A remarkable opinion piece appeared Monday in the New York Times. Penned by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, it is headlined, “People Have Stopped Going to the Doctor. Most Seem Just Fine.” An underline asks, “Do Americans really need the amount of treatment that our health care system is used to providing?”
The column makes the argument that while the pandemic “has resulted in grievous financial losses for hospitals and clinics… Most patients, on the other hand, at least those with stable chronic conditions, seem to have done OK.” From this, Jauhar draws the conclusion that “unnecessary” and “wasteful” doctor’s visits should be sharply curtailed. At the same time, he argues that tax payer cash should be injected into the health care industry.
In other words, the health of the American people, currently suffering through the greatest public health crisis in a century, should be further subordinated to the for-profit health care system. Going forward, a health care system that already denies tens of millions of Americans any coverage and provides inadequate coverage for millions more should be made even more restrictive.
COVID-19’s ravaging of the US population has a lucrative “silver lining.” It provides an opportunity to further restructure the health care system in favor of the profit interests of giant corporations and banks.
Jauhar is a cardiologist practicing in Long Island, New York. He is the author of two New York Times bestselling books and another that received the Amazon Best Book of the Month award.
Merrill Singer and Rebecca Allen write in their book Social Justice and Medical Practice that Jauhar argues in one of his books that “being a caring and altruistic physician has become cost-prohibitive.” They continue: “To pay his medical school loans, live the comfortable lifestyle in New York City that he wants, and pay for his child’s private school, Jauhar accepts speaking fees from a pharmaceutical company that makes a heart medicine he prescribes to his patients.”
Can there be any doubt that financial considerations, for his own bottom line and that of the health care industry, influence Jauhar’s arguments?
His supposed proof that patients skipping doctor’s appointments are generally doing “OK” is a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published May 27. To support his argument, Jauhar both cherry-picks from the study’s findings and misrepresents its significance.
When it came to Donald Trump's presidency, retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez bit his tongue for years. Every time Trump took another step the retired general found offensive -- the attack on Muslim Gold Star parents, Charlottesville, DACA, et al. -- Sanchez restrained himself and made no public comments.
This month's developments, including the Lafayette Square scandal, led him to believe he had to step up and speak up.
Sánchez was commander of coalition forces during a period when abuse of prisoners occurred at Abu Ghraib and at other locations. In a memo signed by General Sánchez and later acquired by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request, techniques were authorized to interrogate prisoners, included "environmental manipulation" such as making a room hot or cold or using an "unpleasant smell", isolating a prisoner, disrupting normal sleep patterns and "convincing the detainee that individuals from a country other than the United States are interrogating him."
On May 5, 2006, Sánchez denied ever authorizing interrogators to "go to the outer limits". Sánchez said he had told interrogators: "...we should be conducting our interrogations to the limits of our authority." Sanchez called the ACLU: "...a bunch of sensationalist liars, I mean lawyers, that will distort any and all information that they get to draw attention to their positions."
Documents obtained by The Washington Post and the ACLU showed that Sanchez authorized the use of military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, and sensory deprivation as interrogation methods in Abu Ghraib. A November 2004 report by Brigadier General Richard Formica found that many troops at the Abu Ghraib prison had been following orders based on a memorandum from Sanchez, and that the abuse had not been carried out by isolated "criminal" elements. ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh said in a statement from the union that "General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the army's own standards."
This past Saturday the Democrats chose retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to give their response, the same general accused in at least three lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe of authorizing torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in Iraq. This, combined with the Democrats’ endorsement of Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his unwillingness to label waterboarding as torture, indicates that the Democrats are increasingly aligned with President Bush’s torture policies.
Sanchez headed the Army’s operations in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. In September 2003, Sanchez issued a memo authorizing numerous techniques, including “stress positions” and the use of “military working dogs” to exploit “Arab fear of dogs” during interrogations. He was in charge when the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison occurred.
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who headed Abu Ghraib at the time, worked under Gen. Sanchez. She was demoted to colonel, the only military officer to be punished. She told me about another illegal practice, holding prisoners as so-called ghost detainees: “We were directed on several occasions through Gen. [Barbara] Fast or Gen. Sanchez. The instructions were originating at the Pentagon from Secretary Rumsfeld, and we were instructed to hold prisoners without assigning a prisoner number or putting them on the database, and that is contrary to the Geneva Conventions. We all knew it was contrary to the Geneva Conventions.” In addition to keeping prisoners off the database there were other abuses, she said, like prison temperatures reaching 120 to 140 degrees, dehydration and the order from Gen. Geoffrey Miller to treat prisoners “like dogs.”
Iraq is to plant 70,000 date palms south of Baghdad, hoping to revive production of a crop it was famed for across the Middle East.
The country once produced three-quarters of the world’s dates but now accounts for just 5 percent after it switched its economic focus to oil and after decades of conflict devastated its farms.
Backed by a state loan worth 10 billion dinars($8.43 million), a Shi’ite Muslim foundation has planted 16,000 date trees outside the holy city of Kerbala, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of the capital Baghdad. It is the biggest state-backed farming project for the crop since the U.S. invasion toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003.
“We plan to have more than 70,000 date trees in future,” said Faiz Eissa Abu Maali, the project’s manager, during a tour.
So that was 2018? Here's a video report from 2018.
So the US tossed some money at the problem and then Barack Obama became president for two terms and then left office and Donald Trump was then president and that's when the Iraqi government decided, "Hey, maybe that project that all the money was spent on over a decade ago, maybe even though we ignored it and didn't fund it when it needed it, maybe we should try to kick start it again?"
Nothing changes because nothing changes.
The money -- US taxpayer money -- tossed out in the early years of the war for the date farming was a waste of money. That had nothing to do with Iraqi farmers, it had everything to do with a corrupt government that provided no support and continues to provide no support.
How many years is it going to take for that reality to set in? In 2018, MIDDLE EAST EYE noted:
The blazing sun beats down on Mohammed Khalil Ibrahim as he points to what is left of his date palms and the damage caused by a scarcity in water. Bent over his cane on his farm in the Iraqi southern city of Basra, the 73-year-old farmer describes how they are sad examples of the fruit-bearing tree.
“You see the trunks, they're too thin. And the dates my trees produce are barely edible," said Ibrahim.
The Ibrahim family have been farmers for three generations. Back in the 80s, the family owned around 50,000 date palm trees in the city of Basra. Today, only a few thousand trees have survived the drought and salinity and none of Ibrahim’s sons want to take over the farm since it is no longer profitable.
“Many neighbouring farmers give up and look for work in the cities," Ibrahim said.
Once a water-rich country, Iraq is facing drought, a significant drop in annual rainfall, salinity and a decline in the level of water flowing into the country, following the construction of major dams in Turkey and Iran since the 1970s.
Additionally, a lack of funds targeting the agricultural sector is preventing the development of Iraq's infrastructure. Basra, now a crumbling city, was once dubbed the "Venice of the Middle East" for its network of canals.
- Iran is pressing Iraq to expand its already game-changing oil and gas infrastructure deal with China.
- Tehran is looking to include Iraq in the Sino-Russian power bloc in order to expand its influence in the oil-rich country.
- Chinese money, equipment and technology should, Baghdad and Tehran think, allow Iraq to gradually increase its oil production to the 7 million bpd targeted by end-2022.
The minister's statement came during a press briefing along with and after a meeting with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Iraq, Adham Rashad.
From her end, Hennis-Plasschaert warned against the lack of adherence to health regulations that are aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
"We must commit to fighting the spread of the Coronavirus at all levels, primarily through the individual actions of each of us," said Hennis-Plasschaert.
"The local, regional and national health authorities, as well as friends and partners of Iraq, have warned of great consequence in case of taking the virus lightly," she added. "[W]e cannot exaggerate the seriousness of the situation, but fear and misinformation is no less dangerous," stressing the need for "resistance with courage, sound information, practical advice and collective discipline."
Photos of a coronavirus patient lying on the ground unattended in a Kirkuk hospital have angered his family, who demand answers about the treatment of the man, who later died on Tuesday.
The disturbing photos
circulating on social media in recent days appear to show Najat
Rasheed, 57, lying on the ground meters away from a bed and an
overturned chair. No hospital staff are seen in the photos, and it’s not
known who is responsible for taking the photos.
Rasheed, who is Kurdish, had served as a medical worker in the
city for 12 years. He was hospitalized in two separate hospitals for 13
days, but died on Tuesday. His son, Sirwan Najat, remained in contact
with his father via their mobile phones while he was hospitalized. After
losing contact with him Thursday night Sirwan visited the hospital and
found his father abandoned. The next morning, he was pronounced dead.
“My father could not breathe. At 7 am I called to ask the medical personnel of the hospital whether he was alive or not. The doctor said that he would check on him, but he came at 10am," he told Rudaw on Wednesday. "They did not serve him at all," Najat says.