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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


FDL's Pachacutec: "For Want of a Dentist"

This story is just plain wrong

Thank you to Firedoglake's Pachacutec for this insightful piece - THANKS PACH!

Pr. George's Boy Dies After Bacteria From Tooth Spread to Brain
By Mary Otto
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care.

Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the incumbent paperwork. And some, including Deamonte's brother, get in for a tooth cleaning but have trouble securing an oral surgeon to fix deeper problems.

In spite of efforts to change the system, fewer than one in three children in Maryland's Medicaid program received any dental service at all in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The figures were worse elsewhere in the region. In the District, 29.3 percent got treatment, and in Virginia, 24.3 percent were treated, although all three jurisdictions say they have done a better job reaching children in recent years.
"I certainly hope the state agencies responsible for making sure these children have dental care take note so that Deamonte didn't die in vain," said Laurie Norris, a lawyer for the Baltimore-based Public Justice Center who tried to help the Driver family. "They know there is a problem, and they have not devoted adequate resources to solving it."

Maryland officials emphasize that the delivery of basic care has improved greatly since 1997, when the state instituted a managed care program, and in 1998, when legislation that provided more money and set standards for access to dental care for poor children was enacted.

I’d quote the whole article, but that would run afoul of fair use stuff. Go read the whole thing.

This is an economic justice story with elements of race. As ever, race and class are all tied up together in America. Can you imagine this story written about some white kid in Bethesda, instead of Prince George’s County? No? Neither could I.

There are new things happening in African American culture and politics mistrustful of old line, established political groups, insiders, but it’s not happening online to the same degree the progressive netroots is organizing online.

These groups could become very powerful allies, but offline bridge building has to take place. Netroots progressives need to be able to tie matters of economic equality not just to concepts like the middle class squeeze and income disparity, but right back to color.

With the right wing’s racism so nakedly on display more and more, that shouldn’t be hard, but it would make a lot of heads in DC explode. I like Jim Webb. He speaks compellingly about working people, but he doesn’t speak that way about race or the racism of the right wing. That would make Mudcat Saunders’ head explode, not to mention James Carville and the Clinton gang that punked Ned Lamont after seeing him onstage with Sharpton the night he won the Connecticut primary.

It’s the same thing with immigration, the war on brown people in America, and for my writing on the subject at FDL, I always tie the right wing’s immigrant bashing back to its racism. I hope more writers online will start watching what Tavis Smiley and others are doing offline. If we can build trust and work together, we can accomplish a helluva lot.

- posted by Pachacutec

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