March 11th, 2010
09:30 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Tom Hanks: A ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington will honor 250 World War II veterans. Hanks and Steven Spielberg, executive producers of the new HBO series, “The Pacific,” will participate in the tribute. Tonight, President and Mrs. Obama will host a preview screening of the series in the White House movie theater.

Hanks has become America's historian-in-chief, Time magazine says. “Over the past two decades — from his movies 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Charlie Wilson's War' to the HBO miniseries he has produced, 'From the Earth to the Moon,' 'Band of Brothers', 'John Adams' and 'The Pacific,' which begins March 14 at 9 p.m. — Hanks has become American history's highest-profile professor, bringing a nuanced view of the past into the homes and lives of countless millions. His view of American history is a mixture of idealism and realism.”

On Veteran’s Day in 1999, Hanks received the U.S. Navy’s highest civilian honor — the Distinguished Public Service Award — for bringing "Saving Private Ryan" to the screen.

Time: How Tom Hanks became America's historian in chief

Marcelas Owens: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer and Patty Murray are scheduled to hold a press conference with 11-year old Marcelas Owens, a self-proclaimed "health care advocate," who lost his mother in 2007.

Marcelas’ mother, Tifanny, missed so much work because of illness that she lost her job, and with it, her health insurance. She died of pulmonary hypertension at the age of 27.

"I don't think it's anyone's fault, but they could have done more" for her, he told the Seattle Times.

The Seattle fifth-grader is sponsored by the advocacy group Health Care for America Now, a liberal campaign comprised of 1,000 organizations in 46 states.

Seattle Times: Boy who lost mom takes health care story to D.C.

Health Care for America Now Web site

Amanda Bennett: Terence Bryan Foley and the journalist were married for 20 years. Bennett, executive editor at Bloomberg Business Week, remembers her husband as “a Chinese historian who earned his Ph.D. in his 60s, a man who played more than 15 musical instruments and spoke six languages, a San Francisco cable car conductor and sports photographer, an expert on dairy cattle and swine nutrition, film noir and Dixieland jazz.”

Foley died in 2007 at the age of 67 after a long battle with cancer. “Terence's treatment was expensive” Bennett writes. The bills for his seven years of medical care totaled $618,616, almost two-thirds of which was for his final 24 months. Still, no one can say for sure if the treatments helped extend his life.”

Last August, the “death panel” controversy during the health care debates got Bennett thinking. She had just been through this incredibly emotional experience to save her husband’s life, but what was going on behind-the-scenes? What were doctors thinking—and charging? She and a colleague, Charles Babcock, sent requests to six hospitals, four insurers, Medicare, three oncologists and a surgeon. They collected nearly 5,000 pages of documents. They wrote, “Looking at that stack of documents, it is easy to see why 31 percent of the money spent on health care went to paperwork and administration.”

Prior to Bloomberg, Bennett, 57, was the first woman editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Business Week: Lessons of a $618,616 death

David Cicilline: A decade ago, Providence, Rhode Island, was infamous for its corruption and favoritism. Cicilline, the city’s mayor of eight years, and his chief of police, Dean Esserman, take some credit for turning that around.

So after state police and the FBI arrested three Providence police officers last week following a four-month undercover cocaine-dealing investigation, Cicilline labeled them “rogue officers” whose actions didn’t reflect the character of the department. But on Monday, the Providence Journal reported, Cicilline directed his police chief to begin random drug testing of the city’s police officers.

The union representing police rejected the idea, and the ACLU said the testing wasn’t legal. Yesterday, at a police promotion ceremony, Cicilline said he had changed his mind. “I directed this policy because I saw it as one more way for the brave men and women of this outstanding department to show the public what great and committed professionals you are. It is clear to me now that this proposal has had the opposite effect." He tabled the plan.

“I have complete confidence and trust in the great men and women of this department and I would never say or order anything that would suggest the contrary.”

Cicilline, who was born in Providence in 1961, graduated from Brown University, earned a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and served as a public defender in Washington before returning home to open a practice in criminal defense and civil rights law.

Providence Journal: Cicilline retreats on drug testing at police department

Susan Stanton: The city manager for Largo, Florida, was living a normal life. He had a lovely wife and teenage son. Steve was successful, well thought of and influential. He loved sports and was an avid runner. But on the inside, Stanton knew that his life was anything but usual.

From an early age, Steve Stanton felt that he was really meant to be a woman. He told CNN, "For me…I just knew that's what was inside, this presence - this feeling of being somebody other than what I was on the outside - was real, and it's been something I've struggled with for many years of my life."

Stanton was fired as city manager when a local newspaper revealed he was planning to become a woman. “Her Name Was Steven” is the story of Stanton’s metamorphosis from Steven to Susan.

“I remember looking in the eyes and thinking, ‘Oh my god! What have I done?’ It was out. For so many years I’d kept it in.” For two years, Stanton allowed CNN cameras to document the changes he went through. Susan Stanton says, “I’m not living in the shadows of Steven anymore.”

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    President Obama and Congress in a big bi-partisan vote, extended the Patriot Act for another year. This extensive government involvement in the lives of Americans and the violation of their rights ostensibly was to increase our security.

    However when it comes to health care security our Congress and President do not want extensive involvement of the government. Most do not support a public option and the Republicans rant and rave over passing any significant health care reform.

    What is the difference between security from the Patriot Act or security from a robust health care reform bill?

    I think you can follow the money of the too big to fail health care industry. It accounts for $2.5 trillion a year and 17% of our economy. Who knows how much they give to our representatives in Congress?

    March 11, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jessica

    Am I the only person laughing at the notion that POLICE OFFICERS are refusing drug tests?

    Im a little miffed why they think "drug testing" is illegal? Nearly all places of employment these days require it...and frankly, if we cant have faith that the police officers, who have sworn to uphold the law, arent following the law...well then why are we expecting every other citizen to do so?

    March 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Daniel

    Recently I lost a diabetic friend to kidney failure. He had the symptoms for about 1 month before he died (he was 20) and saw several doctors because he he had fatigue so badly that he could not stay awake. He also lost his appetite and would not eat for days on end. The doctors said he was imagining his symptoms or said they didn't know what was wrong.

    Only after he died, I read that kidney failure is the number one cause of death among people with diabetes type II. The most common symptoms are extreme fatigue and loss of appetite.

    Could his death have been prevented? I definitely believe so.

    The doctors should have told his family members to be aware of kidney failure symptoms. Instead, the doctors didn't seem to be aware of the problem themselves - Even though they should have been because it is the number one cause of death among patients with Diabetes Type II.

    Lately it seems that doctors are pharmaceutical salesmen rather than physicians trained to diagnose.

    March 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |