Almost heaven, Arizona

John Huppenthal

I would sooner have my nose twisted off my face than retire in Arizona, mostly because the thought of spending what’s left of my life surrounded by smug white people in golf clothes, spouting teabagger philosophy, is more than I can bear. Yes, I know there are some good people in the state, but I kinda suspect people like the state schools superintendent are in the majority:

Huppenthal’s comments included calling people who receive public assistance “lazy pigs” and he went on to put the blame of the Great Depression solely on the shoulders of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also claimed that the president wrote in his memoir that “he was born in Kenya!!!”

Under the name Falcon9, he wrote, “We now know that (Franklin D. Roosevelt) was almost completely responsible for the great depression. Only in liberal mythology did FDR ‘save’ the nation. … Worse yet, Roosevelt’s disastrous economic policies drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Germany’s economy went into the tank.”

According to AZFamily, Falcon9 wrote on Blog for Arizona that “successful small businessmen/job creators are being taxed to death.”

The post continued: “Meanwhile, Obama is rewarding the lazy pigs with food stamps (44 million people), air-conditioning, free health care, flat-screen TV’s (typical of ‘poor’ families).” (Parentheses were in the original post.)

The former Yugoslavia

Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I was thinking about this today. I was actually involved in organizing people to call the White House and get them to intervene in Yugoslavia. Boy, was I naive. Everything I’ve read since them tells me the war had much more to do with neoliberal economic interests, and not humanitarian intervention. In fact, there’s reason to believe the “ethnic cleansing” was a manufactured rational for the bombings and subsequent NATO control.

The older I get, the more I see there really is no such thing as a “good war.”

Ebola ‘out of control’ in West Africa

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Why are we not talking about intervening here, where it would do some good?

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A senior official for Doctors Without Borders says the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is “totally out of control” and that the medical group is stretched to the limit in its capacity to respond.

Bart Janssens, the director of operations for the group in Brussels, said Friday that international organizations and the governments involved need to send in more health experts and increase public education messages about how to stop the spread of the disease.

Janssens said the outbreak is far from over and will probably end up as the most deadly on record.

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, Ebola has already been linked to more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Hear no evil

PA State Forest in Lycoming County w/ Fracking

Pennsylvania, land of ethical giants!

Two retirees from the Pennsylvania Department of Health say its employees were silenced on the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling.

One veteran employee says she was instructed not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about natural gas development.

“We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” said Tammi Stuck, who worked as a community health nurse in Fayette County for nearly 36 years.

Another retired employee, Marshall P. Deasy III, confirmed that.

Deasy, a former program specialist with the Bureau of Epidemiology, said the department also began requiring field staff to get permission to attend any meetings outside the department. This happened, he said, after an agency consultant made comments about drilling at a community meeting.

In the more than 20 years he worked for the department, Deasy said, “community health wasn’t told to be silent on any other topic that I can think of.”

Companies have drilled more than 6,000 wells into Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale over the last six years, making it the fastest-growing state for natural gas production in America.

Amid the record-breaking development, public health advocates have expressed concern that Pennsylvania has not funded research to examine the potential health impacts of the shale boom.

Doctors have said that some people who live near natural gas development sites – including well pads and compressor stations – have suffered from skin rashes, nausea, nosebleeds and other ailments. Some residents believe their ill health is linked to drilling, but doctors say they simply don’t have the data or research – from the state or other sources – to confirm that.

A state Department of Health spokesperson denied that employees were told not to return calls. Aimee Tysarczyk said all complaints related to shale gas drilling are sent to the Bureau of Epidemiology. Since 2011, she said, the agency has logged 51 complaints, but has found no link between drilling and illness.

“A list of buzzwords”

Tammi Stuck has been retired for just over two years. She still remembers a piece of paper she kept in her desk after her supervisor distributed it to Stuck and other employees of the state health center in Uniontown in 2011.

It was not unusual, Stuck said, for department brass to send out written talking points on certain issues, such as the H1N1 or “swine flu” virus, meant to guide staff in answering questions from the public.

This was different.

“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” Stuck said. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”

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