bm253 The Threat of Hospital Closings in Newark

Why are two very needed hospitals in the city of Newark, NJ under threat of closing down? Money, politics, business.. what are the reasons being given and how do they hold up under some real scrutiny? My guests: Ken Walker of the Daily Newarker and Christina Hilo of the NUSSJ and help dissect the situation.

We Discuss:

  • St. James and Columbus hospitals
  • The hospital debt and funding
  • Cathedral Health, who they are
  • Possible Scenarios
  • Uninsured Patients
  • The difficulty of organizing in an immigrant community
  • Latest Meetings


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Civil Rights, Now

Only recently did I learn about the film Freeheld and the story of Laurel Hester, a NJ police officer with a terminal sickness, fighting so that her wife and partner could receive her pension, just like heterosexual partners do. Somehow I hadn’t heard all the details of the struggle in Ocean County, where I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few visits to the US, as the elected officials of that country refused to recognize a gay couple as having the same rights as heterosexual couples.

I’ve watched the trailer several times, not to mention the interview recorded with Laurel before she died in 2006. I’m moved and speechless as I watch her health deteriorate and I listen to the itensity of the demonstrators standing before the county officials demanding justice. It is beautiful and outrageous at the same time. Surreal that such a thing happens, and awe-inspiring that people with such strength exist.

Further research informs me that indeed, before her death, Ocean County finally granted her partner full benefits, just as any other couple would get. And beyond that, in December of 2006 (an event I do remember) NJ Governor John Corzine signed the bill recognizing all domestic partners as civil unions, with rights that indeed include pensions/benefits for partners. A critical eye reveals that this bill still doesn’t give 100% equality to gay couples, so despite some good steps forward, my state of birth still has some ways to go. After hearing this story, seeing the images, and without having yet seen the film, it is once again frustrating to see that it was only a couple of years ago that a state as diverse as NJ was still in the dark ages… and indeed, still today – not yet fully enlightened.

(trailer is highly recommended)

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Nalgenes Pose a Threat

It is a reoccurring topic on this blog, toxic chemicals in objects that we use for our daily lives, and on this sunday, I’d like to bring forth another.

The difference between this blog and a mainstream news source is that I’m not hear to scare you into paying attention. I don’t believe in trying to scare the crap out of people to get them to listen, I believe more that once people hear the facts that have a direct impact, negative or positive, on their lives – they will want to take action and want to know more.

So if you’re the outdoors type, or the travelling type, or maybe you play ultimate frisbee like myself and my good friends here in Amsterdam, you surely know all about the Nalgene bottle.  I know I received mine as a gift from a special friend long ago.  Millions of people around the world are into using Nalgene bottles for carrying water throughout their day.  They have great faith in these bottles for being reliable and durable. Unfortunately this is more of an assumption based on general experience and the recommendations of others, we don’t sit around thinking, hmm what is this made of and is it ok to carry my drinking water?

However, up in Canada, this is exactly what they’ve been working on.  The Federal Health Department has been doing research into the material that Nalgene’s are made from, which includes something called bisphenol-A.  More and more research indicates that, especially as a bottle gets older, dangerous chemicals from this plastic start to break down and get into the water.  This also true under increased temperatures. Im summarizing the problem somewhat, but the basic idea is one that is unfortunately too common in this day and age.  An item that is very popular and seemingly very useful, turns out to also be potentially dangerous yet the issue is hardly noticed on the mainstream radar, unless its used as a scare tactic.

Im sure this issue will come back, as more tests are being done all the time. But for now, many shops in Canada are pulling various kinds of Nalgenes off the shelves, and here in my Amsterdam apartment, Im retiring my dear bottle; Ill find some other purpose for it, hopefully one that has little impact on humans and the environment.

For now consider this a public service announcement. If you’ve got a nalgene and you want to resist any suggestions to stop using it, I strongly recommend you research this issue and then consider your decision. You don’t HAVE to use THAT bottle, there are alternatives that pose less of a risk. This article points out some of them.

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Homeless America

On my way down the street in one of Washington DC’s hippest neighborhoods, I look at all the houses and the people, in search of what I can say about this place at this point in history.  I ride the metro here and there, out to the lovely suburbs, and I wonder if this region represents the United States in a small scale.  Some friends and I walk into a local liquor store to buy a bottle of wine, and we have a brief exchange with various homeless people out front, and step over the passed out man on the floor of the shop before paying the cashier through a bullet proof glass window.  Yet we walk down the street and see beautiful homes, people walk their dogs and say hi to you sometimes.  Behind the cast-iron bars on the windows and doors, there are families, college kids, artists, and people of all walks of life.

Does DC teach us something about what the United States is all about? Or is it an anomaly of a city that doesn’t even have a state?

One thing deserving of more attention, in this city and beyond, is the amount of people living on the streets.  The Los Angeles Homeless Coalition says that 3.5 million Americans will be homeless in a given year.  3.5 million.  On the streets. In a shelter only in the rarest of cases.  They also say 1 in every 5 suffer from a severe mental illness, no where is that more apparent then in our nations capital. Much like the shelters that are nonexistent or inadequate, so too are the public mental health institutions, places where people can go to get treatment and off the streets.  People in DC tell me about them. They have names for them “stabby dancer” for the guy who would dance around and occasionally stab people with a pen knife.  “Blanket guy” for the man wrapped in a blanket who you see on your way down the street each morning.  They notice them, yet in many ways, these people are not at all noticed.  Ignored and deemed invisible by their community and by their government… both of which seem to hope they’ll simply disappear.

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