Sunday, August 30, 2009

Big Tropical Storms in Atlantic Hit 1,000-Year High

The people of U.S. Gulf Coast have felt unusually battered by big storms during the past few years. Now, it turns out their instincts are right.

More PhotosA new report in the scientific journal Nature indicates that the last decade has seen, on average, more frequent hurricanes than any time in the last 1,000 years. The last period of similar activity occurred during the Medieval Warm Period.

The study is not definitive, but it is a unique piece of work that combines an analysis of sediment cores from inland lakes and tidal marshes with computer modeling and finds a "striking consistency" between the two, the authors suggest.

The use of sediment cores to place and date ancient storms -- called "paeleotempestology" -- is becoming an increasingly useful tool in the broader effort to try to reconstruct the history of hurricane activity in order to better predict a future potentially influenced by climate change.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Healthcare Around the World

Notice that Americans spend more and die earlier...........

United States - Private System
Private sector funded, with more than half from private sources. Private health insurance available through employer, government or private schemes.

15.3% of population (45.7 million people) do not have health insurance.

Federal government is largest health care insurer - involved in two main schemes, Medicaid and Medicare, each covering about 13% of population.

Medicaid - joint funded federal-state programme for certain low income and needy groups - eg children, disabled.

Medicare - for people 65 years old and above and some younger disabled people and those with permanent kidney failure undergoing dialysis or transplant.

Most doctors are in private practice and paid through combination of charges, discounted fees paid by private health plans, public programmes, and direct patient fees.

In-patient care is provided in public and private hospitals. Hospitals are paid through a combination of charges, per admission, and capitation.

United Kingdom - Universal, Tax-funded System
Public sector funded by taxation and some national insurance contributions.

About 11% have private health insurance. Private GP services very small.

Health care free at point of delivery but charges for prescription drugs, ophthalmic services and dental services unless exempt.

Exemptions include children, elderly, and unemployed. About 85% of prescriptions are exempt.

Most walk-in care provided by GP practices but also some walk-in clinics and 24-hour NHS telephone helpline. Free ambulance service and access to accident and emergency. In patient care through GP referral and followcontractual arrangements between health authorities, Primary Care Trusts and the hospital.

Hospitals are semi-autonomous self-governing public trusts.

France - Social Insurance System
All legal residents covered by public health insurance funded by compulsory social health insurance contributions from employers and employees with no option to opt out.

Most people have extra private insurance to cover areas that are not eligible for reimbursement by the public health insurance system and many make out of pocket payments to see a doctor.

Patients pay doctor's bills and are reimbursed by sickness insurance funds.

Government regulates contribution rates paid to sickness funds, sets global budgets and salaries for public hospitals.

In-patient care is provided in public and private hospitals (not-for-profit and for-profit). Doctors in public hospitals are salaried whilst those in private hospitals are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Some public hospital doctors are allowed to treat private patients in the hospital. A percentage of the private fee is payable to the hospital.

Most out-patient care is delivered by doctors, dentists and medical auxiliaries working in their own practices.

Singapore - Dual System
Dual system funded by private and public sectors. Public sector provides 80% of hospital care 20% primary care.

Financed by combination of taxes, employee medical benefits, compulsory savings in the form of Medisave, insurance and out-of-pocket payments.

Patients expected to pay part of their medical expenses and to pay more for higher level of service. Government subsidises basic healthcare.

Public sector health services cater for lower income groups who cannot afford private sector charges. In private hospitals and outpatient clinics, patients pay the amount charged by the hospitals and doctors on a fee-for-service basis.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Comin' for Rush Next?

Blogger's Case Could Test the Limits of Political Speech
New Jersey Man Was Arrested After Writing That 3 Judges 'Deserve to Be Killed'

CHICAGO -- Internet radio host Hal Turner disliked how three federal judges rejected the National Rifle Association's attempt to overturn a pair of handgun bans.

"Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed," Turner wrote on his blog on June 2, according to the FBI. "Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions."

The next day, Turner posted photographs of the appellate judges and a map showing the Chicago courthouse where they work, noting the placement of "anti-truck bomb barriers." When an FBI agent appeared at the door of his New Jersey home, Turner said he meant no harm.

He is now behind bars awaiting trial, accused of threatening the judges and deemed by a U.S. magistrate as too dangerous to be free.

Turner's case is likely to test the limits of political speech at a time when incendiary talk is proliferating on broadcast outlets and the Internet, from the microphones of well-known commentators to the keyboards of anonymous netizens. President Obama has been depicted as a Nazi and slain Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller as "Tiller the killer." On guns and abortion, war and torture, taxes and now health care, the commentary feeds off pools of anger that ebb and flow with the zeitgeist.

Mark Potok, an editor at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks extremists and hate speech, says he thinks "political speech has gotten rougher in the last six months."

While federal authorities moved swiftly to stop Turner, scholars note that the line between free speech and criminality is a fine one.

Turner's attorney said the prosecutors overreacted.

"He gave an opinion. He did not say go out and kill," defense attorney Michael Orozco said last week after unsuccessfully seeking bail. "This is political hyperbole, nothing more. He's a shock jock."

That is not how U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald and his prosecutors see the case. They charged Turner, a blogger admired by white supremacists, with threatening the lives of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit: Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer.

Threats against federal judges are taken particularly seriously here: The husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow were slain in February 2005 by a disgruntled plaintiff. He hid in a closet in Lefkow's home, waiting for the judge to return home, but her husband found him first.

Turner, 47, was first charged in June by Connecticut's Capitol Police with inciting injury after he urged residents to "take up arms" against two state legislators and an ethics official when the lawmakers introduced a bill to give lay members of Roman Catholic churches more control over their parishes' finances.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Most Dollars in DC Contain Cocaine Traces

The US capital has the highest level of banknotes that have traces of cocaine. The largest study of banknotes has found that 95% of dollar bills in Washington DC bear traces of the illegal drug cocaine.

The figure for the US capital is up 20% over two years.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth tested notes from more than 30 cities worldwide.

They say the rise observed in the US may be due to increased drug use caused by higher stress levels linked to the global economic downturn.

Bank notes can pick up traces of cocaine directly from users snorting it through rolled up bills or when cash is stacked together.

Stress factor?

Besides Washington, other big US cities such as Baltimore, Boston and Detroit had the highest average cocaine levels on their dollar bills.

Dr Yuegang Zuo, who led the research, said: "To my surprise, we're finding more and more cocaine in banknotes.

"I'm not sure why we've seen this apparent increase, but it could be related to the economic downturn, with stressed people turning to cocaine."

Other countries where notes were tested were Canada, Brazil, China and Japan.

China had the lowest rates, with only 12% of its bills contaminated.

In the US the cleanest bills were collected from Salt Lake City, home of the religious group, the Mormons.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top Five Health Care Reform Lies

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill."1 What's the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.2

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.3 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.4 If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.5 But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.6 And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits.7 Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.8

Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy. Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.9 The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade10—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses.11 Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.12

P.S. Want more? Check out this great new White House "Reality Check" website:

Now some of the most outrageous lies:

1. "No 'death panel' in health care bill," Associated Press, August 10, 2009.

2. "Stop Distorting the Truth about End of Life Care," Huffington Post, July 24, 2009.

3. "Reality Check FAQs,", accessed August 11, 2009.

4. "Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan," Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2009.

5. "Obama: 'If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Keep Your Doctor,'" Wall Street Journal, 15, 2009.

6. "Reality Check FAQs,", accessed August 10, 2009.

7. "Obama: No reduced Medicare benefits in health care reform," CNN, July 28, 2009.

8. "Reality Check FAQs,", accessed August 10, 2009.

9. "Reality Check FAQs,", accessed August 10, 2009.

10. "Premiums Run Amok," Center for American Progress, July 24, 2009.

11. "Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies," CNN, June 5, 2009.

12. "Reality Check FAQs,", accessed August 10, 2009.

Sources for the Five Lies:
#1: "A euthanasia mandate," The Washington Times, July 29, 2009.

#2: "It's Not An Option," Investor's Business Daily, July 15, 2009.

#3: "Rationing Health Care," The Washington Times, April 21, 2009.

#4: "60 Plus Ad Is Chock Full Of Misinformation," Media Matters for America, August 8, 2009.

#5: "Obama's 'Public' Health Plan Will Bankrupt the Nation," The National Review, May 13,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Man Holding 'Death to Obama' Sign Arrested

The Secret Service is investigating a man who authorities said held a sign reading "Death to Obama" outside a town hall meeting on health-care reform in western Maryland.

The sign also read, "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids," referring to the first name of President Barack Obama's wife, said Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Peter Lazich.

Lazich said deputies detained the unidentified, 51-year-old man near the entrance to Hagerstown Community College about 1 p.m. Wednesday after getting calls from a number of people attending the meeting held by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Obama was not at the meeting.

The sheriff's office turned the man over to the Secret Service, Lazich said.

Barbara Golden, special agent in charge of the agency's Baltimore field office, said Thursday that an investigation is ongoing but declined further comment. A spokesman at the agency's Washington headquarters also declined to discuss the investigation.

Police said there were no other arrests among the nearly 1,000 people, some carrying protest signs, who came to the college for the meeting or demonstrated off-campus.

Cardin's national communications director, Sue Walitsky, called the incident "unfortunate." She said she was unaware of it until Thursday morning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know in Afghanistan, if a woman withholds sex, it is legal for the husband to starve the wife till she gives in to his sexual needs?

Real law!

The current president who we helped get into office there is the one who made the bill law.

Is that the freedom we are spreading? Oppression? Makes ya feel all Patriotic, huh? Knowing your hard earned tax dollars are helping men in another country basically rape women when ever they want or they punish the women by not feeding them. That is so much of a better use of our tax dollars than healthcare....

In America they will lock you up if you dont feed your dog!

Think about it.................

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Americans Working Much Harder for Less Pay

Feel like you’re working a lot harder these days, putting in longer hours for the same pay — or even less? The latest round of government data on worker productivity indicates that you probably are.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the American work force produced, at an annual rate, 6.4 percent more of the goods they made and services they provided in the second quarter of this year compared to a year ago. At the same time, “unit labor costs” — the amount employers paid for all that extra work — fell by 5.8 percent. The jump in productivity was higher than expected; the cut in labor costs more than double expectations.

That is, despite the deep job cuts of the past year, workers who remain on the payroll are filling in and making up the work that had been done by their departed colleagues. In some cases, that extra work came with a smaller paycheck.

The higher worker output and lower labor costs have been good news for companies struggling through the worst recession since World War II. So far, some 70 percent of companies in the S&P 500 have turned in better-than-expected profits for the latest quarter.

But wage cuts and lost paychecks could seriously jeopardize the recovery of a U.S. economy that still relies on consumer spending for two-thirds of its power.

“You have a very severely harmed, injured consumer in terms of income slow down, job uncertainly, job loss, wealth loss, inadequate savings, high debt levels,” said Laura Tyson, an Obama advisor who headed the Council of Economic Advisors in the Clinton administration. “The consumer, I don’t see powering us out of this recession.”

Many economists believe the current recession is on the verge of ending. And if, as many expect, the economy begins expanding again in the second half of this year, companies may begin adding more shifts and re-hiring workers as demand for their products increases.

That improving trend — a slowdown in the pace of the downturn — was confirmed in this month’s Adversity Index from and Moody's, which measures the economic health of 381 metro areas and all 50 states. The index includes four components —employment, housing starts, housing prices and industrial production — and classifies each as being in recession, at risk, recovering or expanding.

So far, none of the areas is in the “recovery” stage. But according to the index, 85 metro areas are now in a "moderating recession" – up from 23 the month before.

“A lot of these places were contracting at a much faster pace in the first quarter than they are now,” said Andrew Gledhill, an economist at Moody's, which prepares the index.

With job cuts slowing, corporate profits improving and the housing market showing signs of a bottom, many analysts are forecasting that U.S. Gross Domestic Product will turn positive again this quarter after a sharp over the past year.

Pentagon Wants Authority to Post 400,000 Military Personnel in U.S.

The Pentagon has approached Congress to grant the Secretary of Defense the authority to post almost 400,000 military personnel throughout the United States in times of emergency or a major disaster.

This request has already occasioned a dispute with the nation’s governors. And it raises the prospect of U.S. military personnel patrolling the streets of the United States, in conflict with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

In June, the U.S. Northern Command distributed a “Congressional Fact Sheet” entitled “Legislative Proposal for Activation of Federal Reserve Forces for Disasters.” That proposal would amend current law, thereby “authorizing the Secretary of Defense to order any unit or member of the Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve, to active duty for a major disaster or emergency.”

Taken together, these reserve units would amount to “more than 379,000 military personnel in thousands of communities across the United States,” explained Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America’s Security Affairs, in a letter to the National Governors Association, dated July 20.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Obama Signs Bill That Could Prohibit Flavored Blunts & Wraps

Some readers have stated concerns that the language quoted only references “cigarettes” specifically and not blunts or wraps. I have found that the specific context of this section does only target cigarettes, however the bill does give the FDA power to apply similar restrictions to any tobacco product. This most likely means that flavored blunts and wraps are not a priority under the bill and will not be disappearing from stores immediately.

President Obama signed the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” into law which is aimed to give the FDA more control over what tobacco companies can put into their products and how the products can be marketed. One important part of the new law was aimed at restricting flavored tobacco that anti-smoking groups say target kids. These flavored tobacco products include blunts and wraps which are used by many marijuana smokers to roll marijuana filled cigars. The part of the bill that limits these flavors reads:

“A cigarette or any of its component parts (including the tobacco, filter, or
paper) shall not contain, as a constituent (including a smoke constituent) or
additive, an artificial or natural flavor (other than tobacco or menthol) or an
herb or spice, including strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple,
vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry, or coffee, that is a
characterizing flavor of the tobacco product or tobacco smoke.”

Tobacco companies like Philly and Swisher have no doubt profited for years from the illegal marijuana industry. Marijuana users commonly purchase legal cigars to empty the tobacco and refill with marijuana. Many other tobacco companies produce “blunt wraps” which do not contain any tobacco making the rolling process easier. The “unflavored” types of these products are still legal under the new law, however the various flavors are usually preferred by most marijuana users.

It is unclear if marijuana smokers were specifically targeted under this bill or when these popular products will be pulled from stores. It is also unclear if the thousands or millions of marijuana users effected will be stocking up on these products because of the tendency for blunts to become stale after long periods of storage.