The Final Evidence of a Cult of Hypocrisy

Our friend Roger looks out across the big pond from his home in Wales and this is what he sees …

The World As It Is. Not As It Should Be

Maybe it’s one of those classic features of old age, maybe it comes from reading volumes of military and political histories or maybe it’s ‘Just Because….’  . Anyway, I can accept Misdirection, Distortion and even Downright Lies as part of the whole box of tricks Humanity indulges in. Sometimes I embrace them as a Means To An End, but other times I condemn them, the latter mostly at the personal level, War and Politics being where Ambiguity is another Dimension.

One other failing which is common is Hypocrisy. With thanks to Wikipedia I give you this quote The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means “jealous”, “play-acting”, “acting out”, “coward” or “dissembling”  . I can also cite British political philosopher David Runciman, “Other kinds of hypocritical deception include claims to knowledge that one lacks, claims to a consistency that one cannot sustain, claims to a loyalty that…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons 8/6

Since yesterday I posted two real downers … Hiroshima/Nagasaki/nuclear arms, and Viktor Orbàn teaching authoritarianism to the GOP, I thought to start today with a bit of humour … political cartoons that combine seriousness of purpose and humour!  Thanks to TokyoSand for doing the hard work and finding the best of the lot!  Naturally, one of the main topics on the cartoonists minds this past week was the vote striking down a ban on abortion in Kansas, so let’s start there!  (Be sure to follow the link at the end to view the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!)

See all the ‘toons at Political Charge!!!

If It Looks Like A Duck …

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.  That’s an old saying that doesn’t need any further explanation.

The Republican Party has frequently given us hints that they are the party of white supremacy seeking to implement an autocracy here in the U.S. if they can manage to gain a majority in both chambers of Congress this year, and in the executive branch in 2024.  Donald Trump made no secret that his goal was to rule, not to preside, and that he has no use for any who are not white-skinned, straight Christian males.  When the Republicans invited Viktor Orbàn, dictator (official title is Prime Minister) of Hungary, to be their keynote speaker at the annual CPAC convention being held this week in Dallas, Texas, there could be little doubt left.  But any remaining shred of doubt was washed away when Orbàn, gave a speech talking his usual racist, homophobic trash-talk and thousands of Republicans gave him a standing ovation.  A standing ovation, my friends.

WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE?????

Are they bored with a system where, at least theoretically, every person can vote, every vote is counted, and in this manner We the People elect the members of government who we believe will best serve our interests?  Are they tired of the relative stability of life in the U.S. as compared to countries like Turkey, Russia, DPRK, and Hungary?  Do they no longer support a free press, the freedom to believe or not believe in any or no deity?  Do they truly wish to return to a nation of slave-owners?  They claim to worship the flag, and to stand strong by the expression in the national anthem, “Land of the brave and home of the free”, and yet they would happily … enthusiastically even, give up that freedom in exchange for an authoritarian rule.

Is it requisite for a strong-arm authoritarian to be obese and show his fist often?

Orbàn recently came under fire in his own nation for a speech in which he declared “we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race.”  That speech led to outrage among his critics and the very public resignation of a long-time advisor who characterized Orbàn’s speech as “a pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels.”  Anybody care to call me an alarmist for the many times I’ve compared Trump and others to Adolf Hitler?

Orbàn told the audience that they need to “coordinate our troops” in the fight against liberalism, exhorting them to gear up to remove Joe Biden from office (“you have two years to get ready”). The stakes, in his telling, are the very future of our civilization.  I’m surprised, actually, that he didn’t tell them they should overthrow the Biden administration.

“The West is at war with itself. We have seen what kind of future the globalist ruling class has to offer. But we have a different kind of future in mind. The globalists can all go to hell. I have come to Texas.”

The crowd cheered and gave him a standing ovation.  Disgusting.

Freedom of the press is gone in Hungary since Orbàn took over in 2010.  Immigrants are not welcome and Orban built a heavily patrolled barbed wire fence along a stretch of 325 miles that completely cuts off access from three countries:  Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia.  Hungary, once ranked a democracy, has been downgraded to a “hybrid regime” by Freedom House.  There are still elections, but they are heavily manipulated to ensure Orbàn and his cronies remain in charge of the government.  According to Wikipedia …

Orbán has passed laws, amended the constitution, and finally written a new constitution, allowing him to do what he wanted to do. Civic institutions such as courts, universities, and the apparatus necessary for free elections remain, but have been “patiently debilitated, delegitimatized, hollowed out”, controlled by Orbán loyalists. Domination of the media by Orbán prevents the public from hearing critics point of view. In 2022, Orbán’s opponent was given but five minutes on the national television “to make his case to the voters”.

And this is, apparently, what the ‘conservatives’ in this country would like the United States to look like within a few years.  Nothing … not one thing … that I have heard from the mouths of any Republican politicians, has convinced me that they aren’t seeking an authoritarian government where they make all the rules and our freedoms, our fair elections, our voices … simply disappear.

Yes, my friends, I believe it IS a duck.

77 Years Ago – 6 August 1945

Today, 06 August 2022, marks the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima by the United States.  This post is partly a repost of the one I did two years ago, but I have updated it and added just a bit.  I know many disagree with me, but in my opinion, the bombing of Hiroshima, and three days later Nagasaki, were nothing short of war crimes, of crimes against humanity.  Approximately 210,000 people died as a direct result of those two bombings.. These people were not the military brass who were leading the Japanese army and navy in attacks against the allies, nor were they even the soldiers who were following orders.  They were innocents — senior citizens, women, children, civil servants — people who were only going about their lives until suddenly … BOOM … they no longer had lives to go about.  I will always believe that the use of nuclear weaponry is wrong.  Period.

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama attended the annual ceremony of the observance of the anniversary at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, attended by some 50,000 people representing 80 nations.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for global cooperation to end nuclear weapons.

“For us to truly realize a world without nuclear weapons, the participation of both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states is necessary.”

In July of that year, the United Nations reached its first agreement to ban nuclear weapons. But Japan, along with the nine nuclear-armed nations, including the United States, refused to take part in the negotiations and the vote, saying it does nothing to counter the “grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.”

Japan already adheres to a policy of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory. It is the only country to have ever come under nuclear attack.  So far.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres issued a message calling for the United States and other nuclear-armed countries to do more to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

“Our dream of a world free of nuclear weapons remains far from reality. The states possessing nuclear weapons have a special responsibility to undertake concrete and irreversible steps in nuclear disarmament.”

Every president since 1945 has worked toward test bans and global reduction of nuclear weapons … until the Trump administration who seriously considered resuming nuclear testing.   Trump withdrew the United States from arms treaties including the landmark INF agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Today, there are more than 13,000 nuclear warheads worldwide according the Arms Control Association, most of them held by the United States and Russia.

Given Russia’s war on Ukraine and the potential fallout of support for Ukraine by the United States and many European nations, the tension is higher than it once was, the threat of a nuclear war has increased, especially with a man at the helm in Russia who lacks a conscience, who cares not one whit about human lives, even those in his own nation.  It is more important than ever that we find a way of disarmament … but I’m spitting in the wind as our late friend Hugh used to tell me often.

Contrary to the “dream of a world free of nuclear weapons”, in February 2017 Donald Trump told Reuters that “if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”  Trump, in fact, has said some chilling things along those lines:

  • Trump said he might use nuclear weapons and questioned why we would make them if we wouldn’t use them. – March 2016
  • “Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table.” (Answering a question whether he would ever ‘nuke’ Europe) – March 2016
  • Trump said that “you want to be unpredictable” with nuclear weapons – January 2016
  • Trump reiterated that it was important to be “unpredictable” with nuclear weapons – March 2016
  • Trump said he’d be OK with a nuclear arms race in Asia – May 2016

Now, ordinarily I would have taken Trump’s comments out of this updated post, for he is gone, he is history … but there is a chance that he will re-occupy the Oval Office if the U.S. Department of Justice does not do a proper job of charging and convicting him of his crimes in office, so I think it remains important to realize his views on nuclear war.

In my opinion, the absolute worst invention in the world … ever … was the invention of nuclear weapons that are capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of seconds.  This is not a toy, not something funny to play around with, and it is damn sure not something that should be used to threaten other nations.

When I originally published this post two years ago, our friend Ellen provided a quote by John Steinbeck from his 1958 book “Once There Was A War”:

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”

Truer words were never spoken.  Today, let us simply remember the atrocities, the horrors, of August 6th and August 9th, 1945.  And let us hope that somehow, someday, we can have a world free of the nuclear threat.

In Memory …

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Related post: On President Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima

Da Snark MUST Be Shared!

Ever notice how in certain weather, your head and chest just seem to fill with ‘stuff’ and you sneeze, wheeze, gasp and cough until you think surely you’ve coughed up a lung?  Well, in certain political climes, my head just fills to the gills with snark, and there’s only one way to alleviate the symptoms … share it!


You could’a knocked me over with a feather …

Yesterday was a red-letter day in the United States Congress!  Why?  Because the Senate … members on both sides of the aisle … actually agreed on something and voted 95 to 1 to allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO!  95-1 … can you believe it???  I think this is the most cohesion we’ve seen in the Senate since … since … maybe 1867 or thereabouts!  Granted, there is little reason to object to allowing these two nations to join NATO … it is a win-win, for it adds strength to NATO and provides protections for Sweden and Finland, but these days, there doesn’t seem to be a need for a reason to split the two sides!

Oh … that single ‘nay’ vote?  That was ol’ Josh Hawley, the brunt of many jokes since the January 6th committee aired video showing Josh of fist-pump fame running desperately from the insurrectionists that day!  His reason for naysaying the treaty expansion was, in his words …

“NATO expansion would almost certainly mean more U.S. forces in Europe for the long haul. In the face of this stark reality, we must choose. We must do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia.”

No, it made no sense to me, either, but then … it’s Josh ‘fist-pump’ Hawley, so I don’t expect intellect, but merely nonsense.  Rumour has it that he sees himself as a presidential candidate in 2024 🤣 🤣


Religious freedom?  I think not.

It was on June 27th, just over a month ago, that the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the case of Kennedy v Bremerton School District.  In a nutshell, the case was filed by Joseph Kennedy, a public-school football coach, who had taken the practice of praying at the middle of the field immediately after each game. The school board were concerned the practice would be seen as infringing on the Establishment Clause separating church and state. They attempted to negotiate with Kennedy to pray elsewhere or at a later time, but Kennedy continued the practice. His contract was not renewed, leading Kennedy to sue the board.

The Supreme Court ruled that the school’s actions against Kennedy violated his rights under both the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.  This decision has bothered me for over a month now, and last night I had a thought that I would share with you, my friends.

I don’t deny that Mr. Kennedy or anybody else has the right to pray … here, there, or anywhere.  However, public schools are not the place for public displays of religious acts!  They are institutions of learning … learning math, science, literature, history, and more … not religion.  In case the U.S. Supreme Court has not noticed, this is a secular nation.  We have people of every religion here and many of us are non-religious … that is our right, per the U.S. Constitution!  So, the thought I had was this:  Would the United States Supreme Court justices have been so quick to defend the man’s ‘right to prayer’ if he were a Muslim publicly praying to Allah?  I’m betting not.

Some of the boys on the team Mr. Kennedy coached said they were uncomfortable with his habit … some boys joined in, and those who did not believe or did not wish to join in were made to feel left out, felt that to belong, they had to join in.  THIS IS NOT what public education is about, my friends!  I would take umbrage if my child or grandchild were subjected to a teacher or other school employee praying in public during school hours or activities!  Again … if it had been a Muslim … can you just imagine the furor?

The U.S. is a nation founded in part by religious freedom.  That does NOT mean that one religion, ie Christianity, dominates the spirit of the nation.  It doesn’t.  The Court made a grievous error on June 27th, one that some were just waiting for in order to pounce and turn our schools into religious institutions.  We must not allow that to happen.


Say WHAT???

Ryan Kelley was running in the GOP primaries for governor of Michigan.  He lost.  In fact, he lost by a lot, coming in at fourth place with only 15% of the vote, or 165,016 votes as compared to the leader, Tudor Dixon, who received 434,673 votes, or 40.6%.  (I will have more about Tudor Dixon at a later date)  Now, one would think ol’ Ryan Kelley would tuck his tail betwixt his legs and go home to lick his wounds or cry in his beer, yes?  But nope.  He is planning to contest the election!

Kelly made the announcement early Wednesday morning as primary election results began to roll out that he refuses to concede and is contesting the election results.  Oh … and it may not surprise you to know that Kelley was one of the insurrectionists who was arrested for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th by breaking into the Capitol, destroying property, attacking Capitol Police, and calling to hang Mike Pence!  And it surely won’t surprise you that he was endorsed by the former guy who incited the attempted coup.

Methinks he can contest until the cows come home, but he ain’t gonna be the one running against Democrat Gretchen Widmer in November!

Have We Passed The Point Of No Return?

A couple of days ago I came across an article in The Atlantic that really gave me pause, made me step back and view our current situation in a bit of a different light … a chilling light.  Brian Klaas is a global-politics professor at University College London. He is the author of Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, so he knows of what he speaks here …


America’s Self-Obsession Is Killing Its Democracy

The U.S. still has a chance to fix itself before 2024. But when democracies start dying—as ours already has—they usually don’t recover.

By Brian Klaas

In 2009, a violent mob stormed the presidential palace in Madagascar, a deeply impoverished red-earthed island off the coast of East Africa. They had been incited to violence by opportunistic politicians and media personalities, successfully triggering a coup. A few years later, I traveled to the island, to meet the new government’s ringleaders, the same men who had unleashed the mob.

As we sipped our coffees and I asked them questions, one of the generals I was interviewing interrupted me.

“How can you Americans lecture us on democracy?” he asked. “Sometimes, the president who ends up in your White House isn’t even the person who got the most votes.”

“Our election system isn’t perfect,” I replied then. “But, with all due respect, our politicians don’t incite violent mobs to take over the government when they haven’t won an election.”

For decades, the United States has proclaimed itself a “shining city upon a hill,” a beacon of democracy that can lead broken nations out of their despotic darkness. That overconfidence has been instilled into its citizens, leading me a decade ago to the mistaken, naive belief that countries such as Madagascar have something to learn from the U.S. rather than also having wisdom to teach us.

During the Donald Trump presidency, the news covered a relentless barrage of “unprecedented” attacks on the norms and institutions of American democracy. But they weren’t unprecedented. Similar authoritarian attacks had happened plenty of times before. They were only unprecedented to us.

I’ve spent the past 12 years studying the breakdown of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism around the world, in places such as Thailand, Tunisia, Belarus, and Zambia. I’ve shaken hands with many of the world’s democracy killers.

My studies and experiences have taught me that democracies can die in many ways. In the past, most ended in a quick death. Assassinations can snuff out democracy in a split second, coups in an hour or two, and revolutions in a day. But in the 21st century, most democracies die like a chronic but terminal patient. The system weakens as the disease spreads. The agony persists over years. Early intervention increases the rate of survival, but the longer the disease festers, the more that miracles become the only hope.

American democracy is dying. There are plenty of medicines that would cure it. Unfortunately, our political dysfunction means we’re choosing not to use them, and as time passes, fewer treatments become available to us, even though the disease is becoming terminal. No major prodemocracy reforms have passed Congress. No key political figures who tried to overturn an American election have faced real accountability. The president who orchestrated the greatest threat to our democracy in modern times is free to run for reelection, and may well return to office.

Our current situation started with a botched diagnosis. When Trump first rose to political prominence, much of the American political class reacted with amusement, seeing him as a sideshow. Even if he won, they thought, he’d tweet like a populist firebrand while governing like a Romney Republican, constrained by the system. But for those who had watched Trump-like authoritarian strongmen rise in Turkey, India, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Venezuela, Trump was never entertaining. He was ominously familiar.

At issue was a classic frame-of-reference problem. America’s political culture is astonishingly insular. Turn on cable news and it’s all America, all the time. Other countries occasionally make cameos, but the story is still about us. (Poland is discussed if Air Force One goes to Warsaw; Iran flits into view only in relation to Washington’s nuclear diplomacy; Madagascar appears only in cartoon form, mostly featuring talking animals that don’t actually live there.) Our self-obsession means that whenever authoritarianism rises abroad, it’s mentioned briefly, if at all. Have you ever spotted a breathless octobox of talking heads on CNN or Fox News debating the death of democracy in Turkey, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines?

That’s why most American pundits and journalists used an “outsider comes to Washington” framework to process Trump’s campaign and his presidency, when they should have been fitting every fresh fact into an “authoritarian populist” framework or a “democratic death spiral” framework. While debates raged over tax cuts and offensive tweets, the biggest story was often obscured: The system itself was at risk.

Even today, too many think of Trump more as Sarah Palin in 2012 rather than Viktor Orbán in 2022. They wrongly believe that the authoritarian threat is over and that January 6 was an isolated event from our past, rather than a mild preview of our future. That misreading is provoking an underreaction from the political establishment. And the worst may be yet to come.

The basic problem is that one of the two major parties in the U.S.—the Trumpified Republican Party—has become authoritarian to its core. Consequently, there are two main ways to protect American democracy. The first is to reform the GOP, so that it’s again a conservative, but not authoritarian, party (à la John McCain’s or Mitt Romney’s Republican Party). The second is to perpetually block authoritarian Republicans from wielding power. But to do that, Democrats need to win every election. When you’re facing off against an authoritarian political movement, each election is an existential threat to democracy. Eventually, the authoritarian party will win.

Erica Frantz, a political scientist and expert on authoritarianism at Michigan State University, told me she shares that concern: With Republicans out of the White House and in the congressional minority, “democratic deterioration in the U.S. has simply been put on pause.”

Frantz was more sanguine during much of the Trump era. “When Trump won office, I pushed back against forecasts that democracy in the U.S. was doomed,” she explained. After all, America has much more robust democratic institutions than Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, or Turkey. “Though the risk of democratic collapse was higher than it had been in recent memory,” Frantz said, “it still remained low, comparatively speaking.”

When democracies start to die, they usually don’t recover. Instead, they end up as authoritarian states with zombified democratic institutions: rigged elections in place of legitimate ones, corrupt courts rather than independent judges, and propagandists replacing the press.

There are exceptions. Frantz pointed to Ecuador, Slovenia, and South Korea as recent examples. In all three cases, a political shock acted as a wake-up call, in which the would-be autocrat was removed and their political movement either destroyed or reformed. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye was ousted from office and sent to prison. But more important, Frantz explained, “there was a cleaning of the house after Park’s impeachment, with the new administration aggressively getting rid of those who had been complicit in the country’s slide to authoritarianism.”

Those examples once signaled a hopeful possibility for the United States. At some point, Trump’s spell over the country and his party could break. He would go too far, or there would be a national calamity, and we’d all come to our democratic senses.

By early 2021, Trump had gone too far and there had been a national calamity. That’s why, on January 6, 2021, as zealots and extremists attacked the Capitol, I felt an unusual emotion mixed in with the horror and sadness: a dark sense that there was a silver lining.

Finally, the symptoms were undeniable. After Trump stoked a bona fide insurrection, the threat to democracy would be impossible to ignore. As Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell denounced Trump on the Senate floor, it looked like Republicans might follow the South Korean path and America could finally take its medicine.

In reality, the denunciations were few and temporary. According to a new poll from the University of Monmouth, six in 10 Republican voters now believe that the attack on the Capitol was a form of “legitimate protest.” Only one in 10 would use the word insurrection to describe January 6. And rather than cleaning house, the Republicans who dared to condemn Trump are now the party’s biggest pariahs, while the January 6 apologists are rising stars.

The past 18 months portend a post-Trump GOP future that remains authoritarian: Trumpism without Trump.

“Democracies can’t depend on one of two major parties never holding power,” argues Brendan Nyhan, a government professor at Dartmouth College and a co-founder of Bright Line Watch, a group that monitors the erosion of American democracy. But that may be the necessary treatment for now, because Republican leaders “are defining a vision of a Trumpist GOP that could prove more durable than the man himself.”

Frantz concurred: “What did surprise me and change my assessment was the Republican Party’s decision to continue to embrace Trump and stand by him. The period following the Capitol riots was a critical one, and the party’s response was a turning point.”

That leaves American democracy with a bleak prognosis. Barring an electoral wipeout of Republicans in 2022 (which looks extremely unlikely), the idea that the party will suddenly abandon its anti-democracy positioning is a delusion.

Prodemocracy voters now have only one way forward: Block the authoritarian party from power, elect prodemocracy politicians in sufficient numbers, and then insist that they produce lasting democratic reforms.

The wish list from several democracy experts I spoke with is long, and includes passing the Electoral Count Act, creating a constitutional right to vote, reforming districting so more elections are competitive, establishing a nonpartisan national election-management body, electing the president via popular vote, reducing the gap in representation between states like California and Wyoming, introducing some level of proportional representation or multimember districts, aggressively regulating campaign spending and the role of money in politics, and enforcing an upper age limit for Supreme Court justices. But virtually all of those ideas are currently political fantasies.

The American system isn’t just dysfunctional. It’s dying. Nyhan believes there is now a “significant risk” that the 2024 election outcome will be illegitimate. Even Frantz, who has been more optimistic about America’s democratic resilience in the past, doesn’t have a particularly reassuring retort to the doom-mongers: “I don’t think U.S. democracy will collapse, but just hover in a flawed manner for a while, as in Poland.”

We may not be doomed. But we should be honest: The optimistic assessment from experts who study authoritarianism globally is that the United States will most likely settle into a dysfunctional equilibrium that mirrors a deep democratic breakdown. It’s not yet too late to avoid that. But the longer we wait, the more the cancer of authoritarianism will spread. We don’t have long before it’s inoperable.

Good People Doing Good Things – Dr. Sanduk Ruit & Dr. Geoffrey Tabin

I find I must dig back through the archives and repeat my good people post from April 2017 this week, for I am simply too frustrated tonight to settle into writing a new one.  My apologies, but I really think you’ll enjoy reading about these two guys!


Every Wednesday morning, I write about good people who are giving of themselves, their time, their money, or whatever resources they have to help others.  Some weeks I write about millionaire philanthropists, or foundations, other weeks, average, everyday people like you and me who are doing small things that make big differences in the lives of others.  Today I would like to introduce you to a pair of doctors, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepalese eye surgeon, and Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, an American eye surgeon and world-renowned mountain climber.

Together, these two eye surgeons have restored sight to more than 150,000 patients in 24 countries. Doctors they’ve trained have restored sight to 4 million more. They are on a mission to completely eradicate preventable and curable blindness in the developing world, and they have made a great start.

In 1995, Drs. Ruit and Tabin founded the Himalayan Cataract Project, which began as a small outpatient clinic in Kathmandu. It has since spread throughout the Himalayas and across Sub-Saharan Africa, providing education and training for local eye-care professionals, and has overseen around 500,000 low-cost, high-quality cataract surgeries.

Dr. Ruit was responsible for developing a simplified technique for cataract surgery that costs only $25 and has nearly a 100% success rate.  His method is now even taught in U.S. medical schools, though in the U.S. you will not find cataract surgery for $25.

In 2015, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times visited Dr. Ruit in Hatauda, in southern Nepal, and observed the process.  The patient was a 50-year-old woman, Thuli Maya Thing, who, blinded by cataracts for several years has been unable to work.  “I can’t fetch firewood or water. I can’t cook food. I fall down many times. I’ve been burned by the fire. I will be able to see my children and husband again — that’s what I look forward to most.”  The process to remove Thuli’s cataracts and replace them with new lenses took about five minutes per eye. When the bandages came off the next day, her vision tested at 20/20!

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Thuli Maya Thing

In the United States, cataract surgery is typically performed with complex machines and costs upward of $5,000.  When asked in a 2013 interview with Prospero of The Economist why the surgery the same procedure could not be replicated in the U.S., he answered …

“In America we do not have a health-care system, we have a crisis-intervention system where everyone demands and expects the best possible outcome and looks for someone to blame if things are not perfect. We have so much wasted time, so many middle men, redundancies, third-party payers, legal issues.”

All of the Himalayan Cataract Project’s facilities strive to be completely financially self-sustaining through a unique cost-recovery program in which the wealthy patients subsidize the poor patients. One third of the patients pay the full $100 for a complete work-up, modern cataract surgery, and all post-operative care. Twenty percent of the patients pay a smaller amount based on what they are able to pay. The remaining third of the patients receive the cataract surgical care entirely free. With this model, the facilities are able to cover all costs.

Additionally, the doctors have created a system whereby everyone works up to their potential and no one does anything a person with less training can do. This maximizes the most expensive element, which is the time of the doctors and nurses. They have also been able to bring down the material costs through local manufacturing and elimination of waste. Imagine if these methods were used in the industrialized world … we would not need the ongoing healthcare debate we are perpetually undergoing in the U.S.!

wed-second-sunsJournalist David Oliver Relin shadowed the doctors for nearly two years, an effort that culminated in the book Second Suns, published in June 2013, about the heroic accomplishments of the two doctors.  Sadly, the author committed suicide in November 2012 due to controversies over another book he wrote, Three Cups of Tea.  I have not read Second Suns, but took a quick glance at the sample on my Kindle, and it seems well worth the read.

I had a good chuckle over a story related by Dr. Tabin:

“One story I enjoyed learning from the book was that Dr Ruit had tried to get rid of me by sending me to work in Biratnagar, Nepal, during the monsoon. At the time I thought I was needed there but in fact it was because he found my enthusiasm annoying. He was sure that the 40-degree heat with 99% humidity and lots of biting insects, plus the difficult state of the hospital, would send me scurrying back to America.”

In developing nations, suffering from blindness affects not only the blind person but also members of his/her family. Where there are few paved roads and where terrain is rugged and mountainous, a blind person has incredible difficulty moving around and depends on a caretaker. There are no social services available to the blind, and individuals who are blind cannot contribute to family income. A blind person, unable to care for themselves in such a harsh environment requires the help of a family member, which essentially takes two people out of being able to contribute to family income, or community life. With sight restored, many patients would be able to return to work and to traditional roles in their families and societies.  Drs. Ruit and Tabin have dedicated their lives to restoring sight to blind people in some of the most isolated, impoverished reaches of developing countries in the Himalaya and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Last Sunday, 16 April, the two doctors were featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes and it is well worth checking out!

I have tremendous admiration and respect for these two men, and they are certainly prime examples of good people who are doing good things for others.  I have included a few links below … I think you would especially enjoy the article written two years ago by Nicholas Kristof which includes a short video.  Hats off to Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Geoffrey Tabin!

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Nicholas Kristoff Article

Interview with The Economist

Himalayan Cataract Project

Saturday Surprise — Doors, Doors, Everywhere Doors!!!

You all know that I love street art, and a few days ago I came across something that, while it isn’t exactly street art, is very similar in nature … whimsical painted doors!  I’ll let the photographer introduce himself and his work …

My name is Guido Gutierrez Ruiz and I had the privilege of visiting Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean just southwest of Portugal.

Walking through its capital Funchal, I was amazed by the hidden beauty of this city. Art, everywhere! The Painted Doors Project has transformed Funchal into a permanent art gallery, giving life to the city by painting every door with a unique personality. Here are some of the colorful doors I visited. Which one is your favorite?

I have been into photography for 9 years now. I started getting interested in this form of art because of Instagram. Before, I always liked taking pictures, but it wasn’t until Instagram that allowed me to have the opportunity to share them.

My Instagram page and journey through this app have allowed me to explore different types of photography. I am enjoying capturing all sorts of content within street photography, architecture, interior design, and lifestyle photography. My Instagram community has grown quite a bit and I have been receiving many positive comments about my photography which constantly gives me the energy to continue what I love doing, traveling and capturing what I see.

I don’t usually plan my pictures. My pictures are taken on the spot wherever I am. I also never use Photoshop. All my photos are edited (also on the spot) only using Instagram tools. The efficiency and speed of taking pictures and editing them these days are incredible. Between taking pictures and editing them it’s less than 2min. It’s something I quite enjoy.

Photography for me is my way of expression and an instrument that allows me to inspire others. I love that my pictures allow me to tell stories to other people. Stories that make them dream.

Art in all ways, shapes and forms is extremely important in our society and this project has been made to unite the community, both local and foreign, with art. I want people to really appreciate local art and the beauty of creative minds.

Instagram is slowly converting my hobby into my dream job. Having clients such as hotel chains, luxury name brands, airlines, and other people recognize my work and want to collaborate with me is a gift as it allows me to continue what I love to do most, travel, observe, capture, and share.

Take a look … let me know which are your favourites!  And have a wonderful weekend!!!

Revealed: oil sector’s ‘staggering’ $3bn-a-day profits for last 50 years

Worried about the cost of fuel? Concerned about the now-obvious effects of climate change? There is one small group of people who are profiting from both, while emptying our wallets AND most importantly, destroying our environment. Our friend PeNdantry over at Wibble sums it up well. Thanks, PeNdantry!

Wibble

Vast sums provide power to ‘buy every politician’ and delay action on climate crisis, says expert

Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd
under guardiansyndication Open Licence Terms

The oil and gas industry has delivered $2.8bn (£2.3bn) a day in pure profit for the last 50 years.

The vast total captured by petrostates and fossil fuel companies since 1970 is $52tn, providing the power to “buy every politician, every system” and delay action on the climate crisis, says Prof Aviel Verbruggen. The huge profits were inflated by cartels of countries artificially restricting supply.

The oil and gas industry has delivered $1tn in profit a year on average – Guardian graphic. Source: Aviel Verbruggen, University of Antwerp

Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have driven the climate crisis and contributed to worsening extreme weather, including the current heatwaves hitting the UK and many other Northern hemisphere countries. Oil companies have

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Good People Doing Good Things — 30 More!

You might remember back on the June 29th episode of “Good People Doing Good Things” I shared a video that Scottie had sent me of “30 Random Acts of Kindness That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity.”  Everyone seemed to like that video and this past weekend, I came across another … this one is “30 Random Acts of Kindness That Will Make You Cry!” … and believe me, they will!  So, grab your box of tissues … here’s one for those who might not have any handy … and take a look!  Hats off to all these people who understand the concept that ‘little things mean a lot’.