El Sicko

Well I can’t ignore all the mainstream subjects… I have to write something about Sicko, Michael Moore’s new film. (which you can watch, in two parts, here)

I’m sure you’ve heard something about it. And Im also sure you can go anywhere in the blogosphere and people will be talking about it. Even YouTube have opened a channel in cooperation with Mike, so people can record their own health insurance horror stories.

Despite the mainstreamness, and perhaps the excessive buzz, I cannot remain silent about how important this film is. Simple… but important.

Of course plenty will echo this feeling. But I’d like to add that this film is more than important for the USA, this film is important for Europe. Why? Because Europe is forgetting what a good health system is. Or perhaps to put it another way, I see that much of Europe takes their universal and quality healthcare for granted. Worse than that, the health insurance lobby is growing in Brussels, and its seeping into many countries where people have some of the highest standards of health and human services. Seeping in and selling this idea that health should be privatized.. for everyone’s benefit.

Even though we can find plenty of evidence worldwide about how dangerous this can be, I don’t hear many voices reminding the governments about this. At least not the most powerful voices. Sure France is still holding tough, and England still has the NHS, but there is growing pressure in Europe, and private health insurance companies are popping up and expanding right under our noses.

So yes.. Sicko is a very powerful and important question to the USA. Not just why can’t they have a good health system, but also what is happening with values in America that people don’t care enough to have such a system. BUT this film should also be seen by Europeans who should ask themselves what is changing in their values.. and what direction they are heading when it comes to who runs and who can access the health system.

Bike in the air

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Reality Based Language

Greetings from Berlin. As I sat down for breakfast with Tim this morning, the term faith-based community some how came up. Naturally, this was followed by the term reality-based community. He loved the both and laughed through much of the meal.

As he read through the wikipedia entries for both these terms, I started talking about Frank Luntz.. do you know that name? Well you should, because he is and was a key figure in manipulating YOU. (by you im talking mostly to Americans right now)

Yes all those terms you think nothing of these days… insurgent, death tax, culture of life… these are the types of terms this man helped make part of the public conversation on issues. His specialty is taking something, especially a government policy or a proposed policy that would normally upset you and changing it into a name that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Examples: Logging = Healthy Forests Iniative, Drilling for Oil = Responsible Energy Exploration, and apparently Global Warming = Climate Change.

As I sat there going over the art of manipulating the truth and people, that familiar frustration came back. Did this really happen? Did this guy, working for the government, really take words that describe bad practices and policies and twist them into something more acceptable? Even now, it is hard to believe, but he did.

Here’s a link to a video illustrating some of his work.

Alexanderplatz

Many have praised Luntz for his ability to do this. I consider him an accessory to mass murder and various other crimes.

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bm203 Door to Door in New Orleans

In an effort to shed more light on the situation that people are living in New Orleans today, this program focuses on the survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. By going door to door in some of New Orleans hardest hit parishes, they found out what issues and problems are the most troubling for people. If you don’t take the time to read the survey (which I recommend) this podcast will hopefully give you an overview.

Audio, text, and charts all available at KFF.org
Excerpt from Free Speech Radio News

Issues Covered include:
-The survey process
-door to door versus phone
-reception by residents
-Healthcare access
-Employment
-Housing
-Finances
-The Future
-Statements by PRes and Vice Pres of KFF
-The return to normal?

 

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Researching Gold Crimes

For the past week I’ve been researching the activities of gold mining companies around the world. I’ve narrowed my focus to two places, Chilé and Romania. In both places it is one mining company above all, that is focused on extracting gold despite whatever risks to the environment or communities that may involve.

In the coming weeks I intend to have a few podcasts on both places and on this topic. Eventually I may hitchhike my way over to Romania in the coming months and see things with my own eyes, make some video entries about it.

But at this point I wanted to start the conversation about the practices of mining companies, and specifically the gold mines. Barrick Gold is a Canadian company, which of course, tarnishes my naive hopes that all things Canadian are considerate and kind. This company is one of the largest mining operations in the world; in Chilé they are set to mine under glaciers, insisting that the exact spot where they are mining, no glaciers will be harmed even though the area has several. As if the world was so brimming with glaciers that it would be no big deal to go and destroy one in order to extract gold. In Romania they’ve been trying to buy out an entire community and create Europe’s largest open pit gold mine. Unfortunately for them, many of the people living there do not want to sell their land and let it be cut open. As you would expect, some are very ready to sell and to hell with whatever happens to their former home. While surrounding communities are concerned about the amount of pollution they will suffer because of that type of mining going on near them.

Protest in Chilé

Of course there is much more to all these stories, and I’ll get to it. But right now, what bothers me most of all is that so much of this destruction is done for getting…. gold. Gold that does what for people exactly? Does it even power anything or help build something useful for human life? A friend of mine called it “free money”. Of course it costs money to actually mine it, but still… all this destruction and conflict because this mineral is so valuable in some bullshit in-humane place called “the market”.

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