Friday, May 25, 2018

California Dem. Claims Trump Sent Secret Messages to Russians by Telling Joke

This insistence on his story despite common sense and contrary evidence sounds remarkably like paranoid schizophrenia.  It's unlikely that the Democrats blaming Russians for Trump's success really are all schiz but the similarity does show that their mental processes are problematical

For more than a year, elected Democrats and the liberal media have alleged that President Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to “steal” the 2016 election away from the “rightful winner,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, a narrative that has been steadily unraveling over time.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has grown impatient at the lack of actual evidence put forward to justify such claims or the investigations that have sprung from them, so Monday he invited one of Trump’s most vociferous critics on the topic of Russia —  California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee — to appear on his program.

Carlson asked Swalwell for any evidence he has seen after 18 months of investigation to back up the collusion case, according to BizPac Review.

Swalwell offered up nothing that hasn’t already been made known before about tenuous business connections and marginal meetings that went nowhere, and even seemed to point to an obvious joke by Trump on the campaign trail in July 2016 where he asked the Russians if they knew the whereabouts of Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails as “proof” of some sort of secret coded message to encourage Russian hacking and interference.

Carlson noted that those emails have never turned up, to which Swalwell replied, “let’s let the Mueller investigation continue,” insinuating Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had perhaps obtained them.

He also said that the mere “attempt” by Trump to invite the Russians to hack and obtain Clinton’s emails was, in and of itself, a crime.

“I hate to inject common sense into this,” Carlson said. “If you’re trying to make secret contact with Russia, your handlers back in Moscow, wouldn’t you dial them up on the short wave in the basement? Would you really sent a coded message in the middle of a joke at a press conference?”

Swalwell replied, “I’m not saying he’s the smartest guy in the world, Tucker. Never accused him of that.”

Incredulously, Carlson asked, “So that’s — that’s the smoking gun right there?”

“No, it’s part of the evidence,” Swalwell said with all seriousness. “An invitation made by the candidate, telling them it’s OK … he’s not the smartest guy in the world.”

Carlson couldn’t help but point out the absurd duality of Swalwell’s assertion. “So he’s both a secret agent for Putin but he’s so dumb that he spills his secrets at a press conference on TV?” he asked.

Swalwell replied, “The latter,” making it clear that he is part of the camp that believes Trump is an incredibly unintelligent individual. “There’s no ‘who could be so stupid they admit the crime in public’ exception,” he added.

Carlson later pointed to several examples of how Trump has been tougher on Russia than former President Barack Obama — such as sending lethal arms to Ukraine, killing hundreds of Russian soldiers in Syria or hurting their economy with increased U.S. oil and gas production — all of which Swalwell simply dismissed as things Trump was forced to do because of public sentiment that he was too favorable to Russia.

Carlson could only laugh at the ludicrous replies from Swalwell, which was pretty much the reaction the entire interview received on social media.

Despite having ample time and countless opportunities, this Democrat representative — like the rest of his colleagues and cohorts in the media — was unable to produce any sort of compelling evidence that definitively linked Trump or his campaign with the Russian government during the election.

But that won’t stop them from continuing to insist that evidence of collusion will eventually be uncovered, just you wait and see.



The NFL Just Made A HISTORIC Rule Change About The National Anthem

NFL owners unanimously approved a historic rule change on Wednesday that requires all players, coaches, and team officials to stand for the national anthem. The new rule states that if anyone associated with a team is on the field, they must remain standing for the anthem.

Players can remain in the locker room during the national anthem if they choose to do so, which will take away all of the media hype from players who are desperate for attention. Here’s what ESPN reports:

“The new policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons. Those teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the massive uproar from the American people over players disrespecting the flag and anthem forced him to create the new policy. Here’s Goodell’s statement:

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.

“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”



Canadian healthcare

Like all single-payer systems, the constant problem is delays in getting attention.  I contrast that with the system in Australia, which encourages private hospitals.  A few years back I got a very painful attack of kidney stones.  I was cat-scanned and on the operating table within 6 hours of arriving at my usual private hospital

This woman spent 47 hours waiting for surgery in the Sunnybrook ER, with shattered wrists, a broken elbow, cracked ribs and internal bleeding

The day Kelly Yerxa had her accident was mostly uneventful. It was a Friday in January 2016. After finishing work in Cambridge, where she is the city’s director of legal services, she drove to Haliburton to join her 19-year-old son, a competitive snowboarder, who had spent the day training there. Yerxa is tall and lean and, like her son, athletic. She went to university on a swimming scholarship and now, in her 50s, competes as a triathlete. She was scheduled to officiate during the weekend’s snowboard events, and she met up with her son and about a dozen other parents and athletes at a cottage they had all rented. It was late when she arrived, and since everyone would be getting up early, she and the others headed off to bed. Just before midnight, Yerxa made a trip to the bathroom, and on her way back along the pitch-dark hallway, she veered slightly to her left and took a wrong step. She plunged down seven wooden stairs, hit the landing, punctured the drywall there, and then continued down four more stairs before coming to a stop in the living room.

An athlete sleeping on the couch rushed over. Bones were sticking out of Yerxa’s right elbow, and her wrists were in the shape of the letter S, her hands dangling limply. But she was in shock, and she felt no pain. She told the young man not to worry, that he should go back to sleep since he had to compete in the morning. Then she passed out.

When she came to, two of the other parents were hovering over her, and she was soon being rushed to Haliburton Hospital by ambulance, sirens blaring. Doctors there told her that in addition to the two shattered wrists and broken elbow, she had a couple of broken ribs and a lacerated kidney, and she would require complicated surgery, which was beyond their capability as a small hospital. The pain was by that point intense, and doctors gave her strong painkillers. The next day, a snowstorm hit that made an airlift impossible, so Yerxa was transported by ambulance to Sunnybrook, and her husband, Trevor Clough, drove in from Cambridge to meet her there. He sat in the ER for nearly three hours, waiting for her arrival, and he couldn’t believe the pandemonium he witnessed. “I’d never seen a hospital that busy,” he says. “I was amazed at how many people were coming in.” He remembers ambulances arriving every 15 or 20 minutes, disgorging patient after patient. There had been a major accident on the 401, which he thought explained the deluge, but the nurses told him it was always that way on a Saturday night.

In the hallway, there was no curtain, no call button, and Yerxa was next to the bedpan dumping station. Illustration by Jeffrey Smith
When he finally got to see his wife later that evening, Clough discovered that her bed was in what Sunnybrook staff call the “orange zone”—essentially a holding area for patients when no rooms are available. Her bed was pushed up against a wall, with the IV pole and other paraphernalia wedged in beside her. Clough had nowhere to sit, so he stood awkwardly next to her until a nurse kindly brought him a chair. There was a curtain, but no switch to turn off the lights at night. That location would be Yerxa’s home for the next 19 hours—and her predicament would get worse from there.

Hallway health care is epidemic in Toronto right now. Hospital administrators typically strive for an occupancy level of about 85 per cent, a rate that balances the need for efficiency with the ability to accommodate sudden surges in patient numbers. In other words, even on really busy days, a hospital should be able to find a bed when your father has a stroke or your partner contracts pneumonia. However, for most of the past year and a half, Toronto hospitals have had average monthly occupancies well above that target.

Occupancy at the University Health Network, which includes Toronto General and Toronto Western, didn’t dip below 97 per cent between January and May last year, according to documents obtained by the NDP. The three Mississauga hospitals that make up the Trillium Health Partners went as high as 109 per cent in January last year and didn’t fall below 103 per cent all spring. Etobicoke General spiked to 122 per cent last January and stayed above 106 over the next few months. The pattern has continued this year. Throughout the first half of January 2018, Toronto East General hovered between 104 and 119 per cent occupancy, and Scarborough and Rouge Hospital’s Birchmount site reached 147 per cent. Toronto’s hospitals are, in a word, bursting.

When a hospital finds itself with 147 patients and only 100 places to put them, administrators have to be creative. The first place patients are typically stowed, after being admitted through the ER, is in the emergency department itself—a terrible place for admitted patients. It’s frenetic, loud and bright, making it impossible to rest, and elderly patients, who make up the majority of admissions, often develop delirium as a result, which can take days to clear. In addition to serious privacy and dignity concerns, the cramped conditions make it hard to do the job right.

To relieve the congestion in ERs, hospital administrators have been forced to use what they euphemistically call “unconventional spaces.” In Yerxa’s case, it would end up being a spot in the hallway. In other instances, it is an office, a sunroom, a conference room, a TV room or even a bathroom, with the bed placed between the toilet and bathtub. There’s often no door, no curtain, no call button, no space for loved ones. If a wound needs inspecting or a private detail has to be discussed, it happens out in the open. If you need a bedpan, you just do your business right there.

This is no way to practise medicine, says Paul Pageau, an emergency doctor in Ottawa and president of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. But he has noticed that patients seem to be slowly resigning themselves to the inevitability of long waits and a war zone atmosphere. “I find it remarkable that the patients we see seem to a great degree to accept this,” he says. “Which in itself I find unacceptable.” He thinks if the public demanded more, things might change faster. “I don’t mean to blame the public. But I don’t want us to become too complacent.”

Keeping track of patients who are stashed in hallways, bathrooms and alcoves sometimes requires doctors to get creative. Illustration by Jeffrey Smith
Her first evening at Sunnybrook, Yerxa was heavily sedated, so after she was settled into her bed, Clough drove home to Cambridge for the night. The next morning, a friend drove him to Haliburton, where he picked up his son and collected Yerxa’s car. First thing Monday morning, father and son drove to Sunnybrook to visit Yerxa.

Thirty-eight hours had elapsed since Yerxa had arrived, so Clough was surprised to find that she hadn’t been moved into a room but was instead in a hallway. She had a dressing on her right arm that stretched from her bicep down to her fingers, and another on her left arm that went from elbow to fingers. There she was, lying in the hallway of one of Canada’s premier hospitals, still waiting for surgery.

The hall was noisy, with machines constantly beeping and people talking. There was nowhere for her husband and son to sit where they weren’t in the way. “It was like parking in a fire route,” Yerxa says. Worst of all, they were next to a bedpan dumping station, which stank to high heaven. Yerxa couldn’t eat or drink by herself, let alone get out of bed or go to the washroom. She was entirely dependent on the nurses, who, despite being clearly overloaded, she says, took excellent care of her. Rather than venting or getting snippy, they just kept apologizing.

After lying in the emergency department for almost two days, Yerxa finally had surgery to install plates in her wrists and to repair her elbow. Then she was moved into a room, where she stayed until her discharge, five days later. In retrospect, she is glad she was so subdued by the pain. Had she been more lucid, she says, she would have been angry.

Since her time at Sunnybrook, the hospital-bed crisis has only escalated. Typically, there’s respite in the summer, after the flu season is over, but last summer that didn’t happen. “The surge from last winter hasn’t gone away,” Anthony Dale, CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, told me in December. “All across the GTA, you’ve seen hospitals spike as high as 140 per cent at any given moment.”

When numbers surge like this, hospitals have to care for the extra patients without extra resources. Nurses, cleaning staff, clerical staff, food workers—they are all being run off their feet, says Pam Parks, a registered practical nurse and CUPE union rep who has worked at Lakeridge Hospital in Oshawa for nearly 30 years. Whereas normally a nurse on day shift might have been assigned four patients, she says, now they’re routinely getting six; on night shift, they sometimes have more than 10. They forgo their breaks. People yell at them and even throw things. “We can’t do it anymore,” she says. “We’re tired, burnt out and getting sick.”

Administrators are also exhausted. Figuring out how to accommodate all the extra patients has become a major obsession. “I can’t put in words the amount of stress I’ve witnessed on the entire hospital,” says Ari Zaretsky, who between July and December last year stepped in as Sunnybrook’s interim chief medical executive. He described hospital officials regularly having to clear their schedules and “call a huddle”—code for an ad-hoc crisis meeting to come up with a plan for how to accommodate the excess of patients without cancelling key services. Overcrowding is especially serious for a hospital like Sunnybrook, which not only accepts regular patients through the emergency department but also, as a specialist trauma centre, takes in many of the province’s car accident, burn and gunshot victims.

Part of Zaretsky’s job was to oversee what’s known as “flow and occupancy,” and when I spoke to him in December, the winter’s flu season was just gearing up. Modern hospitals have teams of specialists who use computerized bed maps to track every patient—Zaretsky likens them to air traffic controllers. As new patients arrive, these specialists have to decide how to reconfigure them according to illness type, severity, infectious disease status and likely discharge date. If someone needs to be isolated because of infection, for instance, they might jump the queue. The same is true if their condition is life-threatening. In rare cases, an extremely sick person can even bump a less sick person, ideally someone for whom discharge is imminent, out of their room and into a hallway. “It’s very contentious,” says Zaretsky. “You can imagine. You’re still ill—you have to be in hospital—but you’re not ill enough, compared to the poor person who has just been admitted.”

By the standards of most developed countries, Canada doesn’t have a lot of acute care beds: just two for every 1,000 people, compared to 4.1 in France, 6.1 in Germany and 7.8 in Japan. In terms of total beds, Ontario is one of the most sparsely bedded provinces, with just 2.3 per 1,000. The average in the other provinces is 3.5. That said, some places have low bed numbers but aren’t in crisis. Denmark, for instance, has just 2.5 beds per 1,000. The difference is that Denmark also has an extensive and well-orchestrated system of alternative care for patients who need treatment but don’t necessarily need a hospital.



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