Hello, Sky Dancers!
This will be a quick post. All three of us bloggers are under the weather. JJ has bronchitis, I was up all night with a stomach virus, and Dakinikat is understandably overwhelmed with family issues.
So here we go . . . .
The sh** has really hit the fan down in Dallas. Last night, a group named National Nurses United held a press call in which they revealed that, for the nurses who cared for Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, “there were no protocols” for dealing with the highly infectious disease. From CNN:
“The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell,” National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. “We’re deeply alarmed.”
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the claims, if true, are “startling.” Some of them, he said, could be “important when it comes to possible other infections.”
Some of the complaints made by anonymous nurses to National Nurses United:
On the day that Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital with possible Ebola symptoms, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present,” union co-president Deborah Burger said.
Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union.
A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.
Nurses were given protective gear that didn’t cover their necks, and when they complained they were told to wrap medical tape around their necks.
“There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling,” Burger said. “They did not have access to proper supplies.”
“There was no mandate for nurses to attend training,” Burger said, though they did receive an e-mail about a hospital seminar on Ebola…
According to DeMoro, the nurses were upset after authorities appeared to blame nurse Nina Pham, who has contracted Ebola, for not following protocols.
“This nurse was being blamed for not following protocols that did not exist. … The nurses in that hospital were very angry, and they decided to contact us,” DeMoro said.
And they’re worried conditions at the hospital “may lead to infection of other nurses and patients,” Burger said.
And today this headline tops the news: Second Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola. CNN reports:
A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, health officials said Wednesday – casting further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees.
The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.
The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
It gets worse. CNN again: 2nd U.S. health worker with Ebola flew the day before symptoms.
The second Dallas health care worker with Ebola was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday — the day before she reported symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. Because of the proximity in time between the Monday evening flight and the first report of her illness, the CDC wants to interview all 132 passengers on her flight — Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, which landed at 8:16 p.m. CT Monday, the CDC said.
The worker, a woman who lives alone, was quickly moved into isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, authorities said Wednesday.
The news cast further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees. It’s the same hospital that initially sent Thomas Eric Duncan home, even though he had a fever and had traveled from West Africa. By the time he returned to the hospital, his symptoms had worsened. He died while being treated by medical staff, including the two women who have now contracted the disease.
Get this: hospital administrators are still claiming they have everything under control.
“I don’t think we have a systematic institutional problem,” Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, told reporters Wednesday, facing questions about the hospital’s actions.
Medical staff “may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today,” he said, adding, “no one wants to get this right more than our hospital.”
Is that so? Well, you know the old saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” According to Vargas, 75 health care workers are still being monitored for symptoms.
The most recent Ebola case has just now been identified as 26-year-old Amber Vinson, according to USA Today.
Vinson, who was described as living alone without pets in a Dallas apartment, was identified by Martha Schuler, the mother of Vinson’s former stepfather, WFAA-TV reports.
Vinson was among the workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who helped care for Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died of the virus in October.
At an early morning news conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he could not rule out more cases among 75 other hospital staffers who cared for Duncan and were being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are preparing contingencies for more and that is a real possibility,” Jenkins said.
In other news,
It seems there were some weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all, and the Pentagon covered it up. The New York Times broke the story last night: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.
The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.
It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.
Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.
He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.
The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.
All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.” ….
From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Read the whole depressing thing at the link.
Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the Times’ story: Pentagon ‘suppressed’ finds of chemical weapons in Iraq and related U.S. casualties.
These were not the “weapons of mass destruction” the George W. Bush administration used to justify invading Iraq in 2003. Rather, the Times said, the troops were injured when they stumbled across old, often corroded shells and warheads procured for use in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
The weapons were not the military threat to the United States described by the Bush administration. But the deadly sarin and mustard gas agents troops found were potent enough to cause injury, the paper reported. Unaware of the munitions’ content — which sometimes spilled on to their clothes and skin — as many as 17 soldiers were exposed, and some received haphazard, inadequate medical care.
The Times story suggests the Pentagon suppressed information about the chemical weapons because of the injuries, because it would have highlighted the massive intelligence failure surrounding the war and because the weapons were “built in close collaboration with the West.”
“The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors,” wrote C.J. Chivers. “The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.”
A few more stories that might be of interest, links only:
Christian Science Monitor, Michelle Obama viral turnip video: Will it sell healthy food?
11Alive.com, Exclusive Poll: Nunn leads Senate race by 3%.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Wednesday.
I’m going to devote this post to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s domestic violence crisis.
Yesterday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell emerged from wherever he was hiding for the past ten days and gave a press conference in which he once again tried to paper over his awful handling of domestic violence charges against Ray Rice and a number of other NFL players.
He really shouldn’t have bothered. The “press conference,” in which Goodell announced that he’s setting up a series of committees to formulate a new league policy on domestic violence in time for the Super Bowl, and then dodged pointed questions from the media, was bad enough; but shortly thereafter, ESPN Outside the Lines published a story that showed both Goodell and Baltimore Ravens ownership to be liars. The truth is, the Ravens knew about the video footage from inside the elevator not long after Rice hit Janay Palmer with a closed fist and caused her to lose consciousness.
Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation by NFL, by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg.
Just hours after running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée with a left hook at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Baltimore Ravens’ director of security, Darren Sanders, reached an Atlantic City police officer by phone. While watching surveillance video — shot from inside the elevator where Rice’s punch knocked his fiancée unconscious — the officer, who told Sanders he just happened to be a Ravens fan, described in detail to Sanders what he was seeing.
Sanders quickly relayed the damning video’s play-by-play to team executives in Baltimore, unknowingly starting a seven-month odyssey that has mushroomed into the biggest crisis confronting a commissioner in the NFL’s 94-year history.
“Outside the Lines” interviewed more than 20 sources over the past 11 days — team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice — and found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night.
After the Feb. 15 incident in the casino elevator, Ravens executives — in particular owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome — began extensive public and private campaigns pushing for leniency for Rice on several fronts: from the judicial system in Atlantic County, where Rice faced assault charges, to commissioner Goodell, who ultimately would decide the number of games Rice would be suspended from this fall, to within their own building, where some were arguing immediately after the incident that Rice should be released.
The Ravens also consulted frequently with Rice’s Philadelphia defense attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, who in early April had obtained a copy of the inside-elevator video and told Cass: “It’s f—ing horrible.” Cass did not request a copy of the video from Diamondstein but instead began urging Rice’s legal team to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention program after being told some of the program’s benefits. Among them: It would keep the inside-elevator video from becoming public.
For its part, the NFL — which in other player discipline cases has been able to obtain information that’s been sealed by court order — took an uncharacteristically passive approach when it came to gathering evidence, opening itself up to widespread criticism, allegations of inconsistent approaches to player discipline and questions about whether Goodell gave Rice — the corporate face of the Baltimore franchise — a light punishment as a favor to his good friend Bisciotti. Four sources said Ravens executives, including Bisciotti, Cass and Newsome, urged Goodell and other league executives to give Rice no more than a two-game suspension, and that’s what Goodell did on July 24.
It’s a long article that shows Ravens coach John Harbaugh in a surprisingly positive light–he reportedly wanted to cut Rice and two other players who had been arrested in the off-season, but owner Steven Bisciotti overruled him. It’s possible that this means the information in the piece came from sources friendly to Harbaugh, and the team claims there are a number of problems with the article. But at this point, who is going to believe either the team or Roger Goodell over ESPN’s sources–especially when they are postponing stating any specifics until next week? Do they need a few days to dream up a response?
The ESPN article also portrays Ray Rice as extremely remorseful about having hit Janay, and suggests that Steve Biscotti tried to bribe Rice to stay silent about what actually happened. From Deadspin:
Once the video became public, Bisciotti claimed that the team had not seen the tape until it was released by TMZ, suggesting that the account Rice had given him was somehow at odds with the elevator footage. This is also Goodell’s claim, though OTL has four sources saying that Rice told the truth in his meeting with the commissioner. The Ravens released Rice on Sept. 8 and then, according to ESPN, immediately offered an olive branch.
Minutes later, Rice’s phone buzzed. He could scarcely believe what he was looking at— back-to-back text messages from Bisciotti. Rice read them aloud so everyone in the room could hear them:
Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.
When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.
A few days later, after thinking about it more, Rice told friends he believed Bisciotti was suggesting that, as long as he kept quiet and stuck to the story that he had misled team officials and Goodell about what had happened in the elevator, the Ravens would take care of him down the road. He felt incredibly insulted.
For all the nonsense, though, something seismic may be happening in the fallout here … primed by the inadvertent contribution of the NFL, and not only because Goodell promised harsher punishment for “totally unacceptable” behavior — domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, misuse of firearms, and illegal use of alcohol and drugs.
Because its initial response to Rice was so warped — a paltry two-game suspension — the rumbling started with the release of the second Rice video. And it began to accelerate in the void of NFL leadership between then and now, especially as Adrian Peterson faces child-abuse charges for “whooping” his 4-year-old son with a “switch” and domestic-abuse allegations against others came to light.
If nature abhors a vacuum, so do human beings … who have way more ways to fill it up in the era of social media.
Between the media attention and outrage across the nation, including from heavyweight sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch and Procter & Gamble (which on Friday pulled out of a planned Breast Cancer Awareness event for October), the topic had been bubbling at a critical mass by the time Goodell finally spoke.
That dynamic made for a pivotal moment.
“I think this truly has been a tipping point in how the nation looks at domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Joan Schultz, executive director of the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence. “We’re starting to take it out of (being) the victim’s fault.
“And men are starting to stand up and say, ‘No,’ and that’s what I’ve always thought it was going to take: ‘No, this is not right. … We’re silent no more.’
A couple more reactions . . .
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his staff for details about the U.S. military’s relationships with the National Football League in the wake of the scandal over how the league is handling domestic-abuse allegations against players, CNN reported Friday.
The Pentagon is increasingly sensitive to any suggestion it is supporting a major sports organization that is perceived to tolerate domestic violence….
The military has a zero-¬tolerance policy in the ranks for domestic abuse, but it also has a decades-long, high-profile relationship with the NFL. Any Pentagon action to cut back support for the NFL would be the most direct involvement by the Obama administration yet in the scandal.
What involvement does the military have with the NFL?
The Army alone spends $10 million a year on advertising during NFL games. Games are also broadcast by the Armed Forces Network to troops deployed overseas.
Military support for the NFL games includes providing ceremonial units at games for colors ceremonies; military personnel singing the national anthem, and other units providing drill teams or flyovers. Military personnel, including wounded warriors, often appear at NFL events honoring those who serve, CNN noted.
The Army and the NFL also have a agreement to share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue for wounded troops and football players. They are working together on awareness of TBI as well as research into treatment. The military has been sharing some of the lessons learned on TBI from the last 13 years of war.
Interesting. Along with Proctor & Gamble pulling out of the NFL’s breast cancer campaign, this could have a real influence.
So the man who was once more than happy to pose on the cover of Time magazine as “The Enforcer” now talks about initiatives and the women he has hired and the committees he now needs to deal with domestic violence and all the rest of it in the National Football League. He says that a conduct committee will be in place by the Super Bowl, and acted as if we should give him the game ball for that.
“Our standards . . . must be clear, consistent and current,” Goodell said at one point, and you wondered why in the hell they already weren’t in the most powerful and profitable league in this country, why it took some grainy elevator video to slap Goodell and his owners upside their own thick heads.
You watched Goodell on Friday, watched him be as contrite as all the players he’s taken to the woodshed without impunity over his years as the NFL commissioner, and wondered why Adam Silver, the new NBA commissioner, a rookie commissioner, didn’t need to form committees when he kicked Donald Sterling, one of his owners, right out of his sport.
When Major League Baseball’s Bud Selig and Rob Manfred wanted to suspend a dozen guys last year, and drop a richly deserved hammer on a drug cheat like Alex Rodriguez, they didn’t talk about a conduct committee or wait around for law enforcement to throw the first punch against Anthony Bosch, drug pusher to the stars. They went right after Bosch with a lawsuit for interference and you know what happened in that moment? They became real enforcers, not people simply posing that way.
According to Lupica, Goodell is now “the weakest commissioner in professional sports.”
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and comments on any topic in the comment thread, and have a fabulous weekend!
Tonight is 12th night which means it’s the official start of the carnival season or the lead up to Mardi Gras Day. The season kicks off on Epiphany and ends on Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. There are two huge parties tonight! The first one is held on a St. Charles Street Car and The Phunny Phorty Phellows. They herald in the season. We also celebrate Joan of Arc’s birthday with a parade in the Quarter. If you make it down here, you will see many folks in medieval costume and many maskers. Tonight is undoubtedly one of my favorite holidays because it’s just an incredibly colorful, local celebration.
How to spell “krewe.”
Carnival is a season, Mardi Gras is a day.
The Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold, and the official Mardi Gras song is “If Ever I Cease To Love.”
The Captain of the Krewe is more important than the King.
If you miss a doubloon thrown from a float, never reach down to pick it up. Always put your foot on it. If you go with your hand, you’re either too late or you’ll get your fingers stepped on.
If you bite into a plastic baby in a King Cake, that’s a good thing
Any beads shorter than two feet long are unacceptable unless they are made of glass.
The national press has no clue about Mardi Gras.
The vast majority of people in the French Quarter during Carnival are people from out of town.
Finally, the Number 1 thing you must know about Mardi Gras is
You can always judge how bad hurricane season has been by riding down St. Charles Avenue in late fall to see how many Mardi Gras beads are still hanging in the trees.
Every office in the city will be serving King Cake! Watch out for that baby because you’ll have to buy the next one! It’s only 46 days until Mardi Gras!
The tea party has found a primary challenger for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Who could possibly think that Hatch isn’t extreme enough? Yup, it’s the usual group of whackos.
Conservative groups that want to send a message that centrists won’t be allowed to hide behind the GOP label have made a prime target out of Hatch, Utah’s six-term senior senator. Although firmly in the conservative camp on social issues, Hatch has built a reputation for reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on economic policy, and shies away from the red-meat rhetoric many grassroots conservative groups demand.
The Club for Growth, a deep-pocketed fiscal conservative group, eagerly courted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to run against Hatch, but Chaffetz quashed their hopes in August when he announced he would seek reelection to the House instead. Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, also considered challenging Hatch, but opted out in October.
FreedomWorks, a national Tea Party group that has set its sights on Hatch, placed its hopes in Liljenquist early, naming him its “Legislative Entrepreneur of the Year” in November and warmly welcoming him to the race on Wednesday.
“We are very pleased to see a dedicated and proven conservative like Dan Liljenquist step up and challenge the status quo in Utah,” said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. “His record in the state Senate shows clearly that Liljenquist has the ability to produce innovative solutions to budget woes, and to effectively turn those ideas into action and real legislative change.”
I guess my gut feeling yesterday about the Obama plan to decrease the size of the military was right. It is an old rehashed Rummy idea. Это интересно. (That’s interesting in Russian with apologies for my Parisian accent to my Russian language teacher at university.)
The Obama administration plans to revert to a Bush-era plan to cut the number of U.S. Army combat brigades in Europe in half as part of the Pentagon budget cuts to be announced within weeks, U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said.
The decision is a retreat from the administration’s previous determination, announced last April, to leave in place three of the four brigade combat teams now stationed in Europe, three in Germany and one airborne brigade in Italy. A brigade combat team usually has 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers.
“My understanding is that there will remain two brigades,” Hammond said in an interview yesterday in Washington after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for their first talks at the Pentagon since they each took office. “But in addition to that, there will be some rotating presence” for training and exercises, he said.
Speaking of interesting, here’s something a little offbeat from AJ. It’s about fertility problems in “Mother India”. Who would think that a country with severe population problems would have a booming fertility clinic business?
Jhuma and Niladri are a couple from Burdwan in the state of West Bengal. They have been married for eight years and have no children. This is a major problem, especially in India where a childless married woman is considered impure. A few years ago, Niladri would probably have abandoned Jhuma, and her life would have become a misery, her presence taken to be an inauspicious sign at social events or religious ceremonies.
Today, cutting-edge research and the boom in the assisted reproduction industry offer them new possibilities, new hopes, new dilemmas. The couple set off for Hyderabad, the heart of Indian medical and assisted reproduction research, on a journey of hope, a journey that will take them to Dr Rama’s fertility clinic.
Dr Rama is the owner of a number of clinics in southern India and is expanding her business into the Gulf States and the Caribbean. At the Hyderabad clinic, Jhuma comes into contact with doctors, embryologists, other infertile women and surrogate mothers who are driven by poverty to sell their wombs to earn the surrogacy fees that give them and their existing children a chance of a future.
Drink your coffee before you follow this link. What Would Hillary Clinton Have Done? I wish I’d have bought some hip waders first, but oh well.
The empirical choice between Clinton and Obama was never as direct as those on either side made it out to be; neither was obviously more equipped or more progressive than the other. The maddening part, then and now, is that they were utterly comparable candidates. The visions — in 2008, of Obama as a progressive redeemer who would restore enlightened democracy to our land and Hillary as a crypto-Republican company man; or, in 2011, of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape — they were all invented. These are fictional characters shaped by the predilections, prejudices and short memories of the media and the electorate. They’re not actual politicians between whom we choose here on earth.
If she had won her party’s nomination and then the general election, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would probably not have looked so different from Obama’s. She was, after all, a senator who, for a variety of structural and strategic reasons, often crossed party lines to co-sponsor legislation with Republicans, who voted to go to war in Iraq, who moved to the center on everything from Israel to violent video games. You think Obama’s advisers are bad? Hillary Clinton hired, and then took far too long to get rid of, Mark Penn. And her economic team probably would have looked an awful lot like Obama’s.
Yup. It’s the no difference trope! I tried to warn you.
Alrighty. That’s my contribution for the day. Wonk will be hostessing the live blog for the Republican debates tomorrow night. I have the makings of cosmopolitan martinis and a spinach/feta pizza. Youngest daughter is coming in for the LSU blow out with two of her roommates. At this point, some one is bound to find out that I faked the thanksgiving hand holding deal. The thangka of lion faced dakini is sure to be a give away! So, be sure to join us for what promises to be another whack event! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?