HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania legislative leaders outlined the broad terms of a state budget deal Friday that includes higher business and cigarette taxes, as well as revenue from legalized table games in casinos and more drilling for gas in state forests.
However, they acknowledged that many details remained to be worked out. Meanwhile, Gov. Ed Rendell threatened a veto, and his chief of staff warned that the plan's revenue assumptions are too rosy.
Leaders of both parties in the Senate and of the House Democratic caucus described the nearly $28 billion budget as a compromise that draws $2.1 billion from one-time sources such as the state's "rainy day" contingency fund but also addresses longer-term revenue needs.
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Here's hoping they figure something out before October 1st. I've been reading about this for a few hours now, as my best friend lives in Philly, and it's just horrifying the kinds of things that are going on here - and the programs and such that will be closing (warning: link goes to a .pdf file) if a budget isn't passed before the first.
The battle is centering on whether health care reform uses taxpayer money to pay for abortions, a practice that is now largely banned. Pro-lifers have been activating their grassroots supporters and liberals have started distributing talking points to Democratic lawmakers in preparation for the showdown.
The issue has been on a slow boil for months. It picked up steam during the rancorous August town halls, but was largely drowned out by arguments over whether the bill creates death panels and cuts seniors’ Medicare benefits. (Quick answers: no and possibly.)
But with Congress back in session and critics in full attack mode, abortion has the potential to explode with a vengeance and become the divisive health care flavor of the week.
“Abortion funding in health care right now is our main priority, a top priority,” said Ashley Horne of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. “We are very deeply concerned, as are our constituents. We will do everything we can to ensure this bill either goes down or excludes abortion funding. We are that serious about it.”
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By ANDREW WIND, firstname.lastname@example.org
WATERLOO --- West High School Wahawk fans gearing up for tonight's homecoming game can leave the signs and face paint at home.
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Seriously? Seriously? What's next, golf claps? The applause and cheering might hurt the fans' ears? Like someone commented at the source, have they ever BEEN to a college game?
And I actually can't believe I found an article where every single comment agreed that the rule was stupid. And and--maybe I'm just old or went to a small school, but NAME TAGS? This isn't kindergarten here!
The proposed new marketplace, or exchange, would allow consumers and small businesses to shop for insurance and compare prices in a regulated, competitive environment. The exchange has been built into all the health bills moving through the House and Senate.
Private companies could offer health coverage through the exchange if they meet certain criteria and if Congress created a new government-run plan that would be offered through the exchange, too.
Illegal immigrants were to be allowed in the exchange and even in the public plan if they used their own money under legislation that passed three committees in the House and one in the Senate. Before Friday, there was little indication that that would change, even in the crucial Senate Finance Committee, which is facing a deadline of early next week to complete a comprehensive health bill.
In explaining its new position, the White House said that illegal immigrants could continue to buy insurance in the private insurance market outside the exchange, which would shrink with the creation of the exchange but still exist.
The moral of this story? Shouting out of turn works, & being a nice guy just means you get rolled over.
I think my longtime dream of gaining a national legislature that looks like Taiwan's is inching toward fruition. :wipes a fake tear from cheek:
Still, it's stupid policy, imposing another layer of difficulty on the system for no other reason than to hurt people. Let's hope all the undoc's with fake ID's can just fake this too.
Muhammad Ali also had a way with words, but it helped enormously that he could also punch guys in the face.
What got Van Jones fired was they caught him on tape saying that Republicans are assholes. And they call it "news." And Obama didn't say a word in defense of Jones and basically fired him when Glenn Beck told him to. Just like we dropped "end of life counseling" from health care reform because Sarah Palin said it meant "death panels" on her Facebook page.
Crazy evil morons make up things for Obama to do, and he does it.
Same thing with the speech to children this week. If you missed it, the president attempted to merely tell school children to work hard and wash their hands, and Cracker Nation reacted as if he was trying to hire the Black Panthers to hand out grenades in homeroom. Of course, the White House immediately capitulated. "No students will be forced to view the speech," a White House spokesperson assured a panicked nation. Isn't that like admitting that the president might be doing something unseemly? What a bunch of cowards. If the White House had any balls, they'd say, "He's giving a speech on the importance of staying in school, and if you spineless jackasses don't show it to every damn kid in your school we're cutting off your federal education funding tomorrow."
Too right. The evenly mildly progressive Democrats need to buck up & fight.
Not that this would have anything to do with him being the only Taiwanese/R.O.C. President ever from the Democratic Progressive Party, & the only on in the last 80 years not from Kuomintang.
Apparently he's not appealing the decision.
(And the USA still has not even a truth commission for W's administration, unless I've missed it.)
By Miriam Raftery
September 11, 2009 (San Diego) – “Long-range acoustic devices [LRADs] for crowd control can be extremely dangerous. These are used in Iraq to control insurgents. They can cause serious and lasting harm to humans…We want to know WHY our Sheriff Dept has this weapon,” Sal Magallanez of San Diego-based Liberty One Radio said in an e-mail sent to East County Magazine, prompting a joint investigation.
The device was stationed by San Diego County Sheriff deputies at a recent town hall forum hosted by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) in Spring Valley and at a subsequent town hall with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego). The Davis Rally drew an estimated 1,300-1,500 people, including vocal conservative and liberal protest groups.
A public records search conducted by East County Magazine has confirmed that the device is an LRAD 500-x manufactured by San Diego-based American Technology Corporation (ATC). Capable of use as an effective loudspeaker, the LRAD also has the ability to emit a deafening tone aimed at incapacitating and dispersing a crowd without use of lethal force.
“It’s very concerning,” Kevin Keenan, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “ It is fine for the Sheriff’s Department to have new less-than-lethal weapons, but for their interactions with individuals these still-dangerous weapons need to be used only as substitutes for firearms. They can’t be used as just another tool on the tool belt. As we’ve seen with tasers and pepper spray, these types of weapons are being used to subdue people even though they pose the risk of serious physical harm.”
He added, “Even more concerning is having these weapons for public order policing. I can imagine no situation, or am not aware of any situation that’s ever happened in San Diego County or is likely to happen that would justify using these weapons for public order policing to control a crowd. The main effect of having those weapons at public events is to chill people and chill free speech and free association.”
Liberty One Radio host Mike Copass, a former Democratic Congressional candidate who ran against Davis, tried to interview the Sheriff’s officer who appeared to be in charge of the device, which was mounted on a Rhino all-terrain vehicle. But Magallanez said the official “acted as if he didn’t know what it was."
Huge wall of text article here:
Did you hear that this week would determine the fate of Barack Obama’s first term? Or was it next week?
The political and media establishment has clearly decided that Obama’s presidency is “in trouble.” Even before Obama’s address to Congress was announced, the chattering class decreed that the White House “lost” August to testy town halls. Now, we’re told, the president must save health care reform to save himself.
Obama needs a “game changer,” CNN recently announced, while POLITICO trumpeted Wednesday’s health care address as Obama’s “riskiest effort to date.”
The “honeymoon” is over, according to The New York Times, and Obama is now under pressure to “jump-start his struggling presidency.” The same Times article, however, featured a graph revealing that Obama is actually polling better than President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton did at the same point in their first terms. (Oops.)
While Washington has played up Obama’s 6-point dip in public approval, the president still has most voters’ support. In fact, not only is Obama beating Republicans and Congress at large, his approval ratings also top his share of the electorate from the November election. Add in the greatest financial panic in over a generation, and the sustained public support for the president is actually quite remarkable.
That conclusion simply requires a look at the numbers.
Washington is not, however, a reality-based community. It is a media-based community. And the media have not been very interested in reporting that the electorate still backs Obama.
The most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, for example, showed Obama’s job approval holding pretty steady at 57 percent — down just 2 points from the prior month.
The Post’s headline, however, told a different story: “Faith in Obama Drops as Reform Fear Rises.”
The Post’s coverage downplayed overall approval ratings — the long-standing presidential metric — to focus on a drop in the share of voters who are confident that Obama “will make the right decisions for the country.” As blogger Eric Boehlert has documented, this type of poll contortion is necessary when the narrative is pre-scripted to highlight Obama’s troubles.
After Obama’s hit health care speech, of course, many pundits rushed to herald a comeback. Within a few hours, CNN’s headline read: “Double-Digit Post-Speech Jump for Obama Plan.”
Thus our shampoo media cycle continues: Rinse, reverse and repeat.
The reality is far less erratic. Despite the sagging economy and open, legitimate questions about health care reform, Obama has steady, slightly decreasing job approval ratings. Independents are also standing by him, with 48 percent backing his performance in the latest Gallup Poll.
To be sure, all the political heat on health care has prioritized the issue for many Americans. While only 7 percent of the public said it was the most important problem facing the country in April, now 26 percent of Americans rank it No. 1. (About 29 percent say the economy, in the same Gallup Poll.)
Yet while pundits and politicos strain to tie Obama’s prospects to the latest news cycle, voters seem far less jumpy. Maybe it’s because they’re less addicted to BlackBerrys and Twitter. Maybe it’s because they’re too busy working — or looking for work — to follow every procedural setback in Congress. Or maybe it’s because they have a sense of perspective about the job Obama is actually doing — that it’s bigger than any single issue, and real recovery and reform take much longer than a news cycle.
President Barack Obama says he'll be held responsible for any problems once a health care overhaul becomes law, so he has every reason to get it right.
"I have no interest in having a bill get passed that fails. That doesn't work," he told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview to air Sunday night.
Heading to a rally Saturday in Minneapolis, the president used his weekly radio and Internet address to focus on government figures showing that nearly half of all Americans live without health insurance in a 10-year period. He said the situation will worsen without the changes he wants and that losing coverage can happen to anyone.
"I intend to be president for a while and once this bill passes, I own it. And if people look and say, You know what? This hasn't reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25 percent, insurance companies are still jerking me around. I'm the one who's going to be held responsible. So I have every incentive to get this right," he said in an excerpt of the CBS interview released Saturday.
A new Treasury Department analysis found that 48 percent of all people under age 65 go without health coverage at some point in a 10-year period. The data came from a study that tracked the insurance status of a sample of people from 1997-2006.
The report also found that 57 percent of those under 21 will find themselves without insurance at some point during a span of 10 years and that more than one-third of Americans will be without coverage for a year or more.
"I refuse to allow that future to happen," Obama said in his weekend message. "In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they'll go without health insurance -- not for one year, not for one month, not for one day.
"And once I sign my health reform plan into law, they won't," he added.
In the Republican address, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Obama has paid lip service to bipartisanship, rejected ideas that would bring the parties together around overhauling the system and ignored the American people's wishes. He criticized the cost and its long-term effect on the budget deficit, saying one of the House bills works out to $2.4 trillion over 10 years, beginning in 2013.
Obama puts the cost of his plan at $900 billion for the period starting in 2010, when more revenue will be available right away.
"President Obama should work with Republicans on a bottom-up solution that the American people can support," Cornyn said.
Skin-whitening commericals raise ire, questions of racism in India
Cosmetics ads in Asia that extol fairness as superior are racist, according to some critics. But the not-so-subtle skin whitener commercials are apparently successful: sales of the creams have jumped more than 100 percent in rural India, according to CNN.
The TV ads portray light skin as more desirable than dark skin, implying that lighter skin is the ticket to finding a great job and the perfect girl.
In one commercial, according to CNN, a dark-skinned man standing on a balcony tells his light-skinned friend, “I am unlucky because of my face.” The friend, replying, “Not because of your face, because of the color of your face,” tosses his friend a whitening cream.
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In a study at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, scientists found that the overproduction of the protein 14-3-3 zeta, when combined with the known breast cancer protein ErbB2, or HER2, can change premalignant epithelial cells into mobile mesenchymal-like cells. The resulting process, known as epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, triggers cancer spread from one site in the body to another.
"We have discovered a key molecular mechanism for the deadly transition of non-invasive breast cancer into invasive disease," senior author Dr. Dihua Yu, professor in the center's department of molecular and cellular oncology, said in a news release issued by the university.
Cancer involving the two proteins may also be more deadly, based on the findings published in the Sept. 9 issue of Cancer Cell.
In one experiment, the researchers injected a breast cancer cell line with the two overexpressed proteins into mice, resulting in these mice having three times the metastasis, or cancer spread, as mice given a different cancer cell line.
The researchers also found that of 107 human cases of invasive breast cancer they studied, a little more than 20 percent involved cancers that overexpressed both proteins, and these patients did not live as long as those whose tumors produced one or neither of the proteins.
However, the researchers identified a biomarker in 14-3-3 zeta that may help doctors
identify these high-risk patients so that more aggressive treatment can be given before the breast cancer has a chance to convert to an invasive kind.
The findings may have far-reaching implications. Yu and her team had previously found that lung, liver, uterine, stomach and several other cancers also overproduce the 14-3-3 zeta protein.
Science! Fuck yeah!
Corruption and legalized bribery has become so widespread that nobody in Washington even tries to hide it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance - whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats." When "asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand - as her previous statements had indicated Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions," according to CNN.
This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth's lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source - check out this OpenLeft exclusive:
From: Steve Elmendorf [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 8:31 AM
Subject: event with Speaker Pelosi at my home
You are cordially invited to a reception with
Speaker of the House
Thursday, September 24, 2009
6:30pm ~ 8:00pm
At the home of
2301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
To RSVP or for additional information please contact
Carmela Clendening at (202) 485-3508 or firstname.lastname@example.org
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS SOLUTIONS
900 7th Street NW Suite 750 Washington DC 20001
Again, Elmendorf is a registered lobbyist for UnitedHealth, and his firm's website brags about its work for UnitedHealth on its website (Elmendorf was also a chief of staff for Democratic Minority Leader Dick Gephardt).
The sequencing here is important: Pelosi makes her announcement and then just hours later, the fundraising invitation goes out. Coincidental? I'm guessing no - these things rarely ever are.
I wrote a book a few years ago called Hostile Takeover whose premise was that corruption and legalized bribery has become so widespread that nobody in Washington even tries to hide it. This is about as good an example of that truism as I've ever seen.
Tea party activists rally at U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the final stop of the Tea Party Express, activists marched to the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to protest health care reform, higher taxes and what they see as out-of-control government spending.
The conservative advocacy group began its tour in Sacramento, California, and made its way across the country, hosting rallies in about 30 cities. Washington is the final destination.
Demonstrators gathered on the west side of the Capitol on Saturday and the crowd stretched for blocks
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Even though they clogged up the metro this morning and made me late for work, they were actually pretty nice and warm people. All the signs were nutty though. I wish the locals were that nice, lol.
Charles Darwin film 'too controversial for religious America'
A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.
By Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Published: 4:53PM BST 11 Sep 2009
Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.
However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.
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MONTGOMERY -- The Alabama Supreme Court ruled against Love Stuff, a Hoover business that sells vibrators and other sexual devices, and upheld Alabama's anti-obscenity law.
The court ruled that the business failed to show that the state law banning the sale of sexual aides was unconstitutional.
"Public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity," Supreme Court justices wrote in the opinion issued Friday.
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It is worth noting that assault weapons are legal in Alabama, but people have only been able to buy a sex toy if it has been "recommended by a physician" for at least the last year. I mean, it makes sense. People kill people with dildos all of the time.
NBC has replaced this woman's comment about Muslims with a less inflammatory comment: "I'm scared to death for my country. I believe Obama is running this country into the ground."
This appears to be the only edit made to this online video. Footage of her previous comment does not appear to be posted. The original video was broadcast Saturday evening, Sept. 12, 2009, on NBC Nightly News.
A protester at Saturday's Tea Party on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. made clear that she was afraid, saying "We are losing our country, we think the Muslim's are moving in and taking over."
NBC Nightly News interviewed the woman, who was surrounded by fellow protesters as she made the remarks. Her name was not used.
Participants at the event, billed "March on Washington" by its organizers, rallied against President Obama's health care plan and what they say is out-of-control spending.
By Elizabeth G. Hines
As the author found out, the rules of our broken health care system are so baroque, something entirely unexpected can trip you up, threatening family finances. She asks us to help President Obama sell the nation on reform this week.
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Apparently, Glenn's tired of the race thing.
ABC News Reported D.C. Rally Size in Tens of Thousands, Not 1M to 1.5M as Activist Said.
Conservative activists, who organized a march on the U.S. Capitol today in protest of the Obama administration's health care agenda and government spending, erroneously attributed reports on the size of the crowds to ABC News.
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the group that organized the event, said on stage at the rally that ABC News was reporting that 1 million to 1.5 million people were in attendance.
At no time did ABC News, or its affiliates, report a number anywhere near as large.
ABCNews.com reported an approximate figure of 60,000 to 70,000 protesters, attributed to the Washington, D.C., fire department. In its reports, ABC News Radio described the crowd as "tens of thousands."
Brendan Steinhauser, spokesman for FreedomWorks, said he did not know why Kibbe cited ABC News as a source.
As a result of Kibbe's erroneous attribution, several bloggers and commenters repeated the misinformation.
President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabwe's first high-level talks with top EU officials in seven years went well.
After the talks, in Harare, he again called for international sanctions imposed since disputed presidential election in 2002 to be lifted.
The EU team also praised the meeting but indicated it was not appropriate yet for sanctions to end and complained about the slow pace of reforms.
The EU team is also due to meet PM Morgan Tsvangirai on its visit.
Before going into the talks with the EU team, Mr Mugabe said: "We welcome you with open arms. We hope our talks will be fruitful with a positive outcome."
...and a video on "operation-take out the trash"
Boy, Oh, Boy
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: September 12, 2009
The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.
Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.
But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!
The outburst was unexpected from a milquetoast Republican backbencher from South Carolina who had attracted little media attention. ( Collapse )
I understand why the White House can't confront this issue, but it's high time the media -- and the rest of us -- did.
Macro credit to ladypolitik