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A New Year’s Message from IAC founder

Posted by terres on December 26, 2008

International Action Center
55 West 17th St., Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10011
212-633-6646
http://www.IACenter.org

A New Year’s Message from IAC founder Ramsey Clark

Dear friends,

We are at a crucial historic juncture.

We cannot sit back and expect that change will just happen now.  In order to make real change, people must be mobilized and organized.  Otherwise, all of the hopes for a new direction can be quickly diverted.

The International Action Center (IAC) is unique.  Its role is recognized worldwide and here in the U.S.  This is because the IAC provides—for activists and political movements—a bold, independent voice that is so needed today.

Flouting the mandate of the people of the U.S. who want the troops withdrawn and this horrific war ended, the U.S. government has just imposed a new “Status of Forces” Agreement on Iraq which would keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops and mercenaries there for the next three years (at the cost of $12 billion a month)!

While the entire Bush program has been repudiated, the atrocities and illegal imprisonment continue at Guantanamo.  U.S. missiles rain down on villages in Pakistan, killing civilians, and they, together with NATO weapons, increasingly hit children, women and men in Afghanistan–where tens of thousands of U.S. troops could likely be sent.  Bellicosity continues towards Iran and other nations in the Middle East.  NATO is expanding which raises the danger of new confrontations with Russia in Georgia, the Ukraine, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

The military budget continues to grow at a gargantuan rate, far surpassing that of any in U.S. history, diverting massive funds and depriving millions here of needed health care, housing, and education, while infrastructures deteriorate, and thousands hard-hit by hurricane disasters have been abandoned by the government.

Join us in a New Year of Struggle!

Donate online at

http://iacenter.org/donate

The spiraling economic meltdown means millions of people are losing their jobs and homes while states implement massive and harsh cutbacks in vital social programs.  Yet trillions of dollars in “bailouts” are handed over to the banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions of wealth.

But there is reason for hope–there is opposition to the wars abroad, to the violations of civil liberties and basic rights abroad and at home, including the terrible witch hunt on immigrants, and to the sweeping economic attacks on poor and working people as the policy-driven greater concentration of wealth and growth of poverty intensifies.  And millions of people feel hope because of the historic election of an African-American man.

It is critical that organizing grows on every front.  In order to make real change, it takes mobilizing and strong, independent and decisive actions.

The International Action Center (IAC) is well-situated and long-experienced to be a major organizing force in this period.   The IAC has been a consistent, determined and independent voice and major mobilizing center against U.S. wars, sanctions and military interventions for 17 years, since the first Gulf War.  This principled organization of activists has courageously held protests, meetings and forums across the country, opposing U.S. aggression against Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, Palestine, Somalia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Sudan, Bolivia, Panama and Korea.

IAC organizers have produced many books–translated into several languages—for the public, scholars, and anti-war protesters here and worldwide, while providing a center and resources for a new generation of activists. The People’s Video Network has produced many politically-educational videos, while building an alternative media network.

The IAC has taken on struggles against racism, bigotry, injustice and more–from standing with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors in their still unmet quest for justice, to supporting immigrants’ rights, opposing the death penalty and challenging military recruitment.

And now, in this crucial time of economic crisis and hardship, the IAC, which is fiercely committed to a Peoples’ Agenda, has helped launch and organize campaigns against home foreclosures and evictions, utility shut-offs, mass transit rate increases, and for healthcare.

The IAC looks forward to a new year of struggle against war and political, social and economic injustice!

Our New Year’s Resolution for 2009 must be to organize together tirelessly to end the occupation of Iraq, to stop a new war against Iran or any nation, and to stop incessant provocations against Islam, Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Cuba and others.   We must work to promote international friendship and respect for humankind and to oppose the policies of domination, globalization and war.

We invite you to join in the new year of activism with the IAC and to support its vital work.

You can make a difference!

Donate online at http://iacenter.org/donate

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Health Business in Uninted States of Sheepland

Posted by terres on May 6, 2008

The Sorry State of Health Care in the United States

By Ralph Nader

This is a tale of pay or die that recurs again and again all over our country and only in our country in the entire western world.

Advised by her physician to go to M.D. Anderson for urgent treatment of her leukemia, Mrs. Kelly was told she had to pay $105,000 up front before being admitted. The hospital declared her limited insurance unacceptable.

Sitting in the business office with seriously advanced cancer, she asked herself – “Are they going to send me home?” “Am I going to die?”

Time out from her torment for a moment. M.D. Anderson started this upfront payment demand in 2005 because of a spike in its bad debt load.

The Journal explains – “The bad debt is driven by a larger number of Americans who are uninsured or who don’t have enough insurance to cover costs if catastrophe strikes. Even among those with adequate insurance, deductibles and co-payments are growing so big that insured patients also have trouble paying hospitals.”

It isn’t as if non-profit hospitals like M.D. Anderson are hurting. Look at this finding in an Ohio State University study: net income per bed at non-profit hospitals tripled to $146,273 in 2005 from $50,669 in 2000. And you also may have noticed the huge pay packages awarded hospital executives.

M.D. Anderson, exempt from taxation, recipient of funds from large government programs and research grants has cash, investments and endowment totaling $1.9 billion, with net income of $310 million last year, the Journal reports.


A twelfth-century Byzantine manuscript of the Hippocratic Oath in the form of a cross dagger.

Hippocratic Oath Modern Version written by Louis Lasagna, former Dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences of Tufts University, in 1964.

Back to the 52 year old, Lisa Kelly. She and her husband returned with a check for $45,000. After a blood test and biopsy, the hospital oncologist urged admittance quickly. Then the hospital demanded an additional $60,000-$45,000 just for the lab tests and $15,000 for part of the cost of the treatment.

To shorten the story, she received chemotherapy for over a year. Often her appointment was “blocked” until she made another payment.

In a particularly grotesque incident, she was hooked up to a chemotherapy pump, but the nurses were not allowed to change the chemo bag until Mr. Kelly made another payment.

She endured other indignities and overcharges. Reporter Martinez cites $360 for blood tests that insurers pay $20 or less for and up to $120 for saline pouches that cost less than $2 retail.

Imagine anything like Mrs. Kelly’s predicament and pressures occurring in Canada, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Holland, England or any other western country. It would never happen.

These countries have universal single payer health insurance. No one dies because they cannot afford health care. In America, 18,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford health care, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Many more get sick or become sicker.

None of these countries spend more than 11% of their GDP on healthcare. The U.S. spends over 16% of its GDP on health care and does not cover 47 million people and tens of millions are under covered

In the U.S. the drug companies charge their highest prices in the world, even though we, the taxpayers, subsidized them in large ways. In other countries like Mexico and Canada, they cannot get away with such drug price gouging, with a pay or die ultimatum.

In the U.S., computerized billing fraud and abuse cost over $200 billion last year, according to the GAO arm of Congress. In other counties, single payer prevents such looting.

In other countries, administrative expenses of their single payer system are about a third of what the Aetna’s and other insurers rack up.

In other western countries, medical outcomes for children and adults and paid family leave are far superior to that of the U.S. The World Health Organization ranks the US health care system 37th in the world.

When apologists in Washington hear these statistics, they say “but we have the best medical research centers in the world, like M.D. Anderson.”

Clearly much is wrong with the nature of pricing health care.

Like other hospitals, M.D. Anderson is caught in a macabre spider’s web of cost allocations mixing treatment costs with research budgets, cash reserves, and just plain accounting gimmicks that burden patients. (Documents from Mrs. Kelly’s case are available at http://online.wsj.com today.)

When a friend showed the Journal’s article to a Dutch visitor, the latter blurted in anger – “you are a nation of sheep.” Not a very flattering description of “the land of the free, home of the brave.”

Someday, soon maybe, Americans will finally band together and say “enough already,” we’re going for full Medicare for all- without loopholes for corporate profiteers and purveyors of waste and fraud.

Last month after being in remission, Lisa Kelly’s leukemia has come back.

END.

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Posted in bush, cabal, Congress, corporate profiteering, corporate racketeering, corruption, human rights, medical care, military budget, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »