Since the Arab Spring in Egypt Women have been Attacked, Groped and Stripped of their Clothes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

In 1979 Iranian college students, including women, overthrew the Shah of Iran.  For these young women who were going to college, or recently graduated from college, thought the world looked bleak under the Shah of Iran.  So they had a mini Arab Spring.  To help sweep in democracy.  To throw out the tyrant.  So these women living in a fairly Westernized Islamic Arab country could more fully enjoy their lives.  Well, they got their wish.  They deposed the Shah.  And within a year or so found themselves in an Islamist nation living under Sharia law.  The Western freedoms they once enjoyed were gone.  And here we are some 30 years later and Iran is still an Islamist nation living under Sharia law.  Where women enjoy no Western freedoms like going to college.  Or wearing blue jeans.  No doubt those former college protesters regret their actions of some 30 years ago.  Because truth be told things were not that bad under the Shah of Iran.  Especially if you were a woman.  For it sure was a lot better than what women enjoy today in Iran.

Fast forward to 2011 in Egypt and the exact same thing happened.  College students, including women, in a fairly Westernized Islamic Arab country did exactly what the college kids did in Iran.  Even President Obama asked our staunch friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, to step down from power.  For it was the Arab Spring.  And democracy was flourishing.  Abandoned and isolated and not wishing to turn his army on his people like Muammar Gaddafi did in Libya or Bashar al-Assad has and is doing in Syria, Mubarak stepped down peacefully.  And now the Muslim Brotherhood is in power.  And they’re talking about installing an Islamist government ruled under strict Sharia Law.  Just like their friends did in Iran some 30 years earlier.  No doubt these college protesters regret their recent actions.  Because truth be told things were not that bad under Hosni Mubarak.  Especially if you were a woman.  For it sure was a lot better than what women enjoy today in Egypt.

So exactly how are things for women in Egypt these days?  Not great (see Female reporter ‘savagely attacked and groped’ in Cairo during live broadcast for French TV news channel by Daily Mail Reporter posted 10/20/2012 on the Daily Mail).

A correspondent for France 24 TV was ‘savagely attacked’ near Cairo’s Tahrir Square after being seized by a crowd, the network said on Saturday.

The news channel said in a statement that Sonia Dridi was attacked around 10:30pm on Friday after a live broadcast on a protest at the square and was later rescued by a colleague and other witnesses.

It was the latest case of violence against women at the epicenter of Egypt’s restive protests…

Tahrir Square was the main hub of a popular uprising that toppled longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak last year. Since then, it has seen numerous other protests staged by a range of groups.

At the height of the uprising against Mubarak, Lara Logan, a correspondent for U.S. network CBS, was sexually assaulted and beaten in Tahrir Square.

She said later that she believed she was going to die. After being rescued, Logan returned to the United States and was treated in a hospital for four days.

The square has seen a rise in attacks against women since protesters returned this summer for new rallies, including incidents of attackers stripping women – both fellow demonstrators and journalists – of their clothes.

No official numbers exist for attacks on women in the square because police do not go near the area and women rarely file official reports on such incidents, but activists and protesters have reported an increase in assaults against women.

And although sexual harassment is not new to Egypt, suspicions abound that many of the recent attacks are organized by opponents of various protests in a bid to drive people away.

Amnesty International said in a report in June that such attacks appeared designed to intimidate women and prevent them from fully participating in public life.

Islamist nations that have or are trying to implement Sharia law don’t like women having any freedoms they enjoy in Western nations.  This is no surprise.  And was no secret.  Abandoning Mubarak was a great foreign policy blunder.  Leaving the Middle East a more dangerous place.  Ditto for Libya.  Muammar Gaddafi was no longer a great threat to US security interests.  And was even suppressing radical Islamist elements within Libya.  Supporting the al-Qaeda connected opposition in the Libyan civil war was another US foreign policy blunder.  Leaving Libya a more dangerous place.  Resulting in the death of the US ambassador and three other Americans.  Who were left in a hostile and dangerous country without adequate protection we’ve recently learned.  Who asked for more security forces but were denied.  As it wouldn’t look good for a president running for reelection on a foreign policy success of killing Osama bin Laden and defeating al Qaeda.

Bad foreign policy.  Driven by domestic politics.  Not the reality of geopolitics.  Four Americans are dead.  And millions of women in the Middle East are condemned to a life of subservience and oppression.  Where a 14 year old girl in Pakistan gets shot in the head because she wants to go to school and get an education.  So she can be something other than subservient and oppressed.  But the Taliban saw it differently.  And shot her as a message to other women who dared to think they had a choice in their life.

Compare this life to the brutal war on women in the United States.  As the great misogynist, Mitt Romney, shows his hatred and utter contempt for women by keeping resumes for women that were seeking a position is his administration when he was governor of Massachusetts in a binder.  Shocking, yes?  A binder!  And you thought the Taliban/al Qaeda war on women was bad.  Yes, they may beat, strip, rape, shoot and kill women.  But they don’t organize resumes in a binder.  Not like Republican Mitt Romney.  Who they will attack as if he is evil incarnate.  But they won’t say a word about the Islamist war on women.  Or the bad American foreign policy that just condemned more of their Muslim sisters to further subservience and oppression.

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The NHS may be letting Elderly Patients Die to Help Cut Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

There are few things more difficult than watching a loved one die a slow death.  Nothing prepares you for this.  Even if you work in the health care industry (see My diary of mum’s awful death on the Liverpool Care Pathway: Nurse’s heart-rending account of how doctors decided  to put her mother on ‘pathway to death’ by Tom Rawstorne posted 10/19/2012 on the Daily Mail).

As a nurse and health visitor with 25 years’ experience, Carole Jones thought she knew the workings of the NHS inside out.

But when her 85-year-old mother Maureen was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge last year having suffered a stroke, she was totally unprepared for what followed.

Her mother’s chances of recovery having been written off by medics, a decision was taken — without Carole’s knowledge — to place Maureen on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

This is a plan ostensibly designed to ease the suffering of the dying, which can involve the heavy sedation of a patient and the removal of tubes providing food and fluid.

Over the past week, families have contacted the Daily Mail saying they believe their loved ones were wrongly put on the LCP by hospitals when they were not in fact close to death, fuelling the suspicion that it is used to hasten deaths to save the NHS money and free up beds.

In June this year, Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals, and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at Kent University, told a conference the LCP had become an ‘assisted death pathway’.

‘Very likely, many elderly patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP,’ he said.

It is so difficult when the roles reverse between parent and child.  When a parent consults with a doctor about his or her child you usually don’t have to worry whether the doctor is doing what’s best for the child.  When it is a daughter or son of a parent discussing an elderly parent’s treatment with a doctor it’s a different story.  Especially if that parent is suffering from dementia.  And the National Health Service is dealing with cost pressures from an aging population.

More people are leaving the workforce than entering it in the UK (as well as the US).  Which means two things.  Tax revenue is falling because of fewer workers (which means fewer taxpayers).  While at the same time a larger number of retirees are consuming a large share of health care services.  So that’s less money coming into the health service.  While the health service is spending more money on providing health care services.  Which is a problem.  If you spend more than you receive you will run deficits.  And if you can’t increase tax rates anymore that leaves only one other option.  Cost cutting.

Is this the reason why they are placing elderly patients in the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP)?  To help cut costs by having them die more efficiently?  Whether they are or not it would help cut costs.  Probably the largest cost savings they can make.  By removing the largest consumers of health care resources from the health care system.  A death panel, if you will.  Where some government bureaucrat makes a cold and calculated decision to let a person die because it’s the cost efficient thing to do.

It’s something to think about as they fully implement Obamacare.  For if the NHS is doing this it would follow that Obamacare will, too.  For both nations have aging populations.  Only the US has about five times the population of the UK so the US will probably have five times the cost pressures.  And will likely place five times the patients into the US equivalency of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

This is the bleak future of Obamacare.  Real death panels.  Despite what the proponents of Obamacare say.

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President Obama is “the Best Food-Stamp President in American History”

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

Newt Gingrich called President Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history.”  Because, Gingrich said, President Obama has spent more on food stamps than any other president.  Supporters of the president have attacked Gingrich’s comments.  Calling them untrue.  And racist.  So is Newt Gingrich a lying racist?  Or is President Obama the “the best food-stamp president in American history?”  All we can do is look at the numbers (see Report: Welfare government’s single largest budget item in FY 2011 at approx. $1.03 trillion by Caroline May posted 10/18/2012 on The Daily Caller).

The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee…

The data excludes spending on Social Security, Medicare, means-tested health care for veterans without service-connected disabilities, and the means-tested veterans pension program…

CRS reports that food assistance programs — the third largest welfare category behind health and cash assistance — experienced the greatest increase in spending, with 71 percent more spending in 2011 than in 2008. The agency explained that this spending increase was largely due to the growth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

Well, apparently President Obama is “the best food-stamp president in American history.”  At least, based on his 71% increase in food assistance programs spending.  Where most of the increase in spending came from food stamps.  So it would appear that Newt Gingrich is not a lying racist.

Total 2011 defense spending (military defense, veterans, foreign military aid and foreign economic aid) was $964.8 billion according to us government spending.  Or $0.9648 trillion.  Which is less than $1.03 trillion in spending on means-tested federal welfare programs.  Now here’s an interesting side note.  The Constitution calls for defense spending.  While it doesn’t call for any welfare spending.  So this is quite the deviation from our Founding.  And one the Founding Fathers would probably not approve of.  As you can enrich some defense contractors with that defense spending.  But you can’t buy a lot of votes with it.  Not like the votes you can buy by giving people lots and lots of free stuff.   And $1.03 trillion can buy a lot of stuff.

When you have an economic record that is an abject failure you can’t run on your record.  Because most people are not better off after 4 years of President Obama.  Unless, of course, they got some of that $1.03 trillion in additional federal spending.  Which is about all a failed presidency can hope for.  Grateful benefits recipients.  As long as there are enough of them.  And when you increase some federal spending by $1.03 trillion there just may be enough of them.

One final note.  We’ve had trillion dollar deficits in each of President Obama’s 4 years in office.  Deficits that we had to finance by borrowing from China.  Excessive spending and borrowing that caused the first credit downgrade in US history.  All, it would appear, to create more grateful benefits recipients to help with the president’s reelection.  Because his 4 years in office have been an abject failure.  With his only success being the expansion of the welfare state.  Leading to the aforementioned credit downgrade.  And a bleak future of a new normal.  High unemployment.  Low GDP growth.  High taxes.  Stagflation.  And Malaise.

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Australia to buy TV Ads to Explain how they increased the Cost of Electricity with their Carbon Tax

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

That carbon tax is so popular in Australia that they are buying television ads to explain how good it is.  Good for the environment.  And good for the consumer.  As they get a cleaner environment.  Not a bad deal considering the only people paying these carbon taxes are those filthy, polluting electricity producers.  And they deserve to pay this tax as a penalty for polluting the environment (see More costly carbon tax ads set for TV by Andrew Tillett Canberra posted 10/18/2012 on The West Australian).

A fresh round of carbon tax compensation TV advertisements could hit the airwaves, a Senate Estimates committee has heard.

Bureaucrats from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs told the hearing this morning a third phase of the campaign was being considered.

The first series of ads began in May and controversially failed to mention that extra payments going to households were to compensate them for higher living costs caused by the carbon tax.

Then again, it is the consumers that have to pay the higher electric rates those carbon taxes cause by increasing the cost to the electricity producers.  So they take a lot of wealth from the electric utilities.  Throw a little to the consumer stuck paying the higher electric rates to shut them up.  Sort of forget to tell them that it was their fault for those higher rates in the first place.  And use the rest to pay for their out of control government spending.  Which is what a carbon tax is for.  Because in this day and age with developed economies and welfare states it costs a whole lot more than it once did to buy votes.

Governments love taxing energy because people simply cannot live without consuming energy.  Which is why the US had their cap and trade (though they failed to implement it.  So far).  The Europeans have their emissions trading scheme.  And the Australians have their carbon tax.  Which are all just more elaborate ways to transfer wealth from the private sector to the public sector.  And has nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions.

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Rationing of Health Care Resources leaves those with Rare Diseases without Treatment in NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

So you think Obamacare care will provide everyone the same level of high quality health care?  Think again.  Or take a look at the UK.  For even though the UK has national health care under the NHS everyone still does not receive equal health care treatment.  Especially those with rare diseases that will be costly to treat (see Patients with rare conditions face postcode lottery by Denis Campbell posted 10/20/2012 on the guardian).

Seriously ill patients with life-threatening rare diseases are being denied vital drugs because of a postcode lottery across the NHS that campaigners say is frustrating and unfair.

New research reveals that patients with a rare condition have much less chance of accessing “orphan” medication if they live in England rather than Scotland or Wales. “Orphan” drugs treat patients with a condition affecting fewer than five in 10,000 people.

While the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved 68 drugs for use with patients with rare conditions such as unusual forms of cancer and epilepsy since 2000, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has assessed only 18 of them, recommending that seven become available on the NHS in England and Wales, and another five under certain restrictions…

Nice insisted the low number of such drugs it had examined was due to a lack of referrals from the Department of Health, as it can only assess the cost effectiveness of medications which ministers there ask them to look at.

But the DoH denied patients with rare conditions were missing out and insisted that the absence of a Nice appraisal should not stop them getting what they need. “There is no evidence of a ‘postcode lottery’ in access to these drugs”, said a spokesman.

First of all why do they have a government agency (Nice) even doing this?  One reason.  Costs.  So they must ration their limited health care resources.  For if they just give anyone life-saving medications regardless of costs it will limit what other treatments the NHS can provide.  Costs are real.  Just because you have a national health care system doesn’t make them go away.  Of course, in a national health care system costs take on a whole new meaning.  For they fund health care with tax dollars.  Tax dollars controlled by bureaucrats, not health care professionals.  So instead of a doctor deciding what’s best for the patient (as it is in America until Obamacare fully kicks in) a doctor must balance doing what’s best for the patient with what’s best for the state.  For spending too much money on someone who is just going to die in a short period of time is just not an efficient use of tax dollars.

Yeah, no doubt you’re thinking about that ominous phrase some say they included in Obamacare but they did not call out by name.  Death panels.  Where some government bureaucrat (or a panel of bureaucrats) makes life or death decisions in determining a patient’s care.  Not by consulting with the patient’s doctor but by consulting a table of acceptable health care treatments for someone based on the expected return of that health care investment.  They may not call these death panels but if the expected return on the health care investment does not meet the minimum acceptable return for that investment then the patient doesn’t get that life-sustaining treatment.  And will die.

So what can we expect in the future of Obamacare?  Well, it will probably have something like Nice.  A panel that makes decisions with assumptions and math like this (see Measuring effectiveness and cost effectiveness: the QALY from the Nice website).

Having used the QALY measurement to compare how much someone’s life can be extended and improved, we then consider cost effectiveness – that is, how much the drug or treatment costs per QALY. This is the cost of using the drugs to provide a year of the best quality of life available – it could be one person receiving one QALY, but is more likely to be a number of people receiving a proportion of a QALY – for example 20 people receiving 0.05 of a QALY.

Cost effectiveness is expressed as ‘£ per QALY’.

Each drug is considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally, however, if a treatment costs more than £20,000-30,000 per QALY, then it would not be considered cost effective.

How a QALY is calculated

Patient x has a serious, life-threatening condition.

•If he continues receiving standard treatment he will live for 1 year and his quality of life will be 0.4 (0 or below = worst possible health, 1= best possible health)

•If he receives the new drug he will live for 1 year 3 months (1.25 years), with a quality of life of 0.6.

The new treatment is compared with standard care in terms of the QALYs gained:

•Standard treatment: 1 (year’s extra life) x 0.4 = 0.4 QALY

•New treatment: 1.25 (1 year, 3 months extra life) x 0.6 = 0.75 QALY

Therefore, the new treatment leads to 0.35 additional QALYs (that is: 0.75 -0.4 QALY = 0.35 QALYs).

•The cost of the new drug is assumed to be £10,000, standard treatment costs £3000.

The difference in treatment costs (£7000) is divided by the QALYs gained (0.35) to calculate the cost per QALY. So the new treatment would cost £20,000 per QALY.

During an ABC News’ June 24 special, Questions for the President: Prescription for America, there was the following exchange (see Lungren says Obama would have government require a centenarian to get a pill, not a pacemaker posted 7/28/2009 on PolitiFact):

The exchange began when Sawyer introduced Jane Sturm, who takes care of her mother, Hazel, now 105. When Hazel was 100, Sturm said, the doctor told her she needed a pacemaker. Both mother and daughter said they were game, but an arrhythmia specialist initially said no, before seeing Hazel’s “joy of life” in person.

Sturm asked the president, “Outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, quality of life? Or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?”

After joking that he’d like to meet Sturm’s mother and “find out what she’s eating,” the president said, “I don’t think that we can make judgments based on peoples’ spirit. That would be a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that say that we are going to provide good, quality care for all people…”

Obama continued, “And all we’re suggesting — and we’re not going to solve every difficult problem in terms of end-of-life care. A lot of that is going to have to be, we as a culture and as a society starting to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves. But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that’s not making anybody’s mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know and your mom know that, you know what? Maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller. And those kinds of decisions between doctors and patients, and making sure that our incentives are not preventing those good decisions, and that — that doctors and hospitals all are aligned for patient care, that’s something we can achieve.”

This is the kind of information Nice provides.  Cool, calm, bureaucratic number crunching to determine what the proper medical treatment should be.  Balancing those two factors.  What’s best for the patient.  And what’s best for the state.  For spending too much money on someone who is just going to die in a short period of time is just not an efficient use of tax dollars.

So what can you expect from Obamacare when it’s your mother or grandmother in the hospital desperately needing treatment?  Well, the doctor may come out to the waiting room where you’re sitting scared and distraught and say, “I’m sorry.  But the National Health Efficiency Board has calculated your loved one’s quality-adjusted life years.  Or what we in the health biz call QALYs.  Sadly, her treatment would only result in a net gain of 0.18 additional QALYs.  While our guidelines clearly state that this number shall not be less than 0.22 for such an investment of health care resources.  I am truly sorry for your soon to be loss.  So here’s a prescription you can fill on your way out for a pill to manage her pain until she dies.  Thank you and good day.  Next!”

This is the problem when someone else pays your bills.  That someone else has a say in your treatment.  Whether they are called death panels or not.

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