PULSE readers may not have noticed but Lady Gaga is dead. Justin Timberlake is dead. So are Alicia Keys, Elijah Wood and a host of other celebrities. Well not literally dead – ‘digital death’ is what they call it. This past Wednesday, on World AIDS Day, all of these people have seized communication with the outside world through their Twitter and Facebook accounts. (Some lower-caste people too have joined the invitation to commit digital suicide.) The basic aim is to raise money for Alicia Keys’ Keep a Child Alive charity. Only after fans have donated one million dollars to the cause, will the celebrities revive their digital lives.
Residents of the largest slum in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have been demonstrating over the country’s response to the cholera outbreak. The protesters in Cite Soleil said the government and the UN have failed to protect them, as the number of people killed by the highly contagious water-borne disease soared to 724. In the meantime, the US Congress continues to block the delivery of the $1.15 billion in reconstruction money it promised to Haiti back in March.
The Pan American Health Organisation, the regional office of the UN’s World Health Organisation, has warned Haiti to expect hundreds of thousands of cases now that the disease appears to have taken hold.
They also vented their anger at NGOs operating in the country, where a devastating earthquake on January 12 killed more than 250,000 people and destroyed homes, forcing more than one million people to seek shelter in cramped makeshift camps.
Pakistan’s flood crisis is making the spread of disease a fast increasing problem and hospitals are struggling to cope with the sheer volume of affected people. Women and children, especially newborns, are suffering the most from malnourishment. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from northwest Pakistan.
The death toll, amounting to 1,600 people, has, Alhamdulillah (praise to God), so far been low relative to the magnitude of the disaster facing Pakistan. Mostly, though, the stories are grim. My ex-husband Imran Khan, whom I spoke to after he visited flood-hit areas in the northwest, sounded uncharacteristically defeated; more so, I thought, than even after his cancer hospital was bombed in 1996. “Pakistan could implode, Jem,” he said. “We are already on the brink of bankruptcy. The poverty and the suffering will be unimaginable. Best not to send the children this weekend. There’s too much to do.”
It’s socialism! It’s historic! Actually, it’s neither but the pundits have to call it something if they’re going to spend all day talking about it. So what should we know about the health care “reforms” that Obama and the Democratic Congress have just passed? For a quick rundown of the talking points and the unsurprisingly differing facts, consider this PDF. But to really consider the impact of this bill, let’s start with this editorial from The Socialist Worker appropriately entitled “Worse Than Nothing At All”:
In spite of the hysterical complaints of Republicans, the truth is that the health care measure House Democratic leaders hope to ram through this weekend is a disaster in the making for working people and a massive giveaway to the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance complex.
It will “mandate” people to buy policies from private insurers, without any guarantees of affordable premiums or adequate coverage. It won’t have a “public option.” It will slash spending and benefits for the federal government’s Medicare program by $500 billion. It will impose a tax in some form on employer-provided insurance–supposedly aimed at expensive “Cadillac” plans, but in reality affecting any insurance that has decent benefits.
The article continues to lay out how the twenty million Americans promised coverage under this bill are really getting a hollow promise that disguises the tremendous bonanza this legislation offers to the health care industry and opportunistic conservatives keen on using this to lay siege to women’s rights. Which brings us to our next point.
The following short documentary is interesting not just for its look at Cuban healthcare and education but also due to its Japanese persepective.
Japan is one of the most equal and wealthy societies with more of a collectivist persepective than Western nations and has a good healthcare system. However the panelists on the following show believe there’s much to learn from Cuba (one of the worlds poorest countries thanks to a brutal US blockade).
I’ve also included some enlightening interviews with US medical students studying in Cuba.