Hospital patient busted selling heroin out of her ICU room

hosptial

A Pennsylvania patient will likely be facing drug charges after police allegedly confiscated more than 350 stamp bags of heroin that she was in the process of selling from her hospital room.

Greensburg City police are expected to charge a woman was being treated at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital with delivery and possession of a controlled substance

In addition to selling heroin from the ICU unit as well as her hospital room, the woman also allegedly injected heroin into her IV system.

“The Intensive Care Unit at Excela Westmoreland Hospital cares for the sickest of sick patients, which is another reason our staff is keenly aware of what is happening in and around a patient’s room as they monitor for sudden changes in health status,” Excela spokeswoman Jennifer Miele said in an emailed statement. “Last week, they noticed an inordinate amount of foot traffic to one room. Rather than visitors who stayed for an hour or more, they saw people coming and going in a matter of minutes.”

After watching what was happening on surveillance cameras, hospital security staffers contacted the Greensburg police…When the heroin was seized, police also took…$1,420 from the woman’s hospital room.

See what happens when you haven’t any health insurance. Gotta make ends meet somehow.

Har.

Here’s the silliest “performance art” in the world of let’s-pretend-this-is-art-not-play-therapy or public-masturbation

Performance art is a joke. Taken terribly seriously by the art world, it is a litmus test of pretension and intellectual dishonesty. If you are wowed by it, you are either susceptible to pseudo-intellectual guff, or lying.

Is that overstating the case? Probably. There have been some powerful works of performance art – but most of them took place a long time ago, in the early 1970s, when the likes of Marina Abramovic and Chris Burden were risking all. Or perhaps the golden age of performance art was even longer ago, in the days of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916. Back then, Dada performance was a real menace to society, when Hugo Ball stood in a wizard costume declaiming words that made as little sense as the world war then raging.

Today, most art that claims to part of this modern tradition of performance is an embarrassing revelation of the art world’s distance from real aesthetic values or real human life. Take, for instance, the latest nude egg layer from Germany.

Performance artist Milo Moiré creates abstract paintings by pushing eggs filled with paint and ink out of her vaginal canal. She does this while standing naked in front of an audience. The nudity, apparently, is artistically essential. As for the act of pushing paint-filled eggs out of her body, it is – as no doubt you perceive – a powerful feminist statement about women, fertility and creativity.

And yet it’s not a strong statement at all. It is absurd, gratuitous, trite and desperate. Anywhere but an art gathering, this would be regarded as a satire on modern cultural emptiness.

And this is the thing about performance art – it has quite rightly become the stuff of satire. When the film director Paolo Sorrentino wants to capture the brittleness of contemporary European culture in his film The Great Beauty, what does he show? Performance art, naturally. A group of arty folk watch as a woman runs towards a stone aqueduct and bashes her head against it. Afterwards she struggles to explain herself in an embarrassing interview.

You cannot achieve any thoughtful goal by measures banal, uncreative and sufficiently self-centered to be a parody of themselves. Egregious to the point of embarrassing is hardly thought-provoking.

Earth Day

I was at the first Earth Day celebration at UMass in Amherst. A few of us drove out from Boston. It was a delight, a wonder of burgeoning technology that stood little or no chance of succeeding in the land of conspicuous consumption.

That hasn’t changed a great deal.

But, what I enjoyed the most that day was a group of Palestinian musicians who played a fusion of jazz and folk melodies from their native culture. Something I still find appealing in the work of contemporary musicians like Mustafa Stefan Dill and Pray for Brain. I hope someday to see the Palestinian people regain their freedom and land.

And, yes, you notice a couple of Basque flags in the video up top. We Celts are everywhere.

Sweden turns its economy Japanese

Three years ago Sweden was widely regarded as a role model in how to deal with a global crisis. The nation’s exports were hit hard by slumping world trade but snapped back; its well-regulated banks rode out the financial storm; its strong social insurance programs supported consumer demand; and unlike much of Europe, it still had its own currency, giving it much-needed flexibility. By mid-2010 output was surging, and unemployment was falling fast. Sweden, declared The Washington Post, was “the rock star of the recovery.”

Then the sadomonetarists moved in.

The story so far: In 2010 Sweden’s economy was doing much better than those of most other advanced countries. But unemployment was still high, and inflation was low. Nonetheless, the Riksbank — Sweden’s equivalent of the Federal Reserve — decided to start raising interest rates.

There was some dissent within the Riksbank over this decision. Lars Svensson, a deputy governor at the time — and a former Princeton colleague of mine — vociferously opposed the rate hikes. Mr. Svensson, one of the world’s leading experts on Japanese-style deflationary traps, warned that raising interest rates in a still-depressed economy put Sweden at risk of a similar outcome. But he found himself isolated, and left the Riksbank in 2013.

Sure enough, Swedish unemployment stopped falling soon after the rate hikes began. Deflation took a little longer, but it eventually arrived. The rock star of the recovery has turned itself into Japan.

So why did the Riksbank make such a terrible mistake? That’s a hard question to answer, because officials changed their story over time. At first the bank’s governor declared that it was all about heading off inflation: “If the interest rate isn’t raised now, we’ll run the risk of too much inflation further ahead … Our most important task is to ensure that we meet our inflation target of 2 percent.” But as inflation slid toward zero, falling ever further below that supposedly crucial target, the Riksbank offered a new rationale: tight money was about curbing a housing bubble, to avert financial instability. That is, as the situation changed, officials invented new rationales for an unchanging policy.

More details in the rest of Paul Krugman’s opinion piece. You will know what it sounds like if you read the WALL STREET JOURNAL, FORBES Magazine or watch FOX Business Channel.

Cripes, add all of that up and we’re talking about as much wasted time and energy as Congress. And Congressional Republicans in all their wisdom would love to have the kind of power to introduce even more regressive powers like their bubba Abe in Japan.

Like increase the national sales tax 60%. No need to tax the wealthy and Zaibatsu corporate barons. Take it from the hides of ordinary working people.

The public health crisis added to our food

IF you have high blood pressure, you’re in good company. Hypertension afflicts 67 million Americans, including nearly two-thirds of people over age 60. But it isn’t an inevitable part of the aging process. It’s better to think of it as chronic sodium intoxication. And, as an important new study from Britain shows, there’s a way to prevent the problem — and to save many, many lives.

A lifetime of consuming too much sodium (mostly in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt) raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure kills and disables people by triggering strokes and heart attacks. In the United States, according to best estimates, excess sodium is killing between 40,000 and 90,000 people and running up to $20 billion in medical costs a year…

The reason that nearly everyone eats way too much sodium is that our food is loaded with it, and often where we don’t taste or expect it…A blueberry muffin can have more than double the salt of a serving of potato chips. Even healthy-sounding food can pack heavy sodium loads. Two slices of whole wheat bread can have nearly 400 milligrams of sodium, as can two tablespoons of fat-free salad dressing…

We all like the taste of salt, but there is much that food companies can do without driving away customers. Often they add sodium for leavening or food texture rather than taste, when replacement ingredients are available. And sodium levels in similar popular foods made by different manufacturers often vary two- or threefold (for example, a slice of pizza can pack anywhere from between 370 and 730 milligrams), which suggests that many manufacturers can cut sodium levels in their foods sharply without hurting taste. When salt levels in food drop, people’s preference for salt also shifts down, so no one would notice a gradual reduction in sodium across all foods.

That’s exactly what Britain’s Food Standards Agency has done. It divided processed food into different categories, set salt-reduction targets in each category and then asked companies to meet those targets over time. And as they did that, from 2001 to 2011, sodium consumption by the British fell 15 percent.

The new study shows that this drop in salt intake has been accompanied by a substantial reduction in average blood pressure, a 40 percent drop in deaths from heart attacks and a 42 percent decline in deaths from stroke…

There is absolutely no reason we can’t do an initiative similar to Britain’s on this side of the Atlantic now…A proposal as important to human life as this needs the stature and resources of the federal government to bring…the food industry along. The F.D.A. has been developing a new plan for a voluntary, coordinated, national initiative. Unfortunately, even though it is voluntary, the food industry is fighting it, and the plan is stalled.

Per usual, bought-and-paid-for politicians are as much part of the problem as bureaucrats and behemoth corporate budgets. As a side issue, one more reason to adopt an election model that allows NO private or PAC donations and probably includes a short regulated electioneering season. Take the money out of elections and you take most of the money out of political graft.

That still leaves us with libertarian silliness over the government stepping in on the side of medicine and science. But, fools can still add as much salt as they wish to their beer and onion dip.