MorganRants

Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Archive for February, 2008

Never Too Young for That First Pedicure

Posted by morganwrites on February 28, 2008

(NYT) – ONE recent rainy afternoon, Eleanor LaFauci, 7, sat with her feet in open-toed foam slippers, admiring her toenails, freshly painted watermelon pink.

“Look, we’re reading an adult magazine,” Eleanor told her mother, gleefully waving a copy of People with a desultory-looking Britney Spears on its cover.

eleanor-lafauci.jpg

Eleanor LaFauci, 7 , wearing green top.

Eleanor was in the bubble-gum-colored pedicure lounge of Dashing Diva, the Upper West Side franchise of the international nail spa, with her 3 ½-year-old sister and a half-dozen or so friends. The girls were celebrating her birthday with mani’s, pedi’s and mini-makeovers with light makeup and body art — glitter-applied stars, lightning bolts and, of course, hearts.

Eleanor’s mother, Anne O’Brien, stood watching and shrugged. “What can I say?” said Ms. O’Brien, whose husband suggested the party. “She’s a girly girl. I’m not quite sure how it happened. I didn’t get my first manicure until I was 25.”

Traditionally, young girls have played with unattended M.A.C. eye shadow or Chanel foundation, hoping to capture a whiff of sophistication. In the recent past, young girls have also tagged along on beauty expeditions by their mothers and teenage sisters.

But today, cosmetic companies and retailers increasingly aim their sophisticated products and service packages squarely at 6- to 9-year-olds, who are being transformed into savvy beauty consumers before they’re out of elementary school.

“The starter market has definitely grown, I think, due to a number of cultural influences,” said Samantha Skey, the senior vice president for strategic marketing of Alloy Media and Marketing.

Reality programming like “America’s Next Top Model” often hinges on the segment devoted to a hair and beauty transformation for the contestants, Ms. Skey said. On social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, members’ intense self-focus and their attention to how they present themselves also affect 6- to 9-year-olds, even though technically, they aren’t allowed to set up profiles on the sites, she added. “We live in a culture of insta-celebrity,” Ms. Skey said. “Our little girls now grow up thinking they need to be ready for their close-up, lest the paparazzi arrive.”

Sweet & Sassy, a salon and party destination based in Texas for girls 5 to 11, includes pink limo service as a party add-on, which starts at $150 a ride. And Dashing Diva franchises often offer virgin Cosmos in martini glasses along with their extra-virgin nail polish, free of a group of chemicals called phthalates, for a round of services for a birthday girl and her friends.

At Club Libby Lu, a mall-based chain and the most mainstream of the primping party outlets, girls of any age can mix their own lip gloss and live out their pop idol fantasies. Last year, the chain did about a million makeovers in its 90 stores nationwide, said Ari Goldsmith, the director of advertising and marketing.

Many of those were Hannah Montana makeovers, which entail donning blond wigs, makeup and concert costumes like the ones the girls’ idol wears. Mom and dad capturing them on the camcorder belting tunes is optional.

Dozens of results can be seen on YouTube, including one zealous poster’s series of “Rebecca as Hannah Montana.”

Brides and bachelorettes have long thrived on beauty services done en masse. But now primping parties are even popular for first graders.

Tracy Bloom Schwartz, an event planner at Creative Parties in Bethesda, Md., said that she ordered beauty-theme stock invitations a couple of years ago. “I figured we’d sell them for bridal and bachelorette-type of events,” she said.

“But now the parents of little girls — easily 6 years old — use these cards as invitations for their daughters’ birthday primping parties. And, the slightly older girls, say, 8 and 9, use them for makeover slumber parties,” she said. “Sometimes I want to ask, ‘makeover what?’ ”

In a study last year, 55 percent of 6- to 9-year-old girls said they used lip gloss or lipstick, and nearly two-thirds said they used nail polish, according to Experian, a market research company based in New York. In 2003, 49 percent of 6- to 9-year-old girls said they used lip gloss or lipstick.

Youth market analysts say this is part of a trend called KGOY, “kids getting older younger,” and cultural observers describe a tandem phenomenon, more-indulgent parents.

It’s a point that vexes Rosalind Wiseman, the author of “Queen Bees & Wannabes” (Three Rivers Press, 2003). “Mothers and fathers do really crazy things with the best of intentions,” she said. “I don’t care how it’s couched, if you’re permitting this with your daughter, you are hyper-sexualizing her. It’s one thing to have them play around with makeup at home within the bubble of the family. But once it shifts to another context, you are taking away the play and creating a consumer, and frankly, you run the risk of having one more person who feels she’s not good enough if she’s not buying the stuff.”

A generation ago, girls had fewer products to choose from. Now, they have nail art; fragrance roll-ons; and all manner of glitter for face, neck, shoulders and hair marketed to them. That’s in addition to staples like lip balms, lip glosses and nail lacquers.

These products are moderately priced so that grandparents and parents can treat. Or so the very young can afford them with nothing more than change from the sofa, or their meager weekly allowance.

“Packaging is key,” said Ricardo Cruz, the marketing and licensing manager of the youth division of Markwins International, a company that licenses and manufactures a Bratz line of cosmetic gift sets as well as ACT, the company’s own brand. Because it’s makeup for little girls, Mr. Cruz said: “We’re not going to put lip plumper in there. It’s just little things the girls can test out, try on with their friends.”

With more-pressing issues of online predators, fast-food consumption and homework that needs to be done, the 10 parents interviewed for the article all said that they had allowed their daughters to attend a primping party.

“Of course, it depends on your environment, but here, I’ve even heard of Girl Scout troops doing this kind of social beauty thing,” said Stacie Christopher, a mother of three from Chevy Chase, Md.

And yet, there is always potential for backlash.

Last summer, when Bonne Bell and Mattel announced a partnership to introduce a line of Barbie-inspired Bonne Bell beauty products for 6- to 9-year-olds at the end of this year, a modest firestorm was set off online. A debate followed on Jezebel, a celebrity and fashion blog, on how young was too young for girls to wear makeup. One commenter reduced it to a simple formula: “Lip gloss and mascara at age 12 = sure. Anything other than pink nail polish on anyone under 10 = no.”

But cosmetics for girls at any age worries Lucy Corrigan, a mother of two daughters, 8 and 11, in Hastings-on-the-Hudson, N.Y. Still, last year she allowed her younger daughter to go to two salon birthday parties for 7-year-olds. “Of course, it was alarming,” she said. “But I’d rather my girls try it and decide they don’t need all these products to be beautiful, and then do something more vital with their time and money and efforts, like write a poem or take a walk or save the world.”

I am so stunned and outraged by this that I can’t find words to say.

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Posted in insane | 4 Comments »

Cut-off cancer patient to get $9Million!

Posted by morganwrites on February 28, 2008

LOS ANGELES – (AP) – A woman who had her medical coverage canceled as she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer has been awarded more than $9 million in a case against one of California’s largest health insurers.Patsy Bates, 52, a hairdresser from Lakewood, had been left with more than $129,000 in unpaid medical bills when Health Net Inc. canceled her policy in 2004.On Friday, arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti ordered Health Net to repay that amount while providing $8.4 million in punitive damages and $750,000 for emotional distress.

“It’s hard to imagine a situation more trying than the one Bates has had to endure,” Cianchetti wrote in the decision. “The rug was pulled out from underneath, and that occurred at a time when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death for women.”

Bates, a mother of two, said she screamed when she heard about the damage award.

“I am elated,” she said.

Bates’ attorney William Shernoff said he wanted other insurers to take notice of the award.

“We are going to put a stop to this practice,” he said.

Health Net said it was implementing a freeze on policy cancelations that would last until the company sets up a third-party review panel to scrutinize cases.

“Obviously we regret the way that this has turned out, but we are intent on fixing the processes to maintain the public trust,” spokesman David Olson said.

The award came a day after the Los Angeles city attorney sued Health Net, claiming it illegally canceled the coverage of about 1,600 patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo also said the company illegally ran an incentive program in which it paid bonuses to an administrator for meeting targets of policy cancelations.

Health Net acknowledged that such a program existed in 2002 and 2003 but was subsequently scrapped.

“It’s hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive,” Cianchetti wrote in the Bates decision.

Bates had been insured with another company but was persuaded to switch over to a Health Net policy after an agent suggested she could save money.

She said she had undergone surgery to remove a tumor and had received her first two chemotherapy treatments when doctors stopped treating her because her bills were going unpaid.

“I was devastated. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Bates said. “It’s boggling that someone can do that to you.”

Bates went on to complete her cancer treatment through a state-funded program.

Health Net also said it would review its practices and the way its brokers and agents are trained.

This absolutely makes me so insane that I can hardly type. Health Net employees should all have their policies canceled and then they should be thrown in jail or deported to Kosovo, Rwanda, Antarctica, Iran, or some other really happy and safe place to live. Bastards, one and all!

Posted in Health Net Inc, incentive program to cancel policies, Judge Sam Cianchetti, Los Angels, Patsy Bates | 2 Comments »

Fast Food Ads Fueling Obesity Among Hispanic Kids

Posted by morganwrites on February 27, 2008

THURSDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) — The large number of fast food commercials on Spanish-language television in the United States may be contributing to the obesity epidemic among Hispanic youths, new research suggests.

Among American children, Hispanics have the highest rates of overweight and obesity.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center reviewed 60 hours of programming airing between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. (heavy viewing hours for school-age children) on Univision and Telemundo, the two largest Spanish-language channels in the United States. The stations reach 99 percent and 93 percent of U.S. Hispanics, respectively.

The stations averaged two to three food commercials an hour, with one-third of them specifically targeted to children. Almost half of all food commercials promoted fast food, and more than half of all drink commercials featured soda and drinks with high sugar content. The study was published in the Feb. 18 online issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

“While we cannot blame overweight and obesity solely on TV commercials, there is solid evidence that children exposed to such messages tend to have unhealthy diets and to be overweight,” lead investigator Dr. Darcy Thompson, a pediatrician at Hopkins, said in a prepared statement.

To reduce the impact of food commercials, young children should be restricted to two hours or less per day of TV, and parent(s) should talk to their children about healthy diet and food choices, the researchers said. Children younger than 2 shouldn’t be allowed to watch any TV.

The Hopkins team also recommended that pediatricians caring for Hispanic children should be aware of their patients’ heavy exposure to food commercials and the possible effects of that exposure. In addition, public health officials should lobby policy makers to limit food advertising that targets children.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about overweight and obesity in children.

Aren’t there areas of the country wherein there’s Russian, German, Italian, French, East-Indian, Asiatic, African television programs being broadcast? Don’t these stations also have commercials? We should have all these poor little Hispanic children sent to modeling agencies so they can become anorexic! And what’s with this “lead investigator Dr. Darcy Thompson, a pediatrician at Hopkins, said in a prepared statement” – can’t this guy write his own piece? What do you think would happen if we banned Telemundo and Univison – perhaps less food commercials, perhaps they’d learn English, perhaps less fat illegal immigrants who are putting a strain on our already broken health care system of which they don’t have to pay a dime to access?

Posted in Dr. Darcy Thompson, fast food, Hispanic, Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Journal of Pedicatrics, lobby against food advertising, soda, Spanish-language television, Telemundo, unhealthy diets, Univision | Leave a Comment »

Democrats Promise A Lot, But Who Will Pay The Bill?

Posted by morganwrites on February 26, 2008

(USA) – Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both proposed an array of costly spending programs. A sampling:

Clinton

* Health care overhaul ($110 billion annually)

* Energy proposals ($150 billion over 10 years)

* New “GI Bill” education and housing assistance to veterans ($5 billion annually)

* Universal pre-K education program ($7 billion annually)

* Economic stimulus, including housing and heating assistance ($110 billion, presumably one-time)

Obama

* Health care overhaul (up to $65 billion annually)

* Additional health care spending ($40 billion annually)

* “Making Work Pay” refundable tax credit to offset Social Security tax ($62 billion annually)

* $4,000 tuition tax credit ($6 billion annually)

* K-12 education spending ($18 billion annually)

* Doubling budget for basic science ($6 billion annually)

Sources: Candidates’ websites, National Taxpayers Union, USA TODAY research.

Who will pay the bill?  It ain’t gonna be them!  It’s us little chickens who are scratching in the barn yard trying to find something to eat.  Hillarity’s plan is $137 billion per year, not including the $110 presumably 1-time economic stimulus.  Want stimulus – quit telling the world that we in a recession, you didst. Barack’s plan is $197 billion a year and seems to have more user friendly stuff.  Whatever is passed, hopefully by the people, with no pork in it, let’s all make sure that these ‘programs’ are aimed at the legal residents of our country.  After all, we’re the ones that pay for it. 

Posted in Additional health care spending, Barack Obama, basic science budget, Economic stimulus, Energy Proposals, GI Bill, Health Care, Hillaryous Clinton, K-12 education spending, Social Security, tax credits, tuition tax credit, Universal pre-K education | Leave a Comment »

Obesity More Dangerous Than Terrorism Experts Say

Posted by morganwrites on February 25, 2008

SYDNEY – (AFP) – World governments focus too much on fighting terrorism while obesity and other “lifestyle diseases” are killing millions more people, an international conference heard Monday.

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Overcoming deadly factors such as poor diet, smoking and a lack of exercise should take top priority in the fight against a growing epidemic of preventable chronic disease, legal and health experts said.

Global terrorism was a real threat but posed far less risk than obesity, diabetes and smoking-related illnesses, prominent US professor of health law Lawrence Gostin said at the Oxford Health Alliance Summit here.

“Ever since September 11, we’ve been lurching from one crisis to the next, which has really frightened the public,” Gostin told AFP later.

“While we’ve been focusing so much attention on that, we’ve had this silent epidemic of obesity that’s killing millions of people around the world, and we’re devoting very little attention to it and a negligible amount of money.”

The fifth annual conference of the Oxford Health Alliance — co-founded by Oxford University — has brought together world experts from academia, government, business, law, economics and urban planning to promote change.

An estimated 388 million people will die from chronic disease worldwide over the next 10 years, according to World Health Organisation figures quoted by the alliance.

“There’s a political paralysis in dealing with the issue,” said Gostin, an adviser to the US government and a professor at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities.

He noted that prevention of obesity and its effects had hardly rated a mention in the current campaign for the US presidency.

“Yet the human costs are frightening when we consider that obesity could shorten the average lifespan of an entire generation, resulting in the first reversal in life expectancy since data collecting began in 1900,” he said.

Like terrorism, some passing health threats get major government attention and media coverage, while heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer account for 60 percent of the world’s deaths, the meeting was told.

“It is true that new and re-emerging health threats such as SARS, avian flu, HIV/AIDS, terrorism, bioterrorism and climate change are dramatic and emotive,” said Stig Pramming, the Oxford group’s executive director.

“However, it is preventable chronic disease that will send health systems and economies to the wall.”

The conference is due to end Wednesday with a “Sydney Resolution” calling on governments and big business among others to take action to avert millions of premature deaths due to chronic disease.

“The way we live now is making us sick, it’s making our planet sick and it’s not sustainable,” said Asia-Pacific co-director Ruth Colagiuri.

The Sydney resolution focuses on four key areas, including the need to make towns and cities healthier places in which to live by urban design which promotes walking and cycling and reduces carbon emissions from motor vehicles.

Insufficient physical exercise is a risk factor in many chronic diseases and is estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths worldwide each year, said Tony Capon, professor of health studies at Australia’s Macquarie University.

“We need to build the physical activity back into our lives and it’s not simply about bike paths, it’s about developing an urban habitat that enables people to live healthy lives: ensuring that people can meet most of their daily needs within walking and cycling distance of where they live,” he said.

The resolution also calls for a reduction in sugar, fat and salt content in food, making fresh food affordable and available and increasing global efforts to stop people smoking.

Just about says it all. The only things they left out were laughing, singing, playing, reading, television, computer games, blogging, talking, kissing, making love – for those who can, listening to music, etc. I guess we should just go out and shoot ourselves – solve the whole damn problem.

Posted in "Sydndy Resolution", bioterrorism, carbon emissions, climate change, deaths, disease, exercise, Georgetown University, HIV/AIDS, Johns Hopkins University, lack of exercise, Macquarie University, obesity, Oxford Health Alliance Summit, Oxford University, poor diet, reducing sugar fat salt, Ruth Colagiuri, SARS, silent epidemic, smoking, Stig Pramming, terrorism, Tony Capon, WHO | 3 Comments »

Obesity Cause Global Warming: Experts Say

Posted by morganwrites on February 25, 2008

A recently released report from the United Federation Against Obesity, a scientific firm based in the Washington, DC area, has determined that obese people could be causing up to 45 percent of the global warming problem.

Steven Nolard, head researcher at UFAO, states, “Just look at all the obese people there are in the world today. They consume 3-6 times more food than the average person and this phenomena is running rampant. Because of their enormous weight, they are unable to be productive members of society.”

The report goes on to say, “Obese people are taking a toll on our social services, and when they need hospitalization, they often need to have walls removed from their homes in order to extract them and then there’s the challenge with transporting them – as ambulances can’t carry them due to their extreme girth and weight. They’re often loaded on flat-bed trucks in order to get them to the hospital,” says Patricia Pounds, co-author of this study.

Studies have shown that obese people are blaming fast-food restaurants for their crippling situation. They also claim that if such eateries would stop advertising, they wouldn’t be drawn to their sites. “I used to weigh 200 pounds,” says Michael Hughest, “but now I weigh 475 pounds, and it’s all their fault. I mean, you go to (name of restaurant omitted) and the employees always say, “Would you like to super-size that, and, well, who wouldn’t want to get more food? It’s like getting a bonus for pennies.”

There are also reports, from Obese People United as well as United Coalition of Obesity, that posit the theory that obese people don’t really eat as much as most people have been lead to believe. As one member of OPU states, “We eat a little more than most but that’s because we are bigger,” states Jeff Moore. He goes on to say, “We’d exercise but there’s no sidewalks in our neighborhoods, and we can’t just walk down the street. That would really be dangerous.” Another anomaly is that “fitness centers” just aren’t available to the obese due to their location, a report from the UCO, as obese people can’t walk that far and public transportation is not a viable method, as many UCO members say, “When we ride the bus or subways, people laugh at us. And if there’s an available seat, we can’t fit. It’s just not fair.”

Dr. Stedhamm Burgher,of the University of Munich, Germany, contributed to the UFAO studies, insomuch, as to give this article an international presence.  In regards to the study above, his foreboding comment was, “Ach de liber!”

In another study, Healthy Day, reports that “Obesity Raises Cancer Risk”.

The more weight you carry on your body, the greater your odds of developing cancer, British researchers report.This is true not only of fairly common cancers such as colon and breast, but also of lesser known varieties, including gallbladder. Moreover, the degree of risk differs between men and women and among different ethnic groups, report the authors of a comprehensive new paper appearing in this week’s issue of The Lancet.”This is a profoundly important issue. Obviously, the obesity epidemic is a huge problem itself, and the relationship to cancer is only one of the many adverse health effects of being overweight and obese,” said Dr. Michael Thun, head of epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society. “The evidence has been accumulating now for over 10 years. . . This study tries to provide a quantitative measure of how much the relative risk goes up with each increment, basically jumping from one BMI [body-mass index] category to another.”

Although extra fat has already been identified by research as a risk factor for several different types of cancer, Thun said, “the problem of obesity is so large and so difficult to solve that there’s a very sound reason for ongoing studies of things that have become increasingly well-known, just because it helps the momentum in stimulating approaches that will actually help people maintain a healthy weight.”

Last year, a report issued by the American Institute of Cancer Research and the U.K.-based World Cancer Research Fund concluded that body fat is associated with an increased risk for several different types of cancer including esophageal adenocarcinoma, as well as cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium and kidney.

Although that report was one of the most comprehensive to date, it did leave some questions unanswered. For instance, are there associations between less common cancers and body weight, and do the associations differ between the sexes and people of different ethnic backgrounds?

The issue is a pressing one, with about two-thirds of adult men and women in the United States overweight or obese. That number is only expected to increase as people continue to eat more and exercise less.

This study, from scientists at the University of Manchester, analyzed 141 articles involving 282,137 cancer cases and 20 different types of malignancies to determine the cancer risk associated with a 5 kilogram-per-meter-squared increase in BMI, roughly the increase that would bump a person from middle-normal weight into overweight.

In men, such an increase in BMI raised the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma by 52 percent, thyroid cancer by 33 percent, and colon and kidney cancer by 24 percent each.

In women, the same increase in BMI increased the risk of endometrial and gallbladder cancer by 59 percent each, esophageal adenocarcinoma by 51 percent, and kidney cancer by 34 percent.

In men, there were weaker associations between increased BMI and rectal cancer and melanoma. In women, there were weaker associations between increased BMI and postmenopausal breast, pancreatic, thyroid and colon cancers.

In both genders, there were associations between increased BMI and leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

For colon cancer, the associations were stronger in men than in women (24 percent vs. 9 percent).

There were stronger associations in Asia-Pacific populations between greater BMI and both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancers.

Although the main message is still to maintain a healthy weight, this research might indicate earlier screening for certain cancers, said Dr. Greg Cooper, interim chief of the gastroenterology division at Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland. “If someone is obese, then lower the threshold for screening,” he said. “One of the cancers they identified is esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is not as common as colon cancer, but it is increasing in incidence. It is thought to be related to reflux, so as a gastroenterologist, if I have a patient who has reflux and is obese, I might lower the threshold for doing an endoscopy. For other cancers like colon cancer, those guidelines are pretty well-established, and this probably wouldn’t change practice.”

Experts aren’t sure why extra fat can lead to malignancies, but changes in the circulating levels of various hormones (insulin, insulin-like growth factors and sex steroids) might explain the link.

Here’s more bad news as the world heads for a smoke-free future: An accompanying commentary from Swedish researchers notes that as people quit smoking (the biggest cause of cancer in developed countries), weight gain may become the main lifestyle factor contributing to new cancers.

If you hadn’t figured it out, the first story was factional fiction, the second was from Health Day. Reading the last paragraph of their story – it seems like it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Posted in American Institute of Cancer Research, BMI, Cancer, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleaveland, Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals, obesity, Spoof, True Story, University of Manchester, World Cancer Research Fund | 2 Comments »

High Pay at Fannie Mae For the Well-Connected

Posted by morganwrites on February 22, 2008

Many Former Officials Landed Jobs There

(TWP) – If Fannie Mae were an ordinary public company, the millions of dollars in pay and other compensation that outgoing chairman Franklin D. Raines and other top executives have pocketed over the years would be business as usual.

But like few other companies, the mortgage giant was created by the federal government, carries out a public mission and has an implied government guarantee on its debt offerings.

Thus, the seven- and eight-digit pay packages its executives receive attract more than the usual attention when they come to public notice, as has been the case several times in the past 15 years.

“You are not simply another private corporation,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told Raines at a hearing this fall. “There is a lot of government involvement.”

Government pay is limited at the top, even for officials who run enormous agencies. The postmaster general, for example, who heads an agency with more than 700,000 employees and more than $65 billion in revenue, is paid about $175,000. And there are no stock options.

Fannie Mae, in contrast, has become over the years a place where former government officials and others with good political connections can go to make millions of dollars.

Raines’s total compensation in 2002 was $17.7 million. That year, 19 other top Fannie Mae executives were paid more than $1 million, 12 more than $2 million and nine more than $3 million, according to materials released at a hearing this fall by Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees Fannie Mae. Baker is a leading critic of the District-based mortgage finance company.

Among the Fannie Mae officials on Baker’s list was Thomas E. Donilon, the company’s executive vice president — law and policy, who was assistant secretary of state for public affairs and chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher in the Clinton administration. Donilon received $4.3 million.

Also included was Arne Christenson, who had left the company but before joining it had been a top aide to Newt Gingrich when Gingrich was House speaker. His compensation was listed as $1.5 million. A little down the list was one of Baker’s former aides, Duane Duncan, at $920,144.

Raines was a director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration, and his name was mentioned as a possible Treasury secretary had Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) been elected president. Raines’s predecessor as Fannie Mae chairman, James A. Johnson, directed Walter F. Mondale’s presidential campaign in 1984.

Johnson’s compensation when he stepped down in 1998 was $6 million to $7 million a year, it was reported at the time.

Controversies over Fannie Mae’s executive pay date to 1991, when David O. Maxwell — who then was chairman and chief executive officer — received a retirement package worth $27.5 million. Maxwell, a banker, had been hired in 1981 to turn around a company that had been financially harmed by rapidly rising interest rates, much as many savings and loans were.

Maxwell’s pay was attacked on Capitol Hill and elsewhere as inappropriate for the head of a government-related entity, but also defended as a proper reward for a man who had saved the taxpayers from a potentially huge loss.

Johnson publicly defended Maxwell and Fannie Mae at the time, arguing that as a result of his efforts the company was doing well and serving “a public function at no public cost.”

But critics and regulators have wondered recently whether the company was being managed more for the benefit of its own executives than its public purpose.

An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight report in September accused the company of improperly deferring $200 million of estimated expenses in 1998, which allowed management to receive full annual bonuses. Had the expenses been recorded that year, no bonuses would have been paid, the report said.

Fannie Mae reported paying bonuses in 1998 to Johnson, who received $1.932 million; Raines, who then was chairman-designate, $1.11 million; Chief Operating Officer Lawrence M. Small, $1.108 million; Vice Chairman Jamie S. Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general, $779,625; Chief Financial Officer J. Timothy Howard, $493,750; and Robert J. Levin, who was executive vice president for housing and community development, $493,750.

Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, chief executives and chief financial officers are required to give back incentive-based bonuses if the company has to restate its earnings because of financial misconduct. One attorney said yesterday that the law probably wouldn’t apply to misconduct prior to 2002. But he said that plaintiffs in a lawsuit could argue that other legal precedents dictate that the bonuses were ill-gotten and need to be returned.

Isn’t this just special!  While millions are being tossed out of their homes because of the greed of the sub-prime lenders, the overseers are basking in the sunshine with their pockets stuffed with ill gotten gains.  No wonder this country is going to hell in a hand-basket.  Yes, this article was published in 2004 – however, things haven’t changed – bah.

Posted in Criminal, Fannie Mae, injustice, theft | 2 Comments »

Justices Make It Tougher to Sue Medical Device Makers

Posted by morganwrites on February 20, 2008

WASHINGTON -(NYT) – In a case with huge implications for the health care-technology industry, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the manufacturer of a federally approved medical device cannot be sued under state law if the device causes an injury.The 8-to-1 ruling in favor of Medtronic, the Minneapolis-based maker of cardiovascular devices, made it much more difficult for patients and their families to sue makers of medical devices that have been granted federal approval.

In 1996, a balloon catheter burst and severely injured Charles R. Riegel while he was undergoing an angioplasty. Mr. Riegel and his wife, Donna, sued the company in federal court, contending that the catheter had been designed, labeled and manufactured in a way that violated New York state law, and that those defects had caused severe and permanent injuries to Mr. Riegel.

But a federal district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, dismissed the Riegels’s suit on the ground that the catheter had been given pre-market approval by the Food and Drug Administration, thus protecting the manufacturer from liability under state law. (The case of Riegel v. Medtronic was tried in federal court because the plaintiffs and defendant were based in different states.)

The Supreme Court upheld the lower federal courts on Wednesday, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority that Medtronic and other manufacturers were protected under the Medical Device Amendments of 1976, which in its section on pre-emption bars states from imposing on medical devices “any requirement which is different from, or in addition to, any requirement applicable under this chapter.”

But the justices’ ruling was hardly the last word on when F.D.A. approval bars patients from suing. They are already considering at least three cases involving drugs and drug-labeling.

In 1996, when there was a different lineup of justices, the Supreme Court ruled that medical devices approved by the F.D.A. under a different, more expedited process were not shielded from state liability. At the time, the federal government took that position.

But in 2004, the Bush administration reversed the government’s position and began to take the side of manufacturers. In the Medtronic case, the administration argued that there would be “serious undermining of F.D.A.’s approval authority and its balancing of the risks and benefits” if juries could second-guess the agency.

Justice Scalia wrote that the F.D.A. spends an average of 1,200 hours reviewing each device application and grants pre-market approval only if it finds there is a “reasonable assurance” of its “safety and effectiveness.”

“It may thus approve devices that present great risks if they nonetheless offer great benefits in light of available alternatives,” Justice Scalia wrote, noting that the F.D.A. approved a ventricular assist device for children with failing hearts “even though the survival rate of children using the device was less than 50 percent.”

Justice Scalia said jurors would probably not be in a position to weigh the benefits and dangers of medical devices as well as agency experts. A jury, he wrote, “sees only the cost of a more dangerous designed, and is not concerned with its benefits; the patient who reaped those benefits are not represented in court.”

The majority was apparently persuaded by Theodore B. Olson, the lawyer for Medtronic, who argued before the justices on Dec. 4 that the F.D.A. and not the courts was the right forum for imposing requirements on cutting-edge medical devices. Arguing that “nothing is perfectly safe,” Mr. Olson said it would harm patients and future patients to “discourage the marketing of products that might save our lives.”

Medtronic, which makes a wide variety of medical products and is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cardiovascular devices, no longer makes the type of catheter used on Mr. Riegel, who died several years after the operation. As part of its defense, the company maintained that the doctor involved failed to heed a warning not to use the device on a patient who had calcified arteries, as Mr. Riegel did. Founded in 1949, Medtronic has more than 37,000 employees and had revenues of $12.3 billion in its last fiscal year, according to the company’s Web site.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the lone dissenter on Wednesday, asserting that the majority had adopted an unnecessary “constriction of state authority.” Justice Ginsburg said she did not believe that Congress had intended to bring about “a radical curtailment of state common-law suits seeking compensation for injuries caused by defectively designed or labeled medical devices.”

Allison M. Zieve, the lawyer for Donna Riegel, expressed her disappointment to Bloomberg News. “Pretty bad for patients, pretty good for industry profits,” she said.

Leading Congressional Democrats criticized the high court’s decision and issued statements vowing to enact legislation to allow lawsuits against medical device makers.

“The Supreme Court’s decision strips consumers of the rights they’ve had for decades,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “This isn’t what Congress intended and we’ll pass legislation as quickly as possible to fix this nonsensical situation.”

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, agreed, saying: “Congress never intended that F.D.A. approval would give blanket immunity to manufacturers from liability for injuries caused by faulty devices. Congress obviously needs to correct the court’s decision. Otherwise, F.D.A. approval will become a green light for shoddy practices by manufacturers.”

Is this possible? Who in the hell is running the show here – it sure isn’t you, me, her, she, us, he, him and the common man. Did you catch the contradictory statements in this post? Why wasn’t the doctor named? Why wasn’t the doctor sued and brought up on malpractice charges and stripped of his ability to never practice medicine? Oh, yeah, doctors through malice, neglect, stupidity can murder someone, while the guy who’s defending his hearth and home will more than likely land in jail. How is that Medtronic no longer makes this device? Hmmmm? I think I’m having an embolism.

Posted in Allison M. Zieve, angioplasty, Antonin Sclia, bullshit, catheter, Charles R. Riegel, contradictory statments, defects, Democrats, doctor failed to heed warning, Education, FDA, George W., Henry A. Waxman, insanity, Labor and Pensions, Medtronic, negligence, permanent injurires, Ruth Ginsburg, Senate Health, Senator Ted Kennedy, Supreme Court, Theodore B. Olson | Leave a Comment »

Is our Health Care System actually wanting to keeping us ill?

Posted by morganwrites on February 19, 2008

I published a post entiteld “22,000 die amid a delayed Bayer drug recall“, and here’s a comment (though it was filed under “about me”) that I think deserves your attention.

On February 18, 2008 at 7:04 pm Dave Moskowitz MD FACP Said:

There’s another medical horror story that dwarfs aprotinin (Trasylol). A little over five years ago, I published a paper in a peer-reviewed medical journal showing it was possible to prevent 90% of kidney failure in the US. Nobody picked up the story–reporters asked for confirmation from someone in the professional kidney community. Nobody would go on record supporting the paper–not private nephrologists, who earn $10-15,000 for every hemodialysis patient; not academic nephrologists; not academic transplant surgeons who are constantly complaining that there aren’t enough organs available; not non-profit professional groups like the National Kidney Foundation, the AMA or the American Heart Association, who all collect tax-deductible donations to cure kidney disease; not the American or the International Society of Nephrology. Even more impressive, when I spoke with Sean Tunis and his assistant Sandy Foote at Medicare in 2004 (Sean was the Medical Director for CMS then), they had absolutely no interest, despite Medicare spending $25 billion a year on dialysis and transplantation.

Here’s my conclusion: nobody in the medical system–and I mean NOBODY, except the patient, who has no power, as we all know–nobody wants to eliminate diseases. Sure, they want more money to research it, but God forbid anybody should actually come up with a cure and eliminate their paycheck.

This is a far cry from medicine’s victories over rheumatic fever, TB and polio. Medicine doesn’t want no stinking victories anymore.

Here’s a rough estimate: if the National Kidney Disease Education Program, paid for by taxpayer dollars as a program within the NIH’s Kidney Institute (the NIDDK), had done its job in 2002, most of the 400,000 people currently on dialysis would not have had to go on the machine.

That dwarfs the number hurt by aprotinin by a factor of 20-fold.

What makes the story worse is that people of color have 3-5 times more kidney failure than whites. We’re essentially talking about medical slavery: keeping a $25 billion a year industry alive on the backs of blacks and Hispanics.

Think about this anytime somebody tells you what a great healthcare system we have! And don’t think a single-payer system is any better. The bureaucrats in Canada and the British National Health Service value their jobs just as much as our Medicare bureaucrats. Every other country was as resistant to my pestering them as the US.

What we clearly need is a vigorous competition on patient outcomes between two payers: one public and one private. A single payer, like any monopoly, is unaccountable.

Right now, we have two sectors, but neither one even reports patient outcomes, let alone tries to improve them.

I find this absolutely insane.  I am ashamed of our health system and those who continue to deny health care to our citizens.  No wonder there’s thousands of people who are going to Mexico, Tailand, Malaysia and other countries to have their health issues resolved.  Shame on our government, pharma and the rest of you who should be taking care of us.  How can you pricks sleep at night?

Posted in academic nephrologists, African-Americans, AMA, American Heat Association, American Society of Nephrology, British National Health Service, Canadian National Health Service, Dr. Dave Moskowitz, hemodialysis patients, Hispanics, International Society of Nephrology, kidney failure, Medicare, National Kidney Disease Education Program, National Kidney Foundation, nephrologists | Leave a Comment »

Clinton, Iron Lady, Needs Another Game Plan

Posted by morganwrites on February 16, 2008

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) — The task for the Clintons after a shocking third-place finish in last month’s Iowa caucuses was formidable: Convince the country that the guy they had fallen in love with was wrong for them.

Bill Clinton seized the spotlight by taking the low road with a goulash of ineffectual charges: Upstart Barack Obama would be a risky roll of the dice for the voters, a vague dreamer whose gauzy speeches were bereft of 10-point programs. On top of that, he charged the guys in the race with ganging up on his wife.

Senator Hillary Clinton, with 10-point programs to spare, took the high road, sticking mostly to policy but shedding a timely tear on the eve of the New Hampshire vote. She snapped back with a two-point win.

Clinton saw the New Hampshire result as her political resurrection, where she finally found her “voice.” But if the voice was different, the message was the same.

Her Lazarus-like win kept her from looking any further into why she lost so badly in Iowa. It put off any move to change her insular staff and validated her original strategy in which the primaries were a mere formality. Voters would coronate her partly because she had been first lady, because she was a Clinton, and because it was her turn after all she had been through.

It wasn’t as much a matter of competing as it was waiting until Super Tuesday to accept the crown.

Dark Days

Now the days ahead look darker than they did on that flight from Des Moines to Manchester.

On Feb. 12, Clinton was whomped in Virginia (64 percent to 35 percent), Maryland (60-37) and Washington, D.C. (75-24). Obama has now won 23 of their 35 contests.

She has an explanation for why each of Obama’s victories is inferior to hers. His wins are in teeny-weeny states (Virginia, Washington state, Missouri?) with large black populations (Iowa, Utah, Nebraska?). They are the result of independents and crossover Republicans who dilute the will of loyal Democrats, or they took place in caucus states that measure intensity not breadth (caucuses are suddenly bad for democracy).

Clinton is trying to pull a Rosie Ruiz. Ruiz, the putative winner of the Boston Marathon in 1980, actually sat out much of the race only to emerge near the finish line to claim victory. Clinton is virtually not running anywhere in February, planning to re-emerge in March to sprint to the finish line by triumphing in races in Texas and Ohio. Rudy Giuliani tried this in Florida, only to find that his chosen field of play would be his final resting place.

Just Didn’t Happen

Even as Clinton pretends that any primary she doesn’t win doesn’t count by refusing to congratulate the winner, Obama’s wins are getting bigger and broader. His coalition has expanded to include every age, education, region and income category, including those over 60 and those earning less than $50,000. Even white women — including the blue-haired ones who are most averse to “rolling the dice” — are moving toward him.

Everyone has been waiting for a shake-up of the Clinton team, but that would mean getting rid of her security blanket, Mark Penn, a major reason the campaign has burned through most of the money raised. Against all evidence that the populace already knew Clinton had a steel-trap brain and needed to be shown she had a heart, Penn insisted on an Iron Lady strategy of numbing recitations of memorized facts.

When it failed, titular campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle and her deputy were sacrificed.

Negative on Herself

Going forward, Clinton will push for more debates in which she can expose the naivete and inexperience of the untested Obama, while baiting the press into delving into his unexamined life. The latter effort is part of a major theme — that she can better withstand any Republican attack because she already has.

This is the first known instance of going negative against yourself — reminding people of your scandals to show you are scandal-proof.

Clinton’s best hope is to reverse her slide among women by resuming identity politics. The old guard of feminists, including Gloria Steinem, came to her defense when they saw the men in the race picking on her. Even when non-feminists saw an exhausted and worn-down Hillary get choked up at that Portsmouth diner, they remembered how often they have been underappreciated and overworked. Voting against a man is small compensation for it, but it’s better than nothing.

Clinton’s (and Obama’s) problem is that Democrats are experts at identity politics against Republicans, but not against each other.

Who Knew?

Who knew that a member of one protected species would be running against a member of another within the party? The groups to which they belong have front men and women ready to go off like a cheap car alarm at the least infraction.

The Clintons have suspended political correctness when necessary, labeling as unbalanced, a stalker, or a liar Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky. They did so against Obama but it didn’t work. Now Bill Clinton has gone quiet to try to get back his designation as the “first black president” tarnished in this campaign. The former Goldwater Girl and Wellesley alum never managed to be hailed as the first black first lady.

Hillary Clinton needs to answer Obama’s rhetoric of change with which he has subliminally conflated the Clintons, the Bushes, and everything wrong with Washington into a seamless whole that must be removed. She needs to do it quickly.

Hillary – You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.

Posted in Barack, character assassination, Clinton was beat, Clintons, Gloria Steinem, Iowa, Mark Penn, New Hampshire tears, Rosie Ruiz, scandals | 2 Comments »