Thursday Reads

Dream Series 5 The Library by Jacob Lawrence 1967

Good Afternoon!!

Before I get to today’s news, I want to call attention to this investigative article in The New Yorker on legal elderly abuse. The author, Rachel Aviv, deeply researched the guardianship system in Nevada, but this apparently happens in other states as well. It’s a long read, but well worth it, especially for those of us who have elderly parents–and who are getting older ourselves.

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights

For years, Rudy North woke up at 9 a.m. and read the Las Vegas Review-Journal while eating a piece of toast. Then he read a novel—he liked James Patterson and Clive Cussler—or, if he was feeling more ambitious, Freud. On scraps of paper and legal notepads, he jotted down thoughts sparked by his reading. “Deep below the rational part of our brain is an underground ocean where strange things swim,” he wrote on one notepad. On another, “Life: the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.”

Rennie, his wife of fifty-seven years, was slower to rise. She was recovering from lymphoma and suffered from neuropathy so severe that her legs felt like sausages. Each morning, she spent nearly an hour in the bathroom applying makeup and lotions, the same brands she’d used for forty years. She always emerged wearing pale-pink lipstick. Rudy, who was prone to grandiosity, liked to refer to her as “my amour.”

In the Library, John Watkins Chapman

On the Friday before Labor Day, 2013, the Norths had just finished their toast when a nurse, who visited five times a week to help Rennie bathe and dress, came to their house, in Sun City Aliante, an “active adult” community in Las Vegas. They had moved there in 2005, when Rudy, a retired consultant for broadcasters, was sixty-eight and Rennie was sixty-six. They took pride in their view of the golf course, though neither of them played golf.

Rudy chatted with the nurse in the kitchen for twenty minutes, joking about marriage and laundry, until there was a knock at the door. A stocky woman with shiny black hair introduced herself as April Parks, the owner of the company A Private Professional Guardian. She was accompanied by three colleagues, who didn’t give their names. Parks told the Norths that she had an order from the Clark County Family Court to “remove” them from their home. She would be taking them to an assisted-living facility. “Go and gather your things,” she said.

Rennie began crying. “This is my home,” she said.

One of Parks’s colleagues said that if the Norths didn’t comply he would call the police. Rudy remembers thinking, You’re going to put my wife and me in jail for this? But he felt too confused to argue.

Parks drove a Pontiac G-6 convertible with a license plate that read “crtgrdn,” for “court guardian.” In the past twelve years, she had been a guardian for some four hundred wards of the court. Owing to age or disability, they had been deemed incompetent, a legal term that describes those who are unable to make reasoned choices about their lives or their property. As their guardian, Parks had the authority to manage their assets, and to choose where they lived, whom they associated with, and what medical treatment they received. They lost nearly all their civil rights.

That’s just the introduction. I hope you’ll go read the rest.

The Library, Elizabeth Shippen Green, 1905

The Las Vegas gun massacre continues to dominate the news. I’d like to recommend a couple of positive articles coming out of the horror. You may have read this one by Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post already, but just in case: Two strangers bond over country music and beer. Then the gunshots started.

Up-and-coming country star Luke Combs had just started his set on the smaller of the two festival stages when Kody Robertson, an auto parts salesman from Columbus, Ohio, squeezed in at the end of the bar next to Michelle Vo, an insurance agent from Los Angeles.

The 32-year-olds connected immediately. They joked about their mutual love of golf. He recommended new beers for her to try as she showed him the large floral tattoo covering much of her back. They realized that they were both staying at the Luxor.

A longtime country music fan, Robertson was in Vegas with a group of friends and told Vo about the fun they’d had at last year’s Route 91 Harvest festival. Vo replied that she’d only recently fallen for the genre; this was her first festival. She was here alone. By the time the night’s final act took the main stage, the fast friends had settled into a spot about 20 yards from the right side of the stage, nestled between a few cuddly married couples and a rambunctious bachelorette party.

It was 10:08 p.m. Robertson and Vo searched the air for the fireworks they assumed they were hearing. Then came a second burst: indiscriminate gunfire hailing from a 32nd-floor window at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Screams punctuated the pop-pop-pop. Jason Aldean, the headline act, ran from the stage. A bullet pierced the left side of Vo’s chest.

“She got hit and I turned and saw her immediately fall to the ground,” Robertson recalls. “She was literally right beside me, maybe two feet away.”

Robertson threw his body on top of hers as a shield from the bullets and, when the firing finally seemed to stop, worked with another man to carry Vo out of the venue — pausing for cover each time the gunfire resumed.

Robertson could have just left it there, but instead he recovered Vo’s purse and cell phone and embarked on a long search to find Michelle as well as communicating with her family. If you haven’t read it already, please do. Lowery’s writing is just brilliant.

The Daily Beast: Unarmed Security Guard Took On Las Vegas Killer Stephen Paddock.

LAS VEGAS—Jesus Campos had no firearm when he found Stephen Paddockand approached his room on the 32rd floor of Mandalay Bay on Sunday night.

Paddock, who had rigged cameras in the hallway and on the peephole of the door, saw Campos coming and fired through the door, hitting him in the leg, said Dave Hickey, president of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America. The union represents Campos and hundreds of security guards at Mandalay Bay.

The Library, Hotel Lambert, Alexandre Serebriakoff

When Campos was hit, he radioed casino dispatch and told them his location—and Paddock’s.

“We received information via their dispatch center…that helped us locate where this individual was sequestered,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Tuesday.

When Campos first arrived on the 32nd floor, he did so by elevator because Paddock had somehow blocked stairwell doors leading to the hallway outside of his room, Hickey said. The door to the room itself was also barricaded, Campos found when he tried to open it, just before the bullets came through the door.

Police officers subsequently approached the room and were met with 200 rounds from Paddock, Lombardo said on Wednesday night. Police fell back until SWAT arrived.

Campos, wounded, stayed on the floor and even went door-to-door, clearing rooms with police, Lombardo said, until he was ordered to leave because he was wounded.

Click on the link to read the rest. Here are a few more stories you might want to check out.

The New York Times: Las Vegas Shooting: Investigators Grapple With Gunman’s ‘Secret Life’

Las Vegas Journal-Review: Las Vegas Strip shooter targeted aviation fuel tanks, source says.

BBC News: Las Vegas shooting: Paddock may have planned to escape.

NBC Boston: Sources: Las Vegas Shooter TheResearched Possible Boston Locations.

Chicago Tribune: Chicago police investigating reports that Las Vegas gunman booked hotel rooms overlooking Lollapalooza.

The Library, WindsorCastle, 1838 James Baker Pyne

The massacre in Las Vegas has completely overshadowed the Puerto Rico crisis in the headlines, but the situation there is still dire. NPR reports: 112 Degrees With No Water: Puerto Rican Hospitals Battle Life And Death Daily.

Every day across Puerto Rico, with its shattered power grid, hospitals are waging a life-and-death battle to keep their patients from getting sicker in the tropical heat. Now two weeks after the storm, about three-quarters of Puerto Rico’s hospitals remain on emergency power. This creates dangerous conditions for critically ill patients.

At the Pavia Arecibo Hospital, about an hour west of San Juan, administrator Jose Luis Rodriguez wipes sweat from his worried brow. “We don’t have any air conditioning,” he says. “We can handle maybe a week, but it’s already been two weeks almost.”

The government calls them “indirect deaths” – those who died after the violent storm: heart attack victims, people on kidney dialysis machines that failed, people who fell off roofs inspecting storm damage, and people killed in auto accidents on highways made more treacherous from Maria’s destruction.

“So far after the storm we have had 49 dead bodies,” says Rodriguez. Earlier this week, the governor of Puerto Rico raised the official fatality figure for Hurricane Maria from 16 people to 34. But with unofficial reports like the one from Arecibo, that number is expected to rise.

More at the link.

USA Today: Puerto Rico health system on life support two weeks after Hurricane Maria.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two weeks after Hurricane Maria toppled Puerto Rico’s communications towers, wrecked its electrical grid and knocked out power to water systems, medical officials said the island’s health system is “on life support.”

Among the multiple impacts that have left the island’s medical system deeply damaged:

-Patients are dying because of complications related to the primitive conditions and difficult transportation issues so many island residents now endure.

-A lack of transportation in small towns makes it difficult to transfer patients to larger hospitals.

-An administrator in a small-town hospital has to drive her car to an ambulance company a mile away to ask for a patient to be transferred to a larger hospital.

– Severe lack of communications on the island has resulted in less triage and coordination between hospitals, and more patients arriving at large medical centers than usual, which has stretched capacity.

-Doctors are afraid to discharge patients after surgery to places with unsanitary conditions and where care and transportation may not exist, adding strain to an already strained system.

Other stories of possible interest:

The Guardian: Trump came to Puerto Rico like an emperor: with pomp and little sympathy.

GQ: Turns Out Trump Spent His Puerto Rico Trip “Helping” in the Wealthy Suburbs.

Chicago Tribune: Trump said he wants to bail out Puerto Rico. His budget head says he didn’t mean it.

This is turning out to be a link dump, because there is so much news. I haven’t even gotten to the latest stories on the Russia investigation, and I’m running out of space. Some links to explore:

Business Insider: ‘The issue of collusion is still open’: Top senators hint the Russia probe is heating up.

Newsweek: Russia Investigation: Tell-Tale Signs Trump is Expecting the Worst.

Bloomberg: Russia Needed Help Targeting U.S. Voters, Two Former CIA Leaders Say.

Talking Points Memo: Russia Appeared To Target Wisconsin’s Elections Body Via A Banner Or Popup Ad.

Politico: Trump pushes for Senate intel panel probe of ‘Fake News Networks’ in U.S. (What a moron!)

CNN: FBI chief on Russian hacking: We ‘should have seen this coming.’

What else is happening? What stories are you following?

36 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    They still have yet to uncover a motive for the Las Vegas massacre. Looks like they are inching toward mental illness, a handy excuse to avoid the obvious: unfettered access to weapons of all kinds. Think about it: how much damage could he have unloaded with a handgun?

    He may have had quirks but I don’t see where he was actually mentally ill. What he did took a huge amount of pre-planning. He even installed cameras in order to watch who was approaching his hotel room. He was well equipped and it now appears he was even planning his escape.

    He had loads of money. Owned several properties. Loved to gamble. Not exactly a portrait of some abused or disrespected employee out for revenge. At least with those types a motive is not difficult to identify. But this guy was a little different.

    I think he had accumulated an arsenal with all the attachments and decided to put them to use. No one so far saw him as a racist. Or a domestic abuser getting even with a court system. Or a radical whose belief system had been corrupted. Or someone awash in debt with no way out.

    I just think he looked around one day and decided “why not?” This may be the scariest motive of all as it is hardly predictable.

    But the real danger is the accessibility to weapons that are designed for the battlefield. This is where the problem actually resides. Mental illness, domestic disputes, employee grudges, racist morons, will always be part of society.

    The issue is in keeping these weapons out of their grasp which is the first step in avoiding events like this that keep happening on such frequent basis.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think he was mentally ill. He may have been suicidal but that doesn’t equal mental illness. Plus, the police say he left a note and it wasn’t a suicide note. They also claim there was evidence he planned to escape. Maybe he was going to go to the Philippines.

      He had a prescription for Valium, once a day. That’s nothing.

    • Enheduanna says:

      This guy hated people, hated the world and hated himself. I’m still waiting for the sexually repressed and frustrated part to come out. He was known to berate his girlfriend in public according to a local Starbuck’s. There’s almost always a domestic abuse component with these guys.

      And yeah – our lives are on the line. 58 people were mowed down in 10 minutes all because we can’t have a slumping gun sales industry be hindered by regulation. And those lives won’t even count as a cost of doing business to the gun manufacturers and sellers who provided the means for the massacre.

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Just what you need.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Oh Dak – Intellicast has it dead center at NOLA as a category 1 hurricane. ATL should get rains on MON/TUE but we need them.

      I hope they are wrong about NOLA.

  4. dakinikat says:

    ‘Very much a racist’: Former ‘Apprentice’ producer claims secret Trump tapes are ‘unfathomably despicable’

    • Enheduanna says:

      Yeah thanks heaps Bill Pruitt for not being truthful in your portrayal. And for not having any morale compass, integrity or principles.We got the president you deserved.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Oops part of the message was dropped – try again:

        …integrity or principles. We got the president you deserved.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. RonStill4Hills says:

    Visiting the elderly in-laws. Lovely people, love them to death. They are just old not evil, they don’t get it the CNN , MSNBC and FOX are not the same. I say that to say “their TV, their right winged fascist propaganda.” I am seeing a lot of Fox News this week and now I think I understand why so many conservatives see a negative reverse image of the world. Reality and truth literally mean absolutely nothing to these people. Objective facts matter not at all. Blaming Obama for Las Vegas and accusing Hillary of being divisive are just two examples.

    No wonder half the damned population are shitheads.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Ron, you’re younger and faster. Change the channel.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        There is a chance they may not notice. 😀

        • bostonboomer says:

          Be sure you read that New Yorker article, first in the post.

          • RonStill4Hills says:

            I saw that . Scary stuff.

          • jan says:

            I have a severely handicapped daughter and when she was 17 years old her teacher recommended that we get her guardianship done because she had heard of people grabbing guardianship of children like her right out from under the parents, without their knowledge, and for the money. And now it is happening to older adults?? Our country is going to the dogs!! There should be provision against this.

          • Fannie says:

            What the hell, never heard of such guardianship bullshitt. And nobody seems to know about the outcome. Darkness and elderly engulfed in terrorism permitted by the state of Nevada. They are trying to make them out as children, and they are creating heavy loads, that I probably couldn’t carry on my shoulders. Doing this for long periods of time will wear any soul down. They are numbered and labeled, and at the end of their journey, their ashes are stacked in urns in some low down creepy storage unit that is up for grabs. I can’t begin talk, really I am shocked. My mind bounces back to so many people who I always tell them, how lucky they are to be at home and not in some warehouse………….but eh warehouse is just around the bend. My world, is upside down, and there appears to be no caring for the elderly, just endless pain and a fee!

  7. NW Luna says:

  8. Sweet Sue says:

    God, I read that New Yorker story and was sick to my stomach all the way through. These “guardians” must go to prison.

    • NW Luna says:

      I’m flummoxed by the guardianship stories. Proving legal incompetence is difficult. It’s hard to do in my experience. Many people who from a medical point of view have significant cognitive disabilities still would not meet legal standards for incompetency.

      One example — a person with a college degree who looked over her bank statement and now could not understand the clearly printed “Account Total: $40,000” (she’d asked “What does it say? How much do I have?”) was still considered competent by her attorney. Apparently as long as she merely knew that she had something in a bank, that was enough to make her competent (“of sound mind”) to, for example, make a will. This person could not manage her own finances, let alone read & understand a simple bank statement, — and it was a very simple one — but was still legally competent.

      As a medical provider I am careful in documentation to state that my diagnosis after examining and testing a patient is a medical opinion and not a legal opinion.

      Of course, if you have lawyers who aren’t ethical, and the person has no caring family or friends to advocate, then there can be abuse.

  9. NW Luna says:

    YouTube alters search algorithm over fake Las Vegas conspiracy videos

    Site initially said clips claiming mass shooting was staged did not violate standards – but later corrected its stance

    A YouTube source confirmed on Thursday that the company tweaked its search algorithms late on Wednesday night, hours after survivors and victims’ relatives criticised the company for prominently featuring videos with hoax claims. YouTube had been working on this change for months and decided to push it out early this week, the source said. It is unclear how the new algorithm functions or whether it is effective in downgrading falsified accounts of the attack.

    YouTube declined to answer questions about the changes, which were first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

    YouTube’s initial statements, followed by its readjusted algorithms, speak to the broader ethical challenges technology companies face regarding their role in providing major platforms for fake news and propaganda. Facebook and Google were both caught promoting rightwing blogs and conspiracy sites hours after the Las Vegas shooting, forcing the corporations to admit that they had made mistakes in spreading misinformation about the identity of the shooter.