:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Monday, October 18, 2004  

The (kick-ass) women that cheney doesn't know exist

From today's Washington Post:

Police today arrested 21 people and charged them with trespassing for entering the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign offices and chaining themselves to the entrance of the building. Those arrested were among about 100 AIDS/HIV activists who showed up this afternoon to protest White House policies at Bush's reelection headquarters in Arlington, Va.

"Under the Bush administration, the Ryan White Care Act has been flat-funded as the number of people with AIDS has increased," said Terri Smith-Caronia, director of New York public policy for Housing Works Inc., a non-profit AIDS/HIV advocacy group that organized the protest. "They have refused to increase the funding to keep up, and that equals a cut in services. It's particularly ironic because it's the law his father signed into law."

She was also critical of Dick Cheney's statement during the vice presidential debate that he was unaware of the sharp increase in the number of black women living with AIDS and HIV. She said some of the protesters who chained themselves to the front of the campaign headquarters were HIV positive.

"These are the women that Cheney doesn't know exists," she said.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/18/2004 08:35:00 PM | (0) comments |

Friday, October 15, 2004  

Cash in the RNC or the corporate welfare bill, for Sudan?

The World Health Organization claims that it has only received 1/2 of the $300 million it needs to reduce mortality in Sudan. More than 10,000 people are dying every month, and more than 70,000 have already died. Fathomable? No. Rwanda? What's Rwanda? ("developed" countries conveniently forgetting history...again)

Damn, $150 million is a LOT of money. How do we compare $150 million in terms of recent U.S. expenditures? Ah, that's about the cost of the RNC's convergence on NYC (given, the US government did not pay for it, most of the money was raised from private donors). But it's just used as an example of how much big galas can cost. Something the U.S. government prioritizes that's about $150 million -- corporate welfare that Senate just approved to hand out.

Funny how the same folks whining about welfare queens are just A-OK about getting that tobacco buyout for farmers, or corporate tax breaks left and right.

So, who's with me? Cash in the corporate tax bill and send that over, Western Union super express style, to Sudan? The corporations will still survive without it, people in Sudan won't.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/15/2004 10:34:00 PM | (0) comments |


The Halliburton of AIDS Relief?

The U.S. has put up a $7 billion bid for providing health care infrastructure for the storage and supply of HIV drugs, and defense industry companies want a piece of it. NPR has the complete story, some excerpts here:

"What does it mean for us to be investing this level of resources in the defense industry entities to achieve our international AIDS efforts, and how close are we moving to have this become the Halliburton of AIDS relief?"

Maguire says the president's plan shows the price of going it alone -- and not working with multilateral groups already present in these countries. Groups like the World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The fear, she says, is that there will be parallel systems with duplication and waste.

"There is an absence of where are our partners in this," she says. "Are we potentially going it alone because of our own interest, not just in the projects and contracts that we already have in the various countries, but because of the interest in the suppliers and pharmaceuticals based here."

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/15/2004 07:00:00 PM | (0) comments |


How can we talk about other countries' human rights abuses if we support the use of landmines?

We stand with just a few other countries (often known as "rogue" countries by our leaders) in not signing the International Treaty to Ban Landmines. 80% of the US public is in favor of banning these awful, civilian-killing machines. The U.S. refuses to sign the treaty. Check out PHR's wonderful flash animation on the issue, and sign a petition there too (it takes all of 30 seconds). If thousands and thousands sign this, we can tell our presidential candidates that we the people demand we pay attention to human rights issues.

Check out the rest of their campaign's work, they've got an amazing website and fabulous folks leading the campaign in the US (you can sign up for email updates too, they're really informative). A few years ago, in my first year of medical school, a bunch of us saw an absolutely amazing 15 minute video on landmines, that PHR sent us for our chapter to show. It was mindblowing, brought us all to tears. It's really unconscionable for our country to not sign this treaty...we can't talk about human rights abuses in other countries if we support this type of activity.

If you're moved by the cause, throw up a link to the petition and flashvideo on your site or email the petition's site to your friends. Or contribute some $$$ to the cause (info on their website).

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/15/2004 03:17:00 PM | (0) comments |

Thursday, October 14, 2004  

Abortions up during GW Bush's term?

The number of abortions performed in the United States rose while Ronald Reagan was president and fell under Clinton; the abortion rate was stable under Reagan, but declined under Clinton. And abortions are up during GW Bush's term.

Is this a chicken or egg issue? Or is is perhaps that most anti-abortion activists are concerned about life until delivery but not beyond, for vulnerable members of our society? Why are they not strongly in support of comprehensive health insurance benefits, a living wage, etc for these families? More at Body and Soul. And Glenn Stassen, a Christian ethicist and statistician, on how economic policy and abortion are linked.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/14/2004 08:07:00 PM | (0) comments |

Thursday, October 07, 2004  

Another low for antiabortion advocates -- docs targeted again

Today's Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report has the latest physician-harassment story:

Antiabortion advocates in Wichita, Kan., have been sending letters to the neighbors of an Oakland, Calif., abortion provider who travels to Kansas for one week each month to perform abortions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Residents living within several blocks of Dr. Shelley Sella have received the letters, which are postmarked from Wichita and say that Sella "is perpetuating the American Holocaust" and "bringing the shame of bloodguilt on her neighborhood," according to the Chronicle. Sella works for a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Contra Costa County, Calif., and Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, which has been "singled out" for protests by Operation Rescue West, according to the Chronicle. The letters include pamphlets produced by Life Dynamics of Denton, Texas, that refer to Planned Parenthood as "Klan Parenthood" and say that Planned Parenthood is involved in a "genocide against African-American babies," according to the Chronicle. Operation Rescue West President Troy Newman, who is a resident of Wichita, said he "would neither confirm nor deny" that his group mailed the letters, but he said the group "support[s] exposing babykillers 100%." Newman said that Sella "comes to our neighborhood to kill babies, so we think it's appropriate that we tell her neighbors what she does for a living," adding, "We feel it's just like notifying neighbors of a sex offender under Megan's Law."

..."I want the world to know that abortionists can't just go and hide in the godless, liberal San Francisco Bay Area," Newman said.

Now, as if this harassment wasn't enough, this Operation Rescue group has been meddling in Dr. Sella's love life in godless San Francisco:

Operation Rescue West has obtained documentation that a California abortionist employed by late-term abortion specialist George Tiller, was in Wichita on Valentine’s Day weekend aborting pre-born babies, then returned to California and was “married” to her lesbian lover in a San Francisco ceremony a day later...

In an ironic twist, Sella married a midwife, Julie Litwin, in the presence of Litwin’s seven-year old son, Noah Lani. Midwives deliver babies while abortionists kill them...

“People like to say that what people do in their bedrooms is no one’s business, but they forget that actions, even private ones, bear consequences. One who can commit such immoral acts as murdering a helpless child in the womb and homosexuality is a depraved individual whose sinful conduct will certainly corrupt others, just as a small about of leaven spreads through the entire lump of dough. We are asking for Christians everywhere to pray for the repentance and salvation of abortionist Shelley Sella, her lesbian lover Julie Litwin, and especially for divine protection for young Noah.” -Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue West

If you find yourself incensed and want to share your thoughts with Operation Rescue, here's their contact information.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/07/2004 04:19:00 PM | (0) comments |

Tuesday, October 05, 2004  

Thinking about having a sexual relationship with a patient?

...Not so sure if that's ethically "ok"? Well, it seems the profession ain't either. And supposedly 40 percent (?!?!?!) of medical students in Scotland think it's ok to have sex with a patient. But the study that this data comes from only looked at a total of 62 (JUST 62) med students. That's a lot of extrapolation -- to expand that to all med students in scotland.

From the article: "Although sexual relationship between a doctor and patient are prohibited by the codes of ethics established by professional organizations, Goldie and his colleagues said researchers had previously estimated that 11 percent of family doctors in the United States have had a sexual relationship with at least one patient...Another survey of Australian doctors showed 32 percent knew of a colleague who had had sex with a patient. In a similar survey in Canada the number was 10 percent."

"Psychiatrists, gynecologists and general practitioners are significantly more like to have an affair with a patient than other specialists, according to the researchers."

"'Traditional medical education has inadequately tackled the issue,' Goldie said in the journal."

Hell yeah. I don't we ever discussed this in our traditional medical education. Unless it's coming sometime in late 4th year... On a related note, med school isn't very good at adequately addressing the power issues that come with being a physician -- power imbalances with various folks (other health professionals, patients, etc, but that's another topic) and power abuses.

What do ya'll think? Students? Docs? People who go to doctors? Is it Ok? Is it VERY WRONG? Are there gray areas?

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/05/2004 02:28:00 PM | (0) comments |


Pre-VP debate thoughts...

But first...a great comic from The Boondocks. Yes, Rumsfeld ACTUALLY said this.

And back to the debate tonight -- John Nichols has 10 questions for Cheney. Check 'em out. I wonder if Halliburton will come up at all. Or Cheney's "we will be greeted as liberators" in Iraq comment from before the war. And did you know that Cheney opposed Mandela's release from prison? (that's in the john nichols piece too). Lastly, someone's gotta hold Cheney to his fear-mongering statement that were Kerry to be elected, America would be more open to terrorist attacks. That's lower than... low.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/05/2004 01:56:00 PM | (0) comments |


Indian folks upset about censors trying to prevent Fahrenheit 9/11 release

Seems that some censoring folks in India are thinking about preventing Fahrenheit 9/11 from being shown in India (um...the largest democracy in the world). Rumor has it there may be some desire to avoid "offending" the American authorities. Ah. Aren't the Bollywood movies with their awful production, recycled and copied plots (straight from many American movies), pelvic thrusts (but gosh, kisses are forbidden!), synchronized dancing, dream sequences, and predictable stories much more "offensive"? Oh wait, they're offensive to me, not the American authorities per se. :> Hopefully this matter will be cleared up and India can regain its status as...the world's largest DEMOCRACY.

My parents are in India right now hangin' with the fam, so i'll find out what the buzz is around Delhi on this issue, and post it here...

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/05/2004 12:26:00 PM | (0) comments |


I've always wanted to write speeches for GWBush!

...And now I can! Check out the G W Bush speechwriter -- write your own speech from several banks of possible words and phrases, and hear Dubya give the speech! Hours of fun and games. Thanks to Jeff for the link.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/05/2004 11:21:00 AM | (0) comments |


On American Nationalism (and healthcare? in bed?)

Nick Lewis has a post on american nationalism over at Netpolitik and cross-posted over at American Samizdat (both fascinating blogs!). Here's the beginning and end of his post:

Where as the majority of Nationalisms are founded upon a belief in ethnic or cultural superiority; American Nationalism is is a belief in the superiority of our political ideal. This would make sense, for we feel pride in seeing ourselves as an ethnically and culturally diverse nation. America is the great "melting pot", as they say. Thus, George W. Bush's claim that Bin Laden attacked us because he "hated freedom" is a prototypical example of American Nationalism in action.

...Rather, I'd like to remind a few people of the responsibility they have to America, and the rest of the world. The world is prone to following our example. Do we set an example of pre-emptive war; "do whatever we please cause' we can"? Or, do we show the rest of the world that there actually might -- in fact -- be substance behind our rhetoric of freedom, justice, and opportunity? I think the American electorate would be wise to think very carefully about that question.

Interesting -- the superiority of our political ideals as our form of nationalism. Like the fortune cookie game where you add "in bed" to your recently found fortune, I thought I'd add "also in healthcare" to the ends of these sentences...

...the responsibility they have to America, and the rest of the world...in health care. The world is prone to follow our example...in health care.

Do we set an example of "pre-emptive war;" "do whatever we please cause "we can"?... in health care? Or do we show the rest of the world that there actually might -- in fact -- be substance behind our rhetoric of freedom, justice, and opportunity...in health care?

So, that was fun. Anyway, I think our view of health care is sometimes a bit... arrogant. We really don't want to hear about how other countries do it (there's been an interesting debate on the AMSA healthpolicy listserv of late on comparative systems, and many med students and docs are satisfied with pushing forth myths about other countries' health care systems and myths about our health care system). True, we have an awesomely trained health care workforce, and an amazing health care system, but it's rippin' at its seams with millions uninsured and our priorities all twisted upside down (doing what we can to prove that the market works, instead of working on the system and the public's best), and our nationalism may be getting in the way of even checking out other systems and having a dialogue with them. This February, 14 of us medical students went to Seattle and Vancouver, on a 5 day study tour called SeaCouver, and one of the things we did was talk to people on the streets (we filmed them too), and we heard some very interesting views on their health care system and their personal experiences. I personally think that more of this discussion can only help us strengthen our system.

Again, I love the GOOD things about my country's health care system, but I'm very passionate in my belief (shared by many others) that there should be a way to make the GOOD parts of our system accessible to more people (and for hardworking folks who work two jobs and can't afford the ever-rising costs of health insurance, it's just not accessible). At the same time, I believe strongly that the BAD parts of our system need to be fixed in order for our nation to stand tall in the world as an example of good health -- we need more equitable access to health care, more affordable and comprehensive benefits (total reform of the health insurance industry), more of a focus on public health than there is now (5% of health care $$ going to prevention, 95% going to treatment), a comprehensive fix to medical malpractice issues (which means a reform of the malpractice insurance industry), and a serious decrease in racial, ethnic disparities in health care.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/05/2004 10:10:00 AM | (0) comments |

Sunday, October 03, 2004  

Docs for kids stand up for kids, and stick it to Bush

Last week a group of prominent pediatricians said "Hey Bush administration, you're screwing with childrens' access to health care, and we won't take that!" Ok, well they said something more refined, but equally angrily, in a letter they're publishing in newspapers around the country over the next few weeks (keep on the lookout for it!).

The letter, entitled "Our Children Deserve Better," was released at a news conference and will be running in key newspapers around the country over the next few weeks. It was signed by 36 pediatricians, including six past presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). One of the letter's key points noted that 27 million children in the United States were without health insurance at some point in 2002-2003...

"We need to address the fact that it is simply unconscionable that the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world under the Bush administration has millions of uninsured children. The words 'leave no child behind' ring hollow when so many children are left out," said Dr. Joel Alpert, professor and chairman emeritus at Boston University School of Medicine and past president of the AAP.

The letter, along with statements from various pediatricians at the news conference, bemoaned various aspects of White House policies, including cuts in state health programs. "In the president's home state of Texas alone, more than 150,000 children of working-class families have been dropped from the State Child Health Insurance Program, leaving them without any insurance," said Dr. Stephen Berman, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and past president of the AAP.

Berman related the story of a teenager who recently came to him with severe diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body doesn't get enough insulin. The family, it turned out, was not insured and could not afford to pay for the insulin the patient needed. They were denied Medicaid because their one asset, a car, exceeded the allowable amount in Colorado.

"The boy almost died -- and shared with us that perhaps he wished he had died so he would not be such a financial burden on his family," Berman said.

It's nice to see a personal story presented here. The individual experiences that doctors can relate to the public and to our elected officials make them SO powerful in the struggle for increased access to health care. The letter ended with a strong endorsement of Kerry. Now this is being published in many newspapers around the country, and I think it'll make some folks think real hard about the election because hey, everyone cares about their kids' health. They summarized the stark differences between the Kerry and Bush plans in a final paragraph:

"President Bush's main health-care proposal of tax credits and deductions would decrease the number of uninsured by as little as 5 percent while still relying on market forces proven to be ineffective for dealing with the millions who will remain uninsured," the letter read. "Sen. Kerry's proposal, building on his belief that health care is a right, not a privilege, extends coverage to virtually all children, and ultimately to all Americans."
And this is why this sticker below, from the group Security Moms 4 Bush, really holds no weight. (by the way there's a new group, called Band of Sisters, started by Wesley Clark and friends. So many groups, so many agendas, so many votes to swing... makes my head spin!)

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/03/2004 07:40:00 PM | (0) comments |


Bar games: Pinball and...a Voting Booth

Interesting -- two Diebold voting machines were found in Baltimore -- one on the sidewalk and another in a bar. Upon questioning, a Diebold spokesman's response was very comforting: "You can buy one on eBay."

Frightening. And we're constantly told that we should feel some completely safe about our voting machines.

I wonder what they were doing in those two places. On a less-serious tip, what's a voting machine doing in a bar anyway? I guess it could be a fun "souvenir" or drunk folk could create voting games with it.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/03/2004 03:35:00 PM | (0) comments |

Friday, October 01, 2004  

Debate chugging and post-debate spin

Yesterday, 9 of us gathered at our place (8 in the photo above, and myself...taking the photo), and we settled down to a night of mixed messages, drinking debauchery, and the peein-in-my-pants kind of laughing. There were also moments of sorrow and frustration about the state of affairs, but overall it was a blast. The debate itself was interesting. I think i've talked about it so much by this time, that I don't have the desire to repeat all my thoughts. But a few thoughts:
--> Kerry mopped the floor with Bush (we weren't expecting that).
--> If Kerry did this on the foreign policy round, which is Bush's only claim to fame, Bush will be absolutely wiped out with the debates on domestic policy.
--> The split-screen (showing both candidates most of the time) was fascinating -- it's as if they created that JUST for our drinking game! This is what I was referring to by the "peeing in our pants" remark. ....bush's face...
--> What I understood about Bush's job -- "It's hard work".
--> Just hours before the debate, many children were killed in Iraq. Neither candidate addressed this and other recent horrific happenings in Iraq.
--> Bush has created some new words -- like "nuc-yoo-lar", "wud-n't", and "tuh" (for the word "to")
--> Kerry came off as a knowledgeable, resolute, articulate, even "presidential" candidate.
--> It was nice to hear Kerry clearly and concisely rip apart our country's move to pre-emptive war in Iraq instead of towards Al-Qaeda.
--> The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, right after the debate, was far more interesting than the debate itself. A mention was made that the debate wasn't really a debate, but more of a "this is my pre-prepared talk" exercise. According to Stephen Colbert, the next debate will feature the candidates in separate rooms, in different states, speaking in different languages.
--> And as a few of us are struggling to coherently and concisely present ourselves in our "personal statement" sections of our applications to residency programs, Robyn mentioned at the party that she doesn't need to worry about hers anymore because if the President is having trouble in that area, then she's ok.

Adrienne Marie Brown, co-editor of How to Get Stupid White Men out of Office (a MUST-read book for anyone interested in understanding political power) and co-founder of the League of Indy Voters, wrote some seriously insightful and entertaining thoughts on the debate. She's so on point (in my opinion). I'm posting it below, and it was taken from an alternet piece on several folks' takes on the yesterdays' event:

Ok, so I watched the debates last night with a 40 in my hand, heart in my chest, hand over my eyes peeking through my fingers. Not because its that hard for me to watch our President speak... well no, it is that hard. But the reason I was on pins and needles is because we are mobilizing young people in blocs across the nation to get out the progressive youth vote. All Kerry needs to do is hold it down.

I intended to play that drinking game where everytime anyone says liberty, freedom, saddam, vietnam, osama, my opponent sucks, etc you drink, but after a minute into the debates I realized half my 40 was already gone and I needed to conserve like a Green, even if I wasn't voting like one this year.

For the first part of the debate, my heart was sinking. I watched Kerry and I thought, 'Where are your cojones? Why are you speaking in complete sentences? Charm me!" I watched Bush and I thought, as I usually do, "Where's Rove – is he inside you? Under the podium? Wired into your ear? Down front with placards? Up above singing hosannas?"

Kerry politely smiled, Bush pumped his shoulders and made that little face where he'd snap his eyes wide and blink a few times like he'd been backhanded with a glove and then repeat himself. The moderator and post-debate commentators looked sorry for Bush. Kerry channeled Gore a few times by using actual Facts and Figures to make his case, and in response I chugged. It's not enough to be right, you have to be a thug about it! Bush channeled himself in every other speech he's given by repeating the words liberty and prayer and freedom as if they still mean anything coming from him. One of my friends watching commented that Bush is like the smartest kind of stupid person, because he understands that saying something with absolute down-home conviction can mask, to a certain extent, how untrue the statement is.

But in the end Kerry stepped up and – still politely – started going for the knees in true Scarface fashion. I liked that he was able to play the I served my time unlike this snivelling brat over here AND Vietnam was messed up and wrong AND Saddam is evil and so are other folk AND Iraq was done wrong AND Kyoto treaty mofo, AND let's respect the rest of the world. Bush relied on smoke and mirrors – 'Hey I'm diplomatic! Forget that whole U.N. thang... Hey, valleys of peace!" I wonder if he thinks bomb craters are valleys of peace.

Kerry won this one hands down with his furious note taking and his ability to attack the president without making it seem like a mud wrestling match. Bush lost by not having any specific figures – all the numbers he gave were the kind of rounded up figures all liars use as a rhetorical tool – and by making the case that even if Iraq is all messed up, which he wouldn't even concede, that its better to stay wrong and make the troops feel good while they die than to admit the wrong and pull out. And I am pretty sure Bush did the white guy version of sucking his teeth and rolling his neck, which is just tacky in a presidential debate.

Can't wait till episode 2 of the Gentleman and the Gangsta.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/01/2004 06:06:00 PM | (0) comments |


We the People SAY NO...

Somehow, at some point some time last night during the presidential debate, this banner was drunkenly affixed to the outside of our patio, for all to see. It's purrrrdy. It may be the first political statement in our apartment complex, and we're sure we'll get a call from the complex office about it some time in the near future. But for now, it's still there and we haven't been egged (yet). We bought this banner at the United for Peace and Justice March in NYC before the RNC.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/01/2004 05:52:00 PM | (0) comments |

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