Disease, Diagnoses and Dollars

by John McDonald

A new book by Robert M. Kaplan, Wasserman Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA, examines the overuse of healthcare. The book carefully analyzes scientific studies and shows why patients have been mislead about the benefits of cancer screening and of medical treatment to prevent heart disease. Challenging the value of common cancer screening tests and treatments for blood pressure and cholesterol, Kaplan provides guidance on how to read and interpret the medical literature so that patients can make better-informed choices for themselves and for their families.

Kaplan’s book also raises important public policy questions. The book argues that the overuse of medical care by health providers and patients is driving up costs and placing patients at unnecessary risk without any real health benefit. The driving force is not better health, but more profit. In such a system, preventative care has become focused on the selling of expensive drugs and procedures to healthy people. Instead, Kaplan contends, preventive care needs to be focused on the prevention of disease.

Kaplan’s new book makes clear that overuse of healthcare has serious implications for both our health and our economy. The United States currently spends sixteen percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare, but there is little evidence of better health outcomes than in other countries that spend far less. Meanwhile, overuse is exposing patients to needless testing, driving up the cost of healthcare benefits and insurance premiums for employers and individuals, increasing the number of Americans who are uninsured, and reducing the competitiveness of American companies. The ultimate result of greater expenditure may be a reduction in population health.

Mr. Kaplan discusses the finding of his new book at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YykQCjHkeSA.


Arizona as Dangerous as ‘Pakistan,’ Says Top Phoenix Cop

Reposted from www.americanfreepress.net

By Victor Thorn

Local authorities call the wave of kidnappings an epidemic. According to the Associated Press, some of the hostages have their fingers, legs, and heads cut off; while others are bound and gagged in pools of water before being zapped with electrical devices. If the victim is female, she is often raped while her husband is forced to listen on the other end of a telephone line. If their demands aren’t met, corpses are soon discovered in the desert, gunshot wounds to the skull and body.
Do these descriptions originate from Afghanistan, a brutal Iraqi prison, or the war-torn region of Somalia? No, all these reports came directly from the southwest portion of the United States. Specifically, Brian Ross of ABC News reported, “Phoenix, Arizona has become the kidnapping capital of America, with more incidents than any other city in the world outside Mexico City, and over 370 cases last year alone.”


On average, this means there is one kidnapping every day. Arizona radio host Darrell Ankarlo says two or three abductions go unreported for every one that is. The vast majority of kidnappings are connected to Mexican drug cartels and illegal immigrants coming across the border. Phoenix Police Department detective Phil Roberts states quite clearly, “Phoenix is ground zero for illegal narcotics smuggling and illegal human smuggling in the United States.”
The motive is obvious. Whereas drug dealing and scurrying illegals through the desert brings in billions of dollars, Tim Gaynor of Reuters reported that “ransoms can range from $50,000 to $1 million.”
The reason kidnappers demand such a high price is because their targets are often “coyotes”—drug smugglers or dealers who carry large amounts of cash. As Detective Roberts said, “There’s a lot of illegal cash out there in the valley, and a lot of people want to get their hands on it.”
Kidnappings have largely been contained to the Mexican crime underworld. Although overseen by drug lords, the actual perpetrators are illegal aliens looking for a quick buck, or cheap Mexican laborers. Sam Quinones of the L.A. Times describes the process used to locate these “grunts.”
“Certain Phoenix bars are known as places where kidnappers recruit,  much the way builders go to Home Depot to hire day laborers.”
Phoenix police have traced the source of this activity directly back to Sinaloa, a state in western Mexico. As Quinones explains, “Sinaloa is the state where drug smuggling in Mexico began. Most Mexican cartels originated there. Kidnapping is how they collect their debts.”
As AFP has documented over the past few years, Mexico has become one of the most violent countries in the world, with approximately 10,000 murders in the past two years. Roberts characterizes the situation as near anarchy. “The vice president of the Bank of Mexico has to go to work with armed escorts.”
Although still relatively contained within the Mexican drug cartels, the kidnapping spree is spreading. Phoenix Police Chief Andy Anderson told ABC News, “If it doesn’t stop here, if we’re not able to fix it here and get it turned around, it will go across the nation.”
Another law enforcement officer compared the Arizona border to that of Pakistan. Kidnappings are also on the rise in San Diego and in Texas. Mexican drug cartels have published lists of Americans, including law enforcement officials, who are targeted for assassination.
Despite establishing a Home Invasion Task Force, Phoenix police realize the battle is daunting. Lieutenant Lauri Burgett lamented about the drug syndicates, “It’s been a secret society in a lot of ways because so much of it [their activity] goes unreported.”
The federal government has been of little help. As Brian Ross says, Phoenix officials are troubled because they say “Washington, D.C. is too obsessed with al Qaeda terrorists to care about what is happening in their own backyard.”

Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of many books on 9-11 and the New World Order. These include 9-11 Evil: The Israeli Role in 9-11 and Phantom Flight 93.