Saturday, January 31, 2009
I have lost respect for you. You rambled on about some perestroika being needed in the US. Mr. Gorbachev, we do not execute reporters. We do not imprison people who disagree. We have not taken a country opened to freedom, and begun shuttering the doors, windows, and closing the air spaces to the outside world. It is Russia that needs a dose of freedom Mr. Gorbachev, and the fact you do not understand that shows that you have never matured beyond the mentality that kept the USSR in power - ignorance.
Russian newspaper mourns another murdered reporter
Jan 31, 2009
By MIKE ECKEL
MOSCOW (AP) - The dead loom over the morning editorial meeting at Russia's leading investigative newspaper. Novaya Gazeta's staff is trying to plan the next issue and editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov is in an understandably foul mood.
In a corner hang photos of four reporters he has lost in the past eight years - one beaten to death, one allegedly poisoned, two shot - the most recent on Jan. 19.
It's not easy to put a paper out these days, Muratov says.
"There's usually a lot of jokes, laughing, talk about ideas. But our batteries are totally spent," says Muratov, 47, billows of pipe smoke filling the long pauses. "How can there be any sort of (normal) frame of mind when a journalist is being buried?"
That journalist was Anastasia Baburova, a 25-year-old cub reporter. She and a human rights lawyer were shot execution-style by a masked man with a silenced pistol as they walked together a few blocks from the Kremlin.
In a country considered one of the most dangerous for journalists, no Russian newspaper has suffered like Novaya Gazeta. In a country where most media have been cowed into submission, no other newspaper publishes such probing investigative articles and acid commentary about government corruption, police-state politics and Chechnya war abuses.
"Every two or three years, we lose someone," says Elena Kostyuchenko, a 21-year-old investigative writer for the paper. "But you just have to write, write, write and keep writing. You have to."
Some 16 journalists have died in contract-style slayings or under suspicious circumstances in Russia since 2000. Many more have been assaulted or threatened.
Under Vladimir Putin, who became president in 2000 and now is prime minister, the TV networks watched by most Russians were taken over by the state, their news operations highly sanitized. Big-selling newspapers are either sympathetic to the Kremlin or owned by Kremlin-allied business groups.
Of the many free-spirited papers that sprang up when the Soviet Union collapsed, Novaya Gazeta - meaning New Newspaper - is a rare survivor.
Its most high-profile loss was Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter who savaged the Kremlin for its conduct of the war on Chechen separatists. Her shooting outside her Moscow apartment in 2006 provoked worldwide condemnation and major embarrassment for the Kremlin.
Three Chechens - two brothers and a former police officer - are on trial but the prosecution is not offering a motive or identifying any mastermind, leading Novaya Gazeta and others to claim the trial is a cover-up. Putin has claimed the killing was hatched abroad to discredit Russia.
The paper's first fatality, in 2000, was Igor Domnikov, who wrote about regional corruption. He was attacked with a hammer. Seven members of a criminal gang were convicted of his murder in 2007. The lead defendant claimed a regional governor had Domnikov killed for criticizing him. The governor was not charged.
In 2003, Yury Shchekochikhin died of a severe allergic reaction, but colleagues claimed he was poisoned. Shchekochikhin, 53, wrote about high-level corruption and investigated the deadly 1999 bombings of apartment blocks.
In the latest killing, it appears lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who specialized in defending Chechens, environmentalists and human rights activists, was the primary target and Baburova may have been killed after she tried to intervene.
Many at Novaya Gazeta are convinced that nationalist or fascist groups are behind the latest attacks and the paper's own blog is full of anonymous postings celebrating the killings. Others suspect the involvement of security agencies, citing past incidents when Novaya Gazeta's phones were tapped or in 2000, when its computer hard drives were stolen.
Novaya Gazeta writers and editors have attended self-defense classes and keep their notes hidden or stored on secure computer servers. Some use pseudonyms. At least one has bodyguards because of death threats. Others take precautions they won't discuss. Alexander Lebedev, a billionaire ex-lawmaker who is part-owner of the paper, is demanding that authorities allow its reporters to carry guns.
Not all the paper's staff support the idea. Muratov, the editor, does.
"Either we defend ourselves or we go write about nature and birds ... and all positive things. We become a tabloid," he says. "And then we don't write about the security services. We don't write about corruption. ... We don't write about fascism."
Yulia Latynina, a radio show host and Novaya Gazeta columnist who is relentlessly critical of Putin, blames fascist gangs for the killings and accuses police agencies and security forces of sympathizing or even cooperating with them.
Like Politkovskaya, her name appears regularly on death lists circulating on the Internet. Is she afraid? Latynina demurs, saying: "The Kremlin doesn't need another Politkovskaya."
Vera Chelysheva, who writes for the paper's Web site, says most Russians are indifferent to the murders.
"This is a country that lived through the gulag camps, through Stalin, they know how to kill people. That's why no one is taking to the streets in protest," she says. "This is a country that's forgetting its history."
Founded in 1993, Novaya Gazeta is published thrice-weekly and its circulation has climbed to 270,000, - less than the state-run or pro-Kremlin newspapers but strong among Russians who seek an independent voice on touchy issues such as government corruption or Chechnya.
A libel judgment nearly shut it down in 2002. Then, three years ago, Lebedev and former President Mikhail Gorbachev bought a 49 percent stake for an undisclosed sum. The journalists hold the remaining shares.
Two days after the latest killings, half the front page was filled with a photo of Markelov lying on the sidewalk, blood pooled by his head, and these words of defiance:
"The killers have no fear. Because they know that they will never be punished. But the victims also have no fear. Because when you defend another person, you stop being frightened."
I don't seek the attention - just the message. You may disagree with the message - your choice, and you may well have your own stockpile of evidence to support whatever it is you wish to believe. I don't care. Neither do you, really. Let's put it out there and let others decide - what we think is less relevant than we may wish to acknowledge (if you teach at one of our great academic institutions, you most likely believe everything that oozes from that mouth of yours is crucial to human existence - IT IS NOT). Takes a little wisdom to discern the difference between what is and is not all that important.
In any event, it is all a choice - what we choose to believe, the evidence we will accept, and that evidence we will not recognize as existing (somewhat like the man who stands alone in his field and refuses to acknowledge the existence of a provable object in front of him, because it would inextricably alter his world). It does not change the facts, just our perception of how wise or useful he may or may not be.
Our world, our life is so much more complicated than the simple emotional torments we may experience from time to time, and rather than wallow in our misery or unhappiness (as so many do), why not find something more useful to do. for one thing, stop breathing - we will, within some period of time, need more oxygen, and I for one do not wish to share - so the fewer there are of you (the whining class), the better. Stop using the internet - it is not worth it anyway. Your thick-skulls will never absorb anything of any importance and it means you are using electricity - something precious (and soon to be even more precious) in California. You could be useful if you chose to be useful. It is a choice. We all have choices, and what we do with those choices determines who and what we are.
Desiring peace is beautiful - it may as well be Haight and Ashbury '68 - seeking peace is not the same as wanting peace. I don't really give a shit what people want. It is what people do to achieve peace - and that does not include seeking peace for the sake of peace (someone on Haight and Ashbury in 1968 on LSD would say something like that). You have a choice - and that choice will determine the future course of this country - desire peace, seek peace, or chase after peace at all costs.
This country is far more important that your pettiness, than your simple wants and desires. IT MUST stand, now and in 100 years, for it is the choice of millions, it is the future of freedom, and if we chase after your moronic desires, you will assist in ending that hope, because your choice was based upon emotion and not reason, logic, or the facts.
Realitystupor. Interesting. The reason I used the H/A example.
The elites in the US, no different than the elites in Britain / France, disregard these ancient beliefs and plow ahead with negoitiating as an end in itself. For the Arab world, negotiating is only undertaken when one is losing / inferior to the other. We never figured this out. For the el;ites, what THEY (Arabs/Persians and others) think, is immaterial to what our goals are - we want to negotiate regardless, and do not feel any compunction to avoid this quagmire, because we believe we are the superior and regardless of what they may think, we are not in the inferior position, and why not let them think whatever they wish - if it gets us what we want - peace.
THAT sums up the left and their desire to negotiate.
Iran says Obama's offer to talk shows US failure
Jan 31 09:16 AM US/Eastern
US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.
"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.
After nearly three decades of severed ties, Obama said shortly after taking office this month that he is willing to extend a diplomatic hand to Tehran if the Islamic republic is ready to "unclench its fist".
In response, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh tirade against the United States, demanding an apology for its "crimes" against Iran and saying he expected "deep and fundamental" change from Obama.
Iranian politicians frequently refer to the US administration as the "global arrogance", "domineering power" and "Great Satan".
Tensions with the United States have soared over Iran's nuclear drive and Ahmadinejad's vitriolic verbal attacks against Washington's close regional ally Israel.
Former US president George W. Bush refused to hold talks with the Islamic republic -- which he dubbed part of an "axis of evil" -- unless it suspended uranium enrichment, and never took a military option to thwart Tehran's atomic drive off the table.
The new administration of Obama has also refused to rule out any options -- including military strikes -- to stop Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Iran denies any plans to build the bomb and insists its nuclear programme is solely aimed at peaceful ends.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Geitner - didn't pay taxes. It is ok not to pay taxes and if you don't, it is an 'oops' - especially if you are a liberal or Democrat.
Daschle - didn't pay a lot of taxes! PLUS he took over $220,000 in speaking fees from groups he would oversee as head of Human Services!
Richardson - No Bid Contracts in return for donations. Very illegal.
Bill Clinton - mega millions from the Sauds, Kuwaitis, and other Arab states - and what role or concern this may play if Hillary is to be free of questions or concerns about her ability to separate the nearly 100 million from Arab sources and her role as Secretary of State for the United States.
Panetta - his daughter can't keep her paws off Chavez, who I would assume CIA would be interested in (conflict of interest).
Rahm Emmanuel - Blagy and the Senate seat for sale and questions concerning his role.
There are several others - from former lobbyists for defense contractors, to the former head of a socialist organization committed to weakening our economy in an effort (misguided) to raise the economies of 3rd world nations.
A President who gives his FIRST interview with Arab media, calls the Palestinian leader within minutes of walking into the Oval Office. He isn't telling the world we will listen - not when he tells Republicans he is in charge and will not be listening much to their whining. What makes you think he will listen to the Arabs?
A President who has written a letter to Iran, pushing for normalization of relations IF they will renounce terror and stop supporting Hizbollah and Hamas, and if they do, they can be removed from the list of states supporting terrorism. Wasn't that always the policy of the Bush administration? The US was considering opening a US office in Tehran, but it was put off due to the attack by Hamas on Israel. THAT would be a change in policy and it was to have occurred under Bush - but of course he doesn't get credit for that - the intelligentsia does not consider that, not even mentioned - what is mentioned is the prostrating of the media at the feet of Obama - the most famous person in the world, like hearing God speak, as if you were in the presence of history ... and Bush was not history? What makes Obama so impressive?
Surely it is not his resume. He has less experience than my mailman. He most certainly has been to fewer countries than my mailman, doubtful as many countries as I have been to. His experience in Illinois can be summed up in one word - Blagojevich. Not anything to be too proud of. His time in the Senate - what time, he was busy running for an office he is too inexperienced to hold. yet now we are told that we are either with Him or against Him, and if we are against Him, we are really bad, that we are bad Americans to stand in the way of such an historic person 'becoming'.
Limbaugh is attacked for opposing Obama's policies, yet the Democratic party did not support the right of the Enquirer to publish reports on Edwards, even while they fully supported the same paper chasing Palin. Odd. But I suppose that is the definition of patriotism for the Left - support LEFT causes and opposes all others, and you are patriotic. Wait, isn't that just the flip side of what they claimed Bush was doing and how aghast they were for eight years at that sentiment.
Nearly as aghast as when Bush said Jesus was his favorite philosopher, or he hoped he was doing the will of God. The Left laughed and mocked him. They never stopped - he was either incapable of pronouncing words or he made them up - he was ignorant and stupid, he was a moron and ... I won't remind anyone that his college grades were higher than Kerry and Gore, that his IQ is higher than either of them, and he certainly is not uncertain of his identity or alpha role. I won't mention it, even if Liberals did for eight years - wrongly of course, but still they did. In graduate school, you read a lot, and the one thing I found most amusing and distressing, were the 'made up words' that academics included in their scholarly texts/articles/and lectures. I used to keep a list of such words - I stopped when I realized that it was all contextual. They did pronounce the words properly, even while promoting causes that seemed to morph as the evidence shifted - and still they were not called out as charlatans.
They are a silly lot - the mocking of Bush over his statements about Jesus or doing the will of God. Silly fools. If you believe in God - what Bush said made perfect sense. Either you are doing God's will or you are doing the will of the other guy. It is pretty black and white. Figuring it out, is as Bush said - HE HOPED he was. he didn't say that he was. Obama says he is doing what is best, what is right, with certainty in his voice and his argument. Bush never stated it with such certainty - not like Biden who informed the country what the Constitution said and did not say (he was wrong, but no one paid much attention - it is ok to be wrong if you are Liberal and are making a point).
Of course liberals never said 'It isn't unpatriotic to disagree with Bush.' - Nope, never heard that from the fools at MSNBC, Jon Stewart or his poodle, Stephen Colbert. Never heard Leno or the other one on the other channel - the grandpa - whats his name, Letterman - never heard them ever say such a silly thing. Haven't heard these same fools ramble on about Him running into a door, or making seriously stupid choices for his cabinet - people who, if they were like us, would have been in jail. Nope, never heard that.You want my support - why in fucks name? because never did the liberals support Bush, but for 2 minutes on September 11. Within days, the attacks began, slowly at first, some quietly, and then louder.
When Republicans oppose Obama - they are called unAmerican or unpatriotic - and of course, not by MAINSTREAM media sources, but by the liberal military wing - the American First or whatever label they go by - Americans United for whatever ... same thing, different clothing, and different letters on the door.
When a Republican Congressman has sexual relations with a male aide, of age, it is a scandal and rocks the administration - but when the Democratic Congressman who replaces that shit for brains, has not one but two mistresses - quiet.
The media made every effort to protect another Democratic Congressman - who kept nearly $100,000 in his freezer - cold cash. They spent the first weeks attacking the FBI for the manner of their investigation, rather than a Congressman who is as corrupt as Blagy, or worse. Quiet.
When Brian Williams goes on television and tells us that all Presidents before Him were somehow corrupt or less, criminal, or otherwise unfit ... we have a hard time recognizing Williams neutrality - I won't mention the fact he is unqualified to make such a statement unless it is his opinion, BUT he was not invited on that program for his opinion, but rather, he was invited on to opine based upon the perch from which he sits and barks each day. It is relevant.
It is relevant that Pelosi has a very disturbing view of Catholic teaching. Not my opinion. No one less than the POPE said so. I am not interested in Church and State - that is NOT the issue, even if the Left attempts to paint it with the secular brush. The issue is very personal - for Pelosi, or Kerry, or Biden, or Kennedy - you do not get to believe what you do, offer theories on Catholic teaching, tell the world how good of a Catholic you are, attend mass, take communion, and violate a half dozen of the Church's most solemn beliefs, which, any one, would cause you to be excluded from taking the sacrament. YOU do not get to tell the CHURCH what Church teaching is. It is not a democracy. It is not open to public debate.
Obama will fail, because he is inexperienced, because the people he is bringing in to the White House are either tainted by Illinois corruption, or are themselves failed examples of what we should strive to become.America will lose, and Americans will die as a result. Where His policies and actions are in our best interest, Retardicans will support Him. I pray the rest of the time they take names, numbers, photographs, recordings, and let Him fail - then let lose with the comments - I won, get over it. When Bush said 'Dead or Alive', he was mocked from here to Australia - yet Obama says something that is really very NOT bipartisan, and .... nothing.
Don't tell me how he is the great uniter and if only the Republicans would get on board, he wants such great things for us, change and all that jazz ... Don't tell me that He unites, crosses the aisle and works with the Retardicans ... PUHLEEZE - Bush had Kennedy write his education bill. Obama's effort: I won, get over it. I'm discussing the issue with you, I am hoping you will get onboard, but it doesn't matter - I won. Count the bills passed during the Bush presidency and then count up the numbers of Democrats who crossed the aisle - because Bush did work with them - he did bring them on board, he did extend his hand to them - not a smug look of 'I won, get over it.' Obama - Get Over It. I Won. or Pelosi - We don't need you anyway. [Note to Liberals - I understand, you did win, and you can say that, especially after eight years in the desert - I understand your feelings, BUT do remember when the tide changes ... when republicans send you back to the desert and don't even bother consulting you. Please remember why and that it started under Bush, not Obama.]
The hypocrisy is clear, the condescension is palpable - we know who you are and what you are, and in time, we will make the right choice. Every so often we do make mistakes.
Of course I hope Obama has some luck - and that he continues to wage the war against terror, whether in Afghanistan and Iraq, or in efforts to contain or stop Iran and North Korea - in order that he may face the wrath of Code Pink - who were never called unpatriotic by the Left during the Bush years. I will await their viciousness unleashed upon Him - for he continues those wars.
The war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on terror - including in Guantanamo, where despite the Left calling for its closure because there are innocent men being held, what we find in fact, is just the opposite. Several men released from the cells, turned up in al qaida training camps, blowing people up, or otherwise promising they will kill Americans. Not so innocent I think.
The Left has been wrong on everything since September 11. From 'Happy 9/11' (we know that fool takes what happened seriously) to their incessant chatter about what patriotism is (debate and disagreement can be patriotic, but Code Pink attacking our troops is NOT).
Sure I support Obama, and am therefore patriotic. I sure don't want to be taken away or arrested for not supporting Him. Given the behavior of the Left for the last 8 years, I have a very clear and certain model to follow in determining what is, and is not patriotic.
Bumps in the Road:
Obama's HHS Secretary Nominee Faces Tax Questions Over Car and Driver
January 30, 2009 6:29 PM
ABC News has learned that the nomination of former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to be President Obama's secretary of health and human services has hit a traffic snarl on its way through the Senate Finance Committee.
The controversy deals with a car and driver lent to Daschle by a wealthy Democratic friend -- a chauffeur service the former senator used for years without declaring it on his taxes.
It remains an open question as to whether this is a "speed bump," as a Democratic Senate ally of Daschle put it, or something more damaging.
After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the executive advisory board at InterMedia Advisors.
Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiser Leo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the New York Yankees' and New Jersey Devils' cable television channel).
That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia, Daschle began using the services of Hindery's car and driver.
The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle's official compensation package at InterMedia, but Mr. Daschle -- who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense -- didn't declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.
During the vetting process to become HHS secretary, Daschle corrected the tax violation, voluntarily paying $101,943 in back taxes plus interest, working with his accountant to amend his tax returns for 2005 through 2007.
(Daschle reimbursed the IRS $31,462 in taxes and interest for tax year 2005; $35,546 for 2006; and $34,935 for 2007, a Daschle spokesperson said, adding that Daschle had asked his accountant to look into the tax implications of the car and driver five months before Obama won the presidency.)
The Daschle spokesperson told ABC News that the senator, facing questions from the committee, has said "he deeply regretted his mistake. When he realized it was a mistake he corrected it rapidly."
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., has called his colleagues for a private meeting at 5 p.m. ET Monday to discuss these complications surrounding Daschle's nomination.
BY TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Friday, January 30th 2009, 5:45 PM
New York Daily News
The mother of the octuplets born this week is a single woman who lives with her bankrupt parents - and her six other kids!
The name of the 33-year-old California woman has not been released, but her mother, Angela Suleman, revealed her daughter underwent in vitro fertilization to get pregnant.
She never expected so many of the implanted embryos would develop into fetuses, but rejected the idea of aborting some of them.
"What do you suggest she should have done?" Suleman told the Los Angeles Times. "She refused to have them killed. That is a very painful thing."
The confirmation that the woman used IVF to conceive the eight-pack is sure to raise an ethical furor.
The medical establishment has guidelines that discourage doctors from implanting too many embryos because multiple births are risky for mother and children.
The octuplets were born Monday, nine weeks premature. They weighed between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces and will be in the hospital for weeks.
The Web site momlogic.com quoted a neighbor as saying a sperm donor was used to conceive the octuplets and the six previous children, who range in age from 2 to 7.
Suleman said raising 14 children will be "difficult" - perhaps an understatement considering the family's reported financial troubles.
They filed bankruptcy and abandoned a home less than two years ago. The babies' grandfather is hoping to raise some cash by heading to his native Iraq as a contractor.
8 children = HUGE costs for births.
Who financed this?
And now tell me that we have no medical care for the poor.
I have nothing to add to this story.
...the expense of raising 14 children will likely be prohibitive, citing studies that estimate it costs roughly $2.5 million to raise a child to adulthood. Using that math, raising 14 children would cost roughly $35 million.
"And that's basic stuff," he said. "That doesn't include swimming lessons and things like that. It's very costly and hopefully the planning that needs to be done was done upfront."
Sophy continued, "14 is a large number of children, so yes, it'll be 14 times the stress."
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
$35 million. Even if it is $10 million. She can't afford a home, no man would come within 100 feet of her, let alone marry her for fear she would pop out another 4 kids.
In 30 years of practice, "I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children," or ever heard of a similar case, said Adamson, director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California.
14 children and a single mother ... I am, beyond words - stick a fork in me, cuz its all over with this one.
Margaret Sanger what happened.
The hospital, Kaiser Permanente in Bellflower, Calif., did not release the mother's name, but the Sun, without citing sources, identified her as 33-year-old Nadya Suleman. She does not appear to have a husband.
By Roger Runningen and Hans Nichols
Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s administration will examine a “buy American” requirement in economic stimulus legislation that has raised concern among U.S. trading partners, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The administration “will review that particular provision,” Gibbs said today at his regular briefing. The president’s advisers understand “all of the concerns that have been heard, not only in this room, but in newspapers produced both up north and down south.”
He refused to say whether the administration supported or opposed keeping that part of the legislation intact. Nor did he say what the president would do if the provision remains once the bill clears the House and the Senate.
The issue may cloud Obama’s trip to Canada on Feb. 19, his first journey outside U.S. borders as president. Officials in Canada, the top U.S. trade partner, are criticizing a part of legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 28 that requires the use of U.S.-made iron and steel in infrastructure projects.
“U.S. protectionism is about to make Canada’s recession a lot worse,” Ralph Goodale, house leader for the opposition Liberal Party, said today in Parliament.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday that he will complain to U.S. officials over the “buy American” measure. “This is obviously a serious matter,” he said.
The provision also is opposed by U.S. companies with significant sales overseas such as General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Inc., which warn it may spark other countries to retaliate by restricting U.S. products.
The Senate is working on its own version of the stimulus legislation.
The U.S. provision is “clearly against trade agreements,” and Canada would be able to file a complaint under either the North American Free Trade Agreement or with the World Trade Organization, said Simon Potter, an international trade lawyer with McCarthy Tetrault in Montreal.
Harper is proposing a C$40 billion ($32.6 billion) plan to boost Canada’s economy, which like the U.S. is being gripped by a recession. Canada ships about three-quarters of its goods to the U.S. and is being squeezed by plunging demand here.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that trade is going to be on an agenda for a bilateral meeting between the United States and Canada,” Gibbs said.
My guess - he will ask that it be removed. To be a good neighbor and all that.
Canada is responsible for sorting 0ut Canadian issues. The US government EXISTS solely to ensure the success of Americans.
That may or may not include a two worded phrase - Buy American.
Is it not Canadian Protectionism to demand we remove BUY AMERICAN phrases?
Jan 30 11:45 AM US/Eastern
Good morning, Barack Obama Elementary School!" That is what children attending the former Ludlum Elementary in Hempstead, New York have been hearing ever since the local school district board voted unanimously to change the name to honor the United States' first black president.
Barack Obama took office barely 10 days ago, but already schools and streets are being renamed. In the Hempstead case they didn't even wait until Inauguration Day, re-christening the school back in November -- the first in the nation to do so.
For the students, it's music to their ears, gushed school principal Jean Bligen.
They "want to keep this interest, this high belief that we can really make a difference, that we can change our community, that we can change our nation, that we can make the world a better place," Bligen said.
Experts say this baptizing phenomenon is unique to an incoming American leader riding a wave of optimism at the beginning of his presidency.
"This is highly unusual," said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of popular culture.
"Usually this thing doesn't take place until the president is out of office and often until the president has actually died."
But the "hope for some kind of utopia" during the Democratic Obama administration after eight years of Republican president George W. Bush has proven too powerful for some to wait, Thompson and others said.
Many American communities have rules forbidding the naming of streets or monuments after the living, explains Stuart Mack, director of Rutgers University's Center for Government Services.
The rush to re-christen stems more from a communal wish to honor an historic victory as opposed to recognizing a leader's set of accomplishments, he said.
Does Mack expect more re-namings early in the administration? "Oh yes, there'll be more, that wouldn't surprise me."
And there are plenty more, already completed or in the works.
In Opa-Locka, a majority-black Miami, Florida suburb of 25,000 people, street signs already reflect a Barack Obama Avenue. The name will be inaugurated on Presidents Day, February 16.
"We are proud of the accomplishment of the 44th president and we want to leave a legacy for the next generation to embrace, and to make sure that we embrace diversity," local commissioner Dorothy Johnson, who proposed the measure, told AFP.
St. Louis, Missouri has also named a street after the president, and in Hollywood, Florida residents Thomas and Theresa Smith embarked on a crusade to have a thoroughfare renamed Barack Obama Boulevard.
"We want to leave something behind that our children can see as a marker, that an African-American can be president ... to show the kids that with education you can achieve anything," said Thomas Smith, 55, after his wife canvassed Hollywood seeking the 10,000 signatures required for a street name change.
They hope to obtain the signatures by summer.
In Hempstead, where the elementary school's new sign will be unveiled Wednesday, the name change was a result of dedicated children who "embraced the political forum," Bligen said.
"They began working on this particular project after the mock debate that we had organized" between Obama and rival John McCain, she said. "It was phenomenal."
But while young students spurring community change is impressive, Syracuse's Thompson eyes a worrying trend.
"The idea of naming a school after a political leader still in office should always make us nervous," he said.
"It implies the ... endorsement of that political leader" in an institution that is "presumably a place where children are educated and learn to think for themselves."
Yet Thompson concedes that Obama's election was a "singular" event in American history that yielded a "deliciously optimistic period" in the country.
Rare are the figures who live to see their names adorn public institutions.
President George H.W. Bush has an airport named after him in Texas, and Washington's National Airport was renamed for president Ronald Reagan on his 87th birthday.
Only two poets, Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks, were entitled to schools in their names while still alive, and the US presidents whose names most commonly adorn street signs are Kennedy, Roosevelt and Washington, who died long before most of the honors were bestowed.
Last year a measure in liberal-leaning San Francisco was put forward to rename a waste treatment facility as the George W. Bush Sewage Plant, but the measure was rejected.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I have decided to present the issue this way for a number of reasons:
1) I do not like repeating myself
2) I do not like arguing
3) It is easier to read than to listen
Over the last fifteen years, I have spoken to a dozen doctors, a half dozen nurses, and three people who work in medical offices / hospital billing. recently, we can add a couple more to that list, but as yet I have not ascertained exactly what role they have played in medical issues.
I admit, it is not a huge sample, but I am not trying to do a scientific poll, nor am I interested in publishing facts that would need further development - I am making a statement based upon more evidence than most people who offer their theories on socialized medicine in Washington.
I have spoken to two doctors, three nurses, and ten or twelve people in England who have explained their medical program, policies, and experiences.
I have spoken to one doctor, one nurse, one medical assistant, and seven people from Canada, about their medical system.
I have spent some time reading about the medical system in Canada - Thomas C. "Tommy" Douglas and Claude Castonguay, are two important characters, and reviewing what they wanted, created, and believed would become - may be useful. How they envisioned it, and what became of their vision. Claude Castonguay has disowned the system he helped to create:
Canadian Health Care We So Envy Lies In Ruins, Its Architect Admits
By DAVID GRATZER Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 4:30 PM PT
As this presidential campaign continues, the candidates' comments about health care will continue to include stories of their own experiences and anecdotes of people across the country: the uninsured woman in Ohio, the diabetic in Detroit, the overworked doctor in Orlando, to name a few.
But no one will mention Claude Castonguay — perhaps not surprising because this statesman isn't an American and hasn't held office in over three decades.
Castonguay's evolving view of Canadian health care, however, should weigh heavily on how the candidates think about the issue in this country.
Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.
The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: "the father of Quebec medicare." Even this title seems modest; Castonguay's work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.
Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in "crisis." "We thought we could resolve the system's problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it," says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: "We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."
Castonguay advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance.
I understand neither of these two men seem important, but they are.
To create a system, one needs a model. One does not simply develop anything - even firetrucks, without a model. The model that those people in the US who do not like what exists, look to - Canada and Britain.
It is only fair to look at those systems - which is why I have spent time over the last few years talking to people, visiting hospitals when I am in those countries, and generally considering the options in so far as what they have to offer.
In the end, the answer is clear.
One idea is - click on MEDICAL and review the postings - I may or may not have attached CANADA or UK / BRITAIN / ENGLAND to the postings regarding medical, but I should have. Review the articles, and return to this post.
It would really be more helpful if you stopped reading and went and reviewed the MEDICAL for Canada and UK/ENGLAND/BRITAIN (I have 3 different labels and may or may not use them all - yes, a bit confusing). Then return to this post! Go on. Get.
Assuming you did as I suggested, you still don't see the argument for the other side, but we should begin with points of clarification - I am not asking for agreement or argument, as the following is not debatable, rather it is what I state.
Secular society views the individual in a more utilitarian fashion than a less secular and more religious society. Socialism values the state and what the individual contributes to the state. Socialism does not value the human/individual for any intrinsic value (that is religious or emotional and does not fit within a secular/socialist ideological outlook). Again, I am not offering this for agreement, I am simply stating is as a general truth about secular/socialist society.
Therefore, while you provide value, you are of greater importance - you find socialist states nearly all support or encourage or pay for or have legalized euthanasia and or assisted suicide.
Canadian medicine is socialized. British medicine is socialized.
In Canada - a patient went to the hospital, was told they had a tumor, but the hospital was not able to perform (her doctor) that type of surgery due to costs, until January. She died several weeks before. I have seven more stories like that, and while you can find eight stories of terrible actions within US hospitals, any cases you find will show that the hospitals were negligent - in Canada, their hospital was operating according to procedure in each case.
The reasons for this death process in Canadian medicine is complicated and nearly entirely related to money. I strongly suggest you research Canadian medicine and review 3-6 articles to ensure you get a fair sampling.
Very simply. Canada has 10 provinces, 33 million people. BC is very large. Alberta is very large. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are small. Ontario is large. Quebec is large. That equals 5 regions. I believe they have 6 regions with the sixth covering the smaller provinces on the East coast. For our purposes not important. Each year, funding is provided based upon the number of patients in the region and the expenses incurred for the preceding year. Expenses are calculated just the same way we calculate them: $100 to see doctor, $1000 for an xray, $10,000 for an MRI, $100,000 for an aspirin, $10 for a band aid (I am making up the numbers). Every charge is calculated and becomes a near maximum amount for the following year. There are variances and factors that alter the figures, plus tax revenues play a huge role. Sometimes the federal government makes it known they want less hospital activity to lower costs, and doctors will avoid sending anyone they can to hospital to cut costs. Then the federal government sends a check to each region for the fiscal year. We can pretend for purposes of this issue, that the check arrives January 1. You would want to go to hospital January 2 for serious surgery. Why? Because December 20, you walk in needing a triple by-pass - you will get sent home until January, especially if the region ran out of money. THAT HAS HAPPENED more times than you could count on your fingers, in the last ten years. 10,000 new immigrants to a region and they all go to hospital or doctor - those figures get deducted from the total check they receive and when you arrive and your surgery will cost $250,000 (to someone, not you) - they have run out and you go home until they can fit you in.
Fitting you in is also difficult when 33 million people want to go to the doctor. Because medical care is free (which is a lie - they still pay deductibles or office visits each time - however small the amount) - sometimes appointments are eight-twelve weeks away. Of course, if you are really ill, you can get in ... but then, so can you elsewhere. If however, you are very ill and it is November 27, and your region ran out of funds - the doctor or hospital will stabilize you and you will be sent home.
Another fascinating feature of their system - it creates massive numbers of doctors to care for the massive numbers of people who are hypochondriacs - it creates few specialists. A Canadian woman was about to give birth to quadruplets. They flew her to Montana, where the US hospital could handle her - the only three hospitals in Canada that could handle quadruplets, already each had one, and were unable to help her. No, she didn't have serious issues.
The final aspect of their system worth paying attention to - costs. Imagine a 40 year old male who needs triple by-pass surgery. Cost is $250,000 (I made the number up, but it is at least that much or more). He has 25 years of working. Consider a 67 1/4 year old man who needs the same surgery. Which one is LESS likely to get the surgery, and why. It is not optional - ONE of them IS less likely to get the surgery. Caring for the 67 year old in a hospice, or providing medication and telling him to take medications to alleviate the issues, weekly checkups - but no surgery. More than 39% of people over 65 were denied surgeries with costs over $100,000. In the US, that number is 2.8%. Perhaps more data would be helpful - 43% of those who had the surgery had private medical insurance, and 15% came to the US.
Why? Taxpayers, people who are useful and will be useful should be cared for - given every advantage to survive in order that they provide resources to the state. Those people who no longer provide revenue streams - should be cared for as best possible.
The interesting part - it is almost exactly the same conditions in England, and the same reasons.
I lost people in both countries, to a medical system that is utilitarian in its determination of usefulness - who will benefit the country more, if we spent the large sums of money on them.
Of course the response is - those systems have problems, and we'll do something different. The problem is - nothing can exist unless you provide a model for the program. Those are the models - nothing else. So you say - it is a shame what they do, but we can do it better. Yes, but why spend trillions on a system for less than 30 million people. Canada's entire health care system is approximately $42 billion for 33 million people. Coincidentally, about 44 million people are without health care in this country. 1/3 of those make over $50,000 a year, and 75% are under 35 (feeling of immortality and why spend money when I don't need to).
About 2/3 are the OTHER group - or 29, 330,000 ... LESS THAN IN ALL OF CANADA and costing 100 times their cost for more people. And you trust government. The 1/3 do not want medical insurance and you are going to tell them they need it, and must have it. Social Engineering? Invasion of privacy. Intrusion into the lives of others. Stealing their money. But not if you do it because you care. Then again, isn't caring subjective.
Even if we say that for every 1 million people you add 1.3 billion - we could spend 58 billion on all uninsured people in the US. NOT $7 TRILLION.
But you want better care than that - well, no you don't. 3, 900,000,000,000 is the cost for EVERY American using the Canadian dollar figures of 1.3 billion for every 1 million. Isn't it interesting that not only are we using Canada as a model for a system, but the figures bantered about are very similar to those spent in Canada, for our population!! And their system is failing.
Estimates in the US range from $4 to 7 trillion. Interesting. We should be able to do it for no more than 3.9 trillion given their spending numbers. Yet our estimates are higher. Why? Why the heck should I tolerate one person to make more money than they would. Why should I tolerate theft to give me a system that kills its patients and condemns all of us to mediocrity.
In Canada, they are developing a parallel system - private pay, to ensure you get health care that doesn't kill you. They are moving away from what it is some in this country want.
Yet some here, want to move toward a failed system. Odd.
Still others believe we should have medical care for everyone and then for some of us, we can have even BETTER health care we can pay for. That is not fair, that is not equal. That would create an unconstitutional situation of separate systems - for rich and poor - separate but equal. Which means, you would lose your ability to have the better health care, and would be required to settle for the care that kills.
As I made clear -
NEARLY EVERY (95%) child under 18 years of age is covered by CHIP - a medical system passed under Bush and expanded under Obama.
EVERY American and non-American can get EMERGENCY medical care, regardless of whether they have insurance or not. If they have NO money, it will be free to them. If they have some money, they will be asked to pay a percentage.
There are three federal programs and state programs that provide free care or care based upon a sliding scale cost, to ALL Americans and even to non-Americans.
That is the state we are in today. The care you receive is no worse than the care I would receive with having private insurance. To argue otherwise will fail - are doctors trained differently that attend the poor than those who can afford a PPO? Legally they cannot and do not. Same hospitals train the doctors, same schools teach them. There is no difference except my doctor sees fewer patients, and you believe it would be best to send 300 million people to fewer doctors, and the result would be .... BETTER? Yet you argue that is why the doctors who attend the poor are not as good - they are busier. And your plan, the plan offered by the followers of the socialist model, would dump 300 million more patients onto doctors already over burdened. care would decrease, lines would increase, costs would skyrocket, and the elderly would die because they are no longer useful.
No - the answer is work with what we have, provide tax breaks for those people who pay for their own private insurance, provide tax breaks to employers who provide medical insurance, and provide those people who have neither - an option - to secure a low cost HMO medical and dental (without pre-existing issues) would cost less than $90 a month. $900 a year and then let the taxpayer write off that amount.
Everyone will have care, and we will not need to create a new medical system, regional centers, thousands of new government employees, government controlled medical plans ... and a failed socialist medical system that drags us down.
Mo. girl: I was tired of my dad abusing my sister
Jan 29, 2009 6:22 PM (3 hrs ago)
By ANDALE GROSS, AP
HARRISONVILLE, Mo. - The sister of a girl who was allegedly molested and impregnated four times by their father says she waited until she turned 18 to come forward because she was afraid of being placed in state custody.
"My dad was doing all this crazy stuff," the 18-year-old told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "I got fed up with it until I finally ran my mouth. ... I couldn't see my sister suffer anymore. That's why I wanted her out."
She said her sister, now 19, was 13 when their father started molesting her. The 18-year-old said her sibling confided in her about the abuse after becoming pregnant the first time.
"But I already knew," she said.
The 18-year-old told police in October that her sister was being molested by their father and had given birth to four of his children. The tip led to a search of a rural property in Harrisonville where the family used to live. The property's new owners found two sealed coolers with the remains of two infants on Jan. 1.
Authorities said one of those infants died after not receiving medical treatment for pneumonia. The 47-year-old father has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of that baby, who was born in November 2006.
He also is accused of fathering the other infant whose body was found in the coolers, and investigators said they were looking into the circumstances of that baby's death.
Authorities believe a third baby born in 2004 has been buried in Oklahoma where the family once lived. A fourth child, now a 3-year-old boy, is in state custody.
In addition to the murder charge, the father also was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, statutory rape and two counts each of incest and abandoning a corpse. He was being held in the Cass County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.
The suspect's wife, also 47, has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child because authorities claimed she did little to stop her daughter's sexual abuse. She was free on bond and due in court next week for a case review.
The Associated Press is withholding the names of the suspects and other family members to protect the identity of the daughter, an alleged sexual assault victim.
A cousin of the suspect's four daughters said the girls were afraid of their father and that's why none of them sought help sooner.
"He threatened to kill them if they ever said anything," she said Thursday. "They were petrified."
Janeal Matheson, the public defender representing the man, declined to comment when reached by the AP on Thursday. No attorney was listed for the man's wife in court records, and calls to multiple phone numbers for her went unanswered.
A preliminary hearing for the father was scheduled for March 5.
Judge - No, it is the law, and just because you feel I should stop, the law is quite the contrary.
Obama - But I promised.
Facts - release them and all or nearly all have returned to al qaida and killed people.
Judge refuses to suspend Guantanamo trial
by Lucile Malandain Lucile Malandain – Thu Jan 29, 4:57 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – A military judge at Guantanamo Bay Thursday rejected President Barack Obama's request to suspend the trial of a Saudi man accused in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, the Pentagon said.
"Judge James Pohl denied the motion" put forward by the prosecution at Obama's request to suspend the trial for 120 days, said Defense Department spokesman Jeffrey Gordon.
The Washington Post added the judge found the government's argument in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri "unpersuasive."
"Congress passed the military commissions act, which remains in effect. The commission is bound by the law as it currently exists, not as it may change in the future," the judge wrote according to the Post.
Pohl further argued "the public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay in the arraignment," the Post said.
Nashiri, 43, was due to say whether he pleads guilty or not at a hearing set for February 9, and White House officials said the administration was now considering its options.
"We've just learned of the ruling here, as you did. And we are consulting with the Pentagon and the Department of Justice to explore our options in that case," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
The Post said the decision threw into disarray the administration's plan to buy time to review the cases against some 245 prisoners still held in the US military camp in southern Cuba.
In his first full day in office last week, Obama ordered the closure of the controversial detention center within a year.
But no decision has yet been made on what to do with the detainees still held at Guantanamo, most of them without charge, and many of whom cannot be returned to their home countries for various reasons.
Born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Nashiri allegedly conspired to help two Islamic extremists who steered an explosives-laden barge alongside the Cole, which was docked at the port of Aden, Yemen. The attackers then detonated themselves and their load.
Nashiri was arrested in 2002, and held in a secret CIA prison for almost four years before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
In February, former CIA director general Michael Hayden confirmed that US interrogators had secretly waterboarded Nashiri and two other detainees while he was in the spy agency's custody.
Following Pohl's decision, the new administration will now have to decide whether to withdraw the charges. Nashiri is one of six detainees who could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Judge Pohl "works for somebody," referring to Susan Crawford who presides over the military commissions.
"And the somebody that judge works for will have to make a determination on what does, indeed, happen," Morrell said, adding a decision was likely soon.
One military official, asking to remain anonymous, told AFP: "The judge may drop the charges, but without prejudice, in order to avoid going to the court, and without prejudice meaning they can be reinstated any time."
Such a move of dropping charges to bring them again later was used by the previous Bush administration.
According to defense lawyers, often the whole process begins again from zero in order to avoid using documents which could show the defendant had been subjected to harsh interrogations.
Obama's administration has asked prosecutors to stay upcoming hearings of Guantanamo detainees for 120 days.
And two military judges including one trying the cases of five men accused of organizing the September 11, 2001 have agreed to the request.
Federal judges in the US District Court in Washington are also currently presiding over hundreds of cases brought by Guantanamo detainees challenging their detention.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
China hit hard by global downturn
Chinese officials are concerned about rising unemployment in urban areas [EPA]
China's premier has said the global economic downturn has had a "big impact" on his country and called for better Sino-US ties to tackle the crisis.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, Wen Jiabao acknowledged that the downturn would probably lead to more protests and social unrest in China.
"To be frank with you, the current crisis has inflicted a big impact on China's economy.
"We are facing severe challenges in China, including shrinking global demand, overcapacity in some sectors, and rising unemployment in urban areas," he said.
"[But] as a big responsible country, China has acted in a responsible way during this crisis."
Wen's comments come in the wake of an increasing number of reports of unrest over jobs.
"We are facing severe challenges in China, including shrinking global demand ... and rising unemployment in urban areas"
More than 1,000 workers clashed with riot police in eastern China over unpaid wages two weeks ago and in November, hundreds of workers sacked from a toy factory in Guangdong province, southern China's export heartland, clashed with police and smashed buildings.
Declining demand for Chinese exports has forced thousands of factories to close and newly unemployed migrants to stream from coastal manufacturing regions back to their rural hometowns.
As many as 40 million workers from rural areas could be without jobs soon, according to a Chinese Communist Party School official cited by Britain's Telegraph newspaper.
Despite all that and the International Monetary Fund predicting on Wednesday that global growth would fall to its slowest pace in six decades, Wen remained upbeat about China's prospects.
He said China's economic growth would still grow by eight per cent this year - just down from the nine per cent recorded last year - which could help restore confidence in global markets and stem the financial crisis.
"We have the confidence, conditions, and ability to maintain steady and fast economic growth and continue to contribute to world economic growth,'' he said in his speech.
Beijing announced a $586bn stimulus package in November to boost domestic consumption through increased spending on construction and other projects, and Wen said he said seen "small signs of recovery which give me hope".
'Blind pursuit of profit'
Wen said positive relations with the US would help alleviate the economic downturn.
Despite his concerns Wen said he is confident that China can weather the global crisis [AFP]"Peaceful and harmonious relations will make both winners and a confrontation will make both losers," he said.
But his call for co-operation was overshadowed by a dispute over Beijing's exchange rate policy after Timothy Geithner, the new US treasury secretary, called China a "currency manipulator" last week, using a term the previous administration avoided for years.
Wen also criticised US and Western financial institutions, blaming "an unsustainable model'' of low savings and high consumption for the financial crisis.
He said financial institutions were involved in a "blind pursuit of profit'' and displayed "a lack of self-discipline''.
David Li, from the Centre for China and the World Economy, told Al Jazeera that the downturn was already testing relations between Beijing and the new administration in Washington, and he expected "an increase in tension".
"But overall I am optimistic because the Chinese economy is not dependent on trade with the US or with the rest of the world," he said.
"The policy emphasis and the driving force will come from domestic investment and domestic consumption."
Jan 28 04:40 PM US/Eastern
RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Massive deficits could force the post office to cut out one day of mail delivery, the postmaster general told Congress on Wednesday, in asking lawmakers to lift the requirement that the agency deliver mail six days a week.
If the change happens, that doesn't necessarily mean an end to Saturday mail delivery. Previous post office studies have looked at the possibility of skipping some other day when mail flow is light, such as Tuesday.
Faced with dwindling mail volume and rising costs, the post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year. "If current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year," Potter said in testimony for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee.
Total mail volume was 202 billion items last year, over 9 billion less than the year before, the largest single volume drop in history.
And, despite annual rate increases, Potter said 2009 could be the first year since 1946 that the actual amount of money collected by the post office declines.
"It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable," Potter said. "I reluctantly request that Congress remove the annual appropriation bill rider, first added in 1983, that requires the Postal Service to deliver mail six days each week."
"The ability to suspend delivery on the lightest delivery days, for example, could save dollars in both our delivery and our processing and distribution networks. I do not make this request lightly, but I am forced to consider every option given the severity of our challenge," Potter said.
That doesn't mean it would happen right away, he noted, adding that the agency is working to cut costs and any final decision on changing delivery would have to be made by the postal governing board.
If it did become necessary to go to five-day delivery, Potter said, "we would do this by suspending delivery on the lightest volume days."
The Postal Service raised the issue of cutting back on days of service last fall in a study it issued. At that time the agency said the six-day rule should be eliminated, giving the post office, "the flexibility to meet future needs for delivery frequency.
A study done by George Mason University last year for the independent Postal Regulatory Commission estimated that going from six-day to five-day delivery would save the post office more than $1.9 billion annually, while a Postal Service study estimated the saving at $3.5 billion.
The next postal rate increase is scheduled for May, with the amount to be announced next month. Under current rules that would be limited to the amount of the increase in last year's consumer price index, 3.8 percent. That would round to a 2-cent increase in the current 42-cent first class rate.
The agency could request a larger increase because of the special circumstances, but Potter believes that would be counterproductive by causing mail volume to fall even more.
Dan G. Blair, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, noted in his testimony that cutting service could also carry the risk of loss of mail volume. He suggested Congress review both delivery and restrictions it imposed on the closing of small and rural post offices.
The post office's problem is twofold, Potter explained.
"A revolution in the way people communicate has structurally changed the way America uses the mail," with a shift from first-class letters to the Internet for personal communications, billings, payments, statements and business correspondence.
To some extent that was made up for my growth in standard mail—largely advertising—but the economic meltdown has resulted in a drop there also.
Potter also asked that Congress ease the requirement that it make advance payments into a fund to cover future health benefits for retirees. Last year the post office was required to put $5.6 billion into the fund.
"We are in uncharted waters," Potter said. "But we do know that mail volume and revenue—and with them the health of the mail system—are dependent on the length and depth of the current economic recession."
He proposed easing the retirement pre-funding for eight years, while promising that the agency will cover the premiums for retirement health insurance.
At the same hearing the General Accounting Office agreed that the post office is facing an urgent need for help to preserve its financial strength. But the GAO suggested easing the pre-funding requirement for only two years, with Congress to determine the need for more relief later.
Potter noted that the agency has cut costs by $1 billion per year since 2002, reduced its work force by 120,000, halted construction of new facilities except in emergencies, frozen executive salaries and is in the process of reducing its headquarters work force by 15 percent.
Obama to GOP: 'I won'
By: Jonathan Martin and Carol E. Lee
January 24, 2009 12:37 AM EST
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation. The exchange arose as top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package. They also raised red flags about a refundable tax credit that returns money to those who don’t pay income taxes, the sources said. The Republicans stressed that they want to include more middle class tax cuts in the package, citing their proposal to cut the two lowest tax rates — 15 percent and 10 percent — to ten percent and five percent, rather than issue the refundable credit Obama wants.
But perhaps taking a cue from Obama’s “I won” line when Democrats were asked if they were concerned about Republicans blocking the package, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a swift one-word answer: “No.”
[To read the rest of the article, click on the title link]
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
By MATTHEW LEE
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Financial documents filed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton show that her husband earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, nearly all of it from foreign companies.
The documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press indicate that $5 million of the former president's reported $5.7 million in 2008 honoraria came from foreign sources. They included Kuwait's National Bank, a Hong Kong-based company, and other firms and groups in Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Portugal.
All senior officials in the Obama administration are required to complete a detailed disclosure of their personal finances, including spouse and children, which is updated yearly.
I am glad he said this, even if it was reported for political purposes.
- "He also said that he has 'no interest in increasing government just to increase the size of government.'"
Curious - no interest in increasing government, just to increase the size. So he will increase government to 'help' people. And the difference is?
- On taxes, "Obama says tax relief for some working families must come from payroll so even families who don't pay income taxes get relief and they will spend it."
Perfect sense - give people who pay no federal taxes money. Money that comes from people who do pay taxes. Why - in order that those people spend it. Why not give it back to people who pay it, so they can spend it?????? This is the best example of his philosophy.
- "Obama said if we can do more small business tax relief, 'we should do it, but I am just as concerned about the long term impact of tax cuts as I am about spending.'"
Concern over tax cuts, but not about giving money to people who don't pay taxes! He is either very ignorant or simply too focused on his legacy to understand the inherent contradictions he suggests. Creating a permanent electoral majority that pays no taxes.
- "He also issued concern about the debt. 'I will be judged by the legacy I have left behind. I don't want to leave our children with a legacy of debt. I am inheriting an annual yearly debt of over $1 trillion.'"
His legacy on day 4. Says a great deal about the man.
The LAPD says 'at least five' and then Officer Park goes on to say 'approximately five to seven'
I am a bit confused.
One body. two bodies. Three bodies. Oh, and look, another = four bodies. Not approximately 4, it is very exactly 4. Or 7 in this case, unless there is some question as to their counting skills.
It is silliness like this that make you wonder about the functioning level of some people.
Not to mention the tragedy itself which is beyond words.
At least 5 dead in apparent murder-suicide in LA
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
(01-27) 10:12 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) --
Los Angeles police say at least five people, including children, have been found dead in a home of an apparent murder-suicide.
Officer Sam Park says officers went to the home in Wilmington Tuesday morning after getting a report of shots fired. Wilmington is an area of Los Angeles about 25 miles south of downtown.
Park says investigators have found "approximately five to seven bodies" in the house.
He says investigators believe the dead are family members and that the killer is among them.
News helicopters showed a sizable two-story tract home with a red tiled roof on a tidy street. A children's playset was in the backyard.
(This version CORRECTS that Wilmington is a part of Los Angeles.)
Another version of the story with more detail about the family members
Monday, January 26, 2009
4:56 PM, January 26, 2009
Los Angeles Times
A woman has given birth to octuplets at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Bellflower, hospital officials confirmed today.
Updated at 5:10 p.m.: Two physicians who helped in the deliveries said they had planned in advance for the c-section deliveries but were only expecting seven babies. They got six boys and two girls.
“My eyes got to be the size of saucers,” Dr. Karen Maples said when it became obvious there was an eighth child. “We just went on and delivered the babies.”
“The orchestrated delivery went off without a hitch,” added Dr. Harold Henry. “The babies are all doing well and the mom is also doing well. There were no complications from the surgery to the best of my knowledge."
Henry said that hospital physicians and their assistants practiced two dry runs ahead of time. “We planned well and it was well executed,” he said. Maples said there were 46 people involved in the deliveries.
“It was exciting, a little anxious,” she said. “But we were prepared.” She said the mother should be released in a week but that the babies would probably remain in the hospital for at least two months.
The six boys and two girls were born between 10 43 a.m. and 10:48 a.m, the doctors said. The babies each weighed between 1 pound and 15 ounces to 3 pounds and four ounces, the physicians said.
Updated at 5:50 p.m.: Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the fertility program at the USC Medical School, called the event “unbelievably rare. When people use fertility drugs, 80 percent even then are single births. The vast majority of the others are twins.”
Still, fertility experts consider the birth of more than two kids with fertility medication to be not a medical triumph, but “a serious complication,” Paulson said. “We do not ever intend to give someone octuplets.”
Usually, he said, births of this kind are brought on by fertility medication, not in vitro fertilization. Often, during the medication, several of the mother’s eggs are fertilized. In most cases, Paulson said, the mother chooses to reduce the number of fertile eggs to two, “to make sure the two remaining babies will have the best chance at having good health. “To have all those babies, the mother would choose to have selective reduction. Apparently the mother made the decision to carry all the eight babies to viability.”
Updated at 7:20 p.m.:
At a Monday evening press conference, the team leaders -- Maples, Henry, and Dr. Mandhir Gupta -- beamed like new parents themselves. “It was a truly, truly amazing delivery,” Maples said. “We have been talking about this delivery for weeks on end. That’s why when we discovered the eighth, we were so well prepared.” The doctors will wake do pre-dawn interviews today with ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s Morning Show, NBC’s Today Show, and CNN.
The doctors said the children, born at nine weeks prematurely, were in incubators in stable condition, as was their mother. The two girls and six boys weighed between one pound eight ounces to three pounds four ounces. Five of the infants are breathing on their own. One has needed some help breathing, while two are attached to respirators.
KCAL Channel 9 reported that the babies were born today and quoted a doctor as saying they were "doing quite well."
In 1998, the first known set of octuplets born in the United States arrived. The six girls and two boys were born in Houston. One of the babies later died. The others survived and recently celebrated their 10th birthdays.
Obama's 27-year-old whizz kid speechwriter 'dating former Maxim model who is now a White House aide'
By Mail Foreign Service
26th January 2009
He is said to work 16 hours a day and and was unable to get a date during the presidential campaign.
But now Barack Obama's 27-year-old speechwriter, Jon Favreau, is dating a former Maxim model and actress who is working with him at the White House.
Ali Campoverdi stripped off for Maxim in 2004 - and told the men's magazine that she was looking for a man who was 'passionate' about something.
'I don’t care if it’s your job or your hobby or your shoes,' she said at the time. 'Something has to make you tick; something has to make you move.'
Ms Campoverdi is now an aide to a White House deputy chief of staff, American media outlets said.
But she has previously appeared American reality shows - including the dating show For Love or Money, where she was a 'million-dollar girl'.
The California native also appeared as a vampire hunted by Keanu Reeves in Constantine and was a finalist for the American version of The Apprentice with Donald Trump.
The relationship is evidence of Mr Favreau's newfound status as a political sex symbol - but during Mr Obama's presidential run, he was not so lucky.
Talking to the New York Times last year, Mr Favreau observed somewhat dryly that 'the rigours of this campaign have prevented any sort of serious relationship.'
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