the “missile gap” between the two powers. Neither gap existed, but vast amounts of national treasure were, nonetheless, poured into long-range aircraft and thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The enormous expenditures on those weapons, in turn, heightened tensions between the major powers and on at least three occasions came very close to touching off a nuclear war.
In the current hypersonic arms race, “hype” is the operational word. “The development of hypersonic weapons in the United States,” says physicist James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “has been largely motivated by technology, not by strategy. In other words, technologists have decided to try and develop hypersonic weapons because it seems like they should be useful for something, not because there is a clearly defined mission need for them to fulfill.”
They have certainly been “useful” to Lockheed Martin, the largest arms manufacturer in the world. The company has already received $3.5 billion to develop the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (Arrow) glide missile, and the scramjet — driven Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (Hacksaw) missile.
The Russians also have several hypersonic missiles, including the Avangard glide vehicle, a missile said to be capable of Mach 20. China is developing several hypersonic missiles, including the DF-ZF, supposedly capable of taking out aircraft carriers.
In theory, hypersonic missiles are unstoppable. In real life, not so much.
The first problem is basic physics: speed in the atmosphere produces heat. High speed generates lots of it. ICBMs avoid this problem with a blunt nose cone that deflects the enormous heat of re-entering the atmosphere as the missile approaches its target. But it only has to endure heat for a short time because much of its flight is in frictionless low earth orbit.
Hypersonic missiles, however, stay in the atmosphere their entire flight. That is the whole idea. An ICBM follows a predictable ballistic curve, much like an inverted U and, in theory, can be intercepted. A missile traveling as fast as an ICBM but at low altitude, however, is much more difficult to spot or engage.
But that’s when physics shows up and does a Las Vegas: what happens on the drawing board stays on the drawing board.
Without a heat deflecting nose cone, high-speed missiles are built like big needles, since they need to decrease the area exposed to the atmosphere Even so, they are going to run very hot. And if they try to maneuver, that heat will increase. Since they can’t carry a large payload they will have to very accurate, but as a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, that is “problematic.”
According to the Union, an object traveling Mach 5 for a period of time “slowly tears itself apart during the flight.” The heat is so great it creates a “plasma” around the craft that makes it difficult “to reference GPS or receive outside course correction commands.”
If the target is moving, as with an aircraft carrier or a mobile missile, it will be almost impossible to alter the weapon’s flight path to intercept it. And any external radar array would never survive the heat or else be so small that it would have very limited range. In short, you can’t get from here to there.
Lockheed Martin says the tests are going just fine, but then Lockheed Martin is the company that builds the F-35, a fifth generation stealth fighter that simply doesn’t work. It does, however, cost $1.5 trillion, the most expensive weapons system in US history. The company has apparently dropped the scramjet engine because it tears itself apart, hardly a surprise.
The Russians and Chinese claim success with their hypersonic weapons and have even begun deploying them. But Pierre Sprey, a Pentagon designer associated with the two very successful aircraft — the F-16 and the A-10 — told defense analyst Andrew Cockburn that he is suspicious of the tests.
“I very much doubt those test birds would have reached the advertised range had they maneuvered unpredictably,” he told Cockburn. “More likely they were forced to fly a straight, predictable path. In which case hypersonics offer no advantage whatsoever over traditional ballistic missiles.”
While Russia, China and the US lead the field in the development of hypersonics, Britain, France, India and Japan have joined the race.
Why is everyone building them?
At least the Russians and the Chinese have a rationale. The Russians fear the US anti-missile system might cancel out their ICBMs, so they want a missile that can maneuver. The Chinese would like to keep US aircraft carriers away from their shores. But anti-missile systems can be easily fooled by the use of cheap decoys, and the carriers are vulnerable to much more cost effective conventional weapons. In any case hypersonic missiles can’t do what they are advertised to do.
For the Americans, hypersonics are little more than a very expensive subsidy for the arms corporations. Making and deploying weapons that don’t work is nothing new. The F-35 is a case in point, but nevertheless, there have been many systems produced over the years that were deeply flawed.
The US has spent over $200 billion on anti-missile systems and once they come off the drawing boards, none of them work very well, if at all.
Probably the one that takes the prize is the Mark-28 tactical nuke, nick-named the “Davy Crockett,” and its M-388 warhead. Because the M-388 was too delicate to be used in conventional artillery, it was fired from a recoil-less rife with a range of 2.5 miles. Problem: if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction the Crockett cooked its three-man crew. It was only tested once and found to be “totally inaccurate.” So, end of story? Not exactly. A total of 2,100 were produced and deployed, mostly in Europe.
While the official military budget is $738 billion, if one pulls all US defense related spending together, the actual cost for taxpayers is $1.25 trillion a year, according to William Hartung of the Center for International Policy. Half that amount would go a long way toward providing not only adequate medical support during the Covid-19 crisis, it would pay jobless Americans a salary
Given that there are more than 31 million Americans now unemployed and the possibility that numerous small businesses — restaurants in particular — will never re-open, building and deploying a new generation of weapons is a luxury the US — and other countries — cannot afford. In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines.
Submitters Bio: Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, “A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the journalism program at the University of California at Santa Cruz for 23 years, and won the UCSC Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as UCSC’s Innovations in Teaching Award, and Excellence in Teaching Award. He was also a college provost at UCSC, and retired in 2004. He is a winner of a Project Censored “Real News Award,” and lives in Berkeley, California.
This article documents how technocrats are capitalizing on the COVID-19 crisis to ram through the next phase of Project BEST (Better Education Skills through Technology), which is a corporate-fascist plan to replace brick-and-mortar public schools with for-profit ed-tech companies while substituting human teachers with “Skinner-box” AI computers that condition students for workforce placement in a planned economy. By John Klyczek
(Image by CDC) DetailsDMCA Consider this: before you can die from COVID, you have to contract the disease. In fact, it takes about 3 weeks on average to kill a patient. So we’d expect that the number of people coming down with COVID would have peaked 3 weeks earlier than the deaths peaked. That would have been the last week of March.But here we are in May, and the number of reported cases is first showing signs of coming down, and very slowly at that: (Image by World In Data) DetailsDMCA If we look at this graph, the number of cases was still rising rapidly the last week in March, when we expected infection rates should have started declining.What sense can we make of this? One interpretation is that doctors are learning much better how to treat the disease, so even though more cases keep coming in, they are preventing more of them from dying.Another possibility is that the virus is mutating and becoming less lethal. This is the expected course for most viruses. Over time, they tend to become more infectious but less damaging to the host. But this usually takes more than a few weeks to happen.Or it may be that the numbers are not being reported accurately. Hospitals can claim a 20% bonus on their billings (for doing exactly the same procedures) if they report that a patient has COVID. Perhaps they’ve started over-reporting COVID cases.This article argues that the numbers are being goosed, maybe in order to scare us.Here’s another reason to look under the hood and raise questions. (I beg your patience with some meathematical reasoning.) Every COVID patient was, presumably, infected by an earlier COVID patient. If each existing patient infects more than one new patient, then the numbers rise faster and faster. Technically, we expect to see a rising exponential curve. On the other hand, if each existing patient infects less than one new patient, then the numbers fall rapidly toward zero. This is a falling exponential curve.The only way the curve could stay flat for long periods of time would be if the number of new people infected were to be exactly one, no more and no less. We’d expect this to be a rare and unstable situation.Readers, I invite your comments and theories about what’s going on. As for me, I suspect we’re not being told the truth.
Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there to mathematical modeling in a variety of areas, including evolutionary ecology and economics. He has taught mathematics, statistics, and physics at several universities. He is an avid amateur pianist, and father of two adopted Chinese girls, now grown. He travels to Beijing each year to work with a lab studying the biology of aging. His book on the subject is “Cracking the Aging Code”, http://tinyurl.com/y7yovp87.
We look at the tremendous emotional toll the coronavirus is taking on families when loved ones are forced to battle COVID alone in hospitals or at home, with Dr. Diane Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and a professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She helped start a 24-hour palliative care hotline for COVID-19 patients in New York City that served nearly 900 people in a four-week period.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. We’re broadcasting from the epicenter of the pandemic, as we turn now to look at the tremendous emotional toll the coronavirus is taking on families when loved ones are forced to battle COVID alone in hospitals or at home. The virus is so contagious that hospitals have been forced to ban family members from tending to their sick relatives in person, often making healthcare workers and the staff of the hospital the only human contact for dying patients, who are relying on technology to say their goodbyes to their loved ones.
These extraordinary circumstances have led to a surge in the need for palliative care specialists — doctors and nurses who focus on relieving pain and supporting patients and their families who are facing such severe, chronic or fatal illness.
For more on palliative care, we’re go to Carmel, New York, where we’re joined by Diane Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She helped start a 24-hour palliative care hotline for COVID-19 patients in New York City that served nearly 900 people in a four-week period.
Professor Meier, it’s great to have you back on Democracy Now! Why don’t we start off with that big word, with this term “palliative care,” what it means? And what people all over have come to understand is that you have a patient who is in the hospital or at home, and they’re dying alone.
DR. DIANE MEIER: Thank you, Amy. It’s great to see you again.
Palliative care, what is it? I’m so glad you started with that question, because that remains the $64 question in our field. And that is that most people, including health professionals, don’t really know what it is. And it’s very simple. Palliative care is a new medical and nursing specialty — by “new,” I mean it’s about 10 years old — that is focused on the relief of suffering and the best possible quality of life for people living with a serious illness.
So, you can tell from what I said that it is not solely about the dying; it is about people living with serious illness. So, for example, if you have dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, or emphysema and difficulty breathing or heart problems or you’re on dialysis, those are all serious illnesses, with which people can live and often do live for many years. But those diseases pose a huge burden on ability to function, on symptom burden and on our loved ones, our family caregivers who help us get through this. And the field of palliative care is about trying to reduce that burden and reduce that suffering, not only on patients themselves, but also on those who care for them.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Meier, could you talk about what the effect of this virus has been on palliative care and end-of-life care?
DR. DIANE MEIER: So, this virus has had an enormous impact on the field of palliative care in two main ways. The first is that it is obvious to everyone, our fellow health professionals, as well as members of the general public, that there is a great deal of suffering associated with this virus, and not just, as Andrew Solomon said, anxiety, fear, depression, but also physical suffering, like shortness of breath, profound fatigue, recurrent very high fevers, and the symptoms that go along with that.
And if you get to the hospital, if you’re sick enough to need the hospital, are having enough breathing difficulty that it’s a possibility that you will need to be on a breathing machine, once you set foot in the hospital or are wheeled into the hospital, your family is sent home. And they are sent home because we’re not allowing any visitors in the hospital. And part of that is to try to reduce risk to those visitors, since we have so many COVID-positive patients in the hospital. And part of it is to reduce risk to people working in the hospital of asymptomatic family members coming in who are carrying the virus but don’t know it because they still feel OK.
So, under normal circumstances of serious illness, the one thing we can rely on, the one thing that is the silver lining of the experience, is our relationship with our family and our other loved ones, is the human connection that grows and strengthens in a period of serious illness. In this pandemic, that’s the one thing you’re not allowed to have. And I am very concerned, as Andrew Solomon is, that the mental health consequences of people being isolated just when they most need each other, just when they most need their families and their families need them, is going to be enormous.
AMY GOODMAN: If you can talk about what happens, and what you feel needs to happen, in the hospital when the patient is dying, their beloved family wants to be with them but can’t — both that situation and what is the best way to deal with that? And also, the effect on the healthcare professionals, who are so overwhelmed, whether we’re talking doctors, nurses, the staff of the hospitals, already with so many patients, and they also understand they are the last people that this patient will see?
DR. DIANE MEIER: So, you hit on the three elements that I think are important to focus on. The first is: What is the impact on the patient? The second: What is the impact on family and other loved ones? And the third is: What is the impact on clinicians, healthcare workers, who are a witness to this? I guess “brutality” is one word that comes to mind, because imagining people alone during a time like this feels brutal to think about.
So, on patients, when we’re scared, when we’re confused, when we have a high fever, we’re having difficulty breathing, the only human beings we see are covered up entirely. They’re wearing masks. They’re wearing facial shields. They’re wearing gowns and gloves. You can barely see their eyes. It is as if you are in contact with Martians, not human beings. And on top of that, in order to protect healthcare workers, every hospital is maximizing the attempt to keep health are workers out of the patients’ rooms. So, for example, we’re setting people up with IVs and pumps that can be put outside the room, with very long tubing, so that nurses and other staff do not need to repeatedly enter the patient’s room. So, not only are they completely covered in personal protective equipment, their time in the patient’s room is 90% less than it normally would be. So human contact of any kind is markedly diminished because of this pandemic. And as you pointed out earlier, as Andrew pointed out earlier, we are fundamentally and biologically social animals. And when you remove all of the warmth and the interaction and the human contact that we evolved to be critically dependent on, the distress and suffering and confusion is inconceivable.
Then let’s move on to families. Amy, you will remember this, that when families talk to us about looking back on the serious illness or death of a loved one, they always talk about the same two things. One is that their loved one was comfortable, that they weren’t in terrible pain or shortness of breath or very agitated. And the second thing they say is “We were all there. We were all there.” And that gives tremendous comfort, looking back, that when it really counted, we showed up. We showed up for the people we love most. We were there. We left our jobs. We flew across the country. We were there. And families can’t do that anymore. And I think the level of grief and bereavement, and the difficulty overcoming that, when families can’t say, “We were there. He was really comfortable and peaceful. We were all there,” is — it’s never happened before, at least not in recent history. And I think it will lead to an enormous level of complicated grief and bereavement, feelings of shame, feelings of guilt, feelings like “I should have, I should have,” even though there was nothing anyone could do. You can’t visit the hospital when you’re not allowed to visit the hospital. And anything that we in the health professions can do to help overcome that is crucial.
And then there’s the third group, which is us — doctors, nurses, social workers, environmental services staff, food staff. We are witness to this isolation and this kind of — I don’t know if “stigmatization” is the right word. But when you isolate someone, and you try to keep staff out of the room, and you don’t let families in because the patient has COVID, and no one wants to come — we don’t want anyone to come near them, there is a kind of stigmatization that goes with that and that suggests that the patient has become a danger to others — not only to him or herself, but also to others. And that dehumanizes the patient. And so, I’m very concerned about how the normal instincts of doctors and nurses and social workers, and everyone who works in the healthcare system, which is to care and show human support and warmth and to smile and to joke around and to remind the patient that he or she is still part of the human family — all of those have gone away.
So, that brings me to: What can we do?
AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.
DR. DIANE MEIER: Oh, OK. Well, we’ll have to talk about that another time. But there’s a lot that we can do to remediate that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t we say there will be a post-show right now? And we will post it online at democracynow.org. People can go right to it. We want to thank Dr. Diane Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
And a very happy landmark birthday to our colleague Erin Dooley!
That does it for our show. Democracy Now! is working with as few people on site as possible. The majority of our amazing team is working from home. Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey, Nermeen Shaikh, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran. Special thanks to Julie Crosby. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks for joining us.The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.
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