Wednesday, February 17, 2010

News That Matters - February 17, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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On a cold and windy February night, a man who gave only his first name walked up to the Al-Farooq Islamic Center in south Nashville and handed a gallon of stain-blocker paint and a bag of brushes, rollers and rags to a Somali man standing in the parking lot. Tim, an East Nashville resident, said he did the first thing he could think of when he drove by the center Wednesday and saw the words “Muslims Go home” and a crusade-style cross spray-painted in red across the front of the center, which doubles as a mosque.

“When I saw it, I just broke down crying,” the self-described unemployed truck driver said. “I went straight to Home Depot and bought a gallon of paint.” Read the story here.

Morning: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Sunrise. February 17, 2010 - Kent Cliffs, NY

Good Wednesday Morning,

As promised, here's our next quick poll: In today’s unscientific quick poll with a margin of error approaching 134%, we ask who your choice would be for County Executive. The names listed are either likely candidates or those submitted to News That Matters as requested last week. Names on the list appear randomly each time someone comes to the page and so are not in any particular order. Feel free to pass this on to others in Putnam County [New York]. The more the merrier! We’ll announce the results on Friday. And please, don't vote for your dog or your neighbor's Aunt Mildred from Tuscon. Thanks.

Nan Hayworth is busy collecting endorsements for her run against Congressman John Hall this November. She's perceived as folksy and 'of the people' but the reality is that she's a wealthy shill for Big Pharma, on their payroll and happy to be there. So, if you're about to endorse her keep in mind that you're directly endorsing the pharmaceutical industry that cares nothing about your health so long as you've the money to pay their price. You know how much your drugs cost now? Just you wait until they have another of their own in Congress! You saw what happened with banking and insurance regulations when Sue Kelly was there and I know how happy you all are with your insurance rates and banking practices today.

Thanks to those who wrote asking about my health. The ancient plague is still here but the alternating baking soda poultices and hot packs have done what they're supposed to do. Last evening I took a 500mg Keflex leftover from Acosta's last visit to the vet. That seems to have broken the fever though I did wake this morning with a strange desire to have my belly rubbed. And I do apologize to my detractors, I'm not quite dead yet. I'm getting there, but not yet.
The reader who wrote, "you really should see a doctor," and the other who insisted I visit the emergency room may have full employer paid health insurance or a spouse that does and so may not understand the actual costs involved nor the reticence to take on additional debt which is already crushing enough for so many of us. Rumor has it that Putnam County is working on a free-clinic, but for now, county government does not provide that service.
I'm just going to make the case that the current situation is not atypical even for those who carry insurance.

With many insurance policies the monthly cost is overwhelming, some are paying $1200 a month for family care, and the deductible so high that you may never see the "insurance" part of things kick in. That's the gamble the insurance companies play on: You can get sick, but don't get too sick! If there's any money left over after you pay the monthly insurance bill you're probably going to use it for the rent or food or your property tax bill. You are then forced to make a decision: do you manage along without adequate care for something that seems minor today so that you can pay your essential bills and not fall [further] behind, or do you seek medical assistance down the road when that "little nothing" turns into a Big Something and face the real possibility of being homeless, hungry, in debt for the rest of your life or, very possibly, all three?

And what of the cost of either decision on our national prosperity?

When you are sick and on the job your productivity is down which results in a decline in efficiency. When you are sick and cannot work, especially in a job without paid sick days, the local economy is affected. And what happens when you wait until you simply cannot go on and your illness has advanced? How much money is pulled from the economy then? What of your home and family? Will Verizon or Comcast or NYSEG understand when they don't get paid because of the cost of dealing with an illness that might have been easily treated at the beginning but that has now gotten out of control? They might. But you'll be sending smoke signals and watching a blank TV screen by candlelight.Will your town's tax collector say, "No problem Mrs. Smith, pay us when you can"?
  • John's Hopkins reports that the loss of productivity from vision impairments alone (people who cannot afford eye exams or glasses) costs us $269 billion a year.
  • Complications due to diabetes that wasn't treated early on can lose an employee nearly 1/3 of his expected income during a normal working year.
  • According to the Commonwealth Fund; "in 2003, an estimated 18 million adults ages 19 to 64 were not working and had a disability or chronic disease, or were not working because of health reasons. Sixty-nine million workers reported missing days due to illness, for a total of 407 million days of lost time at work. Fifty-five million workers reported a time when they were unable to concentrate at work because of their own illness or that of a family member, accounting for another 478 million days. Together, labor time lost due to health reasons represents lost economic output totaling $260 billion per year. Workers without paid time off to see a physician are more likely to report missing work or being unable to concentrate at their job." [Emphasis, mine] Imagine if those workers had access to medical care they could genuinely afford early on?
We're now at more than half a trillion dollars - per year - in lost revenue and productivity from inadequate medical care due to its expense.

"...because we have forgotten that in progressive societies, people take care of each other and that a healthy, well fed and adequately housed nation is one that is safe, secure and productive."
This is the reality in America today; one that was not brought to us by Democrats or "liberals" or terrorists or immigrants or drug lords or pedophiles or whatever your make-believe-fear-of-the-moment-is. It's a situation we've brought upon ourselves because we have forgotten that in progressive societies, people take care of each other and that a healthy, well fed and adequately housed nation is one that is safe, secure and productive.

We have been led to believe that the "market-place" will provide and that American style capitalism is the be all and end all of economic systems so we no longer need to be individually involved with the general welfare of our communities. That sink-or-swim is the only way. That somehow, providing universal basic necessities for ourselves and our neighbors is socialism. That if you can't afford them you're not working hard enough or you're lazy and don't deserve common assistance.

This is a sad state of affairs coming from a nation that overwhelmingly considers itself "a Christian nation" since Jesus, and I have it on the very best authority, would be mightily pissed off.

Health InsuranceBut there you have it. In the mightiest nation on earth, a nation that can afford to fight two endless wars, pump $700 billion into the Pentagon each year, that thinks nothing of handing over $1 trillion to the wealthiest of the wealthy, in that wondrous nation millions of people are suffering and a small but vocal minority is out there blaming the victims - and it's that minority from whom we're taking our national marching orders. In Washington, both national parties and the President are owned, hook-line-and-sinker by those who like things just the way they are and tea baggers seem to have drunk the cool-aid as well.

Nearly 45 million Americans have no health insurance whatsoever. An additional 25 million are under-insured and 62% of all personal bankruptcies are the direct result of medical bills. How many of you go month to month under the burden of your insurance payments, just getting by?

That is the state of the nation today.

If I end up in the emergency room for lack of early treatment, just wait until you get the bill for that... then multiply it by the millions upon millions of Americans who are in the same boat - and it could very well be any of you next. Just think: for most Americans that have insurance, you're just a pink-slip away from where 60 million of your neighbors are today.

Donald Trump, speaking in Westchester, said that the Nobel Prize committee should rescind the award it gave to Al Gore since the proof of the lie about global warming is in the series of blizzards that have swept across the eastern United States this past winter. Sadly, very sadly, this line of thinking is endemic in those who smoked dope through 7th grade science.
If you ever hear that argument from someone, just walk away, for they are dumber than a box of nails.

A Sonic Drive In opened on Route 9 in Wappingers Falls several months ago and it looks like it's doing a bang-up business. But be careful when you're there for the "happy hour" sales (between 2 - 4PM) as their clock runs 13 minutes faster than the outside world.
Sonic BurgerRay Garcia, an ex-marine, dropped in one day to a Sonic in Golden, Colorado and ordered a happy hour meal which should have come in at around $3.40. But when his drinks arrived he was charged the full price of $6.85. "It was still before 4 o'clock," Garcia insisted, and in the real world he would have been right but in Sonic-world he was late.

What followed was an altercation in which Garcia was charged with criminal trespass, among other things. Sonic still refuses to honor the real-world time and admits - quite freely - that they run their clocks ahead. The case was schedule to go to trial back in December but at the last minute the county prosecutor dropped the case admitting that Sonic does run their clocks forward and so a jury trial would likely end with the defendant's vindication. Garcia, by the way, is out $7000 in legal fees.

Starkist, Honda and best Western are the 101st, 102nd and 103rd corporations to pull their advertisements from Glen Beck's show. In fact, for 4 days Beck had no sponsors at all in England where his show is rebroadcast and public service announcements ran instead.
Honda had this to say: Honda is politically neutral and strives to exceed ethical standards. We apply these policies to our communication strategy with our best endeavor but as you say we cannot determine the program or editorial content around which we advertise. We have no plans to renew. Paul Ormond, General Manager, Corporate Press and PR

Christy Smith, a marketing specialist for Best Western wrote: We have since made adjustments to our advertising buy and our ads will not run during this program.

Starkist Consumer Affairs wrote: We do not dictate what program is on when our commercial airs. But we do frequently evaluate our media purchases to ensure that the programs we choose match our brand’s target demographics and overall advertising plan. In doing so, we have chosen to not air our commercial during Glenn Beck’s program going forward given a number of alternatives that meet our advertising plan’s criteria.

These corporations are not exactly bastions of "Liberal" infiltration and I'm not seeing a single word out there in the blogsphere about putting pressure on them to pull their ads so there must be something else. Lord knows the reasons have been covered enough in these pages so I'll ask you: why are you still listening to the Gospel of Beck?

If you're curious, here's the list of the 102 corporations that have dropped Beck. Give them your business.

There's a conference planned where Paul Camarda, developer Harold Lepler, housing builder Wilder-Balter Associates, the Putnam County Planning Department and a pro-development real estate agency have been invited to be participants on a panel to see if we can have 'open space' and commercial development go side by side. As of this writing, neither of the county's two land trusts appear to be participating and one, I know for certain, has not even received an invitation. This is not a case of inviting the fox into the hen house. It's more like personally delivering the hen house to Col. Sanders.

And now, The News:

  1. Hall touts help for startups
  2. State may delay tax refunds
  3. (Not) getting serious about the deficit
  4. Economy Prompts Fresh Look at North Dakota's Socialist Bank
  5. Hold Onto Your Underwear: This Is Not a National Emergency
  6. On President's day, Christians pray for Obama's death; Psalm 109:8
  7. Are Checkpoints Police Profit Centers?
  8. Fred Morrison, Creator of a Popular Flying Plate, Dies at 90

Hall touts help for startups

Times Herald-Record
Posted: February 16, 2010 - 2:00 AM

CORNWALL — Brett Wells opened Focus Physical Therapy on Main Street two months ago.

Rep. John Hall says businesses such as Wells' need to be the focus of the next phase of the economic recovery.

That's why Hall, D-Dover Plains, stopped at Focus Monday afternoon — to announce his latest piece of legislation: The Helping Small Businesses Start and Grow Act.

He plans to introduce it — and start rounding up co-sponsors — as soon as Congress goes back into session next Monday.

The bill was based in part on roundtable discussions Hall had with business leaders throughout his district.

"Small businesses are really the main generator of jobs," Hall said.

Read More

State may delay tax refunds

ALBANY — If New Yorkers aren't already paying enough taxes, here's some more bad news: The cash-strapped state is considering a delay next month in state income tax refunds.

A potential delay in sending out tax refund checks would help the state from going broke before the end of the fiscal year April 1.

The state faces a $1.4 billion deficit for the remainder of the fiscal year and is expected to delay aid payments next month to cover about $20 billion in bills for programs and services. But Gov. David Paterson's office stressed it has not yet determined what aid payments would be deferred — or whether the tax-refund checks would be delayed.

Read More

(Not) getting serious about the deficit

By David Sirota

"Hence, these lawmakers deviously portray non-defense discretionary programs as the cause of our deficit. Their favored instrument of deceit is the malicious tale of loafers supposedly getting rich off these programs and driving us into debt -- the tale that Obama's budget proposal implicitly reinforces."
Last month, President Barack Obama proposed to freeze government spending on everything other than defense, veterans' benefits, homeland security, Medicare and Social Security. The New York Times reported that administration officials depicted the initiative as proof of the president's "seriousness about cutting the budget deficit."

Such spin may fly in Orwell's Oceania or Washington, D.C., but if you happen to live in the real world, basic arithmetic tells a far more accurate tale about what is "serious" and what is not.

The non-defense discretionary spending that Obama aims to reduce now totals $477 billion a year -- or just 14percent of the federal budget. Freezing this outlay would save $25 billion a year, or about 2 percent of the annual $1.4 trillion deficit.

Had this plan been part of a government-wide belt-tightening effort, the White House might have been able to call itself "serious about cutting the budget deficit" anywhere other than in a fantasy land. But the announcement came as reported the administration was telling defense contractors of its commitment to "steady growth in the Pentagon's budgets" --budgets so distended by wars and outdated weapons systems that they now top $700 billion a year.

Read More

Economy Prompts Fresh Look at North Dakota's Socialist Bank

BISMARCK, N.D. - It has no automatic tellers or drive-up windows, doesn't issue credit cards, and tends only a few thousand checking and savings accounts. Its only location is a glass, steamboat-shaped headquarters near the Missouri River, where the business moved from its original 1919 home in a former auto assembly plant.
[In this photo taken Feb. 5, 2010, Eric Hardmeyer, president of the Bank of North Dakota, in Bismarck, poses in the bank's lobby on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. The bank is the only state-owned bank in the nation, and officials in other states are studying whether a state-owned bank could help improve their states' economies. (AP Photo/Dale Wetzel)]

In this photo taken Feb. 5, 2010, Eric Hardmeyer, president of the Bank of North Dakota, in Bismarck, poses in the bank's lobby on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. The bank is the only state-owned bank in the nation, and officials in other states are studying whether a state-owned bank could help improve their states' economies. (AP Photo/Dale Wetzel)

The Bank of North Dakota - the nation's only state-owned bank - might seem to be a relic. It was the brainchild of a failed flax farmer and one-time Socialist Party organizer during World War I.

But now officials in other states are wondering if it is helping North Dakota sail through the national recession.

Gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Oregon and a Washington state legislator are advocating the creation of state-owned banks in those states. A report prepared for a Vermont House committee last month said the idea had "considerable merit." Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore promotes the bank on his Web site.

"There's a lot of hurt out there, a lot of states that are in trouble, and they're tying the Bank of North Dakota together with this economic success that we're having right now," said the bank's president, Eric Hardmeyer.

Read More

Hold Onto Your Underwear: This Is Not a National Emergency

Let me put American life in the Age of Terror into some kind of context, and then tell me you’re not ready to get on the nearest plane heading anywhere, even toward Yemen.

In 2008, 14,180 Americans were murdered, according to the FBI. In that year, there were 34,017 fatal vehicle crashes in the U.S. and, so the U.S. Fire Administration tells us, 3,320 deaths by fire. More than 11,000 Americans died of the swine flu between April and mid-December 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; on average, a staggering 443,600 Americans die yearly of illnesses related to tobacco use, reports the American Cancer Society; 5,000 Americans die annually from food-borne diseases; an estimated 1,760 children died from abuse or neglect in 2007; and the next year, 560 Americans died of weather-related conditions, according to the National Weather Service, including 126 from tornadoes, 67 from rip tides, 58 from flash floods, 27 from lightning, 27 from avalanches, and 1 from a dust devil.

As for airplane fatalities, no American died in a crash of a U.S. carrier in either 2007 or 2008, despite 1.5 billion passengers transported. In 2009, planes certainly went down and people died. In June, for instance, a French flight on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared in bad weather over the Atlantic, killing 226. Continental Connection Flight 3407, a regional commuter flight, crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York, that February killing 50, the first fatal crash of a U.S. commercial flight since August 2006. And in January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549, assaulted by a flock of birds, managed a brilliant landing in New York’s Hudson River when disaster might have ensued. In none of these years did an airplane go down anywhere due to terrorism, though in 2007 two terrorists smashed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane tanks into the terminal of Glasgow International Airport. (No one was killed.)

The now-infamous Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his bomb-laden underwear toward Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, had 290 passengers and crew, all of whom survived. Had the inept Abdulmutallab actually succeeded, the death toll would not have equaled the 324 traffic fatalities in Nevada in 2008; while the destruction of four Flight 253s from terrorism would not have equaled New York State’s 2008 traffic death toll of 1,231, 341 of whom, or 51 more than those on Flight 253, were classified as “alcohol-impaired fatalities.”

Read More

On President's day, Christians pray for Obama's death; Psalm 109:8

Religion: On President's day, Christians pray for Obama's death; Psalm 109:8. A sad and disturbing, if not surprising report comes from the Daily Beast. Apparently many right wing Christians are encouraging each other through emails and tweets to offer an Imprecatory Prayer against President Obama.

An imprecatory prayer asks God to kill, maim, curse, send into eternal damnation, or otherwise harm an enemy, in this case President Barack Obama.

The prayer being pushed comes from Psalm 109:8, which says: "May his days be few; may another take his office." Even more disturbing, the next lines read: "May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow."

To pray that God curse President Obama, to pray for Obama's death, to pray for the suffering of his widow and children, is despicable.

Read More

Are Checkpoints Police Profit Centers?

Sun Feb. 14, 2010 11:26 AM PST

Sobriety checkpoints in California are increasingly turning into profitable operations for local police departments—operations that are far more likely to seize cars from unlicensed motorists than catch drunk drivers. An investigation by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley with California Watch has found that impounds at checkpoints in 2009 generated an estimated $40 million in towing fees and police fines—revenue that cities divide with towing firms. In addition, police officers received about $30 million in overtime pay for the DUI crackdowns, funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

In dozens of interviews over the past three months, law enforcement officials and tow truck operators say that vehicles are predominantly taken from minority drivers, often illegal immigrants. In the course of its examination, the Investigative Reporting Program reviewed hundreds of pages of city financial records and police reports, and analyzed data documenting the results from every checkpoint that received state funding during the past two years. Among the findings:

Read More

Fred Morrison, Creator of a Popular Flying Plate, Dies at 90

Pluto PlatterWalter Fredrick Morrison, who at 17 sent the lid of a popcorn tin skimming through the air of a California backyard and as an adult remade the lid in plastic, in the process inventing the simple, elegant flying disc known today as the Frisbee, died Tuesday at his home in Monroe, Utah. He was 90.

The cause was cancer, said Phil Kennedy, the author with Mr. Morrison of “Flat Flip Flies Straight: True Origins of the Frisbee”(Wormhole Publishers, 2006).

Beloved of man and dog, the Frisbee has for more than half a century been the signature product of Wham-O, a toy and sporting-goods manufacturer based in Emeryville, Calif. The company has sold more than 200 million of the discs since acquiring the rights to Mr. Morrison’s Pluto Platter, as it was then known, in 1957.

At least since antiquity, mankind has been hurling flat, round objects — or flying discs, as they are known in aficionados’ parlance — aloft. But Mr. Morrison is widely credited as having designed the first commercial flying disc expressly manufactured and marketed as such.

Read More

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