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US: Report Exposes 'Gray Homicide' Epidemic, Reinforces Need for Funding Autopsies of Nursing Home Deaths, Kentucky Attorney Says

J. Marshall Hughes
© hughesandcoleman.com
J. Marshall Hughes
If legislation passes that would require nursing home deaths to be reported to county coroner offices, those coroners would need proper funding to carry out examinations, Kentucky personal injury attorney J. Marshall Hughes says.

A recently issued report on the state of autopsies in the U.S. highlights the need to require adequate funding for autopsies of Kentucky nursing home deaths, Bowling Green personal injury lawyer J. Marshall Hughes said this week.

"It's not enough to require that nursing home deaths be reported to the proper officials, which is what is currently being proposed in our legislature," Hughes said. "If we are going to do this right in Kentucky, we need to make sure those officials have the proper funding to conduct autopsies that are thorough and complete."

Hughes is a co-founding attorney of Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers, a personal injury law firm that represents Kentucky nursing home abuse and neglect victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

He has endorsed a bill currently pending in the Kentucky General Assembly, House Bill 69, which would require a designated staff member at long-term care facilities and hospices to report all deaths to the county coroner within 24 hours. Coroners, in turn, would be required to involve police or prosecutors if they suspect mistreatment played a role in the death.

Currently, state law does not require nursing homes to report most deaths to coroners, and coroners are rarely called, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported last summer in a series of stories that discovered flaws in the system used to investigate nursing home neglect and abuse.

Hughes spoke this week in reaction to an investigative report issued by National Public Radio, PBS Frontline and ProPublica. The report revealed a trend across the country in which "underfunded and understaffed" medical examiner and coroner offices are being forced to forgo autopsies of the elderly.


Companies Raise Prices as Commodity Costs Jump

© European Pressphoto Agency
A worker prepares cotton for spinning at the Shanghai Textile mills in Shanghai.
A package of Oscar Mayer cold cuts. A pair of Nine West boots. A Whirlpool washing machine.

By the fall, people will most likely be paying more for each of them, as rising prices hit most consumer goods, say retailers, food companies and manufacturers of consumer products.

Cotton prices are near their highest level in more than a decade, after adjusting for inflation, and leather and polyester costs are jumping as well. Copper recently hit its highest level in about 40 years, and iron ore, used for steel, is fetching extremely high prices. Prices for corn, sugar, wheat, beef, pork and coffee are soaring. Labor overseas is becoming more expensive, meanwhile, and so are the utility bills to keep a factory running.

"There are cost pressures from virtually everywhere," said Wesley R. Card, the chief executive of the Jones Group, whose brands include Nine West and Anne Klein. After trying to keep retail prices flat or even lower during the recession, Jones says prices for its brands will climb 15 to 20 percent by autumn.

When commodity prices started to rise last summer, many manufacturers and retailers absorbed the costs, worried that shoppers would not pay higher prices during the competitive holiday season or while the economy was still fragile.

Heart - Black

US: Elder Abuse: Still a Silent Epidemic

elder abuse
© unknown
In spite of several high-profile elder abuse cases in the past few years, a recent study performed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that the elderly are still vulnerable to a wide range of abuses at the hands of their caretakers. The GAO study, which examined hundreds of abuse allegations around the country, discovered a wide range of abuses happening against the elderly, including being supervised by inappropriate people, physical neglect, malnutrition, sexual abuse and more.

The study provided an overview of the problem of elder abuse in America today, finding that our aging population is being subjected to abuse at a level never-before-seen.

A Wide Range of Abuses Seen

Though the cases examined in the GAO study are egregious, they represent the types of abuses commonly seen by family members investigating suspicions of malfeasance, including:

Light Saber

Now revolution takes hold in Algeria: Hundreds arrested as '30,000' riot police try to quell democracy march inspired by downfall of Hosni Mubarak

Algerian protesters
© Reuters
Not-so-thin blue line: Riot policemen surround protesters during the demonstration. Estimates put the numbers of police at 30,000 - three times the number of protesters
  • Estimated police figures outnumber demonstrators by three to one
  • Human rights activist says more than 400 arrested
  • Government cuts food prices and promises end of state of emergency to mollify demonstrators
Thousands of riot police arrested hundreds of demonstrators in the Algerian capital today as they tried to stop a banned pro-democracy rally a day after Egypt's authoritarian leader was toppled.

Armed police blocked off streets in Algiers and set up security barricades at strategic points along the march route and outside the city to try to stop busloads of demonstrators from reaching the capital.

Armed police were also posted near newspaper headquarters.

Organisers of the march estimated some 10,000 people had flooded Algiers, where they skirmished with riot police attempting to block off streets and disperse the crowd.

Evil Rays

Dream Time on the Road to Shitville

Dog Poet Transmitting.......

© Unknown
Maybe 13 years ago or so, I saw part of one episode of MTV's Big Brother. That's been the extent of my exposure to reality TV, which joins the short list of great oxymorons, like 'military intelligence'. The last time I watched network TV with any regularity would have been before I left home; that place you can't go again and may not have had in the first place. Probably "All in the Family" was on then. I've seen regular news, like CNN, a half a dozen times since the stolen election of 2000 and Fox News for a couple of minutes on the night I check into my hotel room, at the halfway point between dreaming Italy and the apneic northern realms.

I left the mainland USA twenty years before I left the country entirely. I was going back to Maui in the winter (after I left the USA) and thinking it might be a trend, until they played games with my passport and I realized I was on a kind of a list from something like The Mikado. I've spent time with friends for a total of about two months in eight years, maybe less. I have no friends close by in Europe but I do have some too far away to drive and visit.

I get mail from all over the world and probably piss people off when I forget to answer because the page rolls up and life has moved on and I didn't mean it. I even get mail from a military attaché kind of a guy in Mongolia. I wish he would write again. I like hearing from him. I get mail from Patagonia, Iceland and by now I've gotten mail from everywhere except North Korea and Greenland, I think. My world is a planet inside my head that rotates in virtual space and includes close personal friends I may never see in this life (cue Bob Marley). I compare my life to that of an astronaut whose only social life takes place over satellite communications.

Che Guevara

Trade unions strike across Egypt

© AP
Cairo - Egypt's military rulers called for an end to strikes and protests Monday as thousands of state employees, from ambulance drivers to police and transport workers, demonstrated to demand better pay in a growing wave of labor unrest unleashed by the democracy uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak's regime.

The statement by the ruling military council that took power from Mubarak appeared to be a final warning to protest organizers in labor and professional unions before the army intervenes and imposes an outright ban on gatherings, strikes and sit-ins.

Soldiers cleared out almost all the remaining demonstrators from Cairo's Tahrir Square, the giant traffic circle that was turned into a protest camp headquarters for the 18-day revolt. During more than two weeks of round-the-clock demonstrations at the square, protesters set up tents, brought in blankets, operated medical clinics and festooned the entire plaza with giant banners demanding removal of the regime.

At the height of the uprising, hundreds of thousands packed the downtown crossroads.


Obama on the Budget: "Target the Military? No, I'm gonna hit the working poor, the middle class and students"

Washington - Less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, President Barack Obama proposed a spending plan to Congress that cuts funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education, undermining the kind of community-based organizations that helped Obama launch his political career in Chicago.

Obama's new budget puts forward a plan to achieve $1.1 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, according to an administration official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal release of the budget.

Those reductions -- averaging just over $100 billion each year -- are achieved mainly by squeezing social programs. A deal struck to extend the Bush tax cuts for just two years, meanwhile, increased the deficit by $858 billion dollars. More than $500 billion of that bargain constituted tax cuts, with billions more funding business tax breaks and a reduction in the estate tax. Roughly $56 billion went to reauthorize emergency unemployment benefits.

The president's budget was expected to mostly target "non-defense discretionary spending," which makes up less than one-quarter of the overall budget, making balancing the budget with such cuts mathematically impossible.


Grapes of Wrath - 2011

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." - John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck wrote his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at the age of 37 in 1939, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize for literature. John Ford then made a classic film adaption in 1941, starring Henry Fonda. It is considered one of the top 25 films in American history. The book was also one of the most banned in US history. Steinbeck was ridiculed as a communist and anti-capitalist by showing support for the working poor. Some things never change, as the moneyed interests that control the media message have attempted to deflect the blame for our current Depression away from their fraudulent deeds. The novel stands as a chronicle of the Great Depression and as a commentary on the economic and social system that gave rise to it. Steinbeck's opus to the working poor reverberates across the decades. He wrote the novel in the midst of the last Fourth Turning Crisis. His themes of man's inhumanity to man, the dignity and rage of the working class, and the selfishness and greed of the moneyed class ring true today.


Egyptians concerned about plot to hijack revolution

Egypt's people power movement forced out an arrogant pharaoh, who had ruled the country for the last thirty years with the help of the United States, other Western powers, and Israel, but now it seems that new dangers are arising.

The Egyptians may be chanting that their country is free, but their struggle is far from over since some lackeys of the USA and Israel in the Egyptian establishment are already making efforts to hijack the historic revolution.

The Egyptian military is now officially in control of Egypt and the counter-revolution is unfolding. So a new phase of the liberation struggle has started.

On Sunday, protesters again took to the streets across the country and thronged Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square as the new military rulers announced that they would stay in power for six months, when they say elections will be held.

The military rulers also dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution on Sunday.

The protesters want all their demands met, including the transition of power from the military to a civilian, democratic government.

On Sunday, clashes broke out between the army and the protesters as troops tried to disperse thousands of demonstrators in Tahrir Square, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The wave of demonstrations in and around the square is showing no sign of stopping, with hundreds of thousands of protesters continuing to gather in the square.

Red Flag

China's Wheat Crop at Risk, World Wary

© Lu Jian / EPA
New Delhi: There is bad news on the global food front. In an alert issued this week, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that more than two-thirds of China's gigantic wheat crop may be under risk "because of substantially below-normal rainfall" this winter.

The affected areas in the northern plains of China produced over 75 million tonne of China's total production of 112 million tonne of wheat last year. Any shortfall in Chinese production would have serial effects on availability and prices of wheat around the world.

Global food prices have been silently climbing upward through the past six months and with production and consumption very finely balanced, any disruption in production may wreak havoc with prices. Already, food prices are touching the record levels set in 2008 although prices of rice - the world's largest staple food - are still below those levels.

High food prices have been feeding growing restlessness and anger in a swathe of countries including West Asia. Egypt had experienced an 18.5% rate of inflation driving up prices of all food commodities except bread which is subsidized by the government to the tune of $1.5 billion annually. This was a major contributory factor to the 18-day uprising that dislodged the three-decade-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Protests against high food prices have taken place in Oman, Israel and Jordan and have contributed to political unrest in Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria.