Tuesday, January 29, 2013

American insurers charge reckless rich drivers less than safe poor drivers @WeAreFarmers @GEICO @Progressive

source http://boingboing.net/2013/01/29/american-insurers-charge-reckl.html

"The Consumer Federation of America did a mystery shopper review of several auto insurers and found that drivers with at-fault accidents paid lower premiums than drivers with spotless records -- provided that the careless driver was rich and well-educated and the careful driver was a single renter without an advanced degree.

Using two hypothetical characters the group compared premiums offered to two 30-year-old women. Both had driven for 10 years, lived on the same street in a middle-income Zip code and both wanted the minimum insurance required by whichever state the group was researching.

The imaginary woman who wasn't married, rented a home, didn't have coverage for 45 days but has never been in an accident or ticketed with a moving violation was compared to a married executive with a master's degree who owns her home and has always had continuous insurance coverage. But she'd been in an accident (again, hypothetically) that was her fault and caused $800 in damage within the last three years.

The results were somewhat surprising, although there were differences across the five insurers. Farmers, GEICO and Progressive always gave a higher quote to the safer driver than the woman who'd caused an accident. Across all 12 cities in the study, State Farm offered the lowest or second lowest premiums.

"State insurance regulators should require auto insurers to explain why they believe factors such as education and income are better predictors of losses than are at-fault accidents," said J. Robert Hunter, CFA's director of insurance and former Texas insurance"

Father of Sandy Hook Victim Heckled at Hearing on Gun Control

from http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/guns/neil-heslin-father-boy-killed-sandy-hook-heckled-during-legislative-hearing?utm_source=OV+Newsletter+List+2&utm_campaign=db34cbdef4-OV_Newsletter_Jan_291_29_2013&utm_medium=email

A father who lost his six-year-old son in the Newtown, Connecticut massacre was heckled by pro-gun activists as he testified at a local hearing on gun control. 

Neil Heslin's son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Heslin questioned why any civilian would need a semiautomatic, miltary-style weapon at the state legislative subcommittee hearing on Monday. 

But pro-gun activists shouted him down, chanting "Second Amendment" as he spoke. 

With tears in his eyes, he explained how it feels to lose a child to a violent shooting. 

"It's not a good feeling. Not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. It's a real sad thing," he said, holding a photograph of him and his son when he was a baby. 

"We're all entitled to our own opinions and I respect their opinions and their thoughts," he said of the people shouting. "But I wish they'd respect mine and give it a little bit of thought. 

This was the first public testimony by family members of those lost in the elementary school shooting, where 20 first graders were killed along with six women.

Family members asked for better gun control and tougher penalties for those who violate gun laws. 

The Connecticut State Police firearms training unit brought weapons to the hearing, giving a brief tutorial of what is legal and what is illegal under Connecticut's current assault weapons ban. 

Gun rights advocates wore yellow stickers, reading "Another Responsible Gun Owner." There was estimated to be about 2,000 people at the hearing. 

Many citizens spoke about the need to protect their families.

"The Second Amendment does not protect our right to hunt deer," said Andrew Hesse of Middletown. "It protects our right to self-preservation and preservation of our family. The right to bear arms."

A single mother from Waterbury, Elizabeth Drysdale, said she fears for her family's safety and believes she should be able to choose what type of gun she wants. 

"Don't my children and I deserve your support and consideration to be safe?" she asked. 

Gun manufacturers told the subcommittee to not support legislation that could put the state's gun industry at risk.

Mark Mattioli, who lost his six-year-old son James at Sandy Hook, told lawmakers that there are many gun laws but those laws are not being enforced properly.

"It's a simple concept. We need civility across our nation," Mattiolo said. "What we're seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is lack of civility."

Two men who survived the shooting in Aurora, Colorado last year attended the hearing, and told lawmakers that they should address online and private gun sales that don't require a background check.

State Rep. Arthur O'Neill said lawmakers will likely reach an agreement on gun control.

"Dec. 13 was one way of looking at the world, and Dec. 15 is a different way of looking at the world," he said.

well fuck you too: @GOP Rep Says He Opposes Immigration Reform Because Latinos Are Uneducated, Will Never Support Republicans #p2 #tcot

source http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/01/29/1509411/gop-rep-says-he-opposes-immigrations-reform-because-latinos-are-uneducated-will-never-support-republicans/?mobile=nc

Republican senators in the so-called Gang of 8 working to enact comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship argue that repairing the broken system would attract Latino voters to the GOP. As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) explained during a Sunday appearance on ABC's This Week, "We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that." In November, President Obama "won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote while Mitt Romney won 27 percent."

But some Republicans disagree. Responding to the bipartisan framework, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) echoed the rhetoric surrounding immigrants and Democratic voters throughout the 2012 election and suggested that Hispanics would never vote for Republicans who don't provide them with government hand outs:

"It's amnesty that America can't afford," Barletta said Monday. "We have to stop people from coming in illegally. This will be a green light for anyone who wants to come to America illegally and then be granted citizenship one day." [...]

"I hope politics is not at the root of why we're rushing to pass a bill. Anyone who believes that they're going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken," Barletta said. "The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they'll depend on."

Barletta has a long history of anti-immigrant positions and was one of the most vocal opponents of President Obama's directive granting reprieve to some DREAM-eligible immigrants last year. As mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, "Barletta introduced the controversial Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which would penalize businesses that knowingly hire, and landlords who knowingly rent to, people who are in the country illegally."

rest at http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/01/29/1509411/gop-rep-says-he-opposes-immigrations-reform-because-latinos-are-uneducated-will-never-support-republicans/?mobile=nc

@GOP gets sensitivity training on immigration reform: 'Don't use phrases like send them all back' #p2 #tcot

from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/29/1182985/-GOP-gets-sensitivity-training-on-immigration-reform-Don-t-use-phrases-like-send-them-all-back?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dailykos%2Findex+%28Daily+Kos%29

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney gestures while making a point about children's education at The Latino Coalition during the Annual Economic Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, May 23,
Other suggestions of things not to say: "Self deportation" and "It would be helpful to be Latino"
A top Hispanic Republican advocacy group co-chaired by Jeb Bush is so worried about how the GOP will respond to immigration reform that they are distributing a set of guidelines instructing congressional Republicans on how to discuss the topic without sounding like a bunch of neanderthals. The issue, according to the group, isn't really about substance. Instead, it's about using "tonally sensitive" language:
"Tone and rhetoric will be key in the days and weeks ahead as both liberals and conservatives lay out their perspectives. Please consider these tonally sensitive messaging points as you discuss immigration, regardless of your position," Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Korn writes.
Before you even read word one from the memo, the fact that the group is more concerned about how congressional Republicans talk about the issue than how they vote on it is a pretty clear indication of just how backwards Republicans are on this topic. Usually in politics, advocacy groups try to achieve actual policy priorities. Here, they are just trying to stop their party from acting like assholes—and based on some of their advice, they must really think there's a lot of assholes in their party. For example, on their list of "messaging dos and don'ts for immigration reform," they say:
Don't use phrases like "send them all back"
Don't characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics

rest at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/29/1182985/-GOP-gets-sensitivity-training-on-immigration-reform-Don-t-use-phrases-like-send-them-all-back?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dailykos%2Findex+%28Daily+Kos%29

Treasury Disregarded Own Guidelines, Allowed Executive Raises At Bailed-Out GM, AIG: Report #p2 #tcot @barackobama

source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/treasury-raises-bailed-out-firms_n_2568235.html?ir=business&utm_campaign=012813&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-business&utm_content=Title

* Treasury's pay czar meant to limit high pay at bailed-out firms

* Czar pressured on pay by companies, lacks own standard: watchdog

By Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department failed to curb executive pay last year for the second year running at companies rescued by the government, an internal watchdog charged on Monday.

The Treasury's pay czar, or "special master," was tasked with limiting "excessive" pay at companies the government bailed out using taxpayer money during the financial crisis.

But the Office of the Special Master did not follow the rules it had set for compensation, instead letting companies define pay themselves, according to a report by the inspector general for the government's bailout program.

In 2012, the pay czar acceded to company requests in approving multi-million dollar pay packages and pay hikes for top executives at General Motors, AIG and Ally Financial.

The pay czar approved all 18 pay raises requested by the companies, for a total of $6.2 million, and approved pay packages of at least $1 million for 68 of the 69 employees at the companies it was overseeing, the report found.

"While taxpayers struggle to overcome the recent financial crisis and look to the U.S. government to put a lid on compensation for executives of firms whose missteps nearly crippled the U.S. financial system, the U.S. Department of the Treasury continues to allow excessive executive pay," the report said.

Special Inspector General Christy Romero said it was not surprising companies asked for large pay packages and higher pay. "But what we saw in 2012 that is somewhat different than prior years is that this time the companies pushed back on pay, but they seemed to have met no resistance," she said in an interview.

Romero is tasked with overseeing the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, which pumped $68 billion into AIG, $50 billion in GM and $17 billion in Ally Financial, among others, to save them from collapse during the 2007-2009 crisis.

In December, the Treasury sold the last of its common stock in AIG and said it plans to sell its remaining shares in automaker GM in the next year or so, leaving Ally as the last major company that still owes the government under TARP.

The acting pay czar, Patricia Geoghegan, said her office achieved its mission, cutting average cash compensation for the top 25 executives at bailed-out companies from what they were getting prior to the TARP bailout.

In 2011 and 2012, the office also froze pay for the chief executives of General Motors, AIG, and Ally Financial.

But last year, Romero's office found pressure from financial institutions undermined efforts to limit executive pay at bailed-out companies, especially as some Treasury officials were more concerned with getting TARP funds back than in limiting pay.

Romero said the situation has worsened since then. Contrary to recommendations the inspector general made last year, the pay czar's office has not developed procedures for how to decide compensation or when to determine high salaries are warranted.

"Without developing some criteria ... Treasury put itself in a position of essentially letting the companies drive what pay Treasury was approving," she said.

Under the rules governing pay for TARP recipients, cash salaries are supposed to rarely exceed $500,000. But in 2012, 70 percent of the top executives at TARP recipients overseen by the government had cash salaries of $500,000 or more, a number that has quadrupled since 2009, the report said. Ninety-four percent got cash compensation of $450,000 or more.

Romero said in one situation, the Treasury approved a pay raise of $50,000 for one GM employee because the company wanted to "do a little extra for him."

"This shows the complete lack of appreciation that GM has for the fact that they're owned by taxpayers, and that Americans are in tight budgets and don't have any extra (funds)," she said.

In another case, the pay czar approved a $200,000 pay raise for an employee of Residential Capital LLC, the bankrupt mortgage lending unit of Ally, despite knowing the unit was about to go bankrupt.

Romero said the government's pay curbs were unlikely to have a lasting impact.

The report found it likely AIG will return to its "past practices" in setting high executive compensation now that it has repaid the government's TARP funds.

"The responsibility shifts to the Federal Reserve Board to ensure that AIG does not encourage excessive risk taking through compensation," the report said.

rest at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/treasury-raises-bailed-out-firms_n_2568235.html?ir=business&utm_campaign=012813&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-business&utm_content=Title

Treasury approved excessive pay for executives at bailed-out AIG, GM and Ally #p2 #tcot @barackobama

source http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/report-treasury-approved-excessive-pay-for-executives-at-bailed-out-aig-gm-and-ally/2013/01/28/7e9f52ba-697d-11e2-9a0b-db931670f35d_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboNE_b

WASHINGTON — A government report Monday criticized the U.S. Treasury Department for approving "excessive" salaries and raises at firms that received taxpayer-funded bailouts during the financial crisis.

The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said Treasury approved all 18 requests it received last year to raise pay for executives at American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ally Financial Inc. Of those requests, 14 were for $100,000 or more; the largest raise was $1 million.

Treasury also allowed pay packages totaling $5 million or more for nearly a quarter of the executives at those firms, the report says.

Also noted: A $200,000 raise was approved for an executive of Ally's mortgage-lending subsidiary Residential Capital LLC just weeks before ResCap filed for bankruptcy protection. Ally was GM's financial arm until it was taken over by the government in the bailout.

"We ... expect Treasury to look out for taxpayers who funded the bailout of these companies by holding the line on excessive pay," said Christy Romero, the special inspector general for TARP. "Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers' interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits."

The report says Treasury bypassed rules under the 2008 bailout that limited pay. Treasury approved raises that exceeded pay limits and in some cases failed to link compensation to performance, it notes.

Romero said the guidelines say compensation should not exceed the 50th percentile of pay for executives in similar positions at other financially distressed companies.

But pay surpassed that level for 63 percent of the executives whose pay was approved, according to the report.

The report also said Treasury officials had been warned a year ago that the department needed to reform its procedures to ensure that the pay guidelines are followed.

Patricia Geoghegan, the Treasury official who approved the raises, disputed the findings of the report.

In a letter to Romero, Geoghegan said it's unfair to call the pay excessive. She said Treasury must strike a balance between limiting compensation and approving pay packages that are consistent with executives in similar jobs.

Geoghegan called the 50th percentile "a benchmark." She noted that some pay packages at the three companies exceeded that level in 2012. But she said more than half at AIG were at or below that level, while nearly half at GM and Ally were below it.

A Treasury Department spokesman had no additional comment Monday and referred to Geoghegan's letter.

The three companies received a total $248.7 billion in the financial bailout in 2008. AIG has repaid the $182 billion it received; GM still owes $21.5 billion on the $49.5 billion it received and Ally owes $11.4 billion on $17.2 billion in aid.

In a statement, AIG said it has overhauled its compensation practices to align pay with the company's goal of balancing profit and risk. The company also is reviewing pay policies to ensure that compensation is tied to performance, AIG said.

GM and Ally said they are complying with all pay restrictions under the bailout rules.

rest at http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/report-treasury-approved-excessive-pay-for-executives-at-bailed-out-aig-gm-and-ally/2013/01/28/7e9f52ba-697d-11e2-9a0b-db931670f35d_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboNE_b

Monday, January 28, 2013

North Koreans Are Eating Each Other

source http://www.crazydaysandnights.net/2013/01/north-koreans-are-eating-each-other.html

It seems that North Koreans are always hungry and every other year or so the rest of the world starts hearing reports of thousands of people dying of starvation. This is the first time though that anyone has reported cannibalism. Things must be really bad if people are resorting to it. Asia press says about 10,000 people have died in the past year due to starvation and that last week a man was killed after killing his two kids and trying to eat them. He had been turned in by his wife when he offered her fresh meat. Others have been convicted of digging up recently buried bodies and trying to eat them. There are reports of people being killed and boiled. Meanwhile, the North Korean government spends their money on ways to blow up the rest of the world.

rest at http://www.crazydaysandnights.net/2013/01/north-koreans-are-eating-each-other.html

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Web inventor says governments stifling net freedom - dozens of countries and businesses signed a cybersecurity deal at the Davos forum

source http://phys.org/news/2013-01-web-inventor-stifling-net-freedom.html

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, France. The inventor of the World Wide Web warned Friday that government control is limiting the possibilities of the Internet, as dozens of countries and businesses signed a cybersecurity deal at the Davos forum.

The inventor of the World Wide Web warned Friday that government control is limiting the possibilities of the Internet, as dozens of countries and businesses signed a cybersecurity deal at the Davos forum.

The comments by Tim Berners-Lee at the World Economic Forum plugged into a wider debate among the delegates on the future of the Internet, particularly how to balance openness with privacy and security.

While Yahoo! chief Marissa Mayer told the forum there was a "trade off" between privacy and the benefits of increasingly personalised services offered by Internet giants, the network's founding father took up the ethical issues at stake.

"The dream is of a more open web," Berners-Lee told the gathering in the Swiss ski resort, citing social media as a way of breaking down barriers.

But he said the recent suicide of Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old US Internet activist who faced charges of illegally copying and distributing millions of academic articles, highlighted government efforts to police the Internet.

"He downloaded a lot and so the secret service in the US decided that he was a hacker. For them that isn't the term of great praise that it is when I use it. For me a hacker is someone who is creative and does wonderful things," he said.

Berners-Lee—who launched the first web page on Christmas Day 1990 and is is credited with creating the World Wide Web—called on international governments to release more data, saying that others could use it to find solutions to problems including economic and health issues.

"They can give you 101 reasons for not doing it but it comes down to control," the Briton told the forum.

But Yahoo! CEO Mayer had a different take when it came to data about individual users held by companies such as hers and by other Internet giants such as Facebook and Google.

"I think that privacy will always be something that users should consider. But I also think that privacy is a trade off," she said.

"Because where you give that personal information you get functionality in return."

Mayer, 37, who took over in July at Yahoo! after 13 years at Google in a move aimed at reinvigorating the faded Internet firm, said the future lay in the increased "personalisation" of the web.

rest at http://phys.org/news/2013-01-web-inventor-stifling-net-freedom.html

Friday, January 25, 2013

@gop - RAND PAUL: If The GOP Doesn't 'Adapt Or Evolve, We're Going To Die' #p2 #tcot

source http://www.businessinsider.com/rand-paul-republicans-hillary-clinton-2016-2013-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Politics%20Select&utm_campaign=Politics%20Select%202013-01-25&utm_content=emailshare

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul firmly staked out his place as a conservative firebrand this week, igniting the blogosphere and cable news punditry with his feisty interrogation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during Wednesday's Senate hearing on Benghazi.

The exchange — in which he told Clinton he would have "fired her" if he were president — was eyebrow-raising, but not particularly surprising. In recent weeks, Paul has made a habit of inflaming political passions, part of a calculated effort to boost the Kentucky Senator's national profile in advance of a possible 2016 presidential bid. 

Check out Paul's activities in the last month alone:

• He was one of just five Republican Senators to vote against the New Year's Eve fiscal cliff deal.

He took a tour of Israel with 40 evangelical leaders, including several from Iowa and South Carolina, two key early voting states.

• He accused President Barack Obama of acting like a "king" by issuing executive orders to curb gun violence, and told off New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his criticism of the NRA. (He also chided Christie for throwing a "tantrum" over Hurricane Sandy relief aid.)

• He spent Inauguration Day in South Carolina, where he spoke to the Charleston Meeting, a exclusive conservative confab in the first-in-South primary state. At that meeting, he accused House Republicans of "retreating" on the debt ceiling.

• After grilling Clinton Wednesday, he emailed supporters a video of his questioning with the subject line: "Had I Been President I Would Have Relieved Clinton Of Her Duties."

Regardless of whether he runs for president in 2016, Paul's recent maneuvers are further indication he plans on playing a big role in reshaping the Republican Party in the wake of its 2012 losses.

"I think we've become less and less competitive. If we don't adapt or evolve, we're going to die or become a permanent minority party," he told Business Insider during his trip to Israel earlier this month. "Right now, Republicans are not competitive on the West Coast, we're not competitive in New England; in this last election, we weren't competitive in the Rust Belt or in big cities."

rest at http://www.businessinsider.com/rand-paul-republicans-hillary-clinton-2016-2013-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Politics%20Select&utm_campaign=Politics%20Select%202013-01-25&utm_content=emailshare

@gop @speakerboehner Republicans Are Getting Slammed For Their Plan To Rig The Electoral College #p2 #tcot

source http://www.businessinsider.com/republicans-electoral-college-plan-2013-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Politics%20Select&utm_campaign=Politics%20Select%202013-01-25&utm_content=emailshare

The backlash is growing against a Republican-backed plan to change the way key battleground states allocate electoral votes. 

In his Crystal Ball newsletter today, political handicapper Larry Sabato described the plan — which would make it so electoral votes in key swing states were apportioned by congressional districts — as "a truly rotten one" that would "undermine democracy." The plan — which gained traction in the Virginia state legislature this week — would heavily favor Republican presidential candidates.

Sabato writes today:

"A healthy, optimistic party is Reaganesque, convinced that it can win the future by embracing it, and by making a positive case for its philosophy and candidates to all Americans. A party in decline is Nixonian and fears the future; it sees enemies everywhere, feels overwhelmed by electoral trends, and thinks it can win only by cheating, by subverting the system and stacking the deck in its favor."

Crystal Ball senior columnist Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University, echoed Sabato's thoughts, writing that it would be "profoundly undemocratic" and would increase the chances of "an Electoral College misfire." (Abramowitz was an Obama donor in 2008, according to The Hill.)

In a report today, the left-leaning Center for American Progress looked at six "likely targets" for the GOP plan, including Virginia. All six states voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 but have Republican governors and strong Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

rest at http://www.businessinsider.com/republicans-electoral-college-plan-2013-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Politics%20Select&utm_campaign=Politics%20Select%202013-01-25&utm_content=emailshare

What The 2012 Election Would Look Like Under The Republicans' Vote-Rigging Plan #p2 #tcot

source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/republican-vote-rigging-electoral-college_n_2546010.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=012513&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

This is what the 2012 electoral map would have looked like had each state apportioned its electors using these rules.

The legislation introduced in Virginia, however, goes even further and proposes to allocate the two remaining votes not to the candidate who wins the state-wide popular vote, but to the candidate who wins the majority of congressional districts. This would give Republicans an even bigger advantage in that state.

rest at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/republican-vote-rigging-electoral-college_n_2546010.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=012513&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sarah Palin's book "America by Heart" can be had for $2.60

source http://www.facebook.com/pages/Go-Left/259536274080316?group_id=0

Mississippi's GOP Governor Phil Bryant (R) Says No American Lacks Health Care - seriously, buffoon? #p2 #tcot

here is his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/im4phil and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Bryant-The-GOV/191585254222624

here is his website: http://www.governorbryant.com/

here si the story

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-young/phil-bryant-health-care-r_b_2534962.html

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) doesn't like President Barack Obama's health care reform law. It's too expensive and too intrusive, he says.

And Bryant has another reason to oppose the law, he revealed in an interview with Kaiser Health News: It's not necessary because everyone's doing just fine now.

There is no one who doesn't have health care in America. No one. Now, they may end up going to the emergency room. There are better ways to deal with people that need health care than this massive new program.

If that sounds familiar, it's because this is a common rationale offered by opponents of expanding government programs that provide health care coverage. Bryant and others are referring to a 1986 federal law requiring hospitals that receive Medicare money (i.e., almost all of them) to stabilize and treat anyone who shows up with an emergency medical condition regardless of ability to pay.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney repeatedly made such comments during his failed bid to defeat Obama last year. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care," Romney said during an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes" in September.

If, like Bryant and Romney, you believe that no Americans are forced to go without health care because they can't afford it, there's no compelling reason to support expanding coverage to millions of people under President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Would that it were so simple.

In 2011, 48.6 million Americans had no health insurance, according to the most recent census data. Among those who do have coverage, many still can't afford medical care so they skip it. The truth is, there's a health care access problem and it's been getting worse. And Mississippi has the fifth-highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation: 19 percent.

Funneling uninsured, "underinsured," and poor people to emergency rooms isn't great for the hospitals, either. Hospitals absorbed $41.1 billion in unpaid bills (known in the business as "uncompensated care") in 2011, according to a report issued by the American Hospital Association this month. And unpaid medical bills can haunt patients for years and subject them to brutal debt collections.

Community health centers and free clinics don't have the capacity to handle all the patients who need help. Even in Massachusetts, where Romney enacted the model for Obamacare in 2006 and where just 4 percent of people were uninsured in 2011, free clinics still see a lot of patients, WBUR reported Tuesday.

The predicament is about to get worse for hospitals in states that don't expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Medicare and Medicaid currently provide extra money to facilities that treat a disproportionate share of patients who can't pay their bills. The health care law makes significant cuts to those funding streams -- because more people are supposed to get private health insurance or Medicaid starting next year. Based on this calculation, the American Hospital Association and other national industry lobbying groups endorsed the health care overhaul.

The hospitals in Bryant's home state see things the same way: The Mississippi Hospital Association backs the Medicaid expansion. Not broadening Medicaid would "be devastating," the association said in a statement last June. "Hospitals cannot be expected to treat such a large volume of people with no expectation or prospect of payment for those services. The result could very well mean the closure of many of our community hospitals."

Bryant, like other Republican governors, opposes Obamacare's Medicaid expansion for poor people and he wants to stop state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney (R) from establishing a health insurance exchange in the state under the law. Instead, Bryant wants the federal government operate the marketplace for Mississippi residents, which is what 25 other states have opted to do.

Kaiser Health New's Q&A with Bryant touches on a lot of other issues, including his standoff with Chaney, his view that having Medicaid discourages people from getting better jobs and his threat to consider suing the federal government if more MIssissippians sign up for Medicaid benefits when Obamacare enrollment begins Oct. 1.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post included a quote from the CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association. It has been replaced with a statement from the Mississippi Hospital Association.]

@barackobama The Untouchables: How the Obama administration protected Wall Street from prosecutions #p2 #tcot

source http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/untouchables-wall-street-prosecutions-obama

Eric Holder Breuer
Eric Holder talks to DOJ Criminal Chief Lanny Breuer in 2010. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

PBS' Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.

What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.

Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs (who, just by the way, overwhelmingly supported Obama's 2008 presidential campaign) as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ's persecution of Aaron Swartz: "we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House." (Indeed, as "The Untouchables" put it: while no senior Wall Street executives have been prosecuted, "many small mortgage brokers, loan appraisers and even home buyers" have been).

As I documented at length in my 2011 book on America's two-tiered justice system, With Liberty and Justice for Some, the evidence that felonies were committed by Wall Street is overwhelming. That evidence directly negates the primary excuse by Breuer (previously offered by Obama himself) that the bad acts of Wall Street were not criminal.

breuer frontline

Numerous documents prove that executives at leading banks, credit agencies, and mortgage brokers were falsely touting assets as sound that knew were junk: the very definition of fraud. As former Wall Street analyst Yves Smith wrote in her book ECONned: "What went on at Lehman and AIG, as well as the chicanery in the CDO [collateralized debt obligation] business, by any sensible standard is criminal." Even lifelong Wall Street defender Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chair, said in Congressional testimony that "a lot of that stuff was just plain fraud."

A New York Times editorial in August explained that the DOJ's excuse for failing to prosecute Wall Street executives - that it was too hard to obtain convictions - "has always defied common sense - and all the more so now that a fuller picture is emerging of the range of banks' reckless and lawless activities, including interest-rate rigging, money laundering, securities fraud and excessive speculation." The Frontline program interviewed former prosecutors, Senate staffers and regulators who unequivocally said the same: it is inconceivable that the DOJ could not have successfully prosecuted at least some high-level Wall Street executives - had they tried.

What's most remarkable about all of this is not even Wall Street had the audacity to expect the generosity of largesse they ended up receiving. "The Untouchables" begins by recounting the massive financial devastation the 2008 crisis wrought - "the economy was in ruins and bankers were being blamed" - and recounts:

"In 2009, Wall Street bankers were on the defensive, worried they could be held criminally liable for fraud. With a new administration, bankers and their attorneys expected investigations and at least some prosecutions."

Indeed, the show recalls that both in Washington and the country generally, "there was broad support for prosecuting Wall Street." Nonetheless: "four years later, there have been no arrests of any senior Wall Street executives."

rest at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/untouchables-wall-street-prosecutions-obama

Ted Nugent Threatens Revolution, Calls NRA Opponents ‘The Devil’ - sounds like a terrorist #p2 #tcot

source http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/01/23/ted-nugent-threatens-revolution-calls-nra-opponents-the-devil-video/

nugent The Motor City Madman – how prescient that nickname was! – is at it again, this time in an interview with Guns.com at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT, get it?) in Las Vegas last weekend. The folks at Guns.com were really, really happy to talk to the gun-loving rocker, noting that it was a "huge day" for them. Apparently the Nuge is very popular at the SHOT and the guns.com people were lucky to get some face time with him. Personally, I'd rather chew off my own foot but that might just be me. Nugent was asked about gun violence, the gun control bill that passed in New York state and the NRA's new "Stand and Fight" campaign and he had some choice words for them. Of course, what stands out for gun-crazies and what stands out to reasonable people are quite different. For example, the guns.com crew was tickled pink over Ted's rendition of the British National Anthem. How droll. Between nonsensical screeds about President Obama being "an evil and dangerous man," Nugent noted that:

"I'm part of a very great experiment in self-government where we the people determine our own pursuit of happiness and our own individual freedom and liberty not to be confused with the Barack Obama gang who believes in we the sheeple and actually is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776. And if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies."

Cute. So if his "individual liberties" are threatened – even though they really aren't – then he's ready to start a revolution? What Nuge fails to understand… well, besides the actual Constitution, is that the rest of us have liberties and rights, too. And our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not any less sacred than his. But his over-stepping of his rights does a lot more than just inconvenience you and me – it actually threatens the first part of that phrase: our lives.

rest at http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/01/23/ted-nugent-threatens-revolution-calls-nra-opponents-the-devil-video/

Sperm Whales Adopt Malformed Dolphin Into Their Group

source http://oceana.org/en/blog/2013/01/sperm-whales-adopt-malformed-dolphin-into-their-group

Deformed dolphin plays along with its adopted sperm whale family. Photo credit: Alexander D. M. Wilson/Aquatic Mammals and ScienceNOW News http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/


Herman Melville's Moby Dick may paint a picture of the sperm whale as a terrifying, ferocious creature that destroys ships and attacks the sailors on them, but modern research shows that sperm whales are compassionate and social creatures, dangerous only to the fish and squid that the giant whale feasts on for dinner, or to the orca whales that prey on sperm whale calves. A heartwarming and unusual recent discovery does even more to distinguish the sperm whale from its deadly reputation, as a group of sperm whales were observed "adopting" a bottlenose dolphin with a spinal malformation.

Behavioral ecologists Alexander Wilson and Jens Krause discovered this unique phenomenon when they set out to observe sperm whales off the island of Pico in the Azores in 2011. Upon arriving there, they discovered a whale group of adult sperm whales, several whale calves, and an adult male bottlenose dolphin. Over the next eight days, the pair observed the dolphin with the whales six more times, socializing and even nuzzling and rubbing members of the group. At times, the sperm whales seemed merely to tolerate the dolphin's affection, while at others, they reciprocated. "It really looked like they had accepted the dolphin for whatever reason," Wilson reports to ScienceNOW. "They were being very sociable."

rest at http://oceana.org/en/blog/2013/01/sperm-whales-adopt-malformed-dolphin-into-their-group

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The fiscal cliff was a manufactured crisis with an obvious ending. And the breathless coverage obscured the facts #p2 #tcot

source http://www.salon.com/2013/01/04/congress_worst_reality_tv_show_ever/

During the halcyon 1990s, we labeled annual congressional temper tantrums for what they were: standard, if boring, budget impasses. Now, though, in a hilariously non-ironic flail for ratings, news outlets have taken Nigel Tufnel's famous line from "Spinal Tap" seriously, turning the volume up to 11 by portraying the latest standoff as a harrowing "fiscal cliff," replete with doomsday countdown clocks, gaudy NFL-quality graphics, and endless Twitter hashtags.

If anyone outside the Beltway was paying attention (a big "if"), they probably thought the title referred to an old episode of "Cheers" in which the goofy mailman does his taxes. After all, replaying reruns would have been more compelling content than this latest installment of "Real World: U.S. Capitol."

Reality TV, of course, is this moment's perfect metaphor. That schlocky format's foundational oxymoron — it is "real" but not real — also defines contemporary politics.

Think about it: We understand "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" as "real" only in the sense that the characters use their own names. But we also understand that most of Kim and Khloe's strife is manufactured. It's the same for Washington — in the fiscal cliff melodrama, we heard that Speaker John Boehner dropped the f-bomb on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and we saw Democratic lawmakers perform maudlin to-camera testimonies about their supposed loyalty to the middle class. Yet, those few watching at home almost certainly sensed that it was all a scripted production — one whose outcome was predetermined.

To appreciate how the kabuki theater works, consider three big outcomes of the fiscal cliff legislation that the attendant reality TV show never highlighted:

1. Bush defeats Clinton: President Clinton's tax rates delivered big budget surpluses and one of history's strongest rates of economic growth. By contrast, President Bush's cuts to those tax rates birthed massive deficits and the slowest rate of economic growth in modern history. Yet, faced with the fiscal cliff's choice between Clinton and Bush tax rates, both parties agreed to ratify almost all of the latter.

For Republicans, this victory was summed up by Bush's former spokesman, Ari Fleischer, who said simply, "It's fantastic." For Democrats, their triumphant rhetoric about their one small win — restoring Clinton rates on income above $400,000 — obscures a humiliating truth. Essentially, the party that spent so much political capital to modestly raise taxes and restore fiscal sanity after the Reagan binge was bullied into undoing much of its own fiscal legacy.

2. Nobody in Washington cares about deficits: During December's "fiscal cliff" TV show, D.C.'s reality stars told us that they were focused on reducing the budget deficit. But, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the final bill will increase the budget deficit by $4 trillion.

3. Corporate welfare is sacrosanct: For all the effort to make wasteful spending the villain in the "fiscal cliff" TV show, Congress ultimately refused to touch that spending. Somehow, defense contractor largess in the bloated Pentagon budget was off the table. Somehow, subsidies to corporate agribusiness were separated from the negotiations and then extended. Meanwhile, as the Roosevelt Institution's Matt Stoller documented, the final "fiscal cliff" bill included taxpayer handouts for everything from NASCAR racetracks, to Hollywood studios, to a new Goldman Sachs headquarters.

If you find these facts more depressing than the fantasies that dominated the public version of the "fiscal cliff" drama, then you appreciate why so many Americans prefer reality TV over genuine documentaries. A shrink-wrapped "reality" hyped for maximum titillation is, indeed, more pleasant to watch than actual reality. Congress and the political media know this, so they give viewers what they think we want.

The problem is that the real story gets lost in translation, leaving us at once totally disgusted, occasionally entertained and permanently fleeced … just as Washington wants.

rest at http://www.salon.com/2013/01/04/congress_worst_reality_tv_show_ever/

Friday, January 18, 2013

call it what it is: terrorism - "Teen White Supremacist Arrested for Planned Bombing of Alabama School" #p2 #tcot

source http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2013/01/07/teen-white-supremacist-arrested-for-planning-bomb-attack-on-alabama-school/?utm_source=WhatCounts+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Teen+white+supremacist+arrested+for+planned+bombing&utm_content=17-year-old+white+supremacist

Authorities in Alabama may have averted another school massacre by arresting a 17-year-old white supremacist who allegedly was building homemade bombs to target African-American students at his school.

The teen, identified by authorities as Derek Shrout, was to appear in court in Seale, Ala., today on a felony charge of attempted assault.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told Hatewatch today that a search of the youth's home on Friday turned up a couple dozen small tobacco cans and two larger metal containers marked "Fat Boy" and "Little Man." The names are similar to the code names "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" used for the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the United States during World War II. All of the containers were filled with pellets and had holes drilled in them. The sheriff said other ingredients needed to complete the devices, such as black powder and fuses, were not found.

Shrout "admitted to being a white supremacist," the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported in today's editions.

"He has a lot of pent up anger towards blacks," Taylor told the newspaper.  Authorities didn't immediately disclose if the suspect had ties to specific white supremacist groups or how and when he adopted his racist beliefs.

"By his own admission, he is a white supremacist, but we haven't been able to link him to any specific organization or any organization to him," the sheriff told Hatewatch.

Shrout's alleged plans were exposed when a teacher at Russell County High School, where the suspect was a student, found a journal containing "what appeared to be plans for a terroristic attack," the newspaper reported. The teacher turned the journal over to a school resource officer, who is a sheriff's deputy, and the investigation began.

Initially, the teenager claimed his journal writings were fiction, the sheriff said, but that was discounted after his cooperative parents allowed a search of their home and the improvised explosive devices were found

The sheriff said the suspect had "obviously put a lot of thought into the plan," and named a teacher and six students in his journal.

Five of the six targeted students and a high school teacher, all identified by name in the suspect's journal, are black, the sheriff told Hatewatch. The suspect also listed a sixth student, who is white, apparently in the belief he is gay, the sheriff said.

The sheriff told Hatewatch that FBI agents are now involved in the investigation and could recommend that the case be handled as a federal hate crime. That, however, is considered unlikely because the suspect is a juvenile. Alabama doesn't have a specific hate crime law, only enhancements for those convicted of felonies with racial motivation.

The explosive devices the teenager is accused of building were just "a step or two away from being ready to explode" and would have caused serious damage or injuries, the sheriff said.

rest at http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2013/01/07/teen-white-supremacist-arrested-for-planning-bomb-attack-on-alabama-school/?utm_source=WhatCounts+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Teen+white+supremacist+arrested+for+planned+bombing&utm_content=17-year-old+white+supremacist

Thursday, January 17, 2013

U.S. corporate profits have soared 71 percent, after taxes, under President Obama, Bloomberg writes #p2 #tcot . Suck it, shitsippers, teabaggers and @gop 'ers

source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/seven-and-a-half-things-you-need-to-know_n_2490438.html

"U.S. corporate profits have soared 71 percent, after taxes, under the crushing grip of Dear Leader Obama, Bloomberg writes. No other president since World War II, when America was also run by socialist monsters, has seen such a profit increase. Corporate profits are the highest share of GDP since at least 1947, when record-keeping began, if you can trust the government's records. "Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan's administration and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy," Bloomberg writes.

Well, there's your problem right there, companies will say: The economy has been so terrible under Obama that naturally their profits are going to look bigger in comparison. Companies have squeezed profits out of this horrible economy by making it even more horrible, laying off workers and slashing costs. So-called "economists" disagree with this corporate view, Bloomberg writes, noting the economy would be in worse shape if not for Obama's redistribution, er, stimulus plans.

The cognitive dissonance is on fullest display in the banking industry. Nobody has whined harder about Obama than the put-upon bankers, whom Obama once cruelly called "fat cats," sending the delicate flowers to their fainting couches, where they fanned themselves furiously with wads of cash. And yet nobody is making more money than the biggest, most oppressed banks. Despite the hardships of tighter regulation and higher capital requirements, Goldman Sachs managed to utterly smash profit expectations in the fourth quarter, not only from cutting costs like banker pay, but also because of "a significant rebound in its core business," writes Susanne Craig in the New York Times.

And JPMorgan Chase, run by banking's Whiner-In-Chief Jamie Dimon, turned a record profit of more than $21 billion in 2012, the Wall Street Journal writes. Dimon had his pay cut in half for his lax oversight of the risks being taken by JPMorgan's chief investment office. Without their $6 billion London Whale loss, JPMorgan's profits would have been even higher.

But still the whining continues apace. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey refined his previous analysis of Obamacare, deciding it was more like fascism, not socialism as he'd previously thought. Judging by the literally thousands of furious emails Huffington Post business editors have received in the past 12 hours about Mackey's comments, we can guess Whole Foods might want to get ready for another customer boycott in the days to come. Not to worry, though: Whole Foods' profits -- which have risen 306 percent under Obama -- will probably be just fine."

rest at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/seven-and-a-half-things-you-need-to-know_n_2490438.html

Black Conservatives Ask The Supreme Court To Kill Landmark Civil Rights Law #p2 #tcot

source http://www.businessinsider.com/project-21s-voting-rights-act-brief-2013-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=Business%20Insider%20Select%202013-01-17&utm_content=emailshare

"Myrna Perez, a senior counsel at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, said that changes to the law would be potentially harmful in the wake of controversial attempts at changing voting laws in many parts of the United States in recent years. "(The act) is single-handedly responsible for much of the progress this country has achieved in terms of electoral equality. Changing it would have a tremendous impact. There would be no backstop against states or localities that wanted to conduct discriminatory practises in voting," Perez said.

Last year the federal government used Section 5 to block a highly controversial redistricting plan in Texas which it had feared created extra congressional seats dominated by white voters, when in fact most of the growth of Texas' voter rolls came from minority voters, especially Hispanics.

The League of Women Voters had called the Texas redistricting scheme an "extreme example of racial gerrymandering" aimed at reducing the influence of non-white voters. The plan was blocked by a federal court in August 2012. Myrna said such events showed that the Voting Rights Act was still needed. "That happened just a few months ago last year," she said.

Harley LeBon disagreed, saying that Section 5 was an unfair intrusion by the federal government into the rights of local government to organise their own affairs and that she was happy for black conservatives at Project 21 to spark a debate on such a thorny racial issue. "This is what America is all about: having a discussion. There is a whole network of black conservatives. The Democrats do not have a lock on black support," she said."

rest at http://www.businessinsider.com/project-21s-voting-rights-act-brief-2013-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=Business%20Insider%20Select%202013-01-17&utm_content=emailshare

NRA Ad Stuns Conservative Pundits Into Speechlessness Followed By Really Articulate Rage #p2 #tcot

source http://www.upworthy.com/nra-ad-stuns-conservative-pundits-into-speechlessness-followed-by-really-articul?c=ufb1

Obama EPA Shut Down Weatherford, TX Shale Gas Water Contamination Study @barackobama #p2 #tcot

source http://desmogblog.com/2013/01/16/breaking-obama-epa-shut-down-weatherford-tx-shale-gas-water-contamination-study

The Associated Press has a breaking investigative story out today revealing that the Obama Administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) censored a smoking gun scientific report in March 2012 that it had contracted out to a scientist who conducted field data on 32 water samples in Weatherford, TX.

That report, according to the AP, would have explicitly linked methane migration to hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in Weatherford, a city with 25,000+ citizens located in the heart of the Barnett Shale geologic formation 30 minutes from Dallas.

It was authored by Geoffrey Thyne, a geologist formerly on the faculty of the Colorado School of Mines and University of Wyoming before departing from the latter for a job in the private sector working for Interralogic Inc. in Ft Collins, CO.

This isn't the first time Thyne's scientific research has been shoved aside, either. Thyne wrote two landmark studies on groundwater contamination in Garfield County, CO, the first showing that it existed, the second confirming that the contamination was directly linked to fracking in the area.

It's the second study that got him in trouble.

"Thyne says he was told to cease his research by higher-ups. He didn't," The Checks and Balances Project explained. "And when it came to renew his contract, Thyne was cut loose."

rest at http://desmogblog.com/2013/01/16/breaking-obama-epa-shut-down-weatherford-tx-shale-gas-water-contamination-study

Kathryn Bigelow addresses 'Zero Dark Thirty' torture criticism

source http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-0116-bigelow-zero-dark-thirty-20130116,0,5937785.story

"those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.

This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist's ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation.

Indeed, I'm very proud to be part of a Hollywood community that has made searing war films part of its cinematic tradition. Clearly, none of those films would have been possible if directors from other eras had shied away from depicting the harsh realities of combat.

On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices."

Gov Rick Scott’s poll numbers suck so bad, Florida could elect its first Democratic Governor in 20 years #p2 #tcot @gop

source http://freakoutnation.com/2013/01/16/gov-rick-scotts-poll-numbers-suck-so-bad-florida-could-elect-its-first-democratic-governor-in-20-years-next-fall/

Gov Rick Scott isn't just unpopular, he's toxic. After supporting Florida's restrictive voting laws which resulted in 9 hour waiting lines at the polls, trying to eliminate early voting and other fun stuff like adopting a dog, naming him Reagan, doing a photo shoot with the pup, then sending the dog back, Scott isn't well loved in his state.



 But…. WHY? Why don't they like this lovable guy?

PPP's first Florida poll of 2013 finds Rick Scott's approval numbers on the decline and Democrats warming up to Charlie Crist, setting the stage for Florida to possibly elect its first Democratic Governor in 20 years next fall.

Scott's approval rating is just 33%, with 57% of voters disapproving of him. Scott's numbers had gradually improved over the course of 2012, but these numbers represent a regression from early November when he was at a 37/48 spread. Scott meets with near universal disapproval from Democrats (21/71) and independents (32/64) and is even on pretty shaky ground with Republicans (49/38).

Crist meanwhile is being embraced by Democrats. His favorability rating with them is 70/16. That's a big improvement from early September when it was just 44/33. The party's unified around him since his official switch last month. 52% of Democratic primary voters say they'd like for Crist to be their candidate for Governor next year, compared to 18% for Alex Sink, 13% for Pam Iorio, 4% for Buddy Dyer, and 1% for Nan Rich.

Crist would start out as the favorite in a showdown with Scott. He leads 53-39, most notably taking a whooping 29% of the Republican vote. He still has some residual appeal to Republican voters. Crist isn't the only Democrat who could give Scott trouble for reelection though.

rest at http://freakoutnation.com/2013/01/16/gov-rick-scotts-poll-numbers-suck-so-bad-florida-could-elect-its-first-democratic-governor-in-20-years-next-fall/

NRA supported gun control when black panthers were the ones holding the guns

source http://www.facebook.com/NoTeaParty

NRA's Idea Of A Civil Discussion About Guns: Call The President Names And Go After His Kids #p2 #tcot

source http://www.upworthy.com/the-nras-idea-of-a-civil-discussion-about-guns-call-the-president-names-and-go-a

he NRA has released an ad in response to President Obama's very reasonable plans to solve our gun problems.  They basically say that because the president's daughters need secret service protection, all children should have armed security in their schools. And then basically call him some juvenile names if he doesn't do it exactly the way the NRA wants.

rest at http://www.upworthy.com/the-nras-idea-of-a-civil-discussion-about-guns-call-the-president-names-and-go-a

Conservative Media Criticize "Deranged" NRA Ad #p2 #tcot

source http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/01/16/conservative-media-criticize-deranged-nra-ad/192289

Conservative media figures, as well as other conservatives, criticized the National Rifle Association for releasing an ad that politicized the protection afforded to President Obama's daughters, calling the ad "over the line" and "beyond the pale." MSNBC's Joe Scarborough strongly criticized the ad and the NRA, saying, "this extremism is so frightening."

NRA Released Ad Politicizing Protection For Obama's Kids

NRA Ad Politicized The Security Of President Obama's Children. On Tuesday, the NRA released an ad calling Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for questioning the viability of putting armed guards in schools while his children attend a school protected by armed security. From The Washington Post:

The National Rifle Association released a new video on its Web site Tuesday calling President Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for having Secret Service protection of his daughters at school but saying he was "skeptical" about installing armed guards in all schools.

The NRA's provocative, 35-second video is as harsh as any attack ad in a political campaign and illustrates how emotionally charged and personal the debate over gun control is becoming.

"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" a deep-voiced narrator asks. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security."

"Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement Wednesday. "But to go so far as to make the safety of the President's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly."

The video takes issue with Obama's comments in a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," in which the president voiced uncertainty about the NRA's proposal to put armed security guards in schools nationwide. [The Washington Post, 1/15/13]

White House: Ad "Repugnant And Cowardly." In response, the White House called the ad "repugnant and cowardly." From The Washington Post:

The White House has responded to a provocative ad posted online Tuesday by the National Rifle Association, calling the video "repugnant and cowardly."

The ad labels President Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for letting armed guards protect his own school-aged children while expressing skepticism towards an NRA proposal to put armed security in schools.

"Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "But to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly." [The Washington Post, 1/16/13]

"Beyond The Pale" And "Deranged": Conservatives Criticized Ad

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: "This Extremism Is So Frightening And Just, Over, Over, Over The Line." MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough responded to the ad by saying: "What's wrong with these people?" He concluded, "This extremism is so frightening and just, over, over, over the line":

SCARBOROUGH: What's wrong with these people, Mika? What's wrong with these people? You have, you have children that had no say in the decision on whether their father is going to step forward to be President of the United States, to run for President, one of the most bone-crushing sacrificing things any husband or wife can do to their family, and the second they make that decision, their children and their entire family have targets on their backs. And the NRA is putting something out like -- what's wrong with these people? Putting out apps that four-year-olds can play on the anniversary of the Newtown murders, and now putting out an ad talking about the President's daughters?


They need new leadership is what they need. Their leadership has dragged them over the cliff. They are now a fringe organization with millions of mainstream Americans gun, you know, hunting, guys and women that love to hunt, and believe that they have the right to protect their families, and what the NRA once was it no longer is. This extremism is so frightening and just, over, over, over the line." [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 1/16/13, via Media Matters]

David Frum: "The NRA's Sneering References To The President's Family Are Beyond The Pale." In a piece headlined "The NRA Guns For Sasha And Malia," CNN contributor and Daily Beast contributing editor David Frum wrote "the NRA's sneering references to the president's family are beyond the pale" and argued "a president's family should not be subject to political criticism":

rest at http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/01/16/conservative-media-criticize-deranged-nra-ad/192289

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) returned his rescue dog after using him as a prop to win an election #p2 #tcot

source http://www.facebook.com/DogsAgainstRomney

Even The Koch Brothers Disagree With The GOP On The Debt Ceiling #p2 #tcot

source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/koch-brothers-debt-ceiling_n_2486191.html

When you've lost the Koch brothers, you've lost the game.

Republicans intent on smashing through the debt ceiling in order to wring some spending concessions out of President Obama are finding themselves awfully lonely these days, but they've kept soldiering on. The latest ally to abandon them may be the toughest to ignore, though. The president of the group Americans For Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, yesterday said the group wants spending cuts, but warned Republicans that screwing around with the debt ceiling "makes the messaging more difficult," the Financial Times writes. The AFP president also warned Republicans not to be seen as "hostage takers." That's a marked change from the summer of 2011, when AFP objected to a debt-ceiling deal because it didn't cut spending enough, the FT notes.

This is way, way beyond former House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling House Republicans to give up on its debt-ceiling threat, like he did again yesterday. Newt's always rattling on about moon bases and zoos and stuff, so nobody listens to him. And certainly the House GOP doesn't care that Sen. Susan Collins (RINO-Maine) warned them to bow to the inevitable and raise the debt ceiling, as she did yesterday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-DebtPanicStan) are a little tougher to take, but the cognitive dissonance arising from their debt-ceiling warnings is still manageable.

But the deep-pocketed Kochs are harder to ignore. Similar warnings recently from Tom Donohue of the Chamber of Commerce, along with the Financial Services Roundtable, the Business Roundtable and other job creators, also can't be ignored. These people have all of the money. And if the economy goes off the cliff, as a new survey of economists strongly suggests it would in a ceiling-breach, then these people will have less money available for campaign contributions. Game over.

rest at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/koch-brothers-debt-ceiling_n_2486191.html

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

EPA's Water Contamination Investigation Halted In Texas After Range Resources Protest @barackobama #p2 #tcot

source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/epa-water-contamination-investigation-fracking_n_2484568.html?ir=green&utm_campaign=011613&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-green&utm_content=Title

WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) — When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family's drinking water had begun "bubbling" like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: An oil company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.

Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.

For Steve Lipsky, the EPA decision seemed to ignore the dangers in his well, which he says contains so much methane that the gas in water pouring out of a garden hose can be ignited.

"I just can't believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn't use it," said Lipsky, who fears he will have to abandon his dream home in an upscale neighborhood of Weatherford.

The case isn't the first in which the EPA initially linked a hydraulic fracturing operation to water contamination and then softened its position after the industry protested.

A similar dispute unfolded in west-central Wyoming in late 2011, when the EPA released an initial report that showed hydraulic fracturing could have contaminated groundwater. After industry and GOP leaders went on the attack, the agency said it had decided to do more testing. It has yet to announce a final conclusion.

Hydraulic fracturing — often called "fracking" — allows drillers to tap into oil and gas reserves that were once considered out of reach because they were locked in deep layers of rock.

The method has contributed to a surge in natural gas drilling nationwide, but environmental activists and some scientists believe it can contaminate groundwater. The industry insists the practice is safe.

Range Resources, a leading independent player in the natural gas boom, has hundreds of gas wells throughout Texas, Pennsylvania and other mineral-rich areas of the United States. Among them is a production site — now owned by Legend Natural Gas — in a wooded area about a mile from Lipsky's home in Weatherford, about a half-hour drive west of Fort Worth.

State agencies usually regulate water and air pollution, so the EPA's involvement in the Texas matter was unusual from the start. The EPA began investigating complaints about the methane in December 2010, because it said the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling, had not responded quickly enough to the reports of bubbling water.

Government scientists believed two families, including the Lipskys, were in danger from methane and cancer-causing benzene and ordered Range Resources to take steps to clean their water wells and provide affected homeowners with safe water. The company stopped doing that after state regulators declared in March 2011 that Range Resources was not responsible. The dispute between the EPA and the company then moved into federal court.

Believing the case was headed for a lengthy legal battle, the EPA asked an independent scientist named Geoffrey Thyne to analyze water samples taken from 32 water wells. In the report obtained by the AP, Thyne concluded from chemical testing that the gas in the drinking water could have originated from Range Resources' nearby drilling operation.

Meanwhile, the EPA was seeking industry leaders to participate in a national study into hydraulic fracturing. Range Resources told EPA officials in Washington that so long as the agency continued to pursue a "scientifically baseless" action against the company in Weatherford, it would not take part in the study and would not allow government scientists onto its drilling sites, said company attorney David Poole.

In March 2012, the EPA retracted its emergency order, halted the court battle and set aside Thyne's report showing that the gas in Lipsky's water was nearly identical to the gases the Plano, Texas-based company was producing.

"They said that they would look into it, which I believe is exactly what they did," Poole said. "I'm proud of them. As an American, I think that's exactly what they should have done."

The EPA offered no public explanation for its change in thinking, and Lipsky said he and his family learned about it from a reporter. The agency refused to answer questions about the decision, instead issuing a statement by email that said resolving the Range Resources matter allowed the EPA to shift its "focus in this case away from litigation and toward a joint effort on the science and safety of energy extraction."

Rob Jackson, chairman of global environmental change at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, reviewed Thyne's report and the raw data upon which it was based. He agreed the gas in Lipsky's well could have originated in a rock formation known as the Barnett shale, the same area where Range Resources was extracting gas.

Jackson said it was "premature" to withdraw the order and said the EPA "dropped the ball in dropping their investigation."

Lipsky, who is still tied up in a legal battle with Range Resources, now pays about $1,000 a month to haul water to his home. He, his wife and three children become unnerved when their methane detectors go off. Sometime soon, he said, the family will have to decide whether to stay in the large stone house or move.

"This has been total hell," Lipsky said. "It's been taking a huge toll on my family and on our life."

The confidential report relied on a type of testing known as isotopic analysis, which produces a unique chemical fingerprint that sometimes allows researchers to trace the origin of gas or oil.

Jackson, who studies hydraulic fracturing and specializes in isotopic analysis, acknowledged that more data is needed to determine for certain where the gas came from. But even if the gas came from elsewhere, Range Resources' drilling could have contributed to the problem in Lipsky's water because gas migrates, he added.

The company insists the gas in Lipsky's water is from natural migration and not drilling. Range Resources' testing indicates the gas came from a different rock formation called Strawn shale and not the deeper Barnett shale, Poole said.

In addition, he said, isotopic analysis cannot be used in this case because the chemical makeup of the gases in the two formations is indistinguishable. A Range Resources spokesman also dismissed Thyne and Jackson as anti-industry.

Range Resources has not shared its data with the EPA or the Railroad Commission. Poole said the data is proprietary and could only be seen by Houston-based Weatherford Laboratories, where it originated. It was analyzed for Range Resources by a Weatherford scientist, Mark McCaffrey, who did not respond to requests for an interview.

Gas has always been in the water in that area, Poole said. And years before Range Resources began drilling, at least one water well in the neighborhood contained so much methane, it went up in flames.

At another home with dangerously high methane levels in the water, the company insisted the gas had been there since the well was first dug many years ago. The homeowner was not aware of anything wrong until Range Resources began drilling in 2009.

Jackson said it was "unrealistic" to suggest that people could have tainted water and not notice.

"It bubbles like champagne or mineral waters," he said. "The notion that people would have wells and have this in their water and not see this is wrong."


Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant in Dallas, Allen Breed in Raleigh, N.C., and Michael Rubinkam in Allentown, Pa., contributed to this report.


Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP