98 patients denied transplants by Republican Death Panel

Gummint pays for my healthcare

They’re known as the Arizona 98. All of them are in need of a life-saving transplant. On Saturday, with time running out for many of them, the “Dream of Life Intervention Coalition” staged a silent protest against the state’s move to trim Medicaid transplant funding in an effort to reduce the budget deficit. The Tucson demonstration began with one protestor, who was then joined by 19 others. A similar event was held in Phoenix Saturday.

In Tucson, instead of calling aloud for Governor Brewer to restore funding, Emily Cameron let her sign do the talking. 9 On Your Side asked Cameron why she would stage a silent demonstration when her life is on the line.

“I think that will come soon,” Cameron said. She was carrying a sign that read, “$5 Million to Sheriff Babeu, zero to dying citizens.” Cameron was referring to the amount recently provided to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to fight drug and human smugglers.

Time is not on Cameron’s side. She is one of the 98 patients who is being denied a transplant under the state’s version of Medicaid, which provides health care to some people living in poverty. Bone marrow is her only life-saver, she said…

Pat Roll, who received a new heart five years ago, came to the rally Saturday as a symbol of living proof that transplant recipients live long lives…

KGUN9 asked Roll what she would like to say to Gov. Brewer, who claims transplant recipients, on average, live only one year after receiving a new organ or tissue.

“I say to her, ‘Your facts are wrong. First of all, we live more than a year,'” said Roll…

Facts mean absolutely nothing to beancounters. There could care less if they’re counting people who will die soon – or used tyres in a junkyard.

“There’s an image that they try to put out there that all of the transplant patients are illegal or on welfare,” said Cameron, a nurse for 20 years. Because of her illness, she is no longer able to work. That is why she is on AHCCCS, Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System.

She says funding transplants would only cost the state $800,000 this year – and $1.4 million next year – not the $5 million Gov. Jan Brewer says it will cost.

“They just found $5 million for the sheriff of Pinal County…

Compassionate conservatives? What a laugh.

21 priests suspended – charged with sexually abusing children

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced that it had placed 21 priests on administrative leave from active ministry in connection with credible charges that they had sexually abused minors.

The mass suspension was one of the single most sweeping in the history of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It follows a damning grand jury report issued Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests stretching over decades and that said as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse against them…

The announcement Tuesday was a major embarrassment for Cardinal Rigali, who, in response to the grand jury report, had initially said that there were no priests in active ministry “who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”

The district attorney immediately indicted five people — two priests, a former priest, a parochial school teacher and a high-ranking church official. Within 10 days of the grand jury report, Cardinal Rigali placed three other priests whose activities had been detailed by the grand jury on administrative leave.

Right on top of issues as ever.

There’s only one question. How much longer would the abuse have continued if law enforcement hadn’t finally started doing their job?

[Maybe not so] Dumb Crook of the Day

This time it was the intruder who called 911.

A man who broke into a house in Portland, Oregon, called police — afraid the homeowner may have a gun.

The suspect, Timothy James Chapek, was in the bathroom taking a shower when the homeowner returned to the house Monday night, according to Portland police.

Accompanied by two German shepherds, the homeowner asked Chapek what he was doing in the house.

Chapek locked himself in the bathroom and made an emergency call, police said. He said he had broken into the house, the owner had come home, and that he was concerned the owner might have a gun.

The homeowner also called the police to report that he had found a man in the house.

Police with dogs took Chapek, 24, into custody “without incident,” they said. He was booked for criminal trespass.

The police statement didn’t say whether or not the homeowner really had a gun. Har.

Tiny African nation leads in equal opportunity, equal rights

Ntlhoi Motsamai – Speaker of the National Assembly

Lesotho sits like pearl in a shell, surrounded by the land mass of South Africa. But this tiny kingdom of 1.8 million people boasts another jewel, which is perhaps astonishing given its size.

Lesotho is ranked eighth in the world by the World Economic Forum when it comes to bridging the gap between the sexes. The reasons are cultural, political and economic, but one explanation keeps being repeated when you probe the gender issue, and it relates to Lesotho’s recent past.

Historically, large numbers of men from Lesotho crossed the border to work in South Africa’s mines, forcing women to step into their shoes and take up school places and jobs. Many of the men have now come back, having been retrenched from the mines, and they face a more female-focused world.

Dr Mphu Ramatlapeng, Lesotho’s minister for health and social affairs, attributes this to the government’s pro-women policies. But more than that, she emphasises Lesotho’s culture of learning. “The defining factor is education. I think a lot of women have realised early on that they have to educate their daughters,” she says.

Primary education is free in Lesotho and literacy rates among women exceed those of men – with 95% of women able to read and write, compared with 83% of men. This is filtering into the jobs market – the chief of police is a woman, so too is the speaker of parliament and there are at least a dozen senior female judges presiding over the country’s courts…

Fifty per cent of Lesotho’s population live in the rural areas. Until recently, customary laws applied in the countryside dictated that women were virtually redundant when it came to making key decisions in the home…

The statistics that put Lesotho at the top table in the equality game may look impressive but they risk glossing over the challenges. There may be less of a gap in health, education and political participation than in many other countries, and clearly there is greater political will to recognise the important role of women in society.

The article walks away from the ideological quotient. Religion is a powerful factor in a society still stuck into peasant lifestyles, rural world view. A contradiction in terms if there ever was one.

The predominant religious force is Christianity. The missionaries who accompanied colonial exploitation did their job well. Fortunately, folks haven’t much of a tendency towards Lord’s Army nutballism. Still, acceptance of the status quo, Christian fatalism, distracts attempts to modernize further.

Supreme Court allows suit to force DNA testing in Texas appeal

Justice Ginsburg
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The Supreme Court on Monday made it easier for inmates to sue for access to DNA evidence that could prove their innocence.

The legal issue in the case was tightly focused and quite preliminary: Was Hank Skinner, a death row inmate in Texas, entitled to sue a prosecutor there under a federal civil rights law for refusing to allow testing of DNA evidence? By a 6-to-3 vote, the court said yes, rejecting a line of lower-court decisions that had said the only proper procedural route for such challenges was a petition for habeas corpus.

In her opinion for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized the narrowness of the ruling. Allowing Mr. Skinner to sue, she said, was not the same thing as saying he should win his suit.

Justice Ginsburg added that a 2009 decision, District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, had severely limited the kinds of claims prisoners seeking DNA evidence can make. The Osborne decision, she wrote, “left slim room for the prisoner to show that the governing state law denies him procedural due process.”

The case decided Monday, Skinner v. Switzer, No. 09-9000, arose from three killings on New Year’s Eve in 1993…Prosecutors tested some but not all of the evidence from the crime scene. Some of it pointed toward Mr. Skinner, who never denied that he was present, but some did not. His trial lawyer, wary of what additional testing might show, did not ask for it.

In the years since, prosecutors have blocked Mr. Skinner’s requests to test blood, fingernail scrapings and hair found at the scene.

In 2001, Texas enacted a law allowing post-conviction DNA testing in limited circumstances. State courts in Texas rejected Mr. Skinner’s requests under the law, saying he was at fault for not having sought testing earlier. Mr. Skinner then sued in federal court under a federal civil rights law known as Section 1983, saying the Texas law violated his right to due process.

Justice Ginsburg wrote that a Section 1983 suit was available in cases where the relief sought by the inmate would not “necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” Since there was no telling whether the results of the tests Mr. Skinner sought would establish his guilt, clear him or be inconclusive, she wrote, the suit was proper.

The reality of most jurisdictions is that judges and prosecutors always hate to face an appeal – especially in the era when scientific tests are becoming practical and available which might prove those they convicted – to be innocent.

Pic of the Day

At dawn on Saturday 5 March, National Geographic Channel and a team of scientists, engineers and two world class balloon pilots successfully launched a house measuring 16 feet by 16 feet and 18 feet high, using 300 eight-foot coloured weather balloons from a private airfield east of Los Angeles.

The launch – inspired by the Pixar film Up – set a new world record for the largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted. The house and balloons measured more than 10 storeys high and reached an altitude of over 10,000 feet, flying for approximately one hour.

The record will be part of a new National Geographic Channel series called How Hard Can It Be? which will premiere in 2012.