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Pick Your Side

I am horrified by this recent story from Los Angeles, California! The L.A. County Sheriff is investigating the sexual assault of at least 10 women with severe disabilities. The Sheriff received 11 DVDs containing graphic videos of these men – these pigs – sexually assaulting women with disabilities.

As a disability advocate who has attended many trainings on the subject of safeguarding people with disabilities, I am painfully aware of the dangers our most vulnerable members of society face. Of course, being a parent of children with physical and developmental disabilities also makes this a personal issue. Most parents of kids with disabilities will tell you that the hardest thing about having a child with a disability is the worry they have about what will happen to their children when they are gone or no longer able to care for their kids. I know this is my biggest worry. Who will take care of my kids and keep them safe? It takes money – a lot of money – in order to properly care for a person with a disability; many require 24/7 care. It is impossible for most families to afford proper care on their own. For this reason, they need government assistance.

How does something like this L.A. story happen? I can guarantee that a big part of the problem is lack of services for people with disabilities. Sadly, when money gets tight, state budgets get cut. More often than not, it is our most vulnerable citizens who are hurt. Typical conservatives who want small government and low taxes don’t understand that cutting state spending puts people at risk. For example, here in Massachusetts, our DDS (Department of Developmental Services) is cutting back on staff for group homes. There are people in these homes who have serious mental and physical problems, yet the state is cutting out nursing care. Many homes have to share one nurse with several homes. This leaves clients being cared for by minimum wage, uneducated workers who are expected to take care of all of their needs, including the administration of medications. This is dangerous for both the health and safety of people with disabilities.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of the abuse and neglect that went on in large institutions back in the 60’s and 70’s. This led to a push to close these human warehouses in favor of smaller community settings. This was a step forward, however, if we keep cutting community services, we are going to hear more and more stories like this one in L.A. You can’t just stick people out in the community without the proper supports and safety nets in place.

Republicans, when you push for small government and lower taxes, you are jeopardizing the health and safety of the disabled, the poor and the elderly. How can you sleep at night? Some conservatives will say, “Oh, I don’t want services for people with disabilities cut, just cut out waste and the people who are cheating the system.” First, there are always going to be people who cheat a system, any system. That’s life, deal with it. But keep in mind that the corporate welfare and millionaire tax loop holes make social service waste look like a drop in the bucket. Second, when you cut taxes, people with disabilities will lose services. This is historically true and it’s happening now. Whether you like it or not, this is the way our government is currently set up. We have a two party system and a country divided. So, pick your side.

In my opinion, a country should be judge by how well it cares for it’s most vulnerable citizens. Put people before money and vote Democrat!


Haiti quake death toll surpasses 111,000

First official death toll release by the Haitian government on Friday following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Deadliest Earthquakes arranged by Death Toll, Event, Location and Date:

830,000 1556 Shaanxi earthquake China 1556
250,000 526 Antioch earthquake Antioch, Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) 526
242,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake China 1976
240,000 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China 1920
230,000 1138 Aleppo earthquake Syria 1138
230,000 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake Asia 2004
200,000 856 Damghan earthquake Iran 856
150,000 893 Ardabil earthquake Iran 893
142,800 1923 Great Kanto earthquake Japan 1923
137,000 1730 Hokkaido earthquake Japan 1730
111,481 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti 2010
110,000 1948 Ashgabat earthquake Turkmenistan 1948
100,000 Messina earthquake Italy 1908
100,000 1755 Lisbon earthquake Portugal 1755
100,000 1290 Chihli earthquake China 1290
86,000 2005 Kashmir earthquake Pakistan 2005
85,000 1854 Great Ansei Nankai earthquakes Japan 1854
80,000 1667 Shamakhi earthquake Azerbaijan 1667
77,000 1727 Tabriz Earthquake Iran 1727
70,000 1932 Changma, Gansu earthquake China 1932
69,197 2008 Sichuan earthquake China 2008
66,000 Ancash earthquake Peru 1970
60,000 Sicily earthquake Italy 1693
60,000 1935 Balochistan earthquake British India 1935
50,000 Calabrian earthquakes Italy 1783
40,000 1927 Gulang, Gansu earthquake China 1927
40,000 1498 Meio- Nankai, Japan earthquake Japan 1498
40,000 1797 Quito earthquake Ecuador 1797
37,000 Genroku earthquake Japan 1703
35,000 1990 Manjil Rudbar earthquake Iran 1990
32,962 1939 Erzincan earthquake Turkey 1939
30,000 1707 Great Ho-ei Earthquake Japan 1707
30,000 2003 Bam earthquake Iran 2003
25,000 1988 Spitak Earthquake Armenia 1988
25,000 1978 Tabas earthquake Iran 1978
23,700 Kamakura earthquake Japan 1293
23,000 1976 Guatemala earthquake Guatemala 1976
20,000 Gujarat earthquake India 2001
20,000 1812 Caracas earthquake Venezuela 1812
20,000 1939 Chillán earthquake Chile 1939
18,000 1949 Khait earthquake Tajikistan 1949
17,118 Izmit earthquake Turkey 1999
15,000 1960 Agadir earthquake Morocco 1960
12,225 1962 Bou’in-Zahra earthquake Iran 1962
10,700 1934 Bihar earthquake India 1934
10,000 Apennine earthquakes Italy 1703
10,000 1944 San Juan earthquake Argentina 1944
9,748 1993 Latur earthquake India 1993
9,500 1985 Mexico City earthquake Mexico 1985
9,000 1933 Diexi earthquake China 1933
8,064 1966 Xingtai earthquake China 1966
7,000 1968 Dasht-e Bayaz and Ferdows earthquake Iran 1968
6,433 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake Japan 1995
6,000 1960 Valdivia earthquake Chile 1960
6,000 1861 Mendoza earthquake Argentina 1861
5,300 1974 Hunza earthquake Pakistan 1974
5,000 1972 Managua earthquake Nicaragua 1972
4,000 1945 Balochistan earthquake British India 1945
3,894 1948 Fukui earthquake Japan 1948
3,000 1933 Sanriku earthquake Japan 1933
3,000 1906 San Francisco earthquake United States 1906

Source: Wikipedia: List of natural disasters

Some suggested places donate:
American Red Cross
Physicians for Peace

Suggested Reading: My Nephew Nicholas’ excellent article on the Haiti quake: ‘Kléré tankou flanbo sou tè-a


No Public Option = No Real Change

The American people are not getting the change we wanted when we elected Barrack Obama president, at least when it comes to the mess of our health care system.

True, there are a few regulations in the Senate bill that will help protect some Americans against the nasty ways of the private insurance companies. There are also subsidies to help people pay for insurance. But without a strong public option the worst of our health care problems are not going to go away. This is simply because the problem with our current system is the for-profit private insurance companies. The current health care bill is so watered down now that I consider it a loss. Without a strong public option, the insurance companies win.

Also, don’t forget that the subsidies are tax payer dollars and where will all these dollars go? Right into the deep pockets of the insurance companies. They will only get bigger and stronger, which is the main problem with our system to begin with. As for the new regulations, the insurance companies with their lawyers and lobbyists will find ways around these new regulations and do what they always do: make money.

As long as the goal for the private insurance companies is to make money off of the backs of sick people, our health system is not going to get fixed. Health care should not be a for-profit business; the more care is denied the better the profit margin. This is unethical in my opinion.

I do understand the Republicans who don’t want government controlling our lives, but in the case of health care, I don’t see how any government program could be as bad as the screwing we get from private insurance companies. If you don’t feel the pain, then you are probably not sick or disabled.

The current bill will just create more red tape and headaches for Americans. Until we have a single-payer system and cut out the money grabbing middle-man, our health care system will remain broken.


Where to Find Happiness

The world of those who are happy is different from the world of those who are not.
–Ludwig Wittgenstein

Happiest Countries

1. Denmark
2. Puerto Rico
3. Colombia
4. Iceland
5. North Ireland
6. Ireland
7. Switzerland
8. Netherlands
9. Canada
10. Austria
11. El Salvador
12. Malta
13. Luxemburg
14. Sweden
15. New Zeland
16. U.S.A.
17. Guatemala
18. Mexico
19. Norway
20. Belgium
21. Britain
22. Australia
23. Venezuela
24. Trinidad
25. Finland
26. Saudi Arabia
27. Thailand
28. Cyprus
29. Nigeria
30. Brazil
31. Singapore
32. Argentina
33. Andorra
34. Malaysia
35. West Germany
36. Vietnam
37. France
38. Philippines
39. Uruguay
40. Indonesia
41. Chile
42. Dominican Republic
43. Japan
44. Spain
45. Israel
46. Italy
47. Portugal
48. Taiwan
49. East Germany
50. Slovenia
51. Ghana
52. Poland
53. Czech Republic
54. China
55. Mali
56. Kyrgyzstan
57. Jordan
58. Greece
59. South Africa
60. Turkey
61. Peru
62. South Korea
63. Hong Kong
64. Iran
65. Bangladesh
66. Bosnia
67. Croatia
68. Morocco
69. India
70. Uganda
71. Zambia
72. Algeria
73. Burkina Faso
74. Egypt
75. Slovakia
76. Hungary
77. Montenegro
78. Tanzania
79. Azerbaijan
80. Macedonia
81. Rwanda
82. Pakistan
83. Ethiopia
84. Estonia
85. Servian Bosnia
86. Lithuania
87. Latvia
88. Romania
89. Russia
90. Georgia
91. Georgia
92. Bulgaria
93. Iraq
94. Albania
95. Ukraine
96. Belarus
97. Moldova
98. Armenia
99. Zimbabwe

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
–Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Happiest US States

1. Utah
2. Hawaii
3. Wyoming
4. Colorado
5. Minnesota
6. Maryland
7. Washington
8. Massachusetts
9. California
10. Arizona
11. Idaho
12. Montana
13. New Hampshire
14. Vermont
15. Virginia
16. Nebraska
17. New Mexico
18. Oregon
19. Connecticut
20. Alaska
21. Texas
22. Kansas
23. Georgia
24. Wisconsin
25. New Jersey
26. South Carolina
27. Iowa
28. North Dakota
29. Maine
30. Florida
31. Illinois
32. Pennsylvania
33. Alabama
34. North Carolina
35. New York
36. Delaware
37. Rhode Island
38. Nevada
39. South Dakota
40. Louisiana
41. Michigan
42. Tennessee
43. Oklahoma
44. Missouri
45. Indiana
46. Arkansas
47. Ohio
48. Mississippi
49. Kentucky
50. West Virginia

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
–Abraham Lincoln

Really want to find happiness? Look inside yourself. And if you don’t look hard enough, you won’t find it.


Dennis the Mennis

This past weekend, 39 House Democrats voted against the health care reform bill. It’s not surprising that 31 of the 39 defectors came from districts carried by John McCain in the presidential election. Here is an interactive graphic table from the New York Times that shows some interesting numbers: House Democrats Who Voted Against the Health Care Bill.

One democrat who voted against the bill is worth mentioning. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio voted no, because the health care reform bill did not go far enough. He stated on his blog, “America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.” Kucinich’s full explanation of why he voted against the bill is worth reading: Dennis Kucinich Explains Why He Voted No On Affordable Health Care for America Act.

This guy caught my attention during the presidential campaigns. Before the Presidential Primaries, I took one of those on-line political quizzes to see which presidential nominee matched my own political opinions. Although I supported Clinton at the time, my opinions lined up almost exactly with Dennis Kucinich. I also agree with Dennis regarding health care reform. In fact, the main reason I supported Hillary over Obama in the primaries is because Hillary had a better health care plan.

So, why didn’t I support Kucinich? I did not support him, because I didn’t think he had a chance of winning. Maybe not a good reason, but the game of politics is not an easy one to play. While I understand that Kucinich voted no on principle, it’s a darn good thing that his no vote did not cause this bill to fail.

One thing I’ve learned from having children with special needs is that sometimes you have to ‘play the game’, even if the game is stupid and unfair, and sometimes you have to compromise. This bill is not the answer to our health care problems, it is only a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there is no way Kucinich’s own bill would ever pass into law at this time in history. But something has to change and some change is better than nothing. This bill includes a public option which is a key component to a better future for American health care.

Here is a list of the House Democrats who voted against the bill:

John Adler (NJ)
Jason Altmire (PA)
Brian Baird (WA)
John Barrow (GA)
John Boccieri (OH)
Dan Boren (OK)
Rick Boucher (VA)
Allen Boyd (FL)
Bobby Bright (AL)
Ben Chandler (KT)
Travis Childers (MS)
Artur Davis (AL)
Lincoln Davis (TN)
Chet Edwards (TX)
Bart Gordon (TN)
Parker Griffith (AL)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD)
Tim Holden (PA)
Larry Kissell (NC)
Suzanne Kosmas (FL)
Frank Kratovil (MD)
Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Jim Marshall (GA)
Betsy Markey (CO)
Eric Massa (NY)
Jim Matheson(UT)
Mike McIntyre (NC)
Michael McMahon (NY)
Charlie Melancon (LA)
Walt Minnick (ID)
Scott Murphy (NY)
Glenn Nye (VA)
Collin Peterson (MN)
Mike Ross (AR)
Heath Shuler (NC)
Ike Skelton (MO)
John Tanner (TN)
Gene Taylor (MS)
Harry Teague (NM)

On to the Senate!