Thursday, December 30, 2010

Will Obamacare's Individual Health Coverage Mandate Survive Court Challenges? Holder Thinks So, but...

December 14, 2010, the day after a federal judge ruled against the individual mandate for coverage, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius wrote an opinion piece arguing, "Health reform will survive its legal fight," in the Washington Post.

But polls show that the mandate for individuals to get health insurance or face stiff financial penalties is proving to be a major part of the 2010 healthcare reform or overhaul that is highly unpopular.
A CNN poll earlier this week reported, "CNN Poll: Controversial health care provision unpopular:"
"According to the poll, six in ten oppose the requirement that all Americans get health insurance, with 38 percent saying they favor the provision."

This opposition can only worsen in the wake of Federal Judge Henry E. Hudson's (Virginia) striking down the health insurance mandate as unconstitutional.

The key is to frame the argument properly. The point needs to be disseminated, stronger and more widely, that health insurance is essential. Someone might not think that they need health care. But someday that surgery or other medical procedure, or hospital stay comes. Then, they owe 50,000 to 100,000 dollars.
The key is also to get the Americans and policy makers for that matter out of the myopic bubble of only looking at America. Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and others should have emphasized how other countries that have model health care systems also have health insurance mandates. As wikipedia informs us, It is a common legal requirement in many countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, and from 2014, the United States of America.

The public has reason to be angry at the powerful. The problem is that progressives have not been able to steer outrage at the proper targets: power-bloated abusive corporations and their lackey lobbyists and Demo-Republican politicians.
The failure for Democratic politicians to pursue a public option and instead, settle on the final form of the health care reform act, is the source of the problems with the discussion over Obamacare and problems with its fate.
There is no public entity (The public option) with which the private health corporations can compete, so as to hold back corporate chicanery in the form of price gouging of patients and prescription drug consumers. Advocates needed to have more vociferously pushed for the option, building coalitions, holding mass rallies. Instead, the health-care reform was an inside the Beltway affair. We can see this with the legislation's giveaway to the drug companies.
For a Huffington Post contribution on Obama's back-sliding away from the public option, see this Feb. 22 piece: "Obama Health Care Plan Drops Public Option."

(Obama first aired his support for the public option in September 2009, but some commentators, such as Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, have pointed to weaknesses in his push for the public option.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Times news alert: Madoff son dead from hanging, apparent suicide

Mark Madoff, the elder of two sons of scandal-ridden financier Bernie Madoff, hanged himself in his SoHo, Manhattan home, using a dog leash. The 46 year-old son's own son was sleeping in an adjacent room.
Mark Madoff worked for his father's firm since graduating from college in 1987. He was the target of two lawsuits related to the Madoff investment scandal. He had invested monies from his oldest childhood friends; those relationships were ruined in the wake of the scandal.
The New York Times story, "Madoff’s Eldest Son Found Dead in Suicide", reported to New York City Police this morning, December 11, 2010.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cell phones and wifi: Is Your Health on the Line? -Women's Health

Is Your Health on the Line?
-by Sascha de Gersdorff, Women's Health, Nov 10, 2010.

The new communication devices (cell phones, SmartPhones, iPhones, Blackberries, Androids) are pretty hard to resist.

But the safety of these devices is not yet assured. De Gersdorff offers practical advice on reducing electromagnetic exposure or radiation exposure for those of us who have a hard time abandoning the devices altogether.

The post I wrote, in reference to an article by Dr. Hyla Cass, cites two recent books on the subject. De Gersdorff in this article draws our attention to another book, by Kerry Crofton, Wireless Radiation Rescue: Safeguarding Your Family from the Risks of Electro-Pollution, 2010.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday TV Specials, for 2010 season

Holiday TV specials' broadcast times for 2010; times are Eastern and Pacific time zones.

Dec 7, Tues, A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965, ABC, 8 to 9
Dec 9, Thurs, Shrek the Halls, 2007, ABC, 8-9
Dec 11, Sat, Frosty the Snowman, 1969, CBS, 8 to 830. Frosty Returns, 1992, 830 – 9.

Dec 14, Tues, I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown, 2003, ABC, 8 to 9
Dec 16, Thurs, A Charlie Brown Christmas, repeated, ABC, 8 to 9
Dec 17, Fri, Yes, Virginia (Tim Burton, 2009), CBS, 8 to 9; Frosty the Snowman, 1969, CBS, 9 to 930. Frosty Returns, 1992, 930 – 10.

Dec 30, Thurs, Happy New Year Charlie Brown, 1986, ABC, 8 to 830; She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, 1980, 830 to 9.

(Rudolph (1964), the Grinch (1966), and Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970) have passed. You'll have to buy or rent those.)

Dr. Hyla Cass on recent studies on cell phone radiation and related medical risks

Both Cell phones and electromagnetic fields are more dangerous than widely assumed, as growing numbers of news reports and academic studies are pointing out.
Hyla Cass, M.D., "Are Cell Phones and Wi-Fi Hazardous to Your Health?," Huffington Post, October 13, 2010.
She cites two recent books, Ann Louise Gittleman's "Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn't Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution." and
Devra Davis' "Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family."
Key excerpts in Dr. Cass' Huffington Post article:
The UK's BioInitiative Report of July 2007 (updated in 2009) describes hundreds of studies that link EMF exposure to Alzheimer's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), brain fog, cardiovascular disease, miscarriage, infertility, insomnia, learning impairment, as well as anxiety and depression. Wireless technologies -- like cell and cordless phones -- produce microwaves that increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, leading to changes in brain chemistry. Even low-level EMFs can cause brain cells to leak.

That's not all: Although actual tissue heating does not occur, EMFs also cause breaks in DNA, speed up cell division, disrupting the orderly process of chromosome matching and detaching, and activate stress protein or heat shock proteins. And as Anne Louise Gittleman writes in Zapped:

"Most disturbing of all, the Swedish National Institute for Working Life found that people using cell phones for 2,000 hours -- a total most of us could easily rack up over the years -- had a 240 percent increased risk for malignant brain tumors on the side of the head where they usually held their phone."
A related study from the Mercury News:
Chris O'Brien, "Why cell phones may be more dangerous than we think": updated, October 10, 2010:
An excerpt from this article reads,
Several players at the heart of this debate converged on San Francisco last week. CTIA-The Wireless Association had
its annual trade show, which it promised would be the last in the city because of the new disclosure law. Marks organized several protests outside the event. And noted epidemiologist Devra Davis, a visiting professor at Harvard University, arrived for several speaking engagements about her recently published book, "Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How To Protect Your Family."

"When I first heard that there could be problems with cell phones, I didn't believe it," Davis said. "I wrote the book because I was stunned to find out I was wrong to assume that these things had to be safe."

For many years it was believed the low levels of radiation generated by cell phones and towers had no effect on human biology. Now a small but growing number of scientists and health activists are challenging those findings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Interpol Arrest Warrant for Dick Cheney? Nigeria to Charge Former VP in Bribery Scandal | AlterNet

Interpol Arrest Warrant for Dick Cheney? Nigeria to Charge Former VP in Bribery Scandal | AlterNet
If his Iraq War chicanery would not get him, perhaps his business dealings will do so.

Android, BlackBerry and other smart phones -highest bearing radation

Youch!! Just when you noticed that the Android or Droid phone is full of features and is significantly cheaper than other techie cell phones, such as the iPhone or other smart phones, news comes out that the Android is one of the highest emitters of radiation.
Check for yourself at the Environmental Working Group site:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vigilance pays: 10 Things the HR Department Won’t Tell You

Be vigilant!
Shine at Yahoo posts:

"10 Things the HR Department Won’t Tell You"

Do not forget the wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan

Just heard the Wounded Warriors Project.

The Veterans Administration (VA) is too hastily discharging veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Too many vets are suffering from concussions and other head injuries, and from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). The process of getting designated with disability status is too cumbersome.

This veteran's day I'm sending my support by publicizing these links:

Personal stories from more than just the "Front Lines of War"
A Perfect Storm: PTSD

Coalition for Iraq + Afghanistan Veterans

Wounded Warriors Project

From Utne Reader:
Treating Wounded Soldiers: Beyond PTSD, March/ April, 2010

From The Boston Globe, May 30, 2010:
Veteran's PTSD Rates Reportedly Higher in Current Iraq Conflict

Healing Veterans PTSD, blog:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A name with that ubiquitous tanned newswoman in advert sidebars on so many sites

So, we now get a name with that face.
You see her in ads in the sides or the bottoms of websites, always linked with some product being pushed. For a while her image was connected with an advertising campaign about the "truth" about akai berries.
Her name is Melissa Theuriau, a sports newscaster on the French television channel, LCI.

Her image is so routinely used. I wonder whether she has given permission for the use of her likeness, here, there and everywhere in the Internet. I really doubt it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

ALERT: Lead found in New York City drinking water

This in, Thursday: Mireya Navarro in The New York Times reports:
New York City health and environmental officials on Thursday advised residents to run their tap water for at least 30 seconds before drinking or cooking with it after testing showed a rise in the percentage of homes with elevated levels of lead.
Read more at The New York Times article at their website.

States' redistricting: brace yourselves for the 2010s as a Republican decade

The coming Republican decade derives from state level Republican lawmakers' self-serving redistricting.

This will make the task of progressives' pushing for electoral victories much more difficult.

The November 2, 2010 Republican sweep of the elections handed state-level Republicans great redistricting power.
Mother Jones explains. Read:
Not a fan of your new GOP-dominated House of Representatives? You'd better get used to it. After winning almost unprecedented power over the congressional redistricting process, Republicans are poised to lock in their gains for a decade or more. And there's very little the Democrats can do to stop them. This year, the Dems could draw less than half the districts the GOP does.

Advertise on

The Republican wave couldn't have come at a worse time for Dems. America's once-a-decade census has wrapped up, and many states are due to change the boundaries of their congressional districts. Population-based adjustments mean that slower-growing states (like Ohio) will lose seats, while faster-growing states (like Florida) will gain them.
The only solace is that rising Hispanic populations in Sun Belt states will lead to realignment of states to blue state or purple state status. Witness the strong Latino support for Democratic candidates in this week's elections in California and Nevada.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rand Paul shows another ugly side of his philosophies

As Daily Kos alerted us this morning, in "Rand Paul explains Republican economic philosophy," Senator-elect Paul, speaking to CNN, enunciated the essential Republican philosophy, in 30 terse seconds:
Rich people are the backbone of our economy because they are the only people who buy things and create jobs. Therefore we should cut their taxes and cut spending on everything else.
Yes, it will be unpleasant having to contend with a larger Republican share of the U.S. Senate, but the quotes out of their supposed "bright, young leaders," are going to be delicious foils for Democrats to oppose in the 2012 election. Quotes like this one and Paul's callous disregard for civil rights laws, will show the Republicans in the most unflattering light. Paul will be the poster boy for what is wrong, selfish, heartless in the Republican economic philosophy.
Christine O'Donnell and Sarah Palin are easily dismissible as light-headed; Paul will be dismissible as offering nothing to 85% of the American public.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Washington Post's go-to site (& book) explaining 2010 health care reform law

Here's a great book by the Washington Post staff, explaining in simple, straight-forward terms, how Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the March 23, 2010 health care reform law helps Americans.

See also this handy Washington Post interactive website "What does the health care bill mean to me?," explaining how the health care reform law affects you. The search tool has individualized features such as consideration of your marital status and your income level.
The health-care overhaul will change the way millions of Americans get health insurance and require nearly everyone to have health insurance or face penalties. A number of factors - including income, age, location and family size - will determine how it specifically impacts your life. This tool estimates what it could mean for your health coverage and taxes based on your income, family size and current insurance status.
These are essential tools for activists and voters, for understanding the health care reform law ("Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"), in advance of Tuesday's midterm U.S. Congressional elections, November 2, 2010. The election will be a referendum, in part, on the legislation.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is US' TSA going too far in pat-down guidelines?

New pat-down guidelines for airplane security issued by the United States Transportation Security Administration venture to territory many passengers might feel uncomfortable with.

Beginning Friday, October 29, 2010, the TSA instituted more intrusive pat-downs, as ABC News reported:
Pat-downs are normally given at random or to passengers who set off an alarm. Right now, TSA officials are restricted as to how and where someone can be touched. But, these new guidelines now give them access to body parts that were once off limits.

This body scan machine has only been at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport for less than three months, and already security measures are changing.

TSA officials said, "If they don't want to go through the advanced imaging technology, or a metal detector, they will receive alternate screening to include a thorough pat down."

Right now, TSA officials search passengers using the common pat down method. Starting Friday, they'll be able to use a sliding motion and search parts of the body some say are too private ... like the underside of a woman's bra.

We showed a video clip of what the new searches would look like to passengers ... particularly women. Their reaction was all the same.

Pat Leppo said, "I don't think they should be able to touch anything that's kinda private."

The decision of these guidelines is timely. The announcement of the guidelines came right before the announcement Friday that British and Dubai authorities intercepted possibly explosive packages headed to Jewish targets in the Chicago, Illinois area.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Massive oil stretch discovered outside the mouth of Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico

Amidst the media talk of the resolution of the oil nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico: this in from New Orleans' "Times Picayune:"
"Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta."
Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.

HCR Explained: The New Health Care Law and Affordable Health Insurance, Policy, Plan Website - AARP Bulletin

HCR Explained: The New Health Care Law and Affordable Health Insurance, Policy, Plan Website - AARP Bulletin

Why the November 2 election is important. We cannot risk losing the gains we made.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tea Party Republican Carl Paladino really goes off deep end with remarks on gays

This weekend Carl Paladino, Republican Party nominee for New York State governor, of the Tea Party stripe, really went off the deep end with comments about gays. In reacting to Democrat Andrew Cuomo's marching in the Gay Pride Parade, Paladino said,
I didn't march in the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that's not the example that we should be showing our children, and certainly not in our schools.
I just think my children and your children would be better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't.
Paladino has already shown himself to be a third-rail candidate. Remarkably, these words are worst than a hot-headed slip of the tongue, these were premeditated comments, iin a prepared statement.
And the latest word is that he is standing by his comments. The New York Times reports Paladino's Today show appearance this morning, "Paladino Strongly Defends Remarks on Homosexuality."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Global warming and detailed rising sea levels map

There is an excellent global map at for the seeing effects on coastlines from rising sea levels, due to global warming, or what some call climate change.

The map has zooming capabilities, so that you can closely look at the country or region and see just how intensely the particular areas would be affected by rising se levels. You can also set the interactive map to see how different levels of increases in the sea level, from 1, to 2, to 3, and so on up to 14 meters will affect the coastlines.

The map shows that even at modest increases, such as 2 meters, about half of the Netherlands, the entire Venice region and the lower islands of the Florida Keys will be submerged under water.

You will also note that, despite dire predictions for New York City, the areas to see the worst effects are in eastern Brooklyn and southern Queens.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Heidi Cullen's "The Weather of the Future," an urgently relevant book for our times

Heidi Cullen, a climatologist with a PhD from Columbia University, and who has appeared on PBS News Hour," has written "The Weather of the Future." Its subtitle, "Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed" contains elements of the some of the extreme weather trends in North America in the last few years.
New York City has seen two tornadoes in the past three months, something that we rarely expect to see in the city. Frequently, storms in recent months have involved uprooting of trees, felling of major tree branches and heavy local flooding.
Heat waves in cities have become longer, devastating wildfires have become more damaging.
Cullen's book notes how low-lying areas such as nearly the entire nation of Bangladesh could become devastated due to rising sea levels. In the United States, much of the southern half of Florida is similarly low-lying.

The profound vulnerabilities that the world faces high-lights the need to take decisive action to reverse the ill effects of greenhouse gases. Republicans like to rant against carbon caps as job killers. They need to realize that inaction will lead to disaster-movie scenario with variations across the planet. In terms of life-style policies we need to expand mass transit, encourage tree planting, and encourage local food networks to minimize the carbon impact that is attendant with transporting food.

Join MoveOn's campaign to Turn Off Fox

There is so much to dislike with Fox News:
the constant drumbeat of a right-wing Tea Partier, Republican agenda that permeates the political talk and the "news,"
the Islamophobia.
If one needs a brief overview of the role of FoxNews as a transmission belt for the Republican Party, one should just view Robert Greenwald's quintessial video, "Outfoxed!"

And visit BraveNewFilms' site with continuing updates about the lies and disinformation on the Fox News Network.

Click to this Facebook link on the MoveOn campaign to "Turn Off Fox: Bad News for America."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dare the Republicans to repeal these powerful health insurance reforms!

I just dare John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans to attempt to repeal these excellent reforms.

To be sure, these reforms are measly improvements, when compared to EVERY OTHER industrialized country (and some developing countries!). Congress should have enacted a single payer or a Medicare for all plan.

However, the Republicans' advocacy of the repeal of these reforms will be a delicious opportunity for the Republicans (and Blue Dog Democrats) to reveal themselves as lackeys, behold to the health care industry lobbyists. Just look at the reforms below, posted yesterday by Karen Davis on Huffington Post. The GOP will look heartless in the face of these essential reforms that will end the inhumane denial of health coverage to people that are too sick. Admittedly, too many of the other reforms are not scheduled to kick in until 2014.
(Wonder why the politicians are working for self-interested industry lobbyists, and not Joe and Jane policy-subscriber? See Dave Gilson's great article, "Who Owns Congress" in this month's issue of "Mother Jones" magazine for an article that graphically illustrates how corporate interests underwrite both the Republicans and the Democrats. [Follow the link at Dave Gilson, "Who Owns Congress," for a link to a page that will let you read the article if you provide your email address. Otherwise, support the magazine and buy the October 2010 issue!])
Now, here is the overview of the reforms that the Republicans intend to undo. The Republicans will look so foolish when they try to undo these. I'd like to know how they can rationalize calling preserving health care for children with pre-existing conditions amounts to a British-style socialized medicine!

The reform provisions that go into effect today will bring coverage, financial relief and health security to many, and will also impose important new rules on the insurance industry to prevent future abuses.

As of today, young adults up to age 26 will have the option to enroll in a parent's health plan. Young adults between the ages of 19 and 29 are one of the largest segments of the uninsured; 13.7 million lacked coverage in 2008. Young adults often lose coverage when they age out of their parents' coverage upon graduating from high school or college, or when they become ineligible for public programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program at age 19. In 2014, they will also be able to gain coverage under Medicaid expansion or through state health insurance exchanges with subsidized coverage for people will low or moderate incomes. One million young adults (and their parents) are likely to take advantage of these important changes.

As of today, insurers can no longer place lifetime limits on benefits, and annual limits are severely curtailed. More than 100 million people currently have lifetime limits on the amount that their health insurance will pay, and 18 million have annual limits.

As of today, insurers can no longer retroactively cancel, or rescind, coverage. In what often becomes a nightmare scenario for ill patients and their families, more than 10,000 people each year have their coverage rescinded -- frequently just at the moment they need the coverage the most. Rescissions are no longer allowed.

As of today, there are new options for as many as 400,000 people with preexisting health conditions, who will immediately be able to enroll in new state-based insurance plans, and for the parents of thousands of children with preexisting conditions, who can no longer be denied health insurance for these youngsters.

Medicare beneficiaries who hit the prescription drug coverage gap or "doughnut hole" this year have already begun receiving $250 rebates. And, as of today, Medicare will eliminate cost-sharing for preventive care, and will provide for an annual wellness visit with no copayment. Next year, Medicare will provide a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs to Medicare Part D enrollees who spend enough on prescription drugs to enter the doughnut hole. And additional discounts on brand-name and generic drugs will be phased in to completely close the doughnut hole for all Part D enrollees by 2020.

A new era in American health care begins today, one that will usher in a new found health and economic security for millions who have struggled too long. But even with all the relief that will come starting today, the record losses in coverage experienced by millions of middle-income families point to the need to accelerate implementation of health reform to provide help faster.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Only way to get through to GHI (health insurers in mid-Atlantic states)

GHI, the health insurance company, specializing in Mid-Atlantic states is in the business of putting telephone operators out of work. It has a merry-go-round of press 1, 2, 3, so on.

They will not handle your call (212-501-4444 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              212-501-4444      end_of_the_skype_highlighting in NYC; elsewhere in New York State: 800-624-2414) if your do not have your card. The default options are all automated.

How to reach them? Choose the telephone option (press number 5) for buying a GHI plan. Then you will reach a real, live human being.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Detailed map project funded by NASA, US DOE about CO2 emissions

The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Department of Energy (DOE) have funded a project that has presented a video of carbon dioxide levels in the continental United States (the "lower 48 states").

The agencies have cooperated in funding Vulcan Project. The project has created and uploaded a video which shows a map of US carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

Why should we be concerned with carbon dioxide? After all, we learn in school that we breathe in oxygen and we release carbon dioxide.

Actually, as a quick survey of the wikipedia carbon dioxide article will show us, fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide. The intake, by skin or by the air, of moderate amounts of carbon dioxide has many negative health effects.

Click on the right for the video on continental US carbon dioxide levels, in a map presentation. Bear with the long introduction, prior to the presentation of the maps.

Friday, August 20, 2010

In midst of jubilant news of vanishing oil spill: Big oil plume confirm

We're getting prominently placed news about the shrinking of the oil spill from British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon. But Thursday, August 19, 2010 we get confirmation of a deep, long oil plum:
"Major study proves oil plume that's not going away"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Air America Radio's death a part of larger trend of declining radio revenues

Just perusing over half-year old news: Death of Air America.

The New York Times article quoted someone: the liberal radio network, Air America's death comes in context of declining radio revenues overall. Radio is an old medium; we're in economically troubled times. The marginal forms of media will suffer harder.

Brian Stelter, "Air America, the Talk Radio Network, Will Go Off the Air," New York Times, January 22, 2010. In that article Stelter noted that the network did serve as a launching pad for some personalities that went on to greater heights, most notably Rachel Maddow, who is now at MSNBC, the cable network.

But the same author gave an update that suggested that liberal radio still flourishes without the network: "Liberal Radio, Even Without Air America." Thom Hartmann is one prominent liberal host that still is broadcast on many radio stations.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oil in the Gulf -PBS' widget

Oil in the Gulf
Click to the above link for US Department of Energy estimates of leakage, British Petroleum (BP) estimates of leakage and Experts' worst case scenarios of oil leakage amounts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Want to help the BP-beleaguered Gulf of Mexico?

Well, there's buying British Petroleum gas (funds from which will make their way to BP's Gulf of Mexico clean-up and reimbursements). If you can't stomach that approach, there is donating to the Gulf counterpart to the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Click to Save Our Gulf at to support the Alliance's work on behalf of the Gulf of Mexico.

From their website: Save Our Gulf is an initiative by Waterkeeper Alliance to support the Gulf Waterkeepers fighting to protect the Gulf Coast’s communities and environment from the long-term devastating impacts of the BP oil disaster. We are your trustworthy source for updates from the front lines, transparent news and action.

You can click on the bottom of the site to donate via Twitter or via old-fashioned online methods at their site.

Lady Gaga and anime-inspired contact lenses a health threat

The Lady Gaga-inspired giant pupil contact lenses are dangerous,
the New York Times warns
and ABC TV News warns.

Potential to lose vision in 24 hours!!!

Ill-fitting lenses can negatively affect the cornea.

Hello!!! If you are buying the lenses off the Internet you are not having a medical professional, an optometrist, fit you for the lenses.

Girls and ladies, you only get one set of eyes in life. If you are thinking that funny-looking eyes are necessary to get "his" attention, then maybe "he" is not worth your attention.
(Anyway, Lady Gaga's doe-eyes in the "Bad Romance" video are believed to have been computer-generated.)

Study: Sprawling cities experience hotter summer temperatures

The multiple days-long heat trend in the East Coast of the United States get one thinking about what the larger trends are....

Samantha Cossick, June 24, 2010, in "USA Today":
The rate of increase in the number of very hot days in sprawling cities is more than double that of compact cities, a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal has found.

A team of Atlanta-based scientists studied the number of very hot days in 53 sprawling metropolitan regions between 1956 and 2005, each of which had different climate zones, population sizes and rates of growth.

The scientists found that the annual number of very hot days in sprawling cities increased by 14.8 days, but cities with the least sprawl increased by only 5.6 days.

Those cities with the highest increase in the number of very hot days include Atlanta, Greenville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Tampa and Grand Rapids, Brian Stone, lead author of the study and associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, said in an interview.

Two major principles contribute to hotter temperatures -- rising greenhouse gasses and urban heat island effect; however, Stone said greenhouse gas emissions would consistently raise temperatures across the nation, not in individual cities.

Urban heat island effect -- which includes cutting down trees and replacing them with parking lots, roads and buildings or putting dark shingles that absorb heat onto buildings -- has more of an impact on cities, he said.

"Urban heat island effect accounts for most of the warming we've seen in the past several years," Stone said. "All these things that are related with urban growth are making cities hotter."

Between 1992 and 2001, the rate of deforestation in sprawling cities was more than double that of compact cities, the study found.

Cities should try to cut greenhouse gasses as a long-term goal and look at immediate ways to reduce temperature increases, Stone said. Using materials that reflect light and increasing the forest cover are ways to do so, he adds.

The scientists used the sprawl index, which looks at population density, proximity of commercial and residential buildings and street network patterns, to categorize the regions. Those in the top 25% of the index had the most sprawl, while those in the bottom 25% had the least sprawl.

The team identified very hot days by using a city-specific heat stress index developed by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), which measures the average apparent temperatures, counting temperature and humidity.

Very hot temperatures were those above the 85th percentile with the 100th percentile being the hottest temperature during the study period.

Heat-related deaths have been linked to temperatures over the 85th percentile in other studies and are a public concern, Stone said.

"The rising levels of very hot days are a significant public health threat," Stone said. "It's about public health. Residents need to be thinking about how to adapt to land-use patterns and sprawl."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Great foods to help keep your skin from aging

"Beauty foods for younger-looking skin" Sunday, June 20, 2010
From the editors of EatingWell Magazine, via
When I was in high school and college, I got a summer job as a lifeguard. All those hours in the sun gave me what I thought then was a beautiful, bronzy tan.
Today I realize the sun exposure just accelerated my skin’s aging process. Truth be told, I did wear sunscreen, but not always as much as a dermatologist would recommend. (Find foods to keep your skin looking younger and lower your risk of skin cancer here.)

Turns out, the vast majority of UV light that I was soaking up was UVA. UVA is a major contributor to premature skin aging (think: fine lines and wrinkles) because it penetrates deeper than UVB light and damages skin cells before there’s any visible sunburn.

Even worse, collagen—the fibrous protein that keeps skin firm, youthful-looking and wrinkle-free—begins to decline starting in your twenties!

Now that I’m older and wiser—and not anxious to look the part—I’m wearing more sunscreen to protect my skin from the outside in. And because I’m a registered dietitian and nutrition editor, I’ve seen the science that shows eating more of these foods will protect my skin from the inside out.

Keep your skin looking younger—for the rest of your life—with these 4 foods:
Strawberries: Eating more vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, may help to ward off wrinkles and age-related dryness, suggests research from 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin C’s skin-smoothing effects may be due to its ability to mop up free radicals produced from ultraviolet rays and also its role in collagen synthesis. (Vitamin C is essential for collagen production.) You can find vitamin C in a multitude of cosmetics—of which some have been shown to be effective in protecting skin—but why not go straight to the source for a tasty boost of C: red bell peppers, papaya, broccoli and oranges are other excellent sources. (Try these sweet strawberry recipes for better skin.)

Tomatoes: Tomatoes get their red hue from lycopene, a carotenoid that may help to keep your skin smooth. In a study published in 2008 in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, researchers found that of the 20 individuals studied, those who had higher skin concentrations of lycopene had smoother skin. Boost your lycopene intake with fresh summer produce like watermelon and carrots too. (Find tomato recipe ideas here.)

Tofu: Tofu and other soyfoods, such as edamame and soymilk, may help to preserve skin-firming collagen because they are rich in isoflavones. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, mice fed isoflavones and exposed to ultraviolet radiation had fewer wrinkles and smoother skin than mice that were exposed to UV light but didn’t get isoflavones. The researchers believe that isoflavones help prevent collagen breakdown. (Find tasty 30-minute dinners using tofu here.)

Tuna: Eating tuna—and other omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, sardines and trout—may help keep your skin looking youthful thanks to the omega-3 fat EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA has been shown to preserve collagen. (Enjoy tuna in Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad and more healthy tuna recipes here.)
Munch away!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sen. Blanche Lincoln loses to Lt. Gov Halter --not so fast

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, Arkansas voters turned out blue dog Sen. Blanche Lincoln for labor-friendly Lt. Governor Bill Halter --almost. No one got a majority in the Democratic primary race, so there will be a June 8 run-off.
Earlier reports gave Halter a lead. Now Lincoln is leading, 44.3 to 42.5 percent.
Here's the analysis from the AP.

Primary race news in Kentucky:
Tea-bagger (or Tea-partier) Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, trounced (59 percent) his opposition (Trey Grayson, establishment GOP man, secretary of state, receiving a sad 35 percent) in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
In the Louisville race J. Fischer led 45 percent over nearest competitor J. King (19 percent) in the Democratic primary for mayor.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Elena Kagan and superlatives

President Barack Obama has nominated former Harvard Law School dean and current solicitor general Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

The Internet is spreading around superlatives and other adjectives about her. Yes, she would be the fourth woman to sit on the high court. Yes, she would bring the court to a record number of three women serving simultaneously on the court.

However, there is one description that is not quite accurate. Writers on the Internet have asserted that she would be the youngest justice. This is not true. Clarence Thomas started on the court, at the age of 42 years. This compares to Kagan, who would start on the court at the age of 50.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Times Square car bomb, possible South Park Muhammad cartoon link

Last night, Saturday, May 1, 2010 police discovered a gas tanks in the back seat of a sports utility vehicle (SUV).
Overnight, the New York City Police Department have investigated whether there were a link between Muslim outrage over "South Park"'s Muhammad-in-a-bear-suit cartoon.

This seems to be credible, as the van was parked outside Viacom offices. Viacom broadcasts "South Park."

(Video on the CNN "Breaking News" of the car bomb-as gas tanks news story, in video box at right.)

Nick Allen and Gordon Rayner, in the UK "Telegraph" reported today on the NYPD consideration of the revenge on South Park link:
The device, which failed to detonate, was left near the offices of Viacom, which owns the irreverent cartoon series.

Last month postings on an Islamic website warned the creators of South Park - Matt Stone and Trey Parker - that they could face violent reprisals after an episode of the show featured Muhammad in a bear suit.
A posting on the website of a US-based group called Revolution Muslim warned Stone and Parker that they would “probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh”, the Dutch film-maker who was murdered in 2004 by a Muslim angered by his film about Muslim women.

Images of the Prophet are strictly forbidden in Islam, and Comedy Central, which broadcasts South Park, has banned Stone and Parker from depicting Muhammad in the past. In 2006 the network stopped them from featuring Muhammad in an episode which followed worldwide protests over a caricature of the Prophet by a Danish cartoonist.
This follows on a number of episodes depicting or alluding to Muhammad, beginning with episode 68, "Super Best Friends," a 2001 episode, depicting Muhammad along with other religious iconic figures.
Detectives are also understood to be investigating striking similarities between the New York bomb and two car bombs planted by Islamic terrorists outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London in 2007.

In both cases, the devices comprised cylinders of propane gas and cans full of petrol intended to be ignited by electronic detonators.
No direct clues to individuals have been floated, but the forensics procedure should be straight-forward. The police have noticed that the van's license plates are at discrepancy with the vehicle. The plates are for a Ford vehicle. The van is a Nissan Pathfinder. While the plate switch is temporary, each vehicle carries specific Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) stamps. These numbers can ultimately be traced to the actual car ownership.
UPDATE, 12:38:
CNN reports that the VIN on the dashboard had been removed.
The issue of tinted windows is a domestic security issue. The tinting of windows obscures materials in rear seats of cars and vans. In this vehicle the gas tanks were in the back seat. It appears that the tanks were visible, in this case, because the tanks were visible enough through the windows. We are fortunate that the windows were visible enough to see the gas tanks.
In regular driving situations, drivers that are doing objectional things, whether involvement in possible terrorism, sideswiping a vehicle or nearly striking a pedestrian can elude identification, due to tinted windows. The tinting of windows is intense, the windows are nearly blackened.
We must stop being libertarian on this issue. People's right to be private behind windows, when bombs or irresponsible drivers hidden behind tinted / darkened / blackened windows can threaten citizens.
What are the priorities of the television networks. This morning the terrorism story has been only mentioned in passing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Electronic medical records & new federal bill on health care

One of the right's talking points is that a national electronic database of patient medical records will be created.

Just what is the correct case with this issue? Googling the above pertinent words and "fact check" doesn't help.

Can anyone tell me whether this site's representation of the facts is correct?:
"Politifact missed the boat on “Electronic Health Records” fact check" at "Political Integrity Now" site.

Accchhhhh! 13 toxic foods to avoid

Diet: "Here is a list of the top 13 most toxic foods that you should be buying organic. If on a tight budget, use this guide to buy produce that has the most chemicals when grown conventionally."

These nice foods are toxic, because of the chemicals.

Be sure to buy them only when grown in "organic conditions."
Sweet bell peppers
Imported grapes

Sally Fallon Morell: healthy food advocate, against the grain of veganism

Sally Fallon Morell was interviewed on WBAI. She is the co-founder and president of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
She spoke on the dangers of a hyper-vegan diet. She criticized the rush to replacement of meats with vegan diets.
She cautioned against this diet. It avoids essential vitamins, especially vitamin B vitamins.
She also spoke of the dangers of too much soy in the diet. I've included the video at the right on the dangers of over-reliance on soy.

The heavy-soy diet dangers raises a new problem. We are avoiding the pantheon of foods that are high fructose corn syrup. But many times one finds soy in the non-high fructose corn syrup foods.

She appears in director Derek Moore's video: "Nourishing Traditional Diets: The Key to Vibrant Health."

Youtube video in which she addresses the essential animal-based oils.

One of her interviews in a podcast.

On a related note:
An intriguing video that I hope to see soon: director Deborah Koons Garcia's "The Future of Food," DVD.

Ron Paul points out: Obama not a socialist, a corporatist

(A qualifier: I am not joining Republican calls for health reform repeal. I am merely reporting and interesting factual correction that the former Texas Congressional representative Ron Paul, a famed libertarian, running as a Republican.)
Evan McMorris-Santoro, "Ron Paul: President Obama Is Not A Socialist", Talking Points Memo, April 10, 2010.
Ron Paul spoke this weekend to a Tea-Partyish Republican crowd, the South Republican Leadership Conference.
-Rather, Paul said, President Barack Obama is a corporatist. Actually, progressives need to exercise critical analysis of the Obama administration. Paul was alluding to the neo-liberal practices of the consensus of presidents in the modern era. The Obama administration actually needs to do moreguidance of the American economy. It needs to initiate legislation and presidentially initiated trade policies that stimulate greater production in the United States.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nurses United for healthcare

Click to this Grit TV video at

Nurses United for Healthcare.
--part of National Nurses United:

The Struggle for the Democratic Party: Eye into caucuses and role of money in party

Great piece in Huffington Post on the struggle for control in the Democratic Party.

Click Here:
Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney, "Power Struggle: Inside The Battle For The Soul Of The Democratic Party" Huffington Post, April 8, 2010
Read about the Blue Dogs and the progressives and the struggle for money in the Democratic Party. A good read for students of politics, the lay student or the budding scholar.

Professional training time and jobs: per Yahoo Jobs

Nurse, financial analyst, and so on:
Per Yahoo Education and Yahoo Hotjobs.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh boy! The armed right wing crazies' commemoration of April 19 across river from Washington, DC

The armed right wing's buzzword is "Oath Keepers."

They are mobilizing for an open carry, which is euphemism speak for openly carrying loaded weapons to assemble in a mob rally.
They are mobilizing for a rally on April 19, 2010 at Fort Hunt National Park, Virginia. This is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. April 19 is the anniversary of Timothy McVeigh's mass murder terrorism attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Stay tuned to Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann on what they are up to next.

Many of these people are lower income. I wonder how long until they realize that they and their friends and family will recognize that they will make great gains in health care rights until the "Obamacare" health reform.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Useful site on the vanishing economic base of the United States -w/ daily updates

Discovered from an advertisement in ''The American Prospect:''

(I say vanishing economic base, not just industrial base, as just about everything is getting outsourced. The only economic sector that the Barack Obama administration is concerned with is the financial sector. I'll retract that charge when his administration and Congress takes up the recommendations of Kansas City Federal Reserve chief Thomas Hoenig.)
"Economy in Crisis"

From their "Who We Are" tab: is the website and news blog for Concerned Citizens, an organization dedicated to educating legislators and the American public in regards to the destruction of our country's industrial base, the impact on national and economic security, and the effect on our standard of living. We publish critical but overlooked facts and figures, keeping our readers up-to-date with daily articles regarding the U.S. economy.

We compare what led to American industrial and economic world leadership with current policies and the present crippling of our industries. We then objectively extrapolate the near-term outlook and risks for our country, businesses, and individuals. When possible we offer solutions to our weakening economic condition. Concerned Citizens does not support any political organization or corporate interest.

Out of concern for America's deteriorating economic condition, the Concerned Citizens responsible for donate their expertise and time. Concerned Citizens does not support any political organization or corporate interest. Concerned Citizens has recently applied to become government authorized 501(c)(3) tax free organization.
. . .
Questions? Call us - (614) 210-7255

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kansas City Fed Official Wants To Break Up Megabanks, Stop The Fed From Guaranteeing Wall Street's Profits

"Top Fed Official Wants To Break Up Megabanks, Stop The Fed From Guaranteeing Wall Street's Profits"

See the Huffington Post exclusive on Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas M. Hoenig, and his critical statement on banking policies.

The U.S. should bust up its megabanks and impose strict laws curbing the size and complexity of financial institutions, a top Federal Reserve official told the Huffington Post.

In a 45-minute interview this week, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas M. Hoenig, who's emerged as one of the few influential voices calling for a fundamental redesign of a broken U.S. financial system:

* Lambasted the tilted playing field that benefits Wall Street banks over Main Street banks;

* Called the idea that the U.S. needs megabanks to compete globally a "fantasy";

* Said Congress should mandate simple, easily understood and enforceable rules -- rather than guidelines -- so regulators can restrain financial firms and rein in the financial system;

* Prodded the Senate to get tougher on permanently ending Too Big To Fail by enacting laws that would take away much of the discretion currently held by policymakers (who bailed out financial firms when confronted with these decisions in late 2008);

* And criticized the Federal Reserve's ongoing policy to keep the main interest rate near zero because it "guarantee[s] a spread to Wall Street", enabling unearned profits and "encourag[ing] speculation."

Hoenig's criticisms echo those made by reformers pushing to remake a financial system that melted down in 2008 after years of excessive risk-taking and loose regulation finally took its toll, causing the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression and costing the nation more than 8 million jobs.
Click to the above link to the actual "Huffington Post" link for the full story, including audio archive.

Our Worldfocus broadcast will go off the air after April 2 | Worldfocus

Our Worldfocus broadcast will go off the air after April 2 | Worldfocus
(Daljit Dhaliwal explains the expiration of "World Focus" after one and a half years. The news show premiered on October 6, 2008.)
Tragic! Can't WNET (Channel 13) shift some funds from one area to this one?

Friday, April 2, 2010

At DN: Rep. Alan Grayson's (Fla) "Medicare You Can Buy Into Act" Attracts 50 Co-Sponsors

Rep. Alan Grayson's H.R. 4789 "Medicare You Can Buy Into Act" Attracts 50 Co-Sponsors

Watch Frontline video on MBNA's (FIA Card Services) abuse customers

Watch the Frontline video on MBNA / Bank of America / FIA Card Services' abuse of customers.
Click here for the Frontline portal to the video on this credit card company's notorious abuse patterns.

Click here to buy the "FRONTLINE: Secret History of the Credit Card" DVD at PBS' online store.

The section from the article on this credit card company's abusive practices. Note that the abusive practices continue into 2010, despite the controversies uncovered as far back as 2004.
MBNA was one of the companies mentioned on a 2004 Frontline PBS special about unfair business practices by credit card companies[7]. Some industry practices which MBNA possibly engaged in previously[weasel words] included doubling or tripling of interest rates, shifting billing due dates/payment cycles monthly, and raising rates for customers whose payments were a day or two late which earned it the sobriquet, Misrepresentation Bank of North America. MBNA have been found to be one of the leading implementors of Rate-Jacking or what has also been termed the "Great MBNA Interest Rate Escalator Trick". For further information and links, see Credit Cards.

After the MBNA / Bank of America deal of January 1, 2006, a number of MBNA executives were dismissed from the Bank of America board of directors due to their fears that their unethical practices could result in criminal charges against them under a number of statutes including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.[citation needed]

As of 2009, complaints to regulators by consumers concerning MBNA's unfair and predatory practices have been made with allegations of fraudulent construction of "valid" credit agreements (in the U.K.), abusive and threatening debt collection practices, and a practice of offering attractive balance transfer deals with rate increases that trap customers into debt they can never hope to repay.

If you use your MBNA credit card to pay for good or services and use NOCHEX and the goods or services are not delivered MBNA refuses to allow refunds under section 79.

MBNA records all telephone numbers used to contact them and then those numbers to contact their customers, particularly to chase debts, without regard to the privacy of those customers - for example, if a customer uses a neighbors or work telephone to contact MBNA at some time, that number will remain on MBNA's database and is likely to be used for debt chasing purposes. MBNA call centre staff also reveal the reason for calling to whoever answers the call, which may be the customer's boss, neighbor, friends, and family. A great deal of complaints in US and UK consumer forums has revealed this particular violation of privacy is a common activity of MBNA.

U.K. Trading Standards in the Chester area, where MBNA Europe Bank is based, have been contacted by numerous customers of MBNA, warning of the company's behaviour, but the standards agency, responsible for upholding customer complaints, has so far failed to engage in any meaningful communication with those customers despite being in "regular contact" with MBNA for unknown reasons.[citation needed] MBNA Europe Bank is the largest employer in the Chester area.

In Ireland, MBNA was accused of calling consumers up to eight times a day who are behind in making payments, which prompted the state debt advisory service to publicly state that harassment is outlawed. Affected people were advised to complain to the relevant authorities.[8] The company in December 2009 admitted overcharging 500,000 Irish consumers up to €18 million.[9][10]

MBNA has also been criticised for its practice of having two 0% deals on the same credit card of different lengths which can lead to consumers' balances being 'trapped' and accumulating interest.[11]

RNC rejects joint 'civility' statement - Andy Barr -

The RP needs to play nice!

Their posture will backfire: The public will find out by November 2, 2010, that there are many irresistible parts in the health care legislation, such as the immediate ban on pre-existing condition bars insurance coverage for children. How will the Repugnicans (a.k.a. Republicans) explain their opposition to that one?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great American manufacturing conversation on Thom Hartmann Show on Air America Radio

Thom Hartmann spoke this afternoon (March 29, 2010) with Scott N. Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
(See AAM's general site at

See their blog at "")

Paul debunked many trade myths, and he pointed out the heavy devastation that China has done to American manufacturing since 2000.

Go to this AAM site, "The China Job Drain: Millions of U.S. jobs lost in trade with China," for an interactive map on the loss of jobs in the United States, in every state, in every Congressional District.

Great links at AAM site:
At Daily KOS: "China Currency Manipulation Costs U.S. Jobs"
"WJBC News: A new report shows thousands [over 100,000] of IL jobs lost to China"

Militia terror mobilizes against police in Michigan and for armed rally across river from Washington

You thought that the right wing tea-partiers also known as tea-baggers were bad?

We've had frequent acts of right wing vandalism against Democratic office-holder and party offices since the longest weekend (March 21, 2010) House passage of the health care bill, H.R. 3962.

Now we've got a "Christian" militia group, Hutatree, mobilizing for attacks on local law enforcement in Michigan.
Justin Elliott, "Nine Christian Militia Members Charged With Seditious Conspiracy, Attempted Use Of WMD," as reported by
And see this CNN report, today, March 29, 2010: "'Christian warrior' militia accused in plot to kill police."

And, as DemocraticUnderground, TPM and OliverWillis tell us, the militia groups are mobilizing for an armed rally at Gravelly Point Park in Arlington, Virginia, across the river from Washington, D.C., on April 19, 2010. [See Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Special Intelligence Report, Spring 2010Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism.] You doubt this? Just google their code phrase, "open carry."
That is pretty scary. April 19 is a business day. The 111th Congress will be back in schedule, with the April Recess having finished a week before then.

The mainstream media have been slow to pay attention to this April 19 armed rally at Gravelly Point Park.
Greater attention, came first from the SPLC, Mother Jones and bloggers, for example: "Demagogues and Dictators," on March 25 called attention to this nasty mobilization, in "Upstaging Osama -- The Next Terrorist will be Domestic."

There are links between three extremist groups, the Oath Keepers, Committees of Safety, and the Three Percenter Movement, with the tea-party groups. Read Justine Sharrock's report in the March/April 2010 "Mother Jones": "Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason".
The left-leaning blog, The Raw Story, has compiled a series of incriminating videos, both by the armed factions of the right wing and by CNN.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Denouce the right's violent attacks against Democratic Congressmembers' families and offices!

Note these attacks and threats so far:

*Perhaps confusing Tom Perriello's brother's home for Congressman Tom Perriello's home, possibly vandals cut the gas line to the brother's home, CBS-TV news reported tonight. The online politics site, TPM Muckraker, reported on this potential political vandalism, Justin Elliott, "FBI Investigating Cut Gas Line At Home Of Dem Rep's Brother," dated March 24, 2010.
This came after "a tea party organizer (Mike Troxel) published the address of the brother of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) in a blog post urging anti-health reform activists to 'drop by,' someone cut a propane gas line at the house, Politico is reporting."
"Another tea party activist who reportedly posted Periello's brother's address online, Nigel Coleman of the Danville Tea Party, wrote in a blog comment after learning about the mistaken address: 'Do you mean I posted his brother's address on my Facebook? Oh well, collateral damage.'"

ALL OF THIS comes just days after the historic House of Representatives vote on the health care reform bill. --and this came after attacks on the same weekend against the offices of different Democratic Congress representatives.

In the early hours of Friday, March 19, 2010, a person threw a brick through the window of Niagara Falls, New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's district office. Elsewhere in the district, in Rochester, Monroe County, someone broke the window of the Democratic Committee office. A note attached to the window-smashing brick carried the conservative senator Barry Goldwater's legendary quote, "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice."
Other attacks occurred against Congress members or Democratic offices in:
*Tucson, Arizona
*Wichita, Kansas
*Cincinnati, Ohio

Republicans need to call out the extremists behind this violent harassment. They need to call out the voices of hate that created the groundwork for these attacks:
Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh.

See the Rachel Maddow video on the upper right, on MSNBC, denouncing this political violence.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On ABC's This Week:Karl Rove has hissy fit vs. Plouffe on health care bill

Watch Karl Rove's meltdown, vs. David Plouffe
on ABC-TV's "This Week" (March 21, 2010):

And Part 2:

You need to click on the above addresses, as ABC has blocked embedding video code for inserting in blogs.

Monday, February 1, 2010

OpenOffice bug warning!! Bad enough to go over to Microsoft

OpenOffice has put out a good product.

I have sworn by it and have promoted it as an alternative to MS Office.

Now, I am backing away from it. Anything, even MS Office, would be better. It generates macros in tables in Write, its word processor program, especially when you are entering number values. Statements like in <> carrot brackets appear in whatever empty cell you click into.
It is a terrible time-waster. Run far from this as soon as you can, and go to Microsoft or Corel for your office suite options.
The time lost is irreplaceable.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010's interactive map on job losses, by County, since Jan. 2007 -Depressing!

When Did Your County's Jobs Disappear?An interactive map of vanishing employment across the country, updated with the latest figures.
By Chris WilsonUpdated Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, at 1:05 PM ET

The economic crisis, which has claimed more than 5 million jobs since the recession began, did not strike the entire country at once. A map of employment gains or losses by county tells the story of how those job losses first struck in the most vulnerable regions and then spread rapidly to the rest of the country. As early as August 2007, for example—several months before the recession officially began—jobs were already on the decline in southwest Florida; Orange County, Calif.; much of New Jersey; and Detroit, while other areas of the country remained on the uptick.

Using the Labor Department's local area unemployment statistics, Slate presents the recession as told by unemployment numbers for each county in America. Because the data are not seasonally adjusted for natural employment cycles throughout the year, the numbers you see show the change in the number of people employed compared with the same month in the previous year. Blue dots represent a net increase in jobs, while red dots indicate a decrease. The larger the dot, the greater the number of jobs gained or lost. Click the arrows or calendar at the bottom to see each month of data. Click the green play button to see an animation of the data.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Who is the progressive choice to succeed (bankers' friend) Sen. Chris Dodd?

I was quite pleased to see Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd announce his retirement.

He historically has had too close and friendly a relationship with the banking industry. As we see from this post, November, 2009, the Open Secrets site has gone into how Sen. Dodd got many generous contributions over the years from the banking industry.
Note: the following article updates a profile of Dodd that first appeared on Capital Eye in January.

(CORRECTION, 12/7/09: This article originally misstated information about Dodd's purchase of his cottage in Ireland. Dodd did not purchase the estate with Bearn Stearns principal Ed Downe. Rather, Dodd and his long-time friend, William Kessinger, purchased the estate together (and Dodd later bought out Kessinger). Kessinger and Dodd became friends through Downe, who was convicted of insider trading and later pardoned by President Clinton. Downe signed the official transfer document as a witness but had no financial role in the transaction. The Center regrets the error. The article has been updated accordingly.)

Name: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

PowerPlayers.JPGPosition: Chris Dodd is a native of Connecticut and the state's longest-serving U.S. senator, at nearly 30 years. His father, Thomas Dodd, also represented Connecticut for more than a decade as a Democratic senator, from 1959 to 1971. After college, Chris Dodd joined the Peace Corps and worked in the Dominican Republic. Upon his return, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve, while earning his law degree at the University of Louisville. In 1974, voters elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until he ran for Senate in 1980.

Since the Democrats regained control of the Senate in 2007, Dodd has chaired the powerful Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. His committee oversees the nation's financial institutions, housing and mass transit programs. In this role, he has helped shape legislation to jump-start the economy and assist floundering companies. He is also at the helm as the committee debates new regulatory efforts.

Money Summary: Dodd has raised a total of $46.5 million since 1989 and has spent $45.5 million. His large war chest can be attributed, in part, to his presidential bid in 2008, which he abandoned after receiving less than 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus that kicked off the primary season. He raised $18 million in his attempt to win the White House.

Overall, Dodd has received 62 percent of his contributions from individuals (rather than the political action committees of unions and corporations) and is a popular beneficiary of Wall Street money, collecting $5.4 million from donors in New York City -- more than any other metro area. He's given other lawmakers and candidates 23 percent of the total $2.3 million that his leadership PAC, Chris PAC, has raised since the start of the 2004 election cycle.

Campaigns Donors: Not surprisingly, Dodd's most generous sector is finance, insurance and real estate, which is filled with companies directly affected by legislation shepherded by the Banking Committee. The finance, insurance and real estate sector has given Dodd a total of $13.9 million since 1989 -- nearly 3.5 times more than the next sector. In a distant second place, lawyers and lobbyists rank as Dodd's second most generous backer, giving him $4 million since 1989.

The securities and investment industry, insurance companies, real estate industry, commercial banks, accountants and finance and credit companies all rank among his top 20 industry donors.

Between 2005 and 2008, Dodd was among the top five recipients of money in the Senate from 19 industries, many of which are finance-related. He's currently the top recipient in the Senate of money from mortgage bankers and brokers, and the Senate's second highest beneficiary of money from insurance companies and finance and credit companies.

The $819,950 he has received during the past 20 years from hedge funds, which are a big industry in Connecticut, ranks him as the largest beneficiary of the industry currently serving in the Senate. In 2007, Dodd expressed concern over a bill that would have increased taxes on private-equity firms and hedge fund managers.

Dodd's most generous donors include many of the companies that have filed for bankruptcy or sought government help during the last year and a half: Citigroup ($427,700), Bear Stearns ($347,350), AIG ($281,000), Goldman Sachs ($274,450), Morgan Stanley ($211,300), Lehman Brothers ($185,100) and Merrill Lynch ($185,000).

Not all of Dodd's financial supporters, however, come from Wall Street.

Law firms, lobbyists, pharmaceutical companies, health professionals and the entertainment industry also rank among his most generous industries. During the race for the White House, the International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed Dodd and spent $202,300 independently to help him win. Dodd has sponsored bills to provide more funding to fire stations for equipment, training and staff.

Series_logo.JPGOn Financial Regulation: Dodd sponsored legislation (which President Barack Obama signed in August) to crack down on credit card companies. Provisions of the bill targeted "any time any reason" interest rate increases, charging interest on balances that consumers have already paid, deceptive marketing to young people and skyrocketing penalty interest rates.

Dodd is now spearheading new efforts to tackle financial sector regulatory reform. On Nov. 10, he unveiled new legislation with eight other Democrats on the Banking Committee. Dodd's proposal calls for the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a new federal agency to advocate for consumers. It also seeks to end the concept of "too big to fail," including a requirement that large and complex financial institutions develop their own "funeral plans" for how to safely shut down without destabilizing the financial system.

The legislation also creates new regulations for payday lending, over-the-counter derivatives, hedge funds and other asset-backed securities. And it requires that the sponsor or broker of these investments retain "skin in the game," that is, maintain a certain level of financial investment in its performance. Furthermore, the bill would give shareholders more say in how executives are compensated, and it requires more transparency and accountability from credit rating agencies and the quality of their ratings. Dodd's plan would also keep in place a second system of banking for small community banks that pose less systemic risk.

Industry Favors: The U.S. Senate was called on in January to release the second half of the $700 billion bailout money. Despite strong financial backing from Wall Street interests, Dodd pushed for stronger oversight provisions and limits on executive compensation for the companies receiving a handout. Yet he also amended his executive pay limit provision at the time -- at the direction of the Obama administration and U.S. Treasury. The resulting change allowed some retroactive bonuses for bailout recipients, including insurance giant AIG. Dodd says this effect was unintentional and that he did not know that AIG would benefit from the amendment, but it still made him the target of significant public ire.

Invests in: Compared to the rest of the Senate, Dodd is middle class. In 2008 he was worth between $534,018 and $1.7 million, ranking him 66th among all senators. Like many lawmakers and investors during the recent economic crisis, his personal fortune has taken a hit. Between 2007 and 2008, his net worth fell by 15 to 20 percent. According to his most recent personal financial disclosure reports, the largest stock holding of he and his wife was $100,000 to $250,000 invested in company that runs the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They further own between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of holdings in both Blockbuster and Brookdale Senior Living. They also have a few smaller investments in drug manufacturers including Pear Tree Pharmaceutical (worth between $1,001 and $15,000), Cardiome Pharma (worth between $0 and $4,000) and Javelin Pharmaceuticals (worth between $0 and $3,000).

Dodd also owns a cottage and a 10-acre estate in Ireland, which he purchased with a long-time friend whom he met through a Bear Stearns principal who was convicted of insider trading and later pardon by President Bill Clinton, reportedly at Dodd's urging. According to the 2008 filing, this estate is valued at 470,000 euros -- a value that puts it in the range of between $500,000 and $1 million on the same form.

Other Money Matters: When mortgage buyers Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were in dire financial straits last year and seeking help from the government, Dodd came under some fire for having received more money from the two companies' employees and political action committees than any other lawmaker over time -- at $165,400. Dodd helped push through a rescue plan for the two companies last year, including better regulatory oversight in the measure.

The Senate Ethics Committee recently investigated Dodd over allegations that he received preferential treatment by Countrywide Financial when, in 2003, he refinanced his home mortgages. Dodd benefited from a VIP program, known as "Friends of Angelo," named after the Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo. In August, the ethics probe cleared Dodd of any wrongdoing, saying there was "no substantial credible evidence" that the refinanced mortgages violated ethics rules or that Dodd used his position for personal gain.

In His Own Words: "We need to take action to restore Americans' confidence, their sense of optimism -- and their financial security -- by reforming a regulatory system that still contains far too many gaps, loopholes, and redundancies," Dodd said during a committee hearing earlier this fall. "The 20th century regulatory structure has been outpaced by the 21st century innovations in the financial services industry, and if we don't fix it, we could be right back where we were a year ago, facing a another dreadful choice between a massive outlay of taxpayer dollars or an unimaginable economic disaster for our nation and others around the globe."
I had often wondered: why did progressives pour all of their scorn on Joe Lieberman and not Chris Dodd? It was so intense, with so many plays on Lieberman's name. I wondered whether there was some anti-Semitism as the motivation.

So, I hope that MoveOn, Progressive Democracy and other progressives can get into the open, the discussion: who is the more progressive of the potential replacements for Dodd?
*Former vet and Al Gore aide, Merrick Alpert
*Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
*Former Bill Clinton aide, and 2002 gubernatorial candidate (to challenge John Rowland) Bill Curry
*Former eastern Connecticut Congressman, Sam Gejdenson
*Cable TV entrepreneur Ned Lamont, 2006 Democratic nominee, and challenger to Lieberman.
Chime in, at right, in my unscientific poll.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New station and time for All Souls Unitarian Radio Broadcasts

New Station and Time for All Souls Radio Broadcasts
(Unitarian Church, New York, New York):

Sundays at 11 AM on WWRL AM 1600

Personal actions will prevent contributing to the "Plastic Continent"

The other continent
Laura Rose

(From - When I heard about the "Plastic Continent" in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I have to admit that I thought it was just an urban myth or an overreaction by some extreme activists.

Much to my dismay, what I found by searching the Internet was that it was more of an understatement than an exaggeration. There it was "3.5 million tons of trash, 80 percent of it plastic" a mass twice the size of Texas. Yes, TEXAS!

At a cost of billions of dollars to clean up the mess, no country wants to take responsibility for it, and so it has continued to grow at a rate of tenfold per decade since 1950.

Sea turtles mistake plastic sandwich bags for jellyfish, and birds feed their young bottle caps and other plastic chards, unknowingly filling their stomachs to the point that they die of starvation. Beaches once scattered with drift wood and seashells are increasingly covered in plastic debris.

If you live in San Francisco, you now know why the Board of Supervisors, led by Ross Mirkarimi, outlawed the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets. Every city needs to follow their example and make this a priority.

Right now, there doesn't seem to be much that we can do about the garbage dump that churns between San Francisco and Hawaii, but we can do our part to keep it from growing.

1) Tell everyone you know about the Plastic Continent. The first step in solving any problem is awareness.

2) Use reusable shopping totes.

3) Get rid of the plastic sandwich bags in your child's lunch box, or at least reduce the number you use. Replace them with reusable containers or, at a minimum, rinse them and use again.

4) Buy a stainless water bottle. Make it a policy among friends and organizations to bring stainless bottles to soccer games and other sporting events and outings.

5) Write to your local, state, and national political leaders. Encourage them to outlaw the use of plastic bags. Know that lobbyists for plastic manufacturers are very influential; we need to influence with our letters and our votes.

6) Watch what you consume. Our lifestyle of constant consumerism and instant gratification hasn't just hurt our wallets, it's hurt our environment.

T.R. Reid from Washington Post., debunking myths about health care around world

From Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2009 ... Never too late.
5 Myths About Health Care Around the World
As Americans search for the cure to what ails our health-care system, we've overlooked an invaluable source of ideas and solutions: the rest of the world. All the other industrialized democracies have faced problems like ours, yet they've found ways to cover everybody -- and still spend far less than we do.
I've traveled the world from Oslo to Osaka to see how other developed democracies provide health care. Instead of dismissing these models as "socialist," we could adapt their solutions to fix our problems. To do that, we first have to dispel a few myths about health care abroad:

1. It's all socialized medicine out there.

Not so. Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others -- for instance, Canada and Taiwan -- rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans.

In some ways, health care is less "socialized" overseas than in the United States. Almost all Americans sign up for government insurance (Medicare) at age 65. In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, seniors stick with private insurance plans for life. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the planet's purest examples of government-run health care.

2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.

Generally, no. Germans can sign up for any of the nation's 200 private health insurance plans -- a broader choice than any American has. If a German doesn't like her insurance company, she can switch to another, with no increase in premium. The Swiss, too, can choose any insurance plan in the country.

In France and Japan, you don't get a choice of insurance provider; you have to use the one designated for your company or your industry. But patients can go to any doctor, any hospital, any traditional healer. There are no U.S.-style limits such as "in-network" lists of doctors or "pre-authorization" for surgery. You pick any doctor, you get treatment -- and insurance has to pay.

Canadians have their choice of providers. In Austria and Germany, if a doctor diagnoses a person as "stressed," medical insurance pays for weekends at a health spa.

As for those notorious waiting lists, some countries are indeed plagued by them. Canada makes patients wait weeks or months for nonemergency care, as a way to keep costs down. But studies by the Commonwealth Fund and others report that many nations -- Germany, Britain, Austria -- outperform the United States on measures such as waiting times for appointments and for elective surgeries.
In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don't bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. "Why don't you just drop by?" the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon's office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. "When could we do it?" I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, "Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?"

3. Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies.

Much less so than here. It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise -- private-sector, for-profit health insurance -- is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care. But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.

U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.

The world champion at controlling medical costs is Japan, even though its aging population is a profligate consumer of medical care. On average, the Japanese go to the doctor 15 times a year, three times the U.S. rate. They have twice as many MRI scans and X-rays. Quality is high; life expectancy and recovery rates for major diseases are better than in the United States. And yet Japan spends about $3,400 per person annually on health care; the United States spends more than $7,000.
4. Cost controls stifle innovation.

False. The United States is home to groundbreaking medical research, but so are other countries with much lower cost structures. Any American who's had a hip or knee replacement is standing on French innovation. Deep-brain stimulation to treat depression is a Canadian breakthrough. Many of the wonder drugs promoted endlessly on American television, including Viagra, come from British, Swiss or Japanese labs.

Overseas, strict cost controls actually drive innovation. In the United States, an MRI scan of the neck region costs about $1,500. In Japan, the identical scan costs $98. Under the pressure of cost controls, Japanese researchers found ways to perform the same diagnostic technique for one-fifteenth the American price. (And Japanese labs still make a profit.)

5. Health insurance has to be cruel. Not really. American health insurance companies routinely reject applicants with a "preexisting condition" -- precisely the people most likely to need the insurers' service. They employ armies of adjusters to deny claims. If a customer is hit by a truck and faces big medical bills, the insurer's "rescission department" digs through the records looking for grounds to cancel the policy, often while the victim is still in the hospital. The companies say they have to do this stuff to survive in a tough business.

Foreign health insurance companies, in contrast, must accept all applicants, and they can't cancel as long as you pay your premiums. The plans are required to pay any claim submitted by a doctor or hospital (or health spa), usually within tight time limits. The big Swiss insurer Groupe Mutuel promises to pay all claims within five days. "Our customers love it," the group's chief executive told me. The corollary is that everyone is mandated to buy insurance, to give the plans an adequate pool of rate-payers.

The key difference is that foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage.

In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really "foreign" to America, because our crazy-quilt health-care system uses elements of all of them. For Native Americans or veterans, we're Britain: The government provides health care, funding it through general taxes, and patients get no bills. For people who get insurance through their jobs, we're Germany: Premiums are split between workers and employers, and private insurance plans pay private doctors and hospitals. For people over 65, we're Canada: Everyone pays premiums for an insurance plan run by the government, and the public plan pays private doctors and hospitals according to a set fee schedule. And for the tens of millions without insurance coverage, we're Burundi or Burma: In the world's poor nations, sick people pay out of pocket for medical care; those who can't pay stay sick or die.
This fragmentation is another reason that we spend more than anybody else and still leave millions without coverage. All the other developed countries have settled on one model for health-care delivery and finance; we've blended them all into a costly, confusing bureaucratic mess.

Which, in turn, punctures the most persistent myth of all: that America has "the finest health care" in the world. We don't. In terms of results, almost all advanced countries have better national health statistics than the United States does. In terms of finance, we force 700,000 Americans into bankruptcy each year because of medical bills. In France, the number of medical bankruptcies is zero. Britain: zero. Japan: zero. Germany: zero.

Given our remarkable medical assets -- the best-educated doctors and nurses, the most advanced hospitals, world-class research -- the United States could be, and should be, the best in the world. To get there, though, we have to be willing to learn some lessons about health-care administration from the other industrialized democracies.

T.R. Reid, a former Washington Post reporter, is the author of "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care," [the NPR "Fresh Air" interview link] to be published Monday.