Thursday, April 30, 2009
Biden steps on his tongue and requires the White House to modify and qualify everything he says, such as his statement on the Today Show about Influenza A(H1Ni)
"I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not that it's going to Mexico, it's you're in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation suggesting they ride the subway."
So the White House had to qualify his answer:
"The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving all Americans: That they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways."
But it was not so easy to modify the further comments, or make much sense of them -
"If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft or a closed container or closed car or closed classroom it's a different thing."
Translation - if someone sneezes in a classroom, plane, train, or automobile, you should get off or not get on before hand.
The White House added:
"Obviously, if anybody was unduly alarmed for whatever reason, we would apologize for that," Gibbs said.
Biden needs a red nose and big shoes.
Cover of Los Angeles Times today
The interesting part - far right column - flu is mild.
The photo in the center - a guy in a suit.
Doesn't suggest mild!
Then from the Telegraph in England -
April 30, 2009
Swine flu: 'All of humanity under threat', WHO warns
The World Health Organisation has warned that "all of humanity is under threat" from a potential swine flu pandemic and called for "global solidarity" to combat the virus.
Again, doesn't provide a safe feeling nor a MILD feeling.
Hard to tell us it is mild when they wear suits that suggest Doomsday and Resident Evil, nor when WHO says it is a threat to all mankind (we tend to imagine Resident Evil and the end of life).
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Summary of his teaching/argument:
Poor Osama, we declared war on him and he was defending himself because he had no other way to respond, and it was all our fault, and we trained him so we got all that blowback and its all our fault and we deserve to be punished for all the bad things we do/did to them.
[Amazing - you take 1/10 bit of truth and concoct 9/10 lie and people accept it because it is wrapped up in this mind-numbingly stupid argument - he is telling you what the media will not because they are all part of the conspiracy. And he learned what he learned from? Where? The Palestinian TV]
When I made a derogatory comment about the instructors usefulness to humanity and what should be done to him [a boot and his ass] - I was told I was 'closed minded'.
I have absolutely no time for such asinine comments or for anyone who believes such nonsense. Truly. If you ever want to push every wrong button - proceed down that road, because it is a sure fire way to get erased. I do not care who that instructor is, he is a waste of human life, a piece of rubbish of utterly no use to anyone, who, if he realized how wrong he was and that what he has been teaching is more dangerous than bin laden's propaganda he would do himself in - after recognizing what utter humiliation he has inflicted upon himself, his family, his country, and civilization. I wish I could introduce him to bin Laden, to watch as his head was cut off his body and carried about like a trophy. All the while he would have protested how he was really supporting bin Laden and respected him.
As for the person who I had dinner with - well, the dustbin awaits.
I cannot tolerate ignorance that exceeds that of a two year old. No matter who they are, we cannot waste time on people and things that consume energy.
There are moments I wish bin Laden prevailed, just so he could cull the population, and I know that among the first would be all those who spew forth the rubbish as presented above from the person in the class or their instructor.
Someone might say - what makes me so sure I am right, maybe they are, and maybe I am closed minded. I have spent over eight years evaluating every possible answer to that issue. I have looked at it from every side, and then found nuances that required evaluating. I have spent more time dealing with that single question than this person has spent on their entire education, and quite likely more time than the instructor has on any given subject. I started the analysis with my believing the Evil One and his cohorts were Robin Hood against the evil Sheriff. I started where the idiotic instructor now stands. I began with that premise and believed it from 1995 until 2001, longer than the instructor has taught any of his courses on the subject. Six years of believing, and not just believing but being able to argue every defense of the Evil One, and fully supporting him. Until 2001. Blowing up a military base or ship or ... was, for me, acceptable as long as it did not turn on civilian lives being lost.
I have considered that instructors arguments, long before he even knew he was making them, and I reject them.
Those who teach those lies are more dangerous than bin laden, for he has told us he wants to destroy us while they pretend to be one of us. He wants to change us - they claim to want to educate us. Bin Laden is honest in his purpose and goals, the purveyors of the lies are not.
In that way, I suppose, I still prefer bin laden - I know what he is, and what he wants. Instructors who teach Marxist theory, and take pieces of truth and wrap it in crap and sell it to students as the gospel of anti-Western thought ... they are a more serious threat.
Irresponsible and immature are two words that describe him well, along with many others.
FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape
Apr 29, 5:55 PM (ET)
By CALVIN WOODWARD
WASHINGTON (AP) - "That wasn't me," President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.
It actually was him - and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years - who shaped a budget so out of balance.
And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.
Obama met citizens at an Arnold, Mo., high school Wednesday in advance of his prime-time news conference. Both forums were a platform to review his progress at the 100-day mark and look ahead.
At various times, he brought an air of certainty to ambitions that are far from cast in stone.
His assertion that his proposed budget "will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term" is an eyeball-roller among many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits and economic calamity that the government is negotiating.
He promised vast savings from increased spending on preventive health care in the face of doubts that such an effort, however laudable it might be for public welfare, can pay for itself, let alone yield huge savings.
A look at some of his claims Wednesday:
OBAMA: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you've got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they're big, and they'll make our deficits go up over the next two years." - in Missouri.
Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama's last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush's final months - a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.
To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.
The economy has worsened under Obama, though from forces surely in play before he became president, and he can credibly claim to have inherited a grim situation.
Still, his response to the crisis goes well beyond "one-time charges."
He's persuaded Congress to expand children's health insurance, education spending, health information technology and more. He's moving ahead on a variety of big-ticket items on health care, the environment, energy and transportation that, if achieved, will be more enduring than bank bailouts and aid for homeowners.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.
OBAMA: "I think one basic principle that we know is that the more we do on the (disease) prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road. ... If we're making those investments, we will save huge amounts of money in the long term." - in Missouri.
THE FACTS: It sounds believable that preventing illness should be cheaper than treating it, and indeed that's the case with steps like preventing smoking and improving diets and exercise. But during the 2008 campaign, when Obama and other presidential candidates were touting a focus on preventive care, the New England Journal of Medicine cautioned that "sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention, however, are overreaching." It said that "although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not."
And a study released in December by the Congressional Budget Office found that increasing preventive care "could improve people's health but would probably generate either modest reductions in the overall costs of health care or increases in such spending within a 10-year budgetary time frame."
OBAMA: "You could cut (Social Security) benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody so everybody's payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax." - in Missouri.
THE FACTS: Obama's proposal would reduce the Social Security trust fund's deficit by less than half, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
That means he would still have to cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, raise the retirement age or some combination to deal with the program's long-term imbalance.
Workers currently pay 6.2 percent and their employers pay an equal rate - for a total of 12.4 percent - on annual wages of up to $106,800, after which no more payroll tax is collected.
Obama wants workers making more than $250,000 to pay payroll tax on their income over that amount. That would still protect workers making under $250,000 from an additional burden. But it would raise much less money than removing the cap completely.
29 Apr 2009
* WHO says flu pandemic imminent
* Virus in 9 countries, no sign outbreak slowing
* Mexican toddler is first U.S. fatality
* Markets wary, but impact thus far very limited
By Laura MacInnis and Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, April 29 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization said on Wednesday the world is at the brink of a pandemic, raising its threat level as the swine flu virus spread and killed the first person outside of Mexico, a toddler in Texas.
"Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a news conference in Geneva as she raised the official alert level to phase 5, the last step before a pandemic.
"The biggest question is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start," Chan said. But she added that the world "is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history."
Nearly a week after the H1N1 swine flu virus first emerged in California and Texas and was found to have caused dozens of deaths in Mexico, Spain reported the first case in Europe of swine flu in a person who had not been to Mexico, illustrating the danger of person-to-person transmission.
Both U.S. and European officials have said they expect to see swine flu deaths.
Despite worries that a major flu outbreak could hit the struggling global economy, world stocks rallied on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. recession appeared to be easing.
Almost all cases outside Mexico have had mild symptoms, and only a handful have required hospitalization.
"We doubt that the markets will react with the same worry as found during avian flu scares in the past," said Citigroup analyst Tobias Levkovich in New York.
Chan also urged companies who make the drugs to ramp up production. Two antiviral drugs -- Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Tamiflu, made by Roche AG and Gilead Sciences Inc. -- have been shown to work against the H1N1 swine flu strain.
Drugmakers have donated millions of doses of their drugs to the WHO. She also alerted governments to be ready to distribute stockpiles of their drugs.
Vaccine makers were on standby to begin making a new vaccine if needed.
In Mexico, where up to 159 people have died from the virus and around 1,300 more are being tested for infection, people struggled with an emergency that has brought normal life virtually to a standstill over the past week.
"I'm depressed. I don't understand where this came from, how it spreads, how long it will last or what it will to the economy," said an elderly woman named Licha, sitting on a Mexico City park bench and wearing a surgical mask.
Germany and Austria reported cases of the illness, bringing the number of affected countries to 9.
Texas officials said a 22-month-old boy had died -- the first confirmed U.S. swine flu death -- while on a family visit from Mexico.
In the Texas border city of Brownsville, where the young Mexican was first diagnosed and many residents have families on both sides of the Rio Grande river border, some residents said they were now reluctant to venture south to Mexico.
"I am extremely concerned because you could die," said Santiago Perez, 18, a student at Pace High School.
About 30 U.S. Marines in southern California on the biggest military base in the United States were quarantined after one was confirmed to have contracted the illness.
President Barack Obama, facing the sudden flu emergency along with his broader drive to pull the United States out of its deep recession, said the Texas death showed it was time to take "utmost precautions."
Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's newly confirmed health secretary, spent her first day in office on a rapid-fire media tour as the administration sought to calm public fears while urging public health vigilance.
"We know that the cases will continue to rise," Sebelius said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the Customs and Border Patrol was keeping an eye out for sick travelers, as usual, and had checked 49 people with flu-like symptoms. She said 41 had been cleared of H1N1 infection and eight were still being studied.
"We are preparing for the worst; hoping for the best," Napolitano said. "All of us should be dusting off our business contingency plans, looking at things like telecommuting and the like so that things keep operating."
Many Americans were heeding the warnings, snapping up hand sanitizers, wipes and soap. "I figure it's going to get worse before it gets better, right?" said Kathy Ivcich, 53, a real estate agent in Chicago.
WORRIES FOR MEXICO
Mexico's central bank warned the outbreak could deepen the nation's recession, hurting an economy that already shrank by as much as 8 percent from the previous year in the first quarter.
France said it would seek a European Union ban on flights to Mexico.
The EU, the United States and Canada have advised against non-essential travel to Mexico, a popular tourist destination, with many of the cases linked to travel there.
Many tourists already in Mexico were hurrying to leave, crowding airports and trying to change their tickets.
"We didn't want to get stuck here," said Australian Alex Grinter, who left her beach vacation in the southern state of Oaxaca to get an early flight to Vancouver.
In Mexico City, a metropolis of 20 million, all schools, restaurants, nightclubs and public events have been shut down to try to stop the sickness from spreading.
H1N1 swine flu is seen as the biggest risk since H5N1 avian flu re-emerged in 2003, killing 257 people of 421 infected in 15 countries. In 1968 a "Hong Kong" flu pandemic killed about 1 million people globally, and a 1957 pandemic killed 2 million.
Seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people in a normal year, including healthy children in rich countries.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington, Jason Lange, Catherine Bremer Alistair Bell and Helen Popper in Mexico City; Matt Bigg in Atlanta; Writing by Andrew Quinn, editing by Frances Kerry and Todd Eastham)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
JOE SCARBOROUGH, GLENN BECK AND OTHERS ON OBAMA'S SHORT, ERROR-PRONE TIME IN OFFICE
April 28, 2009
New York Post
1. "Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of 'earmarks,' urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. 'Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,' Obama said." -- McClatchy, 3/11
2. "There is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments." -- Obama during the campaign.
3. This year's budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.
4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million -- a whopping .0027%!
5. "The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties." -- ABC News, 4/15
6. "Mr. Obama is an accomplished orator but is becoming known in America as the 'teleprompt president' over his reliance on the machine when he gives a speech." -- Sky News, 3/18
7. In early February, the 2010 census was moved out of the Department of Commerce and into the White House, politicizing how federal aid is distributed and electoral districts are drawn.
8. Obama taps Nancy Killefer for a new administration job, First Chief Performance Officer -- to police government spending. But it surfaces that Killefer had performance issues of her own -- a tax lien was slapped on her DC home in 2005 for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help. She withdrew.
9. Turkey tried to block the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as new NATO secretary general because he didn't properly punish the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed. France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel were outraged; Obama said he supported Turkey's induction into the European Union.
10. . . . and he never mentioned the Armenian genocide.
Worse - the COST!
Apr 28, 2009 7:20 pm US/Eastern
FAA Memo: Feds Knew NYC Flyover Would Cause Panic
Threatened Federal Sanctions Against NYPD, Secret Service, FBI & Mayor's Office If Secret Ever Got Out
Furious Obama Apologizes: "It Will Never Happen Again"
NEW YORK (CBS) ― A furious President Barack Obama ordered an internal review of Monday's low-flying photo op over the Statue of Liberty.
CBS 2 HD has discovered the feds will have plenty to question.
Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.
In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.
"To say that it should not be made public knowing that it might scare people it's just confounding," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "It's what gives Washington and government a bad name. It's sheer stupidity."
The flyover -- apparently ordered by the White House Office of Military Affairs so it would have souvenir photos of Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty in the background -- had President Obama seeing red. He ordered a probe and apologized.
"It was a mistake. It will never happen again," President Obama said.
The NYPD was so upset about the demand for secrecy that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly vowed never to follow such a directive again and he accused the feds of inciting fears of a 9/11 replay. "Did it show any insensitivity to the psychic wounds New York City has after 9/11? Absolutely. No questions about it. It was quite insensitive."
The cost of the frivolous flight was about $60,000 an hour and that was just for Air Force One. That doesn't include the cost of the two F-16s that came along. The mayoral aide who neglected to tell Mayor Michael Bloomberg about it was reprimanded.
Obama Orders Review of New York Flight as Cost Put at $328,835
By Roger Runningen and Tony Capaccio
April 28 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama ordered a review of a publicity-photo shoot with one of the planes that serves as Air Force One that cost taxpayers $328,835 and caused a furor in New York City.
The flu has spread to Russia, Denmark, France, England, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic, and Spain.
All victims had contact with Mexico.
Over 2000 cases in mexico with a 7.5% mortality rate in Mexico.
At present, 150 dead.
We can assume, if the numbers are revealed, a more significant death rate between Mexico and Columbia, where hospitalization would be unavailable to many, and where many people wouldn't know how serious this issue is. Many would also try the 'old ways' and would never report the illnesses.
In 1918, the Influenza pandemic killed 2.5% of its victims.
In 2009, the rate is 7.5% in Mexico, while we have at least 48 cases in the US.
And still, closing the border is ... not needed.
Should we operate on worst case scenario possibilities? No, but we should be prudent and that involves preventing worst case scenarios ... including closing the border.
Worst case scenario underlies US pandemic plan
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writers
April 28, 2009
WASHINGTON – Two million dead. Hospitals overwhelmed. Schools closed. Swaths of empty seats at baseball stadiums and houses of worship. An economic recovery snuffed out. We're nowhere close to what government planners say would be a worst-case scenario: a global flu pandemic. But government leaders at all levels, and major employers, have spent nearly four years planning for one in series of exercises.
Their reports, reviewed by The Associated Press, and interviews with participants paint a grim picture of what could happen if the swine flu gets severely out of control.
A full-scale pandemic — if it ever comes — could be expected to claim the lives of about 2 percent of those infected, about 2 million Americans.
The government estimates that a pandemic like the 1918 Spanish flu would sicken 90 million Americans, or about 30 percent of the population. Of those, nearly 10 million would have to be admitted to a hospital, and nearly 1.5 million would need intensive care. About 750,000 would need the help of mechanical ventilators to keep breathing.
No one would be immune from the consequences, even those who don't get sick, according to worst-case exercises run by local and national agencies.
Schools would be closed to try to block the spread of illness, for example, but school buses might be used to take flu victims to alternative clinics rather than overcrowded hospitals.
A 2006 report on the Washington region found both Maryland and Virginia would run out of hospital beds within two weeks of a moderate outbreak.
People who got sick would be isolated, and their relatives could be quarantined.
But even if families weren't required to stay home, many would do so to take care of sick relatives, or because they were afraid of getting sick themselves.
Hotels, restaurants and airlines would face loss of business as business travel and meetings would be replaced by teleconferences.
In the cities, commuters who do go to work might bike or walk instead of using mass transit.
People would avoid movie theaters and rent DVDs instead.
In 1918, authorities even called on churches to cancel services, to the chagrin of some pastors.
Society as a whole would go into a defensive crouch, and that would deliver a shock to the economy.
The Trust for America's Health, an independent public health group, estimated in 2007 that a severe pandemic would shrink U.S. output by about 5.5 percent.
Take a breath. Even if the new swine flu from Mexico turns out to be especially aggressive, the worst consequences could be averted.
Although some states are less prepared than others, the nation has made strides in stockpiling antiviral medicines, speeding the production of vaccines and laying down basic public health guidelines.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday that the U.S. is preparing as if the swine flu outbreak were a full pandemic. It is not at that stage and may never reach it.
Disease detectives are following a series of outbreaks, of varying severity, all of which appear to be related to Mexico. A pandemic would spread throughout the world with explosive speed.
The government got serious about worst-case planning during the 2005 bird flu scare, as the lessons of Hurricane Katrina loomed large.
"We have a playbook that was developed and is being followed," said Michael Leavitt, who as secretary of Health and Human Services oversaw pandemic planning for President George W. Bush. "It's a substantially better picture than what we faced three years ago."
Monday, April 27, 2009
Reid says Obama told him, 'I have a gift'
By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer
Mon Apr 27, 5:45 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Everyone knows President Barack Obama can deliver a great speech, including the president himself, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The paperback version of Reid's book, "The Good Fight," is coming out May 5 with an epilogue called "The Obama Era." Reid said he was impressed when Obama, then a freshman senator from Illinois, delivered a speech about President George W. Bush's war policy.
Reid, D-Nev., writes: "'That speech was phenomenal, Barack,' I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: 'I have a gift, Harry.'"
A copy of the book's 15-page epilogue was provided to The Associated Press. Reid said in an interview he hesitated about citing Obama's comment because he knew it could be interpreted as bragging.
"To be honest, my wife, she said, 'don't tell people that,'" Reid recalled. "She's afraid it could be taken the wrong way. But she's heard me tell lots of people that, and everytime she goes 'don't do that.' Now it's there for thousands of people to read."
Reid said in the book that he talked to Obama in 2006 about running for president, and that Obama expressed doubts about his ability to win.
"I was resolved to stay neutral in the coming campaign, but I told him that in my view the stars could align for him. 'If you want to be president, you can be president now,' I said. 'I don't know, Harry,' he said. 'I don't think so.'"
Reid also explained why, after the presidential election, he decided against removing Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Lieberman had campaigned for the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.
"This decision had not so much to do with forgiveness as it did with simple math," Reid wrote. "Years of counting votes in the Senate had taught me that you never take a vote for granted."
He said Monday that many groups are still mad at him for that decision.
"But they don't have to count the votes," Reid said. "I do."
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Quarantining all passengers who arrive from Mexico or via Mexico.
These would be necessary steps unless it is already too late.
In 1918, the year of the great flu pandemic - the great and fearful flu pandemic ... had a mortality rate of 2.5%
In Mexico, the number of deaths are over 80, which puts the mortality rate in Mexico at 6%
If the mortality rate is similar in the United States, over 950,000 Americans would die. So far, 20 cases have been confirmed and no deaths.
The decision Obama makes will impact millions, directly.
By Alex Brill and Alan D. Viard
Friday, August 8, 2008
Senator Obama’s proposed ‘tax cuts for the middle class’ are actually marginal rate hikes in disguise.
Senator Barack Obama declared recently that he wants to “reform our tax code so that it rewards work and not just wealth.” We think that is a great goal if it means a simple tax system with low marginal tax rates. Unfortunately, a close inspection of Obama’s proposals reveals something disquieting: he would raise marginal tax rates for many middle-income taxpayers, a bad move for anyone seeking to promote economic growth.
Although Obama is offering a new series of tax breaks, they undermine rather than improve economic incentives. First, whether or not you get those breaks will depend on your income. In Washington, taking away tax breaks as families work harder to make more money is called a “phase-out.” Economists have a different name for it—we call it a tax. Reducing a person’s tax credit as his income goes up also reduces his incentive to earn more income.
Second, Obama would make some credits refundable for families with credits bigger than their tax liability, which would also have the nefarious effect of raising marginal tax rates. For example, consider a worker in the 10 percent bracket with $1,000 of tax liability before credits who claims $1,200 in credits. The tax impact of earning an extra $100 depends on whether the credit is refundable. If it’s not refundable, there’s no tax penalty on earning the extra $100 because the worker’s tax liability stays at zero. But if the credit is refundable, earning the extra money pushes the tax up from negative $200 to negative $190—that’s a 10 percent penalty on earning income.
Although Obama is offering a new series of tax breaks, they undermine rather than improve economic incentives.
The solid line in the nearby chart illustrates the effective marginal tax rate under Obama’s tax proposals (based on the authoritative “Preliminary Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans,” published by the Brookings Institution/Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center). These are the marginal rates in 2009 for a two-earner couple with two children—a college freshman and a 12-year-old receiving after-school care—under some specific assumptions. For comparison, the dotted line on the chart illustrates the effective tax rates under current law. The rates shown in the chart are not spelled out in the tax code; they are the result of giving and taking away tax breaks as the household’s income changes.
As the chart shows, Obama’s give-and-take tax policy results in marginal tax rates of 34 percent to 39 percent in the $31,000 to $45,000 income range for this family. That’s an increase of 13 percentage points or more from the current rates.
What accounts for the higher rates? First, Obama expands the maximum child and dependent care credit for families with one young child from $1,050 to $1,500 and phases down the credit over a longer income range, from $30,000 to $58,000. Throughout this income range, the credit is phasing out at a rate of $30 per $1,000 of income, thus raising the effective tax rate by 3 percentage points. Obama also makes certain credits refundable, which introduces a tax penalty of 10 percent or 15 percent, depending on the income bracket.
While Obama has publicly embraced a tax rate of 40 percent for couples earning over $350,000, his tax policies would result in a staggering 45 percent effective marginal rate in the $110,000 to $120,000 income range for this family. That is 11 percentage points higher than under current law.
The culprit in this case is Obama’s proposed reform of the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit for college tuition, which he would rename the “American Opportunity Tax Credit.” He would increase the credit’s maximum value from $1,800 to $4,000 while still phasing out the credit over the same income range, $100,000 to $120,000. The larger phase-out would boost the penalty on work from 9 percentage points to 20 percentage points.
Although Senator John McCain would not eliminate the existing phase-outs, he would avoid adding new ones, with one small and temporary exception. While McCain has proposed increasing the personal exemption for children, he would make it immediately available only to lower-income taxpayers. Until the bigger exemption is offered to everyone in 2016, some households would face an additional effective marginal tax rate of about 2 percentage points.
To be sure, Obama’s proposals would not tarnish an otherwise pristine tax code. As the chart shows, the U.S. tax code is already littered with phase-ins and phase-outs. For that matter, it’s hard to know how much phase-outs actually discourage people from earning additional income. Because the phase-outs are so hard to decipher, many Americans may ignore them when making their work and saving decisions. Of course, those people are still burdened by the long and frustrating IRS worksheets required to compute the value of their tax credits; and creating a more confusing tax code certainly does not make for good government.
While both candidates will reduce their tax plans to clever sound bites, voters should consider how those plans would affect incentives to earn income. Unfortunately, Senator Obama’s proposed “tax cuts for the middle class” are actually marginal rate hikes in disguise.
Alex Brill is a research fellow and Alan D. Viard is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
How change will give us all the change we need and want. Accept the Obamessiah line, do not question, it is good for you, it will save us, it is .... cool-aid, by imbeciles who are seriously as problematic for the US as are enemies outside our borders. Redefining America from one that produces to one that is taxed so heavily it will never again be, the super power it once was.
For a select few - they will pay nothing! I'd like to be them. I assume he is aiming his future vote gathering at that group.
How terribly wrong that is.
How short-sighted that policy is.
Click on the image to visit the site from which I copied the image.
The last thing this country needs is a pirate raid on the wealth creators who still dare navigate our stormy waters (...And don't lynch me as a rich b*****d flying a kite for his own cause - I really fear an exodus of talent)
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
26th April 2009
The opinion polls have uttered. The country loves the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax. Soak the rich. Smash the bankers. So Government spin doctors are in second heaven. The Conservatives' silence redefines a tomb. And I suppose there'd be quite a turnout for the public flogging of Sir Fred the Shred.
But before you book your tickets, hold hard. And before you lynch me as a rich b*****d flying a kite for my own cause, let me beg you to believe that I am not.
I believe that this new top rate of tax could be the final nail in the coffin of Britain plc.
I am 61 years old. I have lived and worked in Britain all my life. Not even in the dark days of penal Labour taxation in the Seventies did I have any intention of leaving the country of my birth.
Despite a rumour put around some years back, I have never contemplated leaving Britain for tax reasons. But in the 40-plus years I have been lucky enough to work here, I've seen a bit. So I must draw your attention to what is really proposed in this Budget.
Here's the truth. The proposed top rate of income tax is not 50 per cent. It is 50 per cent plus 1.5 per cent national insurance paid by employees plus 13.3 per cent paid by employers. That's not 50 per cent. Two years from now, Britain will have the highest tax rate on earned income of any developed country.
I write this article because I fear the inevitable exodus of the talent that can dig us out of the hole we find ourselves in. It is inevitable, given that other countries are bidding for entrepreneurs. The Government must modify its proposals.
I give you this example. I have altered the details of the family I write about for obvious reasons. But the essentials are true.
Last Thursday I met with a thirtysomething guy. I absolutely depend on him in a highly technical area of theatrical production. For legal reasons he has to employ himself through his own company. Under the new tax regime, he will have to pay 13.3 per cent to employ himself before he pays himself anything. And then he will have to pay 51.5 per cent on what's left.
This is a guy at the cutting edge of his profession who works all over the world. He is in demand in every major territory where entertainment is produced. He has a young wife and two children. Last Thursday he told me that he and his wife had decided that the UK was no longer where they wanted to live.
His wife thinks the State education system is inadequate. And she fears that a bankrupt Britain will increasingly be a worse place in which to live as the horror of our present financial mess hits us all in the solar plexus.
He says that he is young enough to set up shop somewhere else. The new tax rates were the final straw. These talented young people know they will make it impossible for them to educate their kids privately in the UK.
So Britain plc loses not just the 40 per cent he would have paid in personal taxes under the old regime - plus NI and everything else - but... Come on, I don't need to explain the knock-on effect. It's obviously huge and immensely damaging - that's why I am writing this article quickly and probably with too much passion.
The extraordinary thing is that, back in 1974, even Denis 'squeeze the rich until the pips squeak' Healey realised that you can't crush these talented people - who work much of the year abroad and away from their families - like specimen butterflies.
He introduced a reduction in tax of 25 per cent for any work performed by a UK resident overseas. This, amazingly, rose to 100 per cent if the work took the individual out of the UK for a year. These reductions were scrapped by the Tories when they introduced the 40 per cent top rate.
In the Healey days, there was no open-ended national insurance tax. Then national insurance was supposed to be just that, not the gigantic Ponzi scheme financed through direct taxation that it has become.
Of course there are thousands of people like my friend - some employing themselves through their own companies, some self-employed, some employed by others. But all are part of the wealth-creation engine that has helped power Britain's economy.
There is another dangerous aspect to the proposed tax climate. I am grateful to the distinguished crossbench peer who pointed it out to me. That is the wide disparity between the capital gains tax (CGT) rate at 18 per cent and the new top rate of income tax, which is effectively three times as much.
So it's far more rewarding to keep 82 per cent of that clever speculation you did in the property market than bust your guts creating real wealth.
Yes, it's laudable to have a CGT rate that encourages the creation of new enterprises. But it does not help Britain if the top rate of income tax is so high that the system actively encourages speculation, and therefore the repetition of the mess that we find ourselves in today.
So I ask the Government to reconsider what it is doing. More than ever before we need to keep high-flying professionals in the UK. We can't, as we have done in the past, dump on them through penal personal taxation.
Of course we know that there have been some shocking excesses in the City of London. But for years we have also had drummed into us that the City of London proudly took over from manufacturing as the UK's main source of income.
New Labour rejoiced in the fruits of the excesses of the bankers.
Of course, with hindsight, their bonuses were obscene. But New Labour gratefully taxed them.
So, I beg readers not to confuse overpaid bankers with the rest of Britain's entrepreneurs.
The next few years are going to be horrendous in the UK. The last thing we need is a Somali pirate-style raid on the few wealth creators who still dare to navigate Britain's gale-force waters.
Iran honors murderer Samir Kuntar
During award ceremony honoring former prisoners Kuntar says 'Zionist regime must be destroyed'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad awarded murderer Samir Kuntar an honorary statuette Thursday during a ceremony in honor of former political prisoners from Iran and the world.
The state-owned IRNA reported that Kuntar arrived in Iran with the former captors of Ron Arad, Mustafa Dirani and Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid, to receive honors for their imprisonment in Israel and their share in "supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance."
Awards were also granted to 30 Iranian prisoners form the time of the Shah's reign, 10 prisoners from Muslim countries, and one prisoner from the period of apartheid in South Africa.
Kuntar received a statuette featuring two prisoners attempting to break through the bars of a prison. During a press conference, the convicted murderer praised Iran for its contribution to Hamas and Hizbullah.
"The Islamic revolution in Iran has a big part in the victories of the years 2000, 2006, and the most recent victory of the people of Gaza," he told reporters.
During the ceremony Kuntar said, "We must resist the American occupation because the Americans support dictatorship, and in the region we must resist the Zionist regime and destroy it."
The terrorist was released from an Israeli prison last year as part of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah, after he had been detained for 30 years.
Despite his long sentence Kuntar was ready to continue his fight against "the occupying enemy". He said, "Every drop of blood and every bit of pain are the price we paid for victory."
Dirani, a former member of the Shiite Amal group in Lebanon, captured IDF navigator Ron Arad together with his followers after the soldier had been forced to abandon his plane above Lebanon in 1986.
Eight years later Dirani was taken from his home in the middle of the night by Israeli forces, but after he was brought to Israel it was discovered that he had transferred Arad to other hands in exchange for money.
Dirani remained imprisoned in Israel until his release from prison in 2004, together with colleague Abd al-Karim Obeid, in a prisoner swap for Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three kidnapped IDF soldiers.
Report: UNRWA pays terrorists
In sharply worded report, former legal advisor to UN agency says group must redefine oxymoronic labeling of Palestinians with Jordanian, Lebanese citizenship as refugees
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees employs and provides benefits for terrorists and criminals, asserts a former legal adviser to UNRWA who left the organization in 2007. James Lindsay, now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as an attorney with the US Justice Department for two decades before leaving to work for UNRWA in 2000.
Titled 'Fixing UNRWA: Repairing the UN's Troubled System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees,' Lindsay's report puts forward suggestions intended to improve the agency. Established by the US and Britain after the 1948 war, UNRWA's objective was to aid displaced Palestinians.
Lindsay writes that although the US remains UNRWA's main contributor, the agency's positions contrast with Washington's.
During the recent fighting in Gaza a number of UNRWA institutions were bombed by the IDF, which claimed that terrorists had fired at forces from within or near the UN compounds. The agency's employees took a clear-cut stance against Israel during the war.
Lindsay's report warns that the agency has deteriorated increasingly over the years since its establishment, and that it was currently offering services to those who were not actually in need of them. "No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services," the report says.
He suggests UNRWA make operational changes and "halt its one-sided political statements and limit itself to comments on humanitarian issues; take additional steps to ensure the agency is not employing or providing benefits to terrorists and criminals; and allow the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), or some other neutral entity, to provide balanced and discrimination-free textbooks for UNRWA initiatives."
Lindsay concludes his report by saying that only these changes would allow the agency to complete its task in the Middle East. "For the Palestinians it serves, this means ending their refugee status and returning, after nearly sixty years, to what most of them so desperately seek: normal lives," he writes.
The report will be handed over to US President Barack Obama's administration, which is keen to help fix the ailing agency.
"The United States, despite funding nearly 75 percent of UNRWA’s initial budget and remaining its largest single country donor, has largely failed to make UNRWA reflect US foreign policy objectives. UNRWA initially served US humanitarian purposes, but in later years often clashed with US policies," the report says.
Lindsay claims the most important change that should be made in the agency is "the removal of citizens from recognized states – persons who have the oxymoronic status of “citizen refugees” – from UNRWA’s jurisdiction. This would apply to the vast majority of Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan, as well as to some in Lebanon and Syria."
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press
ROME – An Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia when its Israeli private security forces exchanged fire with the bandits.
Six men in a small, white Zodiac-type boat approached the Msc Melody at about 1730 GMT Saturday and opened fire with automatic weapons, Msc Cruises director Domenico Pellegrino said. They retreated after the security officers returned fire and sprayed them with water hoses.
The ship continued its journey with its windows darkened.
"It felt like we were in war," the ships commander, Ciro Pinto, told Italian state radio.
None of the roughly 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members was hurt, Pellegrino said. The passengers were asked to return to their cabins and the external lights on board turned off.
Pellegrino said all Msc cruise ships around the world are staffed with Israeli security agents because they are the best trained.
The attack occurred about 200 miles (325 kilometers) north of the Seychelles, and about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of Somalia, according to the anti-piracy flotilla headquarters of the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa.
Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, said that last fall after the attack on a Saudi tanker more than 400 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia there had been "a definite shift in (the pirates) tactical capabilities."
"It's not unheard of to have attacks off the coast of the Seychelles, we've even had some in the past month," he said. "But at the same time, it is a sign that they are moving further and further off the Somali coast."
Separately Sunday, four Yemeni tankers escorted by a Yemeni coast guard boat on their way to Aden were attacked by pirates. Three of the ships escaped and coast guards captured five pirates and wounded two others, said Mohammed Abdul-Rahman, a senior official at the Overseas Shipping and Stevedoring Company. Pirates could only seize one of the tankers, the Qana. The Yemeni Interior Ministry said coast guards were trying to free it.
And the Turkish cruiser Ariva 3, with two British and four Japanese crew aboard, survived a pirate attack near the Yemeni island of Jabal Zuqar, said Ali el-Awlaqi, head of the Yemeni El-Awlaqi Marine company said.
"Pirates opened fire at the cruise ship for 15 minutes then stopped for no reason," he said, adding that the cruiser was heading to Aden, Yemen, to fix a broken engine.
International military forces have battled pirates, with U.S. Navy snipers killing three holding an American captain hostage in one of the highest-profile incidents.
But Saturday's exchange of fire between the Melody and pirates was one of the first reported between pirates and a nonmilitary ship. Civilian shipping and passenger ships have generally avoided arming crewmen or hiring armed security for reasons of safety, liability and compliance with the rules of the different countries where they dock.
Pellegrino said the pistols on board the Melody were available to the commander and security agents. He said they were used as a deterrent, "in an emergency operation."
It was not the first attack on a cruise liner. In November, pirates opened fire on a U.S.-operated ship, the M/S Nautica, which was taking 650 passengers and 400 crew members on a monthlong luxury cruise from Rome to Singapore. The cruise liner was able to outrun the pirates. In early April a tourist yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Seychelles just after having dropped off its cargo of tourists.
The Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the pirates attacked late Saturday, slightly damaging the liner, Pinto said.
"After about four or five minutes, they tried to put a ladder up," Pinto told Sky TG24. "They were starting to climb up but we reacted, we started to fire ourselves. When they saw our fire, and also the water from the water hoses that we started to spray toward the Zodiac, they left and went away."
"They followed us for a bit, about 20 minutes, and continued to fire," he said.
Cruise line security work is a popular job for young Israelis who have recently been discharged from mandatory army service, as it is a good chance to save money and travel.
"We have always had great faith in their capacity, they have always been very qualified," Pellegrino said of the Israelis, though he declined to give the name of the firm.
The Spanish warship SPS Marques de Ensenada met up with the Melody to escort her through the pirate-infested northern Gulf of Aden, the Maritime Security Center said. The cruise ship was headed as scheduled to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, returning to the Mediterranean for spring and summer season cruises.
Meanwhile, Somali pirates on Sunday demanded a $5 million ransom for the release of two Egyptian fishing boats hijacked earlier this month, and the safe return of their crew, Egyptian Foreign Ministry official Ahmed Rizq said in Cairo.
"Tribal sheiks are trying to mediate to convince the hijackers to release the boats and the sailors, but it's clear to everybody that we are dealing with piracy that has no other purpose but money," he said, adding that the negotiations were between the hijackers and the boats' owners.
Pirates have attacked more than 100 ships off the Somali coast over the last year, reaping an estimated $1 million in ransom for each successful hijacking, according to analysts and country experts.
Another Italian-owned vessel remains in the hands of pirates. The Italian-flagged tugboat Buccaneer was seized off Somalia on April 11 with 16 crew members aboard.
On Saturday, the Foreign Ministry dispatched a special envoy, Margherita Boniver, to Somalia to try to win the release of the tug and crew. In a statement, the ministry also denied reports by relatives of the crew that an ultimatum had been issued by the pirates.
But Israel doesn't drive up, shoot everyone, and drive away. It doesn't come as one of the people, kill them, and leave as if the arbiter of moral judgment with blood on its hands.
The real threat to the Palestinians is Hamas.
A threat to the Palestinian people?
CNN -- -- The federal government declares a public health emergency, as the number of cases of swine flu in the U.S. rises to 20.
Where did it begin - the health emergency? Where is it focused? Where are most cases? Close the border, or at the very least, require something to verify / check, such as hospital/doctor checkups / injections.
Flights that originate from or had connecting segments in Mexico - the passengers would be quarantined or given injections.
Or the United States could follow Mexico. It has now spread to Canada, from passengers who were in Mexico.
It is not racist.
It is not.
It saves many in the US and Canada instead of allowing hundreds to die here.
We are not Mexico's savior. They must save themselves.
Go see the UN.
Los Angeles Daily News
This could shatter Los Angeles' self-image as one of the world's sunny, happy, carefree capitals of the good life.
Forbes, the business magazine famous for publishing lists - from attention-grabbing ("Most Powerful Celebrities") to arcane ("48 Asian Altruists") - came out this month with a roster of U.S. cities where it's "Hardest to Get By" financially.
No. 1 is Providence, R.I. No. 3 is Riverside. The top 10 includes Buffalo, Detroit and Louisville.
And right there among those unglamorous places, No. 2 on this list of the American economy's most miserable municipalities, is Los Angeles.
When was the last time you saw Los Angeles, the Entertainment Capital of the World, and Providence, formerly nicknamed the Beehive of Industry, side by side in any context?
The worse news is that Los Angeles' poor placement on the Forbes list seems to come as no shock to people who live here.
"I'm not terribly surprised," said Shelley Baker, a West Hills resident since 1970. "L.A. is a wonderful place to live, but I see the desperation, the people on the streets ... people having to cut back. It's harder and harder and harder."
Forbes says the rankings were determined mathematically by measuring the cost of living, median household income and February unemployment rate for each of the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas.
Los Angeles - actually, the L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana metro area - had a cost-of-living index that's 48 percent above the national average, a median household income ($56,680) that's slightly better than average, and an unemployment rate (10.2 percent) that's worse than the nation as a whole.
While even worse unemployment hurt people in Providence and Riverside, and low incomes afflict No. 4 Tampa and No. 5 Buffalo, it's the whopping cost of living here that accounts for Los Angeles' position on the dishonor roll.
Mostly, what accounts for our high cost of living is the high cost of keeping roofs over our heads. L.A. housing prices are 2 1/2 times the national average - though still less than two-thirds the prices in Manhattan.
Does Los Angeles' No. 2 ranking in this bottom 10 accurately state how hard it is for people here to make ends meet?
"I know we live in an expensive place," Mark Young, a children's animation producer from Woodland Hills, said one cloudy morning this past week outside the Woodland Hills post office. "And like everyone, I'm concerned that instead of leveling off, it's climbing (getting worse). I can't find solace in any direction anymore."
Local economists say they take some solace in knowing the Forbes finding is merely a statistical snapshot.
Because it's based entirely on numbers, the ranking doesn't give Southern California credit for its noneconomic good points, beginning with the weather.
"If you're looking for the cheapest place to live, this isn't it," said Elan Shore of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. and the San Fernando Valley Economic Alliance. "But there's a reason people still want to live here ... still see this as a place of opportunity."
And because it reflects only a moment in time, the ranking doesn't tell if things here are getting worse or better.
As high as L.A. County's median house price is, it actually has fallen 34 percent since March 2008 - faster than the national average has fallen - according to California State University, Northridge, Professor Daniel R. Blake, director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center.
If house prices continue to slide, so could Los Angeles' ranking on Forbes' bad-news list. On both counts, we have a lot of room to improve.
"I do think rents will stabilize or drop off, becoming a little cheaper next year. I don't see the lower-end housing, the cost of buying a home, dropping that much more," Blake said.
But, Blake said, if Forbes were to conduct the same study in 2010, "I think L.A. will be more affordable, relative to income. I think a year from now, unemployment will be down. I think L.A. would not be No. 2 on the list - but I would still expect it be in the top half."
Shore cited a competing study, by the Financial Times' Foreign Direct Investment Magazine, that recently ranked Los Angeles No. 7 among North American "cities of the future" for business.
By contrast, Shore said, "The Forbes study is based on looking backward."
That's no consolation to those who are looking at Los Angeles in the rearview mirror.
Doing interviews in front of the Woodland Hills post office on Friday, one was struck by the beleaguered looks of the people scurrying in and out. They were looks you'd expect in a Bronx subway, not on a leafy side street in a nice Valley neighborhood.
A reporter approached 10 people, asking if they could spare a minute. Five walked past, saying they were in a hurry. One listened to the reporter describe the Forbes conclusion, then said he'd lost his voice and would rather not be interviewed. One listened and said only, "It doesn't surprise me at all."
One, a 35-year-old Woodland Hills resident who declined to give his name, said the Forbes study was "interesting, because I just lost my job."
"I'm from Wisconsin, and I'm moving back to Madison," he said. "I would attempt to stay, but I know my funds would run out fast. I'd have to find (a job) pretty fast, and in this economy, that would be hard."
Good news for him: Madison, Wis., doesn't make the top 20 on Forbes' list of the places where it's Hardest to Get By.
Meanwhile, at this cash-strapped moment in time, Los Angeles is No. 2 in the nation, in a world of economic hurt.
We can't even have the satisfaction of saying we're No. 1.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
For Mexico, it could be the final straw, and what of its effect in the US should it cross in any major city?
And why is our government not taking this seriously!
Mexico’s Calderon Declares Emergency Amid Swine Flu Outbreak
By Thomas Black
April 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an emergency in his country’s swine flu outbreak, giving him powers to order quarantines and suspend public events.
Authorities have canceled school at all levels in Mexico City and the state of Mexico until further notice, and the government has shut most public and government activities in the area. The emergency decree, published today in the state gazette, gives the president authority to take more action.
“The federal government under my charge will not hesitate a moment to take all, all the measures necessary to respond with efficiency and opportunity to this respiratory epidemic,” Calderon said today during a speech to inaugurate a hospital in the southern state of Oaxaca.
At least 20 deaths in Mexico from the disease are confirmed, Health Minister Jose Cordova said yesterday. The strain is a variant of H1N1 swine influenza that has also sickened at least eight people in California and Texas. As many as 68 deaths may be attributed to the virus in Mexico, and about 1,000 people in the Mexico City area are showing symptoms of the illness, Cordoba said.
The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not.
The Mexican government is distributing breathing masks to curtail the disease’s spread. There is no vaccine against the new strain of swine flu, health authorities said.
Museums, theaters and other venues in the Mexico City area, where large crowds gather, have shut down voluntarily and concerts and other events canceled to help contain the disease. Two professional soccer games will be played tomorrow in different Mexico City stadiums without any fans, El Universal newspaper reported. Catholic masses will be held, the newspaper said, although church officials urged worshipers to wear breath masks and to avoid contact.
Schools will likely remain closed next week, Calderon said in the Oaxaca speech. The decree allows Calderon to regulate transportation, enter any home or building for inspection, order quarantines and assign any task to all federal, state and local authorities as well as health professionals to combat the disease.
“The health of Mexicans is a cause that we’re defending with unity and responsibility,” Calderon said. “I know that although it’s a grave problem, a serious problem, we’re going to overcome it.”
Normal Airport Operations
Mexico City’s international airport, which handles about 70,000 passengers each day, is operating normally, said Victor Mejia, a spokesman. Passengers are given a questionnaire asking if they have flu symptoms and recommending they cancel their trip and see a doctor if they do. The measures are voluntary, Mejia said, and no case of swine flu in airport passengers, workers or visitors has been confirmed.
Authorities throughout Central America have issued alerts to prevent the outbreak from spreading. Guatemala ordered tighter control yesterday of its northern border with Mexico, according to EFE. Gerberth Morales, who’s heading the Guatemala government’s response, said no cases of swine flu have been reported in his country, the Spanish news agency reported.
Brazil is intensifying vigilance in ports, airports and borders to check travelers’ health, luggage, aircrafts and ships in a preventive action against the outbreak in Mexico, the Agency for Sanitary Vigilance said on its Web site.
Why is Hollywood Silent on Roxana Saberi?
by John T. Simpson
I see a great story in Roxana Saberi. Don’t you? A can’t fail, high-concept, four-quadrant script with a unique storyline. In fact, I’d expect a bidding war no less severe and cutthroat for the rights to Roxana’s story as that for Lone Survivor. You know. A MARIE in Iran meets MISSING kinda thing.
A young and beautiful former Miss North Dakota and reporter for the BBC and NPR, among others, falsely arrested by misogynist Iran and tagged with a series of escalating charges, from buying wine to reporting with expired credentials to espionage, charges even Roxana’s lawyer has not officially seen to date, but upon which Ms. Saberi was just sentenced to eight years in the Iranian Hell of Evin prison in a one-day kangaroo court trial. Coercion was also involved, including a threat to kill her.
Any questions as to who and what we’re really dealing with here now? According to ABC News, Roxana is now officially a pawn in the Great Game between Un-Islamic Iran and the Great Satan. How much more of a blockbuster storyline could you ask for?
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the world-turning subplots of international intrigue, conflict and sinister intent that drove such taut films as “North By Northwest,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Team America: World Police.” With me so far?
Oh, and I say un-Islamic, because the Hitlerite child-murdering and kiddie martyrdom-training fascist Nazi regime in Iran has nothing to with Islam or God. Just the opposite, in fact. They may call us the Great Satan, but you tell me who acts more like Lucifer here. What has Argentina ever done to Iran to deserve terror attacks and the mass murder of civilians? Am I Reich?
But I digress. We writers do that in moments of passion. Onto the subject at hand.
The backstory. Roxana was arrested on January 31, eleven days after Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States. A test? If so, more drama. On March 5th, SOS Clinton demanded Roxana’s release from Iranian custody. The very next day, March 6th, Iranian authorities said they would release Roxana ’soon.’
On March 13th, Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling Roxana Saberi’s detention unlawful under international laws and conventions, in effect declaring her a hostage. Being as the media is so on the ball lately, I didn’t hear about that bombshell HRW press release until five days later, and even then I had to search for it. Somebody has to report this stuff.
Yet, in a twist of fate, I had declared Roxana Saberi a hostage that very same day. Not so much based on international law as knowing how much un-Islamic Iran loves to punk the Great Satan.
Roxana’s parents, father Reza and mother Akiko, flew into Tehran recently with assurances that Roxana’s release would be speeded up, only to land and see their daughter sentenced to eight years in Evin prison for espionage. Which she will not survive. In protest to this abomination of justice that’s S.O.B. in Iran, Roxana is now on a hunger strike. Her situation is precarious at best.
Some in the press have mused that Roxana may even be a pawn in Iran’s own nationwide elections in June. A rouse to the hardline un-Islamic base, who love nothing better than to see the Great Satan get a black eye. Makes them more prone to overlook troubling domestic issues that are hounding Ahmadinejad et al right now. The hardliners are even using Team Oscar as their Willie Horton against moderates. “Who invited the Great Satan in!” That kind of stuff.
It’s called externalizing. Any good dictatorship worth its salt excels at it. Make us look so bad that they look good, no matter how much bad shite they pull. Others in the press believe Iran may be setting up a swap of Roxana for Iranian diplomats arrested by US forces in Iraq, curiously with no questions from the media as to it being an unseemly act. Anyway, lots of storylines. No doubt many in Hollywood will be lining up for the rights to the story of Roxana Saberi.
I only wish they were lining up right now to speak up for HER rights! Where ARE they? They’re the Human Rights Champs! Right? You want to see something REALLY sick? Twenty-six videos on YouTube for Roxana Saberi, and most are news reports! There are 35 alone for Jim Carrey’s video on Burma’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, 168 for George Clooney in Darfur. Not counting playlists.
UPDATE: Eighty-four videos now. Still no celebs. So where is Hollywood on Roxana Saberi?
Totally MIA, from what I can see. Or can’t, I should say.
Hell, Clown Man is protesting Iran more than all of Hollywood combined! Speaking of clowns. Or Stooges, I should say. Former Team Oscar leader and Academy president Sid Ganis is still too busy on the Mad Mullah Promo Tour to have a clue. Annette Bening is no doubt still raving about how fabulous Iran and women’s rights for filmmakers are there.
Tell it to Tehmineh Milani, Annette! She was sentenced to death for her celluloid slanders! Tell it to Iranian-American filmmaker Esha Momeni, who awaits trial in Iran before a political tribunal on similar charges for filming a women’s rights documentary in Tehran for her masters degree!
Hopeless. Like the rest of Team Oscar, none of whom has mentioned Roxana Saberi to date that I can find, they are too busy living the fantasy of Iran to see the cold, hard realities staring them in the face, even when those realities involve imprisoned fellow filmmakers and the extermination of gays as state policy. Or an American woman being held hostage, even as they partied it up in Tehran.
Where is UNIFEM Ambassador of Good Will Nicole Kidman? She should be front and center on this! Not one statement on Roxana Saberi I can find. In fact, a search of UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund For Women, comes up a big fat zero on a Roxana Saberi site search. What you will find is “Women’s Voices Raised on Climate Change” and “Training of Gender Audit Facilitators.”
In fact, the last UNIFEM entry on the stoning of women in Iran, of three total on the entire site, was from 2002, though it’s gotten much worse since. Iran even imprisons women indefinitely for protesting stoning now! They gonna stone them, too? Wouldn’t put it past them! They feed off that shite! What do you expect from Nazis? Won’t find that at UNIFEM, either. In fact, Iran wasn’t even mentioned at their 53rd Session last year, and they’re the worst offenders on the planet!
How lame is that? Some “spotlight on violence against women” THEY are! Oh, but they do have a spotlight on violence against women in Canada. My women’s rights heroes. UNIFEM. Just as silent on Roxana Saberi, Esha Momeni and the horrific abuse of women in Iran as Hollywood. Yet one more useless UN bureaucracy we’re paying for. Good press, though. PR is all. Right, Nicole?
Gwyneth Paltrow, also silent, is probably too busy boycotting we greedy, unintelligent and uncivilized Americans and prepping for Iron Man 2. She may denigrate and boycott us from Britain as the world’s real capitalist enemy, but she sure seems to know where her Socialist bread is buttered. You Go, Girl! Bravo and Tally Ho! And I do mean Ho. What else do you call someone who sells their virtue for money?
I think I’ll wait to see Iron Man 2 for free. Borrow the DVD. I can boycott on principle, too.
You know what the most pathetic thing is here, people? Even the real Stooges spoke out against the fascist dictator of their age more than all of Hollywood today. Seen any Hollywood rips on Ahmadinejad or Iran at all? Sorry. Shhhh. Don’t want to offend anyone. Walk softly, but carry a big carrot. And no gay jokes about that big carrot, either! Got it?
They don’t like those. Not one bit. Gays, I mean.
I have to wonder. To paraphrase Jon Stewart, Is this Hollywood Diplomacy Inaction? Like they’re afraid if anyone in Hollywood said anything bad about Iran, it might set back the Obamamessiah’s ‘reaching out’ to today’s Third Reich? Or if AMPAS said anything bad about Iran in a press release, they might not be allowed back to apologize, or train Iran’s propaganda film stooges again?
Or is all of Hollywood just so totally duped by the Mad Mullahs of Iran, or so blinded by the Obamamessiah, Roxana doesn’t even register? I do know one thing. If this Roxana Saberi Hostage Crisis occurred on Bush’s watch, how many in Hollywood would have blamed him for Roxana’s horrific situation? Not the hostage-takers, mind you. Don’t answer, it’s a rhetorical question.
No, my guess is, Hollywood Diplomacy is in full effect for the Obamamessiah. Don’t bring up Roxana Saberi, their shady nuke program, their stoning of women, their executing of children, their killing of bloggers, their threats of genocide, not even their gay extermination program: “Don’t give them anything else to apologize for. We have enough already!”
Walk around those blogger-murdering, Jew-bombing, women-stoning, gay-hanging, kid-executing, Armageddon-threatening un-Islamic Nazis like we were in a minefield? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!
What are we gonna do speaking up? Make things worse? HOW? But no. Give Peace a Chance. Here’s what Peace Hath Wrought, Hollywood. The Team Oscar olive branch slapped out of Obama’s hand with the demand for apologies and submission. The Obama Peace Video met with scorn, derision and ‘Death To America’ rallies. And the Roxana Saberi Hostage Crisis. Not to mention all the horrors they’re inflicting on their own people as we speak.
And now this: ‘On Tuesday, Reuters reported that a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, Ali-Reza Jamshidi, had termed calls for Ms. Saberi’s release from American officials “utterly ridiculous.”
Based on Iran’s total contempt for international law regarding Roxana Saberi, and the mountains of bloody and horrific evidence on un-Islamic Iran staring us in the face, I’d tell everyone in Hollywood that we are dealing with an irrational fascist regime in Iran, and to start speaking up for Roxana Saberi, Iranian-American filmmaker Esha Momeni, the abuse of every other woman in Iran, the executing of children, and the ruthless and brutal anti-gay pogrom Iran is now exporting to Iraq.
If there were anyone rational left in Hollywood to say that to. Used to be. To be sure, if there are any Hollywood celebrities who have been pulling for Roxana Saberi and I just didn’t find you, appy-pollie-logies. But I had to kick some asses here. I hope you understand.
Speaking of which, here’s AMPAS. Tell them Academy members need to start speaking up for Roxana Saberi, and starting acting like the human rights champs they play on TV and claim to be. And see if they can roust Sid and Annette from their next Iran promo video long enough to say a few words on behalf of Roxana Saberi and Iranian-American filmmaker Esha Momeni.
Not holding my breath. But how nice would it be for the next act of Roxana: A True Story to open with crowds of well-known Hollywood faces twisted in outrage over Roxana’s abysmal human rights situation, not to mention the rest of Iran’s. Roxana’s a lucky one. Oh, and to make one point perfectly clear, the question here is not whether Iran recognizes Roxana’s American citizenship. The real question is, do we? She was born here. Good enough for illegals, ain’t it?
And I am certainly hoping Roxana’s story has an ending in Evin prison more like Haleh Esfandiari’s than murdered Iranian-Canadian journalist Ziba Kazemi, who was beaten, raped, her fingernails pulled and her skull fractured, all for the crime of taking photos outside Evin prison. In other words, I’m hoping for an ending more Hollywood, and less un-Islamic extremist Iran.
By the way, Roxana turns 32 this Sunday. Friends of Roxana have set up an email account for well-wishers around the world to say Happy Birthday to Roxana at firstname.lastname@example.org One nice birthday present would be to see a lot more people in Hollywood and Washington speaking up on her behalf. If it’s not too much trouble, that is.
Raised voices helped free Haleh Esfandiari, Tehmineh Milani and others from the hell of Evin prison. They can do so once again for Roxana. Iran’s Thugocracy, like Hollywood, hates bad PR. Ruins their image. Speaking of which.
On that note, here’s Congress. Here’s State. Here’s the White House. Roxana is an American citizen, not a pawn, and she has been held unjustly in Iranian captivity for 81 days now. Where are the strong words? The Congressional resolution in support of Roxana, like North Dakota’s?
What good are they?
Our government should tell Iran to release Roxana right now, or we cut off their gasoline. For starters. See how fast they move then to avoid gas rioting at home! And if that doesn’t work, warm up the B-52s. And I don’t mean the rock band. But the other type will also be free to roam if they want to, i.e. take out government-financed terrorist training camps, nuke facilities, etc, etc.
Roam around their world. Rock their world, I should say. Do it for Roxana. But only if the gas thing don’t work first. No, I didn’t mean bomb ‘em right away. I’ll give peace, a gas cutoff and some gas rioting in Iran a chance. What do you think I am, a warmonger?
FREE ROXANA SABERI! LIKE RIGHT NOW!!!