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Curing Mississippi's blues with Iranian care?


NBC News / NBC News, An American doctor from Mississippi searched far and wide for solutions to his state’s endemic health problems.

Now, after years of practicing what he calls “health diplomacy,” Dr. James Miller, director of Oxford International Development Group in Mississippi, thinks he may have found some solutions in what may seem like an unlikely place: Iran.

“When you look at health disparities and conditions of the Delta region of Mississippi, and the systemic failures of providing low-cost access to an impoverished region, this has led to health… conditions basically on the same level of developing countries,” Miller said recently in Tehran. “Infant mortality rates in the Delta region in some instances are the same as places like Syria or the Gaza Strip – in the heart of the United States – I was shocked.”

Miller began looking around the globe for successful systems of health care delivery that might be adaptable to Mississippi. Iran’s system stuck out – particularly since it faces similar challenges like a lack of money and medical personnel, as well as vast rural distances and limited public transportation. Mississippi ranks almost dead last in many national health surveys; for instance it tied Louisiana for 49th out of 50th place in America’s Health Rankings 2012 report by United Health Foundation. With challenges like high levels of infant mortality, low birth weight infants, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and obesity – the Mississippi Delta area in particular is on par with many developing countries.

Iran has developed an integrated health system. The foundation of the system is a network of community health houses staffed by locals who create a cultural competency and affinity with the people they are serving.

“I looked at the numbers of what they were achieving and infant mortality dropped by 70 percent, health disparities between urban and rural populations disappeared and they provide care to the farthest villages in rural Iran. To me this was a remarkable achievement,” said Miller.

In Iran’s health care system, remote village health houses are the first line of defense, staffed by villagers known as behvarzes.

The behvarzes are trained to provide basic health services for villages of up to 1,500 people who live within an hour's walking distance. Male behvarzes take care of sanitation, water testing and environmental projects. The women concentrate on child and maternal health, family planning, vaccinations and tracking each family’s births, deaths and medical histories. There are currently about 17,000 health houses across the country serving 23 million rural Iranians. Dr. James Miller, director of Oxford International Development Group in Mississippi, during his recent visit to Tehran, Iran. Miller explained why he thinks the Iranian system is so successful: “It provides easy access to primary health care services.”

He described how even in a dense urban area of Tehran, the health centers fit right into its surroundings. “Located in the middle of a densely crowded block of apartments and shops – with cars parked so tightly packed it would be a miracle to maneuver one out again – the health post is well integrated into the community it serves. Just as the health houses are in the smaller rural towns and villages.” Miller has been working on the project for years, but it has been a slow process because the political climate in the U.S and Iran has not been conducive to cooperation. But, now with the election of President Hassan Rouhani, and President Barack Obama’s diplomatic efforts, Miller said things have started to move quickly.

“Since the election of Rouhani everything has gone into super-overdrive in [terms of] getting things organized,” said Miller. He added that he has sensed a palpable difference during his time in Iran this month.

“Although my experiences in Iran have always been positive and I've found the people warm, open, friendly, and generous, this trip has revealed something more – a strong feeling of hope that relations between the U.S. and their country will improve and the animosity coming from both sides will end very soon.” Miller said there is a great deal of mutual respect between his Iranian and American colleagues.

“Health diplomacy has been going on for many years, it’s a foundation to build on. Colleagues of mine were frightened to come to Iran, but once here, people were so warm and generous it’s like all those misconceptions just flowed away,” said Miller. “The people of Iran and America are natural friends and we can collaborate and generate a lot of good things together.”

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Sun Oct 27, 2013, 03:08 PM (0 replies)

Zimmerman Trial - Why do cops/analysts not know what actually happened?

Why does forensic information NOT explain where both GZ and TM were when Z pulled the trigger? Between blood spatter analysis, the trajectory of the bullet, gunshot residue, etc., one would think law enforcement would have at least a pretty decent idea of what actually happened, who was on top, how far away the gun was when fired, etc. Or has this been covered and I just missed it?

Before anyone accuses me of watching too much tv, I don't watch any crime scene dramas. None. Nada. Zilch. I read a lot and I've seen a few movies that touch on crime scene analysis, but I never watch any tv shows about the subject. From what I've heard, those shows are bullshit and not much based on reality.

So what gives? From what I have read about the subject, the detectives, the coroner and the crime scene analysts can usually come up with at least a good working theory about what happened. Why is there no conclusive idea from law enforcement about how it went down?

Did the cops do a shitty job of the investigation? White guy kills black teenager . . . case closed?
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Sun Jun 30, 2013, 08:41 AM (66 replies)

The Vicious New Bank Shakedown That Could Seriously Ruin Your Life

by Lynn Stuart Parramore, posted on Alternet, May 12, 2013:

JPMorgan Chase and other big banks are accused of running a frightening scam collecting on credit card debt.

It’s hard to imagine a more loathsome figure than the mob debt collector, a.k.a the “hired muscle.” It was this bruiser’s job to get the money owed to the Boss, by whatever methods he saw fit. That might include coming to your house in the dead of night to break your kneecaps. Whatever it took. The collector was promised a cut of that money, and he was going to get it.

Gangsta-style big banks have taken up where this character left off. They may not send a guy to break your kneecaps, but they are working in the shadows, chasing down debts from credit cards using methods that are both fraudulent and unlawful. They do this whether you actually owe the money or not.

Here’s the skinny: After widespread outrage over the big banks’ last crime wave against the American consumer – the “robo-signing” scam in which homeowners were hustled out of their houses by banks that sent fraudulent paperwork through the courts, they are at it again. This time, banksters are accused of helping debt collectors pursue faulty judgments against credit card customers by various dirty tricks that include – surprise! – robo-signing.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who filed suit against JPMorgan Chase last Thursday, says that from January 2008 to April 2011 -- just as people were reeling from the Wall Street-driven financial crisis -- the megabank unleashed over 100,000 lawsuits against consumers over uncollected credit-card debt in the state of California alone. That includes 469 lawsuits in a single day. Now, it usually takes time and money to pursue lawsuits through the court system. So how in the world did Chase keep up this breakneck pace? The lawsuit claims that the bank took a number of little shortcuts, like robo-signing, in which bank employees produce sworn documents and other legal filings without bothering to check bank records or examine cases for accuracy.

Another nasty trick Chase is accused of deploying is what’s known, appropriately, as “sewer service.” This means that Chase failed to properly serve notice of debt collection lawsuits against consumers (it dumped the notices “in the sewer”), but then lied and said it did. This means, you, as a consumer, have no idea that a lawsuit has been launched against you. So here’s what happens: you get a default judgment that automatically favors the debt collector. The credit card company can then garnish your wages or freeze your bank account to get the money it says you owe. And you might not even owe it! Banks are sometimes chasing down consumers who have already paid their debts. Other times they are jacking up the size of the debts by adding bogus fees and interest costs.

All of this, of course, is unlawful. But it’s happening on a massive scale.

Last summer, a civil court judge in Brooklyn who presides over as many as 100 credit card cases a day told the New York Times that a whopping 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits that came across his desk were flawed and could not prove that a person owed the debt. Here’s the kicker: The errors in credit card suits often go undetected because the borrowers usually don’t show up in court to defend themselves (how can they, if they don’t know the suit has been filed?). As a result, an estimated 95 percent of lawsuits result in default judgments in favor of lenders.

The really chilling message sent in this new plot to squeeze cash out of hard-pressed Americans is that the big banks are completely undaunted by their exposure in the foreclosure robo-signing scam. Whatever penalties or bad publicity they have received have not restrained them one iota from pulling the exact same fraud again on hapless consumers. Neither has the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which now hangs in limbo with the endlessly delayed confirmation of Richard Cordray as head. The CFPB knows what’s going on, and it sent a friendly little note to Congress saying that “we are concerned about the system-wide problems in the debt collection market…and we want to see good practices come to dominate the market, including improved data integrity.” Well, golly, that’s reassuring.
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Tue May 14, 2013, 02:23 PM (0 replies)

'Reefer Madness', the movie . . .

starting right now on Showtime 2.

I forgot that this piece of propaganda existed . . . saving it on DVR for my grandchildren, lest anyone forget!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Sat Apr 20, 2013, 06:54 PM (7 replies)

Does anyone still have the meme about corporations not paying taxes?

It starts with something like 'while your were busy worrying about that guy buying a candy bar with food stamps, American corporations got away with not paying taxes . . . blah, blah, blah', or something to that affect.

I need a comeback to a hateful right wing email being circulated by a family member.

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:36 PM (3 replies)

Ugghhh . . . the movie 'W.' is about to start on the Sundance Channel . . .

When it was first released, I saw it and was kind of stunned that the crowd in the cinema, obviously Dems and Independents, laughed through the entire show.

I didn't think it was funny. I was alternately fuming with anger and crying because this crap actually happened.

I sort of want to watch it, but I've been fighting a migraine all day. Not sure if I can handle it right now. Where's the tequila?

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Sun Feb 10, 2013, 07:46 PM (0 replies)

Rand Paul Again Planning to Take on TSA, Airport Security Screenings

By KEVIN WILLIS, WKU Public Radio, posted Feb 1, 2013

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he plans to refile a bill that would scale back the power of the Transportation Security Administration. The Bowling Green Republican told Politico he has two different measures ready to go—one that would privatize the TSA, and another that would create a passenger bill of rights.

Paul introduced those bills during last year’s Congress, but both measures failed to get out of the Senate Commerce Committee. Paul wants to end the TSA screening operation and force airports to hire private companies to conduct security screenings. Paul’s legislation would also allow some fliers to opt out of pat-downs, and create an expedited screening program for frequent fliers.

Sen. Paul drew national attention last year when he resisted a pat-down at the Nashville airport. That refusal caused him to miss a speech he was scheduled to make, and a video of the incident went viral on the internet.

This idiot Rand Paul is determined to take this country to a privatized aviation security system that will surely result in another 9/11-type disaster. But he seems to be more interested in making sure that the wealthy bleed this country dry of every last dollar in the name of "Capitalism", to hell with the consequences to the traveling public. Hopefully this fails again!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:30 PM (8 replies)

Ten Ridiculous Questions From Chuck Hagel’s Confirmation Hearing

by George Zornick, Jan 31, 2013 - posted on The Nation


It was a difficult task to narrow these down, but here are ten of the most ridiculous questions posed to Hagel:

Winners, “Please Admit You Hate America” Division

Senator James Inhofe, R-OK: The question I’d like to ask you, and you can answer for the record if you like, why do you think that the Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination to be the secretary of defense?

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC: Do you believe that the sum total of all of your votes, refusing to sign a letter to the EU asking Hezbollah to be designated a terrorist organization, being one of two to vote [against] designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, being one of two on two occasions to vote against sanctions that this body was trying to impose on Iran, the statements you made about Palestinians and the Jewish lobby, all that together—that the image you’ve created is one of sending the worst possible message to our enemies and our friends at one of the most critical times in world history?

Winners, “Please Pledge, Here and Now, To Start A War” Division

Senator John McCain, R-AZ: Do you think that Syrians should get the weapons they need and perhaps establish a no-fly zone? [A no-fly zone would, almost without question, quickly lead to a full-scale air war with Syria.]

Senator Mark Udall, D-CO: Why should Americans trust that you will consider every option when it comes to one of the most serious national security threats facing us today, which is Iran? [There were many, many iterations of this same question.]

Winners, “Please Promise to Keep the Pork Flowing to my State” Division

Senator Joe Donnelly, D-IN
: When we were together, I mentioned to you my visit to Crane Surface Warfare Systems, in Indiana. What they do is they work to create the technologies to control the spectrum, in effect try to win the battlefield before the battle starts on the ground. And so, we were wondering, what can be done, in this time of challenging budgets, that in the area of technology, in the area of spectrum, we can maintain our budget so that, as I said, before the war is ever started on the ground we have won it on the spectrum level?

Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-CT: I would like a commitment that you are committed as well to a fleet of twelve Ohio-class replacement submarines.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH: Our four public shipyards are the backbone of our naval power. But according to the Navy there’s huge backlog of the modernization and restorations projects at our shipyards.… Will you commit to ensuring that this modernization plan is produced, and will you commit to pressing the Navy, within the fiscal constraints that I appreciate, to fully fund the improvements in the long term?

Winners, “Questions We Really Wish Hagel Would Have Answered ‘Yes’ To”

Senator Mike Lee, R-UT: I understand that you have made a statement that there is no justification for Palestinian suicide bombers, but there is also no justification for Israel to “keep Palestinians caged up like animals.” Did you say it, and if so do you stand by it?

Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX: Senator Hagel, do you think it’s appropriate for the chief civilian leader for the US military forces to agree with the statement that both the ‘perception and the reality’ is that the United States is ‘the world’s bully’?”

Senator Roger Wicker, R-MS: You have corrected the term Jewish lobby. And I assume the correct term now is Israel lobby or Israeli lobby. Do you still stand by your statement that they succeed in this town because of intimidation, and that it amounts to causing us to do dumb things?
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Fri Feb 1, 2013, 11:52 AM (2 replies)

Enabling the 'auto trash by key word' function . . .

So, I finally got around to enabling the 'auto trash by key word' function today. I trashed the words 'gun' and 'guns'.

Apparently, that's not enough. I see that threads with the word 'weapon' instead of 'gun' are still visible. Damn!

What other key words should I trash to avoid the gun nuttery?

And, more importantly, when will gun threads be restricted to the RKBA forum again? Enough already!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Sun Jan 20, 2013, 06:08 PM (6 replies)

If right-wing Republicans have their way, Paul Ryan will soon be House Speaker?

Right Wing Plotting Anti-Boehner Coup? - January 2, 2013 14:17, from Alan Colmes' Liberaland

If right-wing Republicans have their way, Paul Ryan will soon be House Speaker.

…some on the right are mobilizing to replace Boehner with a House speaker who drops Boehner’s pretense of being willing to negotiate with the White House, and who sticks more purely to extreme conservative dogma.

According to Matthew Boyle of the far-right website Breitbart News, conservative House Republicans have already laid the groundwork to do just that. Boyle reports that several members and staffers are quietly circulating a multi-step plan to oust Boehner as speaker on January 3rd. The first step of the plan would be to change House rules to elect the speaker by secret ballot instead of by a public roll-call vote; this would protect the congressmen who vote against Boehner from retribution.

The plotters are confident that such a measure would succeed, because Boehner himself has passionately argued in favor of secret ballots in the past. While opposing the Employee Free Choice Act — ironically, a favorite target of the right wing that now has Boehner in its sights — the speaker wrote a 2009 op-ed stressing that secret ballots protect against “coercion” and “intimidation.” In a document laying out the plan to oust Boehner (which can be viewed on Breitbart.com), the anonymous staffers behind the planned coup note that Boehner would be in the “impossible position of opposing secret ballot or being confronted on the Floor with his own, indicting op-ed.”

If the move to vote via secret balloting is successful, then House Republicans would be able to anonymously vote until a Republican gains the 218 votes necessary for election as speaker. According to Boyle, House Republicans are confident that Boehner would not survive a secret ballot — but that another, still-anonymous congressman, “will unite the party and take the speakership.”

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:42 PM (13 replies)
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