Monday, August 31, 2009
Hurricane Jimena 155 mph sustained winds, just shy of being a Cat 5 storm.
Thanks NOAA for this diagram overview.
I hear the smoke is so bad they have health hazard warnings out for the air... smoke blowing all the way to Utah!
Stay safe folks. Thinking good thoughts for people dealing with fires & evacuations.
Be strong. Take care of your most important possessions-- each other!
Click photos to enlarge
Sunday, August 30, 2009
On the West Coast a monster storm is brewing- Hurricane Jimena has sustained winds of 140 mph-- a Category 4 Hurricane, that could jump to a Cat 5-- 156+ mph winds.
Friday, August 28, 2009
From the CDC (U.S. statistics):
How many cases of novel H1N1 flu infection have been reported in the United States?
When the novel H1N1 flu outbreak was first detected in mid-April 2009, CDC began working with states to collect, compile and analyze information regarding the novel H1N1 flu outbreak, including the numbers of confirmed and probable cases of disease. From April 15, 2009 to July 24, 2009, states reported a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection. Of these cases reported, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 people died. On July 24, 2009, confirmed and probable case counts were discontinued. Aggregate national reports of hospitalizations and deaths will continue at this time.
Week ending August 28~
Last week hospitalizations 7983 -------------472 additional hospitalizations
Previous Death toll 522--------45 people died of Swine flu last week
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
So many businesses these days have very strict attendance policies. Point systems, or "incidents" are tallied, and a certain number of them will get you fired-- no matter if you are a top-notch star employee, and have an otherwise excellent work/attendance history. My workplace has such cut & dried, hard & fast rules & I have seen people get fired, even when they are actually being responsible, such as not coming to work with a highly contagious disease.
No matter. You breach the policy, without getting FMLA (family medical leave) medical documentation, you're fired.
This is a huge concern as we head into flu season, in the midst of a H1N1 Swine flu pandemic.
Literally, employees may be having to choose between life & a job, under these kinds of strict attendance rules.
The CDC has posted guidelines for Employers & Schools, that advise revising their policies to address the needs of those who are sick to take time off, and those who are at high risk (with other chronic medical conditions, and or compromised immune systems), to be allowed to take additional time off work, to avoid exposure, should an outbreak occur.
Will employers with these strict guidelines respond appropriately?
From the CDC Flu page:
Plan now to determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick workers, those who stay home to care for ill family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children if dismissed from school. Businesses and other employers should prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies for these workers.
Actions Employers Should Take Now
Review or establish a flexible influenza pandemic plan and involve your employees in developing and reviewing your plan;
Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using your plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected before flu season;
Have an understanding of your organization’s normal seasonal absenteeism rates and know how to monitor your personnel for any unusual increases in absenteeism through the fall and winter.
Engage state and local health department to confirm channels of communication and methods for dissemination of local outbreak information;
Allow sick workers to stay home without fear of losing their jobs;
Develop other flexible leave policies to allow workers to stay home to care for sick family members or for children if schools dismiss students or child care programs close;
Share your influenza pandemic plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them;
Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts; and
Add a “widget” or “button” to your company Web page or employee Web sites so employees can access the latest information on influenza: www.cdc.gov/widgets/ and www.cdc.gov/SocialMedia/Campaigns/H1N1/buttons.html
Important Components of an Influenza Pandemic Plan
Be prepared to implement multiple measures to protect workers and ensure business continuity. A layered approach will likely work better than using just one measure.
Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed tools to determine if your employees are at risk of work-related exposures and, if so, how to respond - (click to see OSHA link).
Review human resources policies to make sure that policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and are consistent with existing state and federal workplace laws (for more information on employer responsibilities, employers should visit the Department of Labor’s and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s websites.
Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), when possible, to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if local public health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple workers who may be able to work from home.
Identify essential business functions, essential jobs or roles, and critical elements within your supply chains (e.g., raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations. Plan for how your business will operate if there is increasing absenteeism or these supply chains are interrupted.
Set up authorities, triggers, and procedures for activating and terminating the company’s response plan, altering business operations (e.g., possibly changing or closing operations in affected areas), and transferring business knowledge to key employees. Work closely with your local health officials to identify these triggers.
Plan to minimize exposure to fellow employees or the public if public health officials call for social distancing.
Establish a process to communicate information to workers and business partners on your 2009 H1N1 influenza response plans and latest 2009 H1N1 influenza information. Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.
Over the past several years, HHS, CDC, DHS, OSHA, EEOC, and other federal partners have developed guidelines, including checklists, to assist businesses, industries, and other employers in planning for a pandemic outbreak. Review these resources to assist in your planning efforts.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Week ending August 21~
Last week hospitalizations 7511 -------------1005 additional hospitalizations
Previous Death toll 477--------41 people died of Swine flu last week
Friday, August 21, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
As of Aug 14, 2009:
Last week hospitalizations 6506 -------------992 additional hospitalizations
Previous Death toll 436--------83 people died of Swine flu last week
Know What to Do About the Flu
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Right now, we have no system.
We have 52 million Americans without health care coverage.
We have For Profit Insurance companies tending to their profit margins.
The way they profit is by taking your money, and limiting what they will cover.
You can be excluded from coverage because of a medical condition (i.e. the people who need medical care the most are denied access).
In most cases, not having access to basic care results in more acute care/trauma at a much higher cost.
At any point your health care coverage can go away- with a job loss, or even if you have a major catastrophic disease or condition that "maxes out" the limits of coverage.
60% of bankruptcies are Medical Bankruptcies-- CNN:
Most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
"Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country," says lead author Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, in Cambridge, Mass. "If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy, and that's the major finding in our study."
I'm quoting Blogger Nonnie on this easy to understand public option explanation:
It's really not that difficult to explain to people why a public option is a good thing:
1. if you lose your job, you will still be covered.
2. if you have no insurance now, you will be covered.
3. if you have a preexisting condition, you will be covered.
4. you will not have to declare bankruptcy and lose everything you have, if you get sick.
5. if you have insurance that you like, you can keep it.
We are being screwed by profiteer insurance companies.
So many people have no coverage-- but even the people who do have coverage, the so-called lucky ones, as Michael Moore called them in his movie SICKO, the coverage is iffy and spotty. Who amongst us has not seen work Health Care Insurance be a roller coaster of exceptions, exclusions, addendums, and a whole lot of fine print gobbeldygook, that basically boils down to a long list of what they will NOT cover.
This lengthy list of exclusions is often coupled with higher premium costs, co pays, and out-of-pocket costs.
You pay more for the coverage.
You pay higher co pays
and then you get an additional percentage of the original bill, the insurance did not cover.
It's like the insurance company says- let's split the bill 50/50.
The irony and absolute tragedy is, for 52 million Americans- that would be an UPGRADE.
I cringe to hear the calamity of contrived uproar from the wingnuts.
Conjuring up visions of death panels.... deciding who could live under an *evil* socialized health care plan.
Guess what? We have death panels by default now- people are literally dying for lack of health care coverage.
All that clamor is choreographed by those who stand to lose big profits by the people uniting together & demanding better coverage.
Bottom line: Amidst all the noise & confusion-- Do you hear the GOP offering any serious alternative plan???
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Congratulations Sonia Sotomayor~ for your confirmation as newest kid on the block on the Supreme Court. Justice Sotomayor is an historical pick, as she is the third female justice, and the first Hispanic person on the high court.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"What we can't do is let security concerns trump doing business. We have to do business... We need to be everywhere men and women in uniform are and the public is. If that's MySpace and YouTube, that's where we need to be, too," Floyd said.
The Marines say they will issue waivers to the Web 2.0 blockade, if a "mission critical need" can be proven. And they will continue to allow access to the military's internal "SNS-like services." But for most members of the Corps, access to the real, public social networks is now shut off for the next year. "
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
From Z Net- Written by By Dahr Jamail
Search & Avoid
Writing on his blog from Baquba, Iraq, in September 2004, Specialist Jeff Englehart commented: "Three soldiers in our unit have been hurt in the last four days and the true amount of army-wide casualties leaving Iraq are unknown. The figures are much higher than what is reported. We get awards and medals that are supposed to make us feel proud about our wicked assignment..."
Over the years, in response to such feelings, some American soldiers have come up with ingenious ways to express defiance or dissent on our distant battlegrounds. These have been little noted in the mainstream media, and when they do surface, officials in the Pentagon or in Washington just brush them aside as "bad apple" incidents (the same explanation they tend to use when a war crime is exposed).
But in the stories of men and women who served in the occupation of Iraq, they often play a different role. In October 2007, for instance, I interviewed Corporal Phil Aliff, an Iraq War veteran, then based at Fort Drum in upstate New York. He recalled:
"During my stints in Iraq between August 2005 and July 2006, we probably ran 300 patrols. Most of the men in my platoon were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan and morale was incredibly low. Recurring hits by roadside bombs had demoralized us and we realized the only way we could avoid being blown up was to stop driving around all the time. So every other day we would find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapon caches in the fields and everything was going fine. All our enlisted people had grown disenchanted with the chain of command."
Aliff referred to this tactic as engaging in "search and avoid" missions, a sardonic expression recycled from the Vietnam War when soldiers were sent out on official "search and destroy" missions.
Sergeant Eli Wright, who served as a medic with the 1st Infantry Division in Ramadi from September 2003 through September 2004, had a similar story to tell me. "Oh yeah, we did search and avoid missions all the time. It was common for us to go set camp atop a bridge and use it as an over-watch position. We would use our binoculars to observe rather than sweep, but call in radio checks every hour to report on our sweeps."
According to Private First Class Clifton Hicks, who served in Iraq with the First Cavalry from October 2003, only six months after Baghdad was occupied by American troops, until July 2004, search and avoid missions began early and always had the backing of a senior non-commissioned officer or a staff sergeant. "Our platoon sergeant was with us and he knew our patrols were bullshit, just riding around to get blown up," he explained. "We were at Camp Victory at Baghdad International Airport. A lot of the time we'd leave the main gate and come right back in another gate to the base where there's a big PX with a nice mess hall and a Burger King. We'd leave one guy at the Humvee to call in every hour, while the others stayed at the PX. We were just sick and tired of going out on these stupid patrols."
Saying "No" One at a Time
"There was nothing to be done," Corporal Casler says of his time in Iraq, "no progress to be made there. Dissent starts as simple as saying this is bullshit. Why am I risking my life?"
Sometimes such feelings have permeated entire units and soldiers in them have refused to follow orders en masse. One of the more dramatic of these incidents occurred in July 2007. The 2nd Platoon of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Baghdad had lost many men in its 11 months of deployment. After a roadside bomb killed five more, its members held a meeting and agreed that it was no longer possible for them to function professionally. Concerned that their anger might actually touch off a massacre of Iraqi civilians, they staged a quiet revolt against their commanders instead.
Kelly Kennedy, a reporter with the Military Times embedded with Charlie Company prior to the revolt, described the shape the platoon members were in by that time: "[T]hey went right to mental health and they got sleeping medications, and they basically couldn't sleep and reacted poorly. And then, they were supposed to go out on patrol again that day. And they, as a platoon, the whole platoon -- it was about 40 people -- said, 'We're not going to do it. We can't. We're not mentally there right now.'"
In response, the military broke up the platoon. Each individual involved was also "flagged" so he would not get a promotion or receive any award due.
To this day, troops in Iraq continue to be plagued by equipment and manpower shortages, and work long hours in an extreme climate. In addition, their stress levels are regularly raised by news from home of veterans returning to separations and divorces, and of a Veteran's Administration often ill-equipped and unwilling to provide appropriate physical and psychological care to veterans.
While no broad poll of troops has been conducted recently, a Zogby poll in February 2006 found that 72% of soldiers in Iraq felt the occupation should be ended within a year. My interviews with those recently back from Iraq indicate that levels of despair and disappointment are once again on the rise among troops who are beginning to realize, months after the Obama administration was ushered in, that hopes of an early withdrawal have evaporated.
The IRR [Individual Ready Reserve] is composed of troops who have finished their active duty service but still have time remaining on their contracts. The typical military contract mandates four years of active duty followed by four years in the IRR, though variations on this pattern exist. Ready Reserve members live civilian lives and are not paid by the military, but they are required to show up for periodic musters. Many have moved on from military life and are enrolled in college, working civilian jobs, and building families.
At any point, however, a member of the Ready Reserve can be recalled to active duty. This policy has led to the involuntary reactivation of tens of thousands of troops to fight the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lieutenant General Jack C. Stultz, the Chief of the U.S. Army Reserve and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, told Congress on March 3rd that, since September 11, 2001, the Army has mobilized about 28,000 from the Reserves. There have been 3,724 Marines involuntarily recalled and mobilized during that same period, according to Major Steven O'Connor, a Marine Corps spokesman. (According to Major O'Connor, as of May 2009, the Marines are no longer recalling individuals from the IRR.)
Ironically, under a new commander-in-chief whom many voters believed to be anti-war, the Army is continuing its Individual Ready Reserve recalls. "The IRR recall has not seen any change since Obama became president," Sarah Lazare, the project coordinator for Courage to Resist, says. "It's difficult to predict what the Obama administration's policy will be in the future regarding the IRR, but definitely they haven't made any moves to stop this practice."
Needing boots on the ground, according to Lazare, the military continues to fall back on the Ready Reserve system to fill the gaps: "Since these are experienced troops, many of them have already served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan." Lazare adds, "When Obama announced his Afghanistan surge, we got a huge wave of calls from soldiers saying they didn't want to be reactivated and to please help them not go."
The Future of Military Dissent
Right now, acts of dissent, refusal, and resistance in the all-volunteer military remain small-scale and scattered. Ranging from the extreme private act of suicide to avoidance of duty to actual refusal of duty, they continue to consist largely of individual acts. Present-day G.I. resistance to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan cannot begin to be compared with the extensive resistance movement that helped end the Vietnam War and brought an army of draftees to the point of near mutiny in the late 1960s. Nevertheless, the ongoing dissent that does exist in the U.S. military, however fragmented and overlooked at the moment, should not be discounted.
The Iraq War boils on at still dangerous levels of violence, while the war in Afghanistan (and across the border in Pakistan) only grows, as does the U.S. commitment to both. It's already clear that even an all-volunteer military isn't immune to dissent. If violence in either or both occupations escalates, if the Pentagon struggles to add more boots on the ground, if the stresses and strains on the military, involving endless redeployments to combat zones, increase rather than lessen, then the acts of Agosto, Bishop, and Shepherd may turn out to be pathbreaking ones in a world of dissent yet to be experienced and explored. Add in dissatisfaction and discontent at home if, in the coming years, American treasure continues to be poured into an Afghan quagmire, and real support for a G.I. resistance movement may surface. If so, then the early pioneers in methods of dissent within the military will have laid the groundwork for a movement.
"If we want soldiers to choose the right but difficult path, they must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will be supported by Americans." So said First Lieutenant Ehren Watada of the U.S. Army, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse a combat deployment to Iraq. (He finally had the military charges against him dropped by the Justice Department.) The future of any such movement in the military is now unknowable, but keep your eyes open. History, even military history, holds its own surprises.
Dahr Jamail has reported from Iraq and writes for Inter Press Service, Le Monde Diplomatique, and other outlets. He is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and the forthcoming book The Will To Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Coalition Military Fatalities By Year and Month~ Afghanistan
VP Joe Biden had said when they do the surge in Afghanistan, they expect to see an uptick in casualties. Unfortunately, he was right, as July 2009 has the largest coalition death toll since they began the Afghanistan war in 2001. We don't hear much news about it- that other war- it is almost like a black out on news from Afghanistan. We hear random updates about violence in Iraq. As the Iraq war winds down, the Afghanistan surge winds up.
The following are IRAQ Statistics
U.S. Military Deaths By Year/Month
View Graph: U.S. Fatalities By Month/Year
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2003 0 0 65 74 37 30 48 35 31 44 82 40 486 2004 47 20 52 135 80 42 54 66 80 64 137 72 849 2005 107 58 35 52 80 78 54 85 49 96 84 68 846 2006 62 55 31 76 69 61 43 65 72 106 70 112 822 2007 83 81 81 104 126 101 80 84 66 38 37 23 904 2008 40 29 39 52 19 29 13 23 25 14 16 14 313 2009 16 17 9 19 25 15 7 0 0 0 0 0 108
Self inflicted Fatalities
Fatalities - Self Inflicted Army Navy Marines AirForce Total Died of Self-Inflicted wounds 154 4 26 1 185
|Fatalities - Self Inflicted||Army||Navy||Marines||AirForce||Total|
|Died of Self-Inflicted wounds||154||4||26||1||185|