New poll numbers from NBC/Wall Street Journal produce two major and potentially conflicting story lines when it comes to the Obama administration's efforts for a health care overhaul. On the one hand, the American public overwhelmingly favors a choice between getting insurance coverage either through the private market or a government run option. Indeed, 76 percent of respondents said it was either "extremely" or "quite" important to "give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance."
With the public option being such a lightning rod in the current health care debate, progressive activists are already emailing around these numbers as evidence that voters are way ahead of the politicians. Certainly, the findings provide a boost of sorts to President Obama, who has stood by the public plan even as Republican opposition has crystallized.
That said, the president still has his work cut out for him. In the same NBC/WSJ poll, only 33 percent of respondents said they thought the president's health care plan, to the extent they knew of it, was a "good idea;" 32 percent said it was a bad idea.
In short: the administration has yet to complete the sale. An additional 30 percent of the public had no opinion of Obama's proposal for reform. But when read a description of the general outline -- requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, an employer mandate, tax credits for lower income families to buy coverage, and tax increases on wealthier Americans to pay for it - the number of respondents in support rose to 55 percent.
The GOP's New Health-Care Alternative. Join the Line
House Republicans on Wednesday introduced their official alternative health-care-reform plan. Well, kind of. It's not the official alternative, but it has the support of the leadership. And sure, some leaders may support other alternative bills out there, but this one also has the support of the top Republicans on the relevant committees. Oh, wait — some of them may also support other bills. But in any case, all this should remind you that the GOP does really stand for something.
Let's leave aside for the moment that this plan was a four-page exercise in public relations that left out how many of the 47 million uninsured Americans would be covered, how it would be paid for or even how much it would cost. The plan — and the four others introduced by Republicans in the House and five more in the Senate — is indicative of how the GOP is handling Democratic efforts to pass universal health care: death by a thousand paper cuts. "There'll be lots of Republican plans. I think that many of our members will want to be part of this plan," Representative Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican in charge of the House Republican Health Care Solutions Group, said upon leaving Wednesday's press conference. "And there will be Republicans who sponsor this plan and who sponsor other plans that have slightly different ideas than this plan. On health care, we are truly the party that brings the ideas to the table that are much more innovative than the government taking over the health-care system."
( Collapse )
The shameless fools whose Iraq folly empowered Iran's hard-liners are back, smearing Obama as an appeaser
Like Rasputin, the unhinged "Mad Monk" whom they sometimes seem to have adopted as an intellectual role model, the neoconservatives who brought us the Iraq war refuse to die. Although they have been figuratively stabbed, poisoned, shot, garroted and drowned, they somehow keep standing, still insisting that history will vindicate George W. Bush's glorious crusade. In a world governed by the Victorian moral code conservatives claim to uphold, they would be shunned, shamed and forbidden to appear on television or write Op-Ed columns. But because Beltway decorum apparently requires that disgraced pundits be given a permanent platform to bray their discredited theories, the rest of us are condemned to listen to their ravings.
What caused the neocons and their fellow travelers on the right to sit up in their coffins this time is the almost certainly rigged Iran election and the massive unrest that has roiled the country in its aftermath. Outraged that Obama has not behaved like their hero Bush and begun loudly rattling his saber, the neocons have denounced him as -- you guessed it -- an appeaser. In a piece titled "Obama's Iran Abdication," the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, that bastion of unreconstructed neocon lunacy, attacked Obama for not supporting the Iranian protesters more vigorously and derided his "now-familiar moral equivalence" in citing the 1953 CIA-backed coup that toppled Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh. In an Op-Ed two days earlier, the paper's Visigothic editors, who have been calling for the U.S. to bomb Iran for years, took the opportunity to climb into the Wayback Machine to pay homage to one of George W. Bush's greatest hits. "It turns out that the 'axis of evil' really is evil -- and not, as liberal sages would have it, merely misunderstood," sneered the editors, suggesting that the crackdown should make Obama rethink trying to strike a grand nuclear bargain with Iran.
( Collapse )
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."
Repeatedly in his hourlong speech and question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president, who has moved to take over financial institutions and several large corporations. Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office.
"Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States," he said to huge cheers.
Mr. Bush weighed in on some of the most pressing issues of the day: the election in Iran, the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, and his administration's interrogation policies of terrorists held there and elsewhere. The former president has not commented on Mr. Obama's decision to ban "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, which the current president has called "off course" and "based on fear."
( Collapse )
source: Washington Times
( Collapse )
And the president himself also several times as a senator and during the campaign said the program was illegal. Now that you are the attorney general, is there any doubt in your mind that the warrantless wiretapping program was illegal?
HOLDER: Well, I think that the warrantless wiretapping program as it existed at that point was certainly unwise in that it was put together without the approval of Congress and as a result did not have all the protections, all the strength that it might have had behind it, as -- as I think it now exists with regard to having had congressional approval of it. So I think that the concerns that I expressed in that speech no longer exist because of the action that Congress has taken in regard...
FEINGOLD: But I asked you, Mr. Attorney General, not whether it was unwise, but whether you consider it to be an illegal, because that's certainly the implication of what you said in the quote I read and the explicit statement of the man who is now president of the United States.
HOLDER: Yes, well what I was saying in that speech was that I thought the action that the administration had taken was inconsistent with the dictates of -- of FISA, and I think I used the word "contravention," and as a result I thought that the policy was an unwise one. And I think that the concerns that I expressed then have really been remedied by the fact that Congress has now authorized the program.
FEINGOLD: But did you think it was illegal?
HOLDER: Well, I thought that, as I said, it was inconsistent with -- with the FISA statute and unwise as a matter of policy.
"My Face Was Ripped Off" and Other Arguments for a Public Option
The other day I was watching Hardball and Chris Matthews introduced one of his regular panels composed of that hairless former McCain staffer and the sad-eyed "Democratic strategist" Steve McMahon. Matthews ballyhooed that the panel would be debating healthcare and, remarkably, that McMahon has "clients involved in the healthcare debate."
Clients in the healthcare debate, eh? Okay, that could mean anything. McMahon owns a media consulting firm and he used to work for Al Gore, Howard Dean and Senator Kennedy, so he could be one of us and therefore he might use this panel to debunk some of the ridiculous lies floating around the president's public option plan.
McMahon not only came out against passing a government-run public health insurance option, but claimed that the president should go for 80 votes in the Senate with a "compromise" healthcare bill. It gets worse. McMahon implied that the public option is a "controversial" idea from the left, so 80 votes and no public option, he claimed, would make "everyone happy."
That's rich. Everyone happy, McMahon?
More on "making everyone happy" presently, but first I want to address this line about how the public option is a controversial, left-wing measure. Naturally, the Republicans, along with private health insurers and the cowardly Blue Dogs agree with McMahon -- they want to scare you and your representatives into believing that the public option is some sort of wicked controversial third rail. It'll be, as McMahon called it, "a great big fight" so it ought to be avoided. Ballsy! They're trying to pass this off as somehow a left-wing moonbat idea totally divorced from the mainstream. You know the trick: if they can marginalize it, they can kill it.
But of course this "controversial left" meme is completely and totally a lie. Fact: The public option enjoys incontrovertible, super-majority support across all demographic sectors. How do we know this? A poll from Consumer Reports:
...66 percent of Americans support having the option of a public health insurance plan as part of health care reform. [...] A clear majority across all demographic sectors supported creating a public plan.
I don't see a lot of gray area in the words "a clear majority across all demographic sectors." But wait. There's more.
73% of voters want everyone to have a choice of private health insurance or a public health insurance plan while only 15% want everyone to have private insurance. [...] What's more, the preference for a choice of a public or private plan appeals to everyone -- Republicans (63%), Democrats (77%) and Independents (79%).
63 percent. Of Republicans. Support the public option. IEEEE! Avoid! Avoid!
Do I need to go on?
...about two-thirds (67%) of U.S. residents "strongly" or "somewhat" favor establishing a public health insurance option "similar to Medicare," with about 80% of Democrats, 60% of independents and 49% of Republicans in favor of such a plan.
67 percent. Tell me again how this is a controversial, far-left idea. McMahon.
And finally, a poll from and outfit called EBRI on support (or not) for the public option:
• Strongly support--53 percent
• Somewhat support--30 percent
• Somewhat oppose--5 percent
• Strongly oppose--9 percent
Altogether, 83 percent favor the public option and 14 percent are opposed. Controversial!
Now, you might be asking, What the hell is EBRI? Briefly, it's a conservative non-profit organization called the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and according to their website, this particular poll was paid for by such far-left moonbat groups as:
... AARP, American Express, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Buck Consultants, Chevron, Deere & Company, IBM, Mercer, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Principal Financial Group, Schering-Plough Corp., Shell Oil Company, The Commonwealth Fund, and Towers Perrin.
In other words, it would've been in the best interest of some of these corporations to show very little support for the public option, but their actual survey results show exactly the opposite and, in fact, their numbers outpace the more Democratic-leaning Lake Research poll. (To be fair, it's also worth mentioning one outlier poll. Conservative Rasmussen shows Americans evenly divided on the public option.)
As for making everyone happy, McMahon and others are trying to tell us that we'll all be thrilled with 80 votes but no public option. Maybe his clients, whoever they are, will be happy with 80 votes, but not real people who have been long enduring real-life health insurance nightmares.
Last week, readers wrote to me with numerous heart-wrenching stories detailing a wide array of health insurance horror stories and insider shenanigans.
An executive director for a very profitable HMO who was attempting to emphasize "quality of care" told me about an angry memo he received from a regional manager scolding him with the mandate: "Only a naive or novice manager would put quality of care as their first priority." Profit, naturally, is king.
And the following note was easily the most shocking. If you happen to be Stephen Colbert, stop reading now.
I received an email from a California woman named Allena Hansen who was mauled by a bear. I repeat, she was mauled by a bear. And her insurance carrier dodged and refused to pay for the requisite medical care:
Last summer, while working on my ranch in the Southern Sierra mountains, I was attacked and badly mauled by a predatory black bear. Although my face was ripped off, and I was blinded, I was able to make my way back to my vehicle and drive myself down a rutted mountain road to a fire station for help. From there I was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center where a team of nearly a hundred people put me back together in a grueling seven-hour emergency surgery.
That was the easy part.
Although I've maintained a private individual health insurance policy with Blue Cross of California for thirty (30) years, they have, at every turn of my ordeal, tried to waffle, obfuscate, or outright deny me benefits for medical care. (continued here)
Everyone will be happy with 80 votes and no public option, McMahon? Who, exactly?
Despite the evidence, your elected representatives -- irrespective of party or ideology -- are crumbling and hedging and capitulating on this thing. And why? It can't be polls or lack of popular support. So we can only gather that anyone who is trying to tell you that the public option is unpopular, controversial, fringe or out-of-touch is either lying, bought off by the healthcare lobby, a spineless capitulator, or all three. Passing healthcare reform with a public option is an easily winnable fight, yet too many Democrats on the hill are taking a dive, and too many Americans are falling for the same lies. Don't let them get away with it this time.Source
Lawmakers ask three executives if they'll stop dropping customers except where they can show "intentional fraud." All say no.
By Lisa Girion
June 17, 2009
Executives of three of the nation's largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.
The hearing on the controversial action known as rescission, which has left thousands of Americans burdened with costly medical bills despite paying insurance premiums, began a day after President Obama outlined his proposals for revamping the nation's healthcare system.
An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.
It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.
"No one can defend, and I certainly cannot defend, the practice of canceling coverage after the fact," said Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.), a member of the committee. "There is no acceptable minimum to denying coverage after the fact."
The executives -- Richard A. Collins, chief executive of UnitedHealth's Golden Rule Insurance Co.; Don Hamm, chief executive of Assurant Health and Brian Sassi, president of consumer business for WellPoint Inc., parent of Blue Cross of California -- were courteous and matter-of-fact in their testimony.
But they would not commit to limiting rescissions to only policyholders who intentionally lie or commit fraud to obtain coverage, a refusal that met with dismay from legislators on both sides of the political aisle.
Experts said it could undermine the industry's efforts to influence healthcare-overhaul plans working their way toward the White House.
"Talk about tone deaf," said Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance executive who now counsels companies as a consultant.
Democratic strategist Paul Begala said the hearing could hurt the industry's efforts to position itself in the debate.
"The industry has tried very hard in this current effort not to be the bad guy, not to wear the black hat," Begala said. "The trouble is all that hard work and goodwill is at risk if in fact they are pursuing" such practices.
Rescission was largely hidden until three years ago, when The Times launched a series of stories disclosing that insurers routinely canceled the medical coverage of individual policyholders who required expensive medical care.
Sassi said rescissions are necessary to prevent people who lie about preexisting conditions from obtaining coverage and driving up costs for others.
"I want to emphasize that rescission is about stopping fraud and material misrepresentations that contribute to spiraling healthcare costs," Sassi told the committee.
But rescission victims testified that their policies were canceled for inadvertent omissions or honest mistakes about medical history on their applications. Rescission, they said, was about improving corporate profits rather than rooting out fraud.
"It's about the money," said Jennifer Wittney Horton, a Los Angeles woman whose policy was rescinded after failure to report a weight-loss medication she was no longer taking and irregular menstruation.
"Insurers ignore the law, and when they find a discrepancy or omission, they rescind the policy and refuse to pay any of your medical bills -- even for routine treatment or treatment they previously authorized," Horton said.
She and others from around the country accused insurers in testimony of gaming anti-fraud laws to take policyholders' premiums, only to drop people who developed serious illnesses. They testified that they or a deceased loved one had had policies canceled over innocent mistakes and inadvertent omissions on their applications.
A Texas nurse said she lost her coverage, after she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, for failing to disclose a visit to a dermatologist for acne.
The sister of an Illinois man who died of lymphoma said his policy was rescinded for the failure to report a possible aneurysm and gallstones that his physician noted in his chart but did not discuss with him.
The committee's investigation found that WellPoint's Blue Cross targeted individuals with more than 1,400 conditions, including breast cancer, lymphoma, pregnancy and high blood pressure. And the committee obtained documents that showed Blue Cross supervisors praised employees in performance reviews for rescinding policies.
One employee, for instance, received a perfect 5 for "exceptional performance" on an evaluation that noted the employee's role in dropping thousands of policyholders and avoiding nearly $10 million worth of medical care.
Committee members took turns, alternating Democrats and Republicans, condemning such practices.
"When times are good, the insurance company is happy to sign you up and take your money in the form of premiums," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). "But when times are bad . . . some insurance companies use a technicality to justify breaking its promise, at a time when most patients are too weak to fight back."
"I think a company does have a right to make sure there's no fraudulent information," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.). "But if a citizen acts in good faith, we should expect the insurance company that takes their money to act in good faith also."
Late in the hearing, Stupak, the committee chairman, put the executives on the spot. Stupak asked each of them whether he would at least commit his company to immediately stop rescissions except where they could show "intentional fraud."
The answer from all three executives:
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said that a public insurance plan should be a part of any overhaul because it would force private companies to treat consumers fairly or risk losing them.
"This is precisely why we need a public option," Dingell said.
Proponents of a public plan seized upon the hearing, saying it showed why access to healthcare cannot be left to private insurance companies.
"This could reshape the debate," said Jerry Flanagan, a patient advocate with Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog.
"When insurance companies go under oath and admit they are canceling innocent patients when they get sick, it makes it very difficult for lawmakers to pass a law that requires every American to buy a policy or face a tax fine. It opens the way for a public option to hold the companies in check."
Rescission has fueled consumer outrage, particularly in California, where lawmakers are considering legislation to limit the practice to cases of intentional misrepresentation. It has also led to a flurry of lawsuits.
In November 2007, The Times reported that insurer Health Net Inc. paid bonuses to employees based in part on their involvement in rescinding policies. According to internal corporate documents disclosed through litigation, Health Net saved $35 million over six years by rescinding policies.
The disclosures in part led an arbitration judge to levy $9 million in damages against Health Net in a case involving the company's rescission of the policy of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the time, Blue Cross told The Times that it did not link employee performance reviews to rescission. Blue Cross also said at the time that it had conducted audits to ensure that claims reviewers were not given any "carrots" for canceling coverage.
The company reiterated that position Tuesday in spite of the committee's disclosure of two employee performance evaluations from 2003 discussing rescission levels and savings.
In a statement, WellPoint spokesman Jerry Slowey said the company had "no policy to factor either the number of rescissions or the value of claims not paid in the evaluation of employee performance or when calculating employee salary or bonuses."
Last year, while reviewing documents for the committee, two employee reviews from 2003 were discovered "that made reference to savings in a section of the review that contains many other factors," Slowey said.
"Once we discovered this reference, more than 100 other individuals' reviews were reviewed, and no other such references were found."
"The fact that two out of more than 100 individuals handling possible rescissions points to the fact that this was just two associates in the same area recognizing the work done that year to uncover fraud and abuse," he said.
So, yeah. Now can anyone tell me why an option for a public healthcare plan is a bad idea? Cause it sure as hell looks like private insurance companies are walking all over everyone, particularly if you actually get sick.
Last week, I had the honor of meeting a proud graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY - Lt. Dan Choi. Lt. Choi came to my office to meet me and discuss how we right the wrong that has occurred in his life and ensure others do not experience the same injustice.
In 2003, Lt. Dan Choi graduated from West Point with a degree in Arabic. Since graduating, Lt. Choi has served honorably in the 1st Bn., 69th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard, including a deployment in Iraq. Now, it appears his service may come to an end simply because he has publicly said these three words: "I am gay."
Lt. Dan Choi is not alone. Since 1994 when the law was implemented, approximately 13,000 able, knowledgeable, well-trained soldiers have been discharged from the US military for being gay. 800 of those discharged soldiers were -- like Lt. Choi -- experts in mission critical disciplines.
Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) comes with a severe financial burden as well. Estimates of the cost of implementing Don't Ask Don't Tell from 1994-2003 -- including recruitment, re-training and separation travel costs -- have ranged from almost $200 million to $363 million. This is millions of dollars that could have been...and should have been...spent on crucial personnel and equipment for our military.
In the discharge letter sent to Lt. Choi, authorities claimed that soldiers, such as Choi, "negatively affect good order and discipline" within their units by being openly gay. This is directly contradicted by opinion polls of servicemembers, which say that the more they are aware of their fellow soldiers' homosexuality, the less they feel it's a factor in their service.
In December 2007, 28 retired generals and admirals urged Congress to repeal the policy. They pointed to the fact that 65,000 gay men and women are currently serving in the armed forces, and that there are over 1,000,000 gay veterans. Now, more than 100 retired U.S. military leaders -- including the former head of the Naval Academy -- have signed on to a statement calling for an end to DADT policy. During a time when our military is engaged in multiple wars abroad, and the potential for future conflicts on the horizon, it is critical not to undermine our military's effectiveness and readiness.
I am firmly committed to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. To that end, I am working closely with Congressman Murphy and Senator Kennedy's offices to develop support for repeal legislation and will be among the original co-sponsors of the bill when it's introduced. In the weeks and months ahead, I plan to work with Lt. Choi to repair the damage that has been done to his career and spare thousands of innocent, brave men and women, from the same injustice.
Let's do this thing.
Littleton Republican sent presidential campaign staff, impassioned letter of thanks to anti-immigrant rally organized by alleged vigilante group but denies connection
Shawna Forde and members of Minuteman American Defense — an anti-illegal immigration vigilante group charged in the double homicide of an Arizona man and his 9-year-old daughter and the attempted murder of the man’s wife — shared a stage, if not their vigilante streak, with former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Authorities in Arizona’s Pima County allege Forde, 41, and MAD members Jason Eugene Bush, 34, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, intended to rob and murder the Flores family in order to fund the group’s anti-immigration vigilante activities. Raul Flores, 29, had a history of drug dealing and the trio believed that there would be a large amount of cash at the victims’ trailer home near the border town of Arivaca, according to CBS News. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik fingered Forde as the ringleader.
Forde’s zealous involvement in extremist anti-immigration groups belies the fluidity with which the Everett, Wash., woman traveled within so-called mainstream organizations, which helped further her local and national political aims as well as the goals of those who shared her beliefs.
Her most recent link to Tancredo, the former Republican congressman from Colorado, occurred at a sparsely attended 2007 Everett rally organized by The Reagan Wing and MAD, a splinter group Forde led that was an offshoot of the more widely known Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. The event featured representatives of Tancredo’s dark-horse presidential campaign and a letter of support from the candidate himself.
( Collapse )
As the fifth consecutive day of protests in Iran drew to a close, one of the chief members of President Bush's intelligence apparatus warned that the United States should forgo the military option no matter what the outcome of the contested elections.
"I would argue against any military option. I just don't think it will work, and it will have consequences that will be severe," said John McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of the CIA under President George W. Bush.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday for a panel on national security risks, McLaughlin went on to acknowledge that his statement would generate a robust argument among well-intentioned foreign policy observers. But the advice he offered on Iran did not end there.
Earlier in the event, McLaughlin, who served briefly as Acting Director at the CIA, urged the Obama White House to proceed with caution when it came to the politically embattled country. Regardless of who emerged victorious from the election, he said, the United States would have real difficulties on its hands.
( Collapse )
A 15-year-old Poplar Bluff boy has been hospitalized after he was doused with gasoline and set on fire, according to police.
A 16-year-old boy is accused of squirting gasoline on Walter Currie Jr. and lighting the fire. The boy is being charged as a juvenile with first-degree assault and is being held in the Butler Ripley County Juvenile Authority and Detention Center.
Poplar Bluff police said the victim was standing with some friends Saturday when two boys with whom Walter was feuding came up to him. One of the two boys squirted Walter with a squeeze bottle filled with gasoline, then ignited it with a lighter.
( Collapse )
Oh boy, can you imagine what would happen if a black kid lit up a white person? They wouldn't be charged as a juvenile, they would be charged with attempted murder and the police wouldn't be scratching their heads, wondering why it happened
In an interview with Politico about Sen. John Ensign's recent admission of an affair with a campaign staffer, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he had his own secret "sins."
"I think he will be welcomed back by his colleagues and go back to being a good senator," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who said Ensign shouldn't have resigned his leadership spot.
Graham downplayed the political impact this would have on the GOP, saying, "Most Americans look at this as a personal situation."
Graham let out a laugh and said: "I've got plenty of sins that I'm not going to share with anyone else."
Democrats in Louisiana are trying to use Ensign's affair against another senator whose secret sins came to light -- David Vitter.
I'll just leave this here:
Protesters mourn dead as rallies continue18/06 13:25 CET | The focus of protests in Iran today is on those who have died in the post-election unrest.
Supporters of the reformist opposition candidate, Mirhossein Moussavi, were expected to be on the streets in vast numbers again this morning in response to has call for a day of mourning. At least eight people have been killed in the recent disturbances and the authorities’ response. ( Collapse )
Alright folks, you know the drill. Share all your relevant links/pics/vids on developing events; I'll try to add the most stand-out content to the main entry. Keep OT stuff to a minimal.
- PersianQ - raw video from Iran (warning: occasiaonally graphic).
- Purported claims of facts vs. rumours re: protests/events.
- An up-to-date cache of pictures from today's Iranian mourning rally.
- Ongoing coverage of the Iranian election fallout via BBC.
- The Stand With Iran gallery. SUBMIT ONE.
- From mr_spivens: how to be a PROXY SERVER for people in Iran.
- Iranian Dissident Akbar Ganji: on the Uprising + Obama.
- Picspam from Iran's rally/vigil of mourning today.
- Full text of Mousavi's speech from today.
- "Iran accuses the US of meddling in election crisis"? NO U.
- Iranian conservatives/clerics pissed @ Ahmadinejad's "dirt/dust" remark.
North Korea May Fire A Missile Toward Hawaii
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's massive stockpile of chemical weapons is as threatening as its nuclear program, analysts said Thursday, highlighting an aspect of the secretive regime's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that is rarely talked about.
Adding to already high tensions in the region, a Japanese report said North Korea may fire its most advanced ballistic missile toward Hawaii around Independence Day _ the day when the regime test-fired a long-range missile three years ago, though it failed seconds after liftoff.
A new missile launch _ though not expected to reach U.S. territory _ would be a brazen slap in the face of the international community, which punished North Korea with new U.N. sanctions for conducting a second nuclear test on May 25 in defiance of a U.N. ban.
North Korea spurned the U.N. Security Council resolution with threats of war and pledges to expand its nuclear bomb-making program.( Collapse )
And now I will quote Christopher Titus:
"So I think we need a new plan. Next time a country wants to take us on, 'stead of sending bombs, let's try this: send everyone in the country a color television and a satellite dish. And give 'em the basic package, not HBO — screw those people. And before the war starts, we make them all sit down. "Okay, we'll go to war with you. You want a piece of us, fine, fine. Before we go, I want you guys to understand us a little better, so you have to sit down and watch ESPN2 for 24 hours. 'Cause you watch ESPN2 for a full day, you're gonna understand America a lot better. 'Hi, we're America! We build monster trucks for fun! We developed the top fuel dragster, zero to three hundred thirty miles an hour in under five seconds, cause, pfft, we were bored. Piss us off, heh, and see what we build! And we may feel bad about it later! Ask Japan. But before we feel bad... we're gonna jack you up! And then we're gonna send you FOOD! 'Cause we're America; we're schizophrenic. Don't mess with a nation that needs medication!'"
Comedian Glenn Beck was recently filmed at a Jill Greenberg photo shoot, below. Beck, who is a devout Mormon as well as a fan of atheist cult leader Ayn Rand, makes himself cry in the video. Greenberg has been criticized for her unflattering portraits of other politicos, notably John McCain.
Glenn Beck, who has written incest erotica, was also recently accused of being a "government disinformation agent" by conspiranoid radio personality Alex Jones, who has previously appeared on FOX News and whose theories have been tied to some of the recent right-wing murders.
[Wingnut warfare between Beck and Jones brewing.]
Via News Corpse & Daily Kos
We in the U.S. are starting to work on health care legislation. One thing that the right has been trying to do is to say that healthcare in Canada and the UK (and other national providers) is horrible, awful, we should all be afraid of it, etc.
I'd like to solicit your thoughts.
- How is the standard of your care?
- Can you get appointments with providers easily?
- Do you find your provider offering you a good selection of options?
- What about surgeries-how long does it take to schedule them?
- What about care for things like cancer, chemo, etc? Did you have to jump through hoops to get it, or was it easily available?
- What kinds of costs do you see?
- Anything else you can think of?
(if you want to respond anonymously, the entry in my LJ has anon turned on here)
Note: one thing the responses I got in my LJ showed me is that waiting is universal :)
Authorities discovered child pornography on a computer used by James W. von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist accused of killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last week, according to court documents filed by the FBI.
FBI agents said they recovered the desktop computer during a search of the Annapolis apartment where von Brunn had lived for the past two years. The pornography was disclosed in a search warrant affidavit seeking to make a more thorough inspection of the computer. Authorities did not disclose the type or extent of the child pornography they found on the computer during their first search.
( Collapse )
Hillary Clinton will undergo surgery after shattering her right elbow in a fall on the way to a meeting at the White House.
The US Secretary of State has cancelled all public engagements, including a scheduled appearance alongside the Hollywood star Angelina Jolie to mark World Refugee Day.
President Obama is understood to have phoned Mrs Clinton to express his sympathy after the accident last night.
A decision will be taken later on whether she can travel to a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Italy next week and attend a conference on Afghanistan to which Iran has been invited.
Her spokesman said that she was “resting comfortably — or uncomfortably” while working from home, where former president Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, have arrived to help out.
The fracture appears to be part of an epidemic among prominent women in world politics. First, Sonia Sotomayor, the nominee for US Supreme court, fractured her ankle earlier this month at an airport and is now on crutches. Last weekend Baroness Thatcher broke her arm in a fall at her home.
Nor is Mrs Clinton the only member of the Administration to suffer in such a way. Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, broke his arm in February. Her spokesman, PJ Crowley, said: “I suspect Secretary Gates will be calling her to say, ‘Here’s how you dress with one arm’.”
Oh god, poor bb. It sounds so freaking painful. ;____;
Any other discussion on Iran should go in this post. Off topic comments are not allowed.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset's case was the first such copyright infringement case to go to trial in the United States, her attorney said.
Attorney Joe Sibley said that his client was shocked at fine, noting that the price tag on the songs she downloaded was 99 cents.
She plans to appeal, he said.
Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America, said the RIIA was "pleased that the jury agreed with the evidence and found the defendant liable."
"We appreciate the jury's service and that they take this as seriously as we do," she said.
Thomas-Rasset downloaded work by artists such as No Doubt, Linkin Park, Gloria Estefan and Sheryl Crow.
This was the second trial for Thomas-Rasset. The judge ordered a retrial in 2007 after there was an error in the wording of jury instructions.
The fines jumped considerably from the first trial, which granted just $220,000 to the recording companies.
Thomas-Rasset is married with four children and works for an Indian tribe in Minnesota.
(I like how they capitalized the word "internet")
The Olive Garden restaurant chain is denying that it canceled all of its scheduled ads on CBS late night comic David Letterman’s “Late Show” in response to a crude joke Letterman told about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter and instead contends that its ad schedule concluded.
POLITICO reported Thursday that the company would pull its remaining television spots and was emailing Letterman critics with a note informing them that “there will be no more Olive Garden ads scheduled for ‘The Late Show’ with David Letterman in this year's broadcast schedule,” citing the talk show host’s “inappropriate comments.”
“We apologize that Mr. Letterman’s mistake, which was not consistent with our standards and values, left you with a bad impression of Olive Garden,” wrote Sherri Bruen, the company’s guest relations manager.
( Collapse )
GOP Less Popular Than Ever, Numerous Polls Show
Can it get any worse for the GOP?
Republican popularity has sunk to its lowest point in the party's grand old history, according to new polls conducted by the New York Times, CBS, Wall Street Journal and NBC.
A New York Times/CBS study finds the GOP stuck with a mere 28 percent approval rating, while a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll sees the party struggling even more, at 25 percent.
Both reports noted that today's Republican Party, which has held the executive branch for 20 of the last 28 years, garners less public approval than ever before.
( Collapse )
speaking about polls, i found something interesting...
Lies, Damn Lies, and Votes for Obama
Why do so many people say they voted for the president when they didn't?
Even as Americans grow skeptical of various Democratic policies, President Obama's approval rating hovers at a robust 63 percent. People like him so much, in fact, that many say they voted for him—even when they didn't.
In the 2008 election, Obama won 53 percent of the votes; John McCain got 46 percent. But two new polls, conducted by the Wall Street Journal/NBC and the New York Times/CBS, show Obama winning by a much wider margin.
When respondents were asked by the WSJ whom they voted for in the 2008 presidential elections, 41 percent said they voted for Obama, compared with 32 percent for McCain. Factor out the 18 percent who said they didn't vote, and you've got Obama beating McCain by 11 points, 50 percent to 39 percent.
The gap in the New York Times poll is even wider. In it, 48 percent of respondents said they voted for Obama, compared with 25 percent for McCain. Again, subtract the 19 percent who say they didn't vote, and you've got Obama winning by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, with 60 percent to McCain's 32 percent.
What gives? Are people really lying about having voted for Obama?
Yes, they are. It's common for more people to claim they voted for a president than actually did. In the 1930s, George Gallup found that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was more popular in post-election polls than he was on Election Day. The same was true after the 2000 election, in which George W. Bush lost the popular vote. By 2004, polls showed Bush having won in a landslide.
But the disparity between declared Obama voters and actual Obama voters is especially wide. The gap is usually in the single digits, and it waxes and wanes with the president's popularity. The New York Times poll, conducted periodically since Obama's inauguration, shows the gap between Obama and McCain steadily growing. In February, he led McCain 42 percent to 28 percent. In April, it was 43-25. By June, his lead had grown to 48-25. "Even by the standards of historical numbers, that's a large gap," says Adam Berinsky, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
( Collapse )