Over the last few years, a large number of open courseware directories and video lecture aggregators have popped up on the web. These sites often include introductory courses and research seminars, but it can be difficult to find full courses covering advanced topics. For budgetary and copyright reasons, most upper level and smaller attendance courses are not recorded, or are only offered online for a fee. Many schools provide access-restricted videos of advanced courses to current students, but do not make them available to the wider community. To help remedy this, I have pulled together a big list of advanced courses with publicly available video lectures in math, physics, finance, and computer science that seem to have slipped through the cracks and included them in this post (scroll down to skip to the links).
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Link HT: BeSpacific
When al-Qaida was founded, Josh Devon was nine years old. Ben Venzke was 15. The year was 1988, and Devon and Venzke were as uninterested in the terrorist network as its leader, Osama bin Laden, was in the two young Americans.
Now, two decades later, things have changed. Venzke and Devon have both become fascinated in terrorism and have turned that interest into careers. And al-Qaida now takes careful note of their work.
Venzke and Devon are two of the most prominent "terror trackers" worldwide. In the United States, and increasingly in other countries, the term refers to a community of people who spend their days analyzing traces that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations leave behind, especially on the Internet. The two Americans are essentially digital trackers in the age of globalized terrorism.
IntelCenter and SITE Intelgroup are the companies that Venzke and Devon, respectively, have founded. They enjoy a strong reputation within the relatively small community of terrorism experts. Beyond that, though, they are virtually unknown -- but wrongly so.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
What will this "study" not tell us? It will NOT tell us how many MORE tens of thousands of jobs would be created by giving ALL businesses in Tennessee an across the board tax cut of $577 million. The same Tennessee businesses that work everyday without Matt Kisber and Phil Bredesen and Bob Corker swooning over them like they swoon over Volkswagen.
Why do Phil Bredesen and company give this money to Volkswagen (more than twice what other states gave away in previous "recruitments") and NOT to all Tennessee business? Because they wouldn't get the chance to crow like a rooster and strut like a peacock at the ribbon cutting and say how proud they are that THEY created these jobs. Polticians DO NOT create jobs, they create photo-ops. And, they buy political capital and political influence with OUR taxpayer dollars. If you or I did it, it would be called bribery. When the polticians do it, they call it "wonderful." What a crock!!
State and local governments are offering about $577.4 million in assistance and tax breaks for Volkswagen Group of America over the next 30 years to build its $1 billion auto assembly plant in Chattanooga, officials said today.
But a new study released today concludes that the benefits from the VW plant and the supply businesses it will draw to the region easily exceed the record high incentives for Tennessee by generating over $11.8 billion in personal income growth over that period.
Also, the study by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research estimated new total tax revenue of nearly $1.4 billion.
This is unfreakin-believable, sounds like George Orwell's 1984!!
Montgomery County (Clarksville) recently voted to put a wheel tax increase on the Nov. 4 ballot. Now, they will use a "public engagement committee" to convince the unwashed masses what is best for them. Wonder if they will allow tax opponents equal time? Yeah, right. Wonder if they will register with the local election commission?
Developing, More on this as we get more info...
The county's Public Engagement Committee is preparing a "campaign" to educate the public on an upcoming wheel tax referendum, but insists it is not developing a sales pitch to support the measure.
"Selling has the connotation that you're holding back things," said District 2 Commissioner Keith Politi.
"We're not holding back anything. We want the public to be informed about the facts and figures surrounding the wheel tax," he said.
Politi, County Clerk Kellie Jackson, Grant, District 17 Commissioner Ginger Miles and District 19 Commissioner Charles Keene all discussed what they thought was the best practice to educate the public.
Many ideas were tossed around the table, however one thing was clear — they need to get a quick start, they said.
"October is probably when we're going to hit it as hard as we can," Politi said.
Expecting many voters to cast ballots during early voting, they opted to begin by targeting large civic organizations and groups in the community — the Rotary Club and Civitan Club, for instance.
"We are going to try and get out and reach out to ... organizations that have a social network set up," Politi said.
They also plan to send notices home, in some form, to parents of students in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.
The possibility of a public forum was also discussed, but Keene said it might not be the best option.
"If it's going to be like the Animal Control forum, I don't think we'll have the turnout," he said.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The sheet music collection of almost 22,000 pieces includes popular tunes dating as far back as 1865. Highlights include a rare copy of Scott Joplin’s “Cascades” bearing his photograph, rare first editions of W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis Blues,” and scarce Confederate imprints from the Civil War. Special collections are devoted to ragtime, blues, movie tunes, foxtrots, popular music, show tunes, Irving Berlin, war songs and specialty.
In the spirit of Templeton’s gift to the University, the Library has undertaken the digitization of the sheet music contained with the Templeton’s gift. Since a large portion of these works were published prior to 1923, they are considered to be in the public domain. In 2000, the Library launched the Charles H. Templeton Sr. Sheet Music Collection and unveiled the project to the world. Since the project began, over 5,000 pieces of music have been scanned and made available on the Internet for scholars, musicologist and music lovers. The collection has received worldwide recognition for providing access to such a massive collection.
First number is ranking for 2007
Second number is lifetime ranking
Illinois Obama (D) 10% 18%
Delaware Biden (D) 0% 22%
Arizona McCain (R) 100% 88%
Tennessee Alexander, L. (R) 57% 72%
Tennessee Corker (R) 66% 66%
7 Blackburn (R) 96% 92%
9 Cohen (D) 2% 2%
5 Cooper (D) 69% 45%
1 Davis, David (R) 93% 93%
4 Davis, L. (D) 7% 33%
2 Duncan (R) 90% 89%
6 Gordon (D) 5% 35%
8 Tanner (D) 20% 37%
3 Wamp (R) 48% 75%
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
CORUNNA - Shiawassee County Sheriff Jon Wilson may have violated Michigan's Freedom of Information Act when he charged The Argus-Press $10 for a one-page FOIA request denial.“Chief (Kim) Williams called Lt. (Mike) Ash and advised that you were no longer employed with the City of Corunna,” the letter to Panos reads. “At that time, Lt. Ash requested (Central) Dispatch to remove your LEIN rights.”
A Freedom of Information Act request can be made by anyone to obtain information from public agencies.
The Argus-Press requested information regarding the Law Enforcement Information Network rights of former Corunna Police Officer Angelo Panos. The sheriff's department keeps record of who has LEIN rights within the county.
In Wilson's Aug. 18, two-paragraph denial, he stated, “...internal labor issues are not subject to FOIA. I have no knowledge concerning the details of Mr. Panos' employment issues.”
Wilson sent a letter to Panos Aug. 18 detailing Panos' employment issues.
Wilson also sent The Argus-Press an invoice for $10 for the FOIA denial.
Michael Silence links to a blogger whose bank account has just been cleared out by the IRS.
A decade ago, leading Democrats were willing, if not eager, to disagree with union priorities. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bob Kerrey pushed Social Security reform, and John Breaux took on Medicare. Even Al Gore, in his pre-Oracle phase, took on the task of "reinventing government," including the FAA and air-traffic controllers union. Bill Clinton promoted trade expansion, breaking with the AFL-CIO to do so. Still other Democrats pushed charter schools and more education accountability.
Those reform days are over. In Denver, there's no more talk of busting these "public trusts." The only reform idea for education is a tepid call for teacher testing. Free trade is in disrepute, with Barack Obama bowing to union wishes to rewrite Nafta, even unilaterally if Mexico and Canada don't bend. The party platform includes a passing reference to reviving the Doha Round of global trade talks, but nothing about the trade promotion authority that would be needed to pass more trade deals.
More tellingly, rewriting federal law to promote union organizing is now near the top of the Democratic agenda. The main vehicle is "card check" legislation, which would eliminate the requirement for secret ballots in union elections. Unable to organize workers when employees can vote in privacy, unions want to expose those votes to peer pressure, and inevitably to public intimidation. This would arguably be the biggest change to federal labor law since the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. The Democratic House passed card check last year, and Mr. Obama has pledged his support. With a few more Senators, it might pass.
The report is dated Aug. 12 but was released to the public Monday. It says the hiring of private lobbyists by public agencies or colleges "constitutes a waste of the state's scarce resources."
"The money used for contract lobbyists could be used for ongoing programs and services," the report says.
Some legislators have complained for years about agencies or colleges using public money to hire people to lobby for more public money.[...]
State agencies and colleges spent nearly $1.3 million in public money to hire private lobbyists from January 2003 to December 2007, according to the report. But the committee also said it "cannot attest to the accuracy of this amount" because state laws about reporting lobbyists' compensation are vague.
The largest example of spending in the PEER report was the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which paid one lobbyist $363,769 over four years, an average of $90,942 a year. The smallest example of spending was the University of Mississippi, which paid one lobbyist $7,500 for one year.
"But you know what, in my heart I knew he was right," he said of his pork barrel ways. That's no way to do business, we shouldn't be doing all that earmarking -- it got completely out of control.
"It got out of control with Republicans and that's why we are being punished a little bit," he added. "Because we forgot how we got there, what we believed in, the principles that after 30 years put us in the majority, gave us the White House, the congress, the senate, the house. And then we ran out of ideas...
Link from Professor Perry
From the Census Bureau: Of households in the lowest income quintile in 2001, 28.6% were in a higher quintile in 2003; of those originally in the highest income quintile, 32.1% were in a lower quintile 2 years later.
In other words, in just a two-year period, 2 out of every 7 households in the lowest income quintile (bottom 20%) in 2001 moved up to a higher income group by 2003, and almost 1 out of every 3 households in the top income quintile in 2001 moved to a lower income group by 2003, suggesting significant income mobility over even very short periods of time.
The state pulled the plug on a proposed Nashville-to-Hendersonville toll road because not enough people said they wanted it.
A lack of public support for the Hadley Bend Connector led the Tennessee Department of Transportation to cross it off the list of possible toll projects to present to the General Assembly in January. What started as eight proposals is down to three.
A California activist is trying to gather the 694,354 signatures needed to place a tax initiative on the ballot that would:
- Impose a new 35% income surtax (in addition to federal taxes and the existing 10.3% top state rate) -- 17.5% (on all of the taxpayer's income) when income exceeds $150,000 (single)/$250,000 (joint), and an additional 17.5% (again, on all of the taxpayer's income) when income exceeds $350,000 (single)/$500,000 (joint).
- Impose a one-time 55% wealth tax on assets exceeding $20 million held by a California resident or held in California by nonresident.
- Impose an exit tax of between 36.5% to 54.3% on both income and unrealized appreciation in asset values over $5 million when a resident dies or leaves California.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Even though he's facing federal charges, Ted Stevens remains feisty as ever. The 84-year-old Republican handily won his primary race for Senate and immediately proclaimed the November election a "piece of cake."
That's despite some major hurdles Stevens faces in the next few months.
Stevens has a September trial that will keep him off the campaign trail for weeks, and he's up against his toughest opponent in his 40 years in office: popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
Stevens won the race Tuesday with 63 percent of the vote, beating six other opponents, including his closest competitor Dave Cuddy by more than 35 percentage points.
Begich easily won the Democratic primary over two minor challengers with 91 percent of the vote.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
DENVER — Racial prejudice is being cited among senior union leaders to explain Sen. Barack Obama’s difficulty in winning over support from white rank-and-file members.Obama (D-Ill.) is counting on organized labor to help win him key electoral votes in Ohio, Michigan and other battleground states.
Karen Ackerman, political director for the AFL-CIO, acknowledged that Obama’s race is an important factor for some union members.
“This race is very complicated because there is an African-American candidate for president,” said Ackerman. “We feel there is a racial component for some union members, but we’re confident we can overcome that.”
American Idol winner Ruben Studdard is facing tax liens from the Internal Revenue Service and the state of Alabama for failing to pay more than $193,000 in back taxes.
The singer, nicknamed the "Velvet Teddy Bear," owes $171,920 to the IRS and $21,731 to the Alabama Department of Revenue. The tax liens could endanger the opening of a nightclub named after him that is set to debut next summer in Birmingham.
LOS ANGELES — An Amtrak train traveling from here to San Diego ran out of fuel on Sunday night, an Amtrak spokeswoman said.
“It’s not uncommon for trains to run out of fuel here,” the spokeswoman, Vernae Graham, said. “It happens from time to time.”
The Constitution bars unreasonable searches and seizures, Kates reminded the TSA supervisor, and scrutinizing a woman's brassiere is surely unreasonable, she said.
The supervisor told her she had the choice of submitting to a pat-down in a private room or not flying. Kates offered a third alternative, to take off her bra and try again, which the TSA accepted.
"They tried to humiliate me and I was not going to be humiliated over this," Kates said. "If I was carrying nail clippers and forgot about them, I wouldn't have gotten so upset. But here I was just wearing my underwear."
So she went to the rest room, then through the security line a second time. Walking through the airport braless can be embarrassing for a large-chested woman, not to mention uncomfortable. The metal detector didn't beep on the second time through, but then officials decided to go through Kates' carry-on luggage, she said.
The whole undertaking took 40 minutes, Kates said, and caused her to miss her flight. JetBlue put her on another one, but she was four hours late getting to Boston.
Olbermann asked Maher if the country was at an “all-time low politically” or if it just seemed that way because there is no historical frame of reference for negative campaigning.
“That’s a great question and it certainly is one for historians and I am not a historian,” Maher said. “But in my lifetime, I would have to say that things do seem to be getting worse and they seem to be getting worse because – sorry to say it – people get stupider and stupider every election cycle. I’d love anybody to tell me something that you can’t just tell the American people and have them believe it because you didn’t add ‘LOL’ to it at the end of your e-mail message.”
Maher mentioned Americans’ support for offshore oil drilling – and the idea that increased domestic production would lower gasoline prices – as an example of American stupidity.
“They think offshore drilling is going to lower the price of gas and they think Obama, the black guy from the single mother, somehow is the elitist,” Maher said. “So, you know, I think the American people at the end of the day have to look in the mirror. They get the leaders they deserve and they don’t deserve very good leaders.”
Monday, August 25, 2008
Milt Capps has the story:
Earlier this year, the Tennessee General Assembly gave TCRS unprecedented authority to invest up to 3 percent of TCRS' $32 billion in assets in what are often labeled alternative investments.
The changes in state law signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen two months ago allow investment in "domestic and international venture capital, corporate buyouts, mezzanine and distressed debt, special situations, and secondary funds. Private equity investment vehicles may include, but are not limited to, limited partnerships, private placements, co-investments, funds-of-funds, and commingled funds."
It may take TCRS "three or four years to get to that [$900M] target," according to Ed Hennessee, the state's assistant treasurer for employee benefits and investments.
Some transportation workers in Boston and across the country may soon have an audience when they give urine samples for workplace drug tests, according to revised federal regulations.
The new US Department of Transportation Guidelines, which take effect in November, will require "directly observed collection" of urine from employees who previously tested positive for drugs or from those whose prior urine samples appear to have been tampered with.
"The observer must personally and directly watch the urine go from the employee's body into the collection container," the new guidelines say.
Observers will also demand that those employees raise their shirt and drop their pants to ensure that the employee is not using a device to sabotage the test, the new guidelines say.
Observers are required to be the same gender as the employees being tested.
"Unfortunately, there is a flourishing industry designed to help people facilitate continuing drug use," said Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the US Department of Transportation. "The only way we can get around that is to do a visual inspection."
But NOTHING is mentioned about tax breaks or TIFs or PILOTs or job training credits....whats wrong with you politicians up there in Gatlinburg??? Get a head start and promise them all sorts of taxpayer lucre....what are taxpayers good for if not to steal from so you can make your self look good by handing the money over to some greedy corporation.
The article says these are billionaires from the middle east.....so what!! They are no less deserving than Volkswagen or Dell or Bud Adams or Craig Leipold.
Geez!! Get to work pols, there's money in them-thar taxpayers!!
Virtually no one in Tennessee understands what the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement is or why it was created...that's because no rational taxpaying citizen would EVER think of creating the SSTA.
It is purely a creation of the tax collecting bureaucrats in Tennessee and other States and they continue to use taxpayer dollars to feed and nourish this tax Frankenstein.
Several changes to the state’s sales tax law went into effect this year, and more are scheduled for next year, in an effort to recast Tennessee’s law so it is similar to those in other states. The more alike the laws are, the easier it is for multistate retailers to collect taxes, said Scott Peterson, executive director of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board Inc., based in Nashville.
“The sales tax system we have in the country is becoming unnecessarily difficult to administer,” he said.
Under the law changes, the average Tennessee consumer probably won’t see a huge difference in how much tax he or she pays, he said. But the changes in the law are a first step toward encouraging Congress to pass a law requiring all multistate retailers — whether they’re online, catalog or telephone — to collect sales taxes, he said. If all or most states have the same tax-collection setup, Congress may be more amenable to passing such a law, he said.
The Chrono-Shredder is a device that reminds us of both date and time. There’s no on or off button. As minutes pass, a continuous roll of time is shredded until you end up with a big pile of paper by the New Year.
Miss Joy tells me that Institute for Justice attorney Scott Bullock said supporters should be in place by 9:00 a.m. on THIS Friday August 29th. The hearing is in Judge Barbara Haynes Third Circuit courtroom at the Nashville Metro Courthouse, One Public Square. I'm going to do my best to find one of Miss Joy's signature scarves to wear that morning. I don't think I can pull off the hat as well as she does.
The Metro Transit Authority wants a new, regional tax to fund its operations and future expansion.
In the coming months, MTA director Paul Ballard says he wants to assemble a group representing Davidson and the surrounding counties to propose a dedicated funding source for MTA. Ballard says paying for mass transit should be a burden shared by the region, not just Metro.
“I think that the solution we have to come up with is something that all nine counties are willing to buy into. It’s important to remember that transportation issues do not stop at county lines.”In November, MTA will take over operations of the Regional Transportation Authority, whose board is made up of mayors from Nashville and the eight surrounding counties. Ballard says the move should help in organizing a mass transit system for the region.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The "lively debate" will, I hope, include taxpayers in addition to road builders. We already know what the road builders will say: the only way to remedy the "problem" is to take great gobs of money from the taxpayers and hand it over to the road builders?
Saturday, August 23, 2008
NASHVILLE -- State Sen. Ophelia Ford -- already a YouTube star for her snarling "what you're saying ain't hittin' on nothin' with me" speech last year -- was back at it last week, berating regulators about new state fees on the funeral industry.
Acknowledging that she's a licensed funeral director, Ford complained in a legislative hearing Aug. 13 that fees are going to "eat us up and put us out of business."
She demanded regulators disclose who imposed a new $150 biannual registration fee on preneed funeral sales agents and what it's for.
Turns out that Ford and her legislative colleagues imposed the fee.
Click HERE for the entire video if you want to see more than the small clip below.
Current Year Rating: F (4%)
Previous Year Rankings:
|2007 Score (in %):||4%|
|2006 Score (in %):||11%|
|2005 Score (in %):||10%|
|2004 Score (in %):||15%|
|2003 Score (in %):||15%|
|2002 Score (in %):||15%|
|2001 Score (in %):||7%|
|2000 Score (in %):||22%|
|1999 Score (in %):||9%|
|1998 Score (in %):||15%|
|1997 Score (in %):||34%|
|1996 Score (in %):||48%|
|1995 Score (in %):||30%|
|1994 Score (in %):||7%|
|1993 Score (in %):||17%|
|1992 Score (in %):||29%|
For anyone who has watched the internal workings of a legislative body, it doesn't take long to understand that this is a HUGE mistake. More political contributions will flow to those council members who have the power to give out these favors.
If the Metro Council thinks this is a good idea then lets start handing out these favors to Homeowners in return for remodeling or building a new home in Davidson County. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Homeowners deserve such a tax break as much as rich deveopers...what say you Metro Council?
Friday, August 22, 2008
negatori on the legalori,
ixne on the payroll taxe,
Link (with video)
Senator Coburn got out his calculator and says in his new report that federal workers missed nearly 20 million hours of work in the past 6 years. That's not sick leave, not vacation, they're AWOL, absent without leave.
"My question is, if people aren't showing up for work, why are they still employed by the federal government?" Coburn said.
How do they get away with it? Coburn blames layers of bureaucracy, inefficiencies, which have allowed the numbers to grow. Even workers see it.
"It is true that there's, I think, a certain lack of accountability in certain offices," federal worker Sarah Kennel said.
"So what do all those lost hours really mean? Well, you can think of it as 10,000 work years not worked, or an entire 30 year federal career for 316 workers, that never happened.
Is Jim Forkum planning to defy the wishes of 77% of those who voted for the Charter Amendment which requires voter approval of property tax rate increases?
Is Jim Forkum actively planning a budget which will create a spending crisis?
Is Jim Forkum pledging to break the law by defying the provisions of the Metro Charter?
If Jim Forkum plans to hike property taxes of Metro Taxpayers without their permission he needs to let us know now.
Ultimately the decision to raise the property tax would be prompted by a recommendation from Mayor Karl Dean before the budget and finance committee and Metro Council considered the move.
“By charter, the only people that actually can pass taxes would be Metro Council,” Forkum said. “I guess [the charter amendment] would be court-challenged is what I’m saying.
“I feel like the Council members who represent the people of Davidson County …attend the meetings, they go through the process with department heads and have a lot more information as to whether a tax increase would be needed or not.”
Besides a potential property tax increase, the other issue facing the budget and finance committee in the coming year will be the proposed $600-plus million convention center.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Dalibor was apprehended at her family's home, cuffed and stuffed in a cruiser, and booked for violating the "overdue library materials" ordinance. She also had to pose for the below mug shot at the Grafton Police Department. Dalibor subsequently settled with the library by paying her overdue fines and reimbursing it for the cost of the two novels, which totaled around $180. Dalibor's mother Patty told TSG that her daughter was "a good kid" who works two jobs. She is also now the owner of the Fitch and Brown books, which Dalibor got to keep as a result of paying off her library levies.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., wants to have most federal employees working four-day weeks by the end of SeptemberHoyer sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management on Aug. 4 asking for a transition plan to a four-day workweek. In the letter, released Aug. 19, Hoyer said some state and local governments have saved energy and fuel costs and reduced traffic congestion by adopting similar schedules.
“Adopting a compressed workweek would take approximately 20 percent of federal employees off the roads on any given weekday, generating significant cost savings for the American taxpayer without a drop in productivity or decrease in service,” Hoyer said.Employees would still work 40 hours a week, Hoyer said, and the days off would be staggered throughout the week. Not all jobs would be eligible for the four-day schedule.
Snyder was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Under federal sentencing guidelines he could have been sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.
As a tax examiner, he had access to a database containing information on every taxpayer in the United States, but Snyder worked almost exclusively on business accounts.Snyder didn't have a legitimate reason to look up the individual accounts of at least 202 taxpayers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aladar Hamdani said during a hearing last month.
"From this moment a decree of expropriation is in effect and the job stability of workers is guaranteed by the Venezuelan state," Ramirez announced.
"The interest of Venezuelans is placed above business interests."
Cemex made no comment on the move beyond acknowledging to the Mexican Stock Exchange that, "According to a press release issued by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), PDVSA will proceed to take operational control of the plants of CEMEX Venezuela."
But Mexico's ambassador in Caracas, Jesus Mario Chacon, encouraged the two sides to keep negotiating, saying Cemex was "quite ready to make its operations transparent to talk about the nationalization."
WASHINGTON - A hacker broke into a Homeland Security Department telephone system over the weekend and racked up about $12,000 in calls to the Middle East and Asia.
The hacker made more than 400 calls on a Federal Emergency Management Agency voicemail system in Emmitsburg, Md., on Saturday and Sunday, according to FEMA spokesman Tom Olshanski.
FEMA is part of Homeland Security, which in 2003 put out a warning about this very vulnerability.
Link HT: Joe Saino
Democratic commissioner Henri Brooks said the numbers are still too close and Democratic unity still wavers depending on the issue.
“We don’t have the power,” she said. “We think we have the power. We don’t have the numbers. If we had higher, we would yield absolutely nothing. When I came on board, I was of that mindset – ‘We have the numbers. We have the power. I will yield absolutely nothing.’ … What happened?”
Medicare's top officials said in 2006 that they had reduced the number of fraudulent and improper claims paid by the agency, keeping billions of dollars out of the hands of people trying to game the system.
But according to a confidential draft of a federal inspector general's report, those claims of success, which earned Medicare wide praise from lawmakers, were misleading.
In calculating the agency's rate of improper payments, Medicare officials told outside auditors to ignore government policies that would have accurately measured fraud, according to the report. For example, auditors were instructed not to compare invoices submitted by salespeople against doctors' records, as required by law, to make sure that medical equipment went to actual patients.
As a result, Medicare did not detect that more than one-third of spending for wheelchairs, oxygen supplies, and other medical equipment in its 2006 fiscal year was improper, according to the report. Based on data in other Medicare reports, that would be about $2.8 billion in improper spending.
That same year, Medicare officials told Congress that they had succeeded in driving down the cost of fraud in medical equipment to $700 million.
Some lawmakers and congressional staff members say the irregularities that the inspector general found were tantamount to corruption and raise broader questions about the credibility of other Medicare figures. (Ya think!!!)
More political action committees are giving to the Democratic convention scheduled for next week than the Republican one, to be held in September, according to the recently disclosed lobbyists contribution data available online with the Senate Office of Pubic Records. At least six company PACs have given more than $436,000 to the Democratic National Convention Committee so far, whereas, the Republican National Convention has attracted only $55,000 from company PACs.
Dr Richard Harrington thought he was buying just an interesting curio when he paid £20 for the fossilised insect encased in amber.
But it turned out to be a long extinct type of aphid which became trapped in the resin as it seeped from a tree millions of years ago.
It has now been named after Dr Harrington, vice-president of the UK's Royal Entomological Society, who specialises in aphids.
He bought the fossil on the internet auction site from a man in Lithuania.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), a division of IMG Worldwide, is pleased to announce its annual list of top-selling institutions and manufacturers. These rankings represent royalties reported July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008 on all collegiate merchandise sold.
(1.)The University of Texas at Austin
(2.) The University of Michigan
(3.) The University of Florida
(4.) Louisiana State University
(5.) University of Notre Dame
(6.) University of North Carolina
(7.) University of Georgia
(8.) The University of Alabama
(9.) The Pennsylvania State University
(10.) University of Tennessee at Knoxville
(11.) University of Oklahoma
(12.) Auburn University
(13.) University of Wisconsin
(14.) University of Kansas
(15.) University of Kentucky
(16.) Florida State University
(17.) University of Nebraska
(18.) University of Illinois
(19.) University of Arkansas Fayetteville
(20.) University of South Carolina
This publication explains the benefits and the responsibilities under the federal tax system for churches and religious organizations. The term church is found, but not specifically defined, in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The term is not used by all faiths; however, in an attempt to make this publication easy to read, we use it in its generic sense as a place of worship including, for example, mosques and synagogues. With the exception of the special rules for church audits, the use of the term church throughout this publication also includes conventions and associations of churches as well as integrated auxiliaries of a church.
MTA is estimating they can save RTA $300,000 by "combining operations." My prediction: next year's deficit will make $1.7 million look like childs play.
Here is the report by WPLN.
"MTA expects it could save 300-thousand dollars just by combining operations."
Link HT: Mark Perry
If ordinary people, with no medical training, could perform surgery in their kitchens with steak knives, and get results that were better than those of surgeons in hospital operating rooms, the whole medical profession would be discredited.
Yet it is common for ordinary parents, with no training in education, to homeschool their children and consistently produce better academic results than those of children educated by teachers with Master's degrees and in schools spending upwards of $10,000 a year per student-- which is to say, more than a million dollars to educate ten kids from K through 12.
Nevertheless, we continue to take seriously the pretensions of educators who fail to educate, but who put on airs of having "professional" expertise beyond the understanding of mere parents.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
But the study conducted by the Columbus, Ohio-based Strategic Research Group found that by the second grade, there was no statistically significant difference between those who went to pre-K and those who did not.
Michael Cass talks HERE and HERE about problems with the current Metro Emissions testing Contract. Emissions testing is still too politically correct for any of our elected representatives to actually fight on our behalf to end this COMPLETE WASTE of time. Maybe someday they will have the testicles to do it...until then citizen activism is the only answer.
ALBANY - New Yorkers to state lawmakers: Cut spending and don't dare raise taxes!
That's the clear message being delivered by a massive majority of voters as the Legislature convenes today for a special session called by Gov. Paterson to deal with a ballooning state deficit, a new poll yesterday showed.
The Siena College survey found 80 percent of voters - including 77 percent of New York City voters and 71 percent of all Democrats - believe lawmakers should cut spending rather than raise taxes, as advocated by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan.)
The poll found just 10 percent of voters favoring a tax hike, although they weren't asked specifically if they wanted the "millionaire's tax" on incomes over $1 million a year favored by Silver.
Support for spending cuts over tax hikes was strong in all regions of the state as well as among all racial groups.
Meanwhile, the poll found that Paterson would lose to Mayor Bloomberg in a race for governor, 44-36 percent, with the rest undecided, while Paterson would defeat former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 48-38.
New information has surfaced that alleges Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) turned a $5,000 investment into $129,250 profit with the help of a secret no-interest loan that the Senator had not previously disclosed.
Federal prosecutors filed a new motion late yesterday that alleges that between 2001 and 2003, Sen. Stevens had been “intimately involved in a Florida real estate transaction” with an unknown individual who the prosecutors describe as a “personal friend.” After an initial investment of a mere $5,000, the prosecutors allege that “Stevens’ friend sold his real estate interest only six months later, with an eventual gross profit to Stevens of more than $100,000." Stevens' own 2003 disclosure reports put the exact profit from the transaction at $129,250.
City Paper Article
Monday, August 18, 2008
Remember that you can always slide the progress button around to any point in the video. For example, you can bypass the inevitable dead time that almost always occurs at the beginning of committee meetings.
Here is Part A
Here is Part B
First, Spring Hill BOMA passed a 60 cent property tax hike in clear violation of the spirit of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights passed several years ago.
Then, to add insult to injury, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a $2.5 million General Obligation Bond issue...this was too much. Citizens gathered signatures on a petition to force a vote on the bond issue, which they are entitled to do under TN law.
What happens? The BOMA now are going to change the structure of the debt so taxpayers won't be able to VOTE!!! Taxpayers of Spring Hill are definitely screwed unless the BOMA changes their mind at tonight's meeting.
Congrats to Charlie Schoenbrodt and all the fiolks that helped him in Spring Hill.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
That feeling is why Breard is championing a ballot initiative this fall that he claimed will restore openness, transparency and public trust in government. Initiated Measure 10 would, if passed, restrict political donations by people with some state contracts, ban government-funded lobbying, and require the government to create a Web site listing all state contracts.
2- TSU is having enrollment problems because of an "abysmal reputation for basic services." DOUBLE DUH!!!
Maybe we should issue Prozac to taxpayers?
Math scores at Metro schools jump
"Before, instruction didn't take into account where the students were at any given time. … We just didn't have a systematic way of being student centered, of addressing students more individually."
Math teachers underwent professional training to learn the new approach, which incorporated frequent testing to track student progress. Teachers also relied on classroom discussions and presentations to see if their students grasped the material.
Troubles test Tennessee State University
The causes, in part, are the "long lines, unanswered phones and byzantine processes" in the school's student services, according to the Pappas report.
It's a problem some students notice.
"You have to keep a copy of everything, because people are going to try to do as little as possible," senior Melanie Cruz said. "Records, admissions, financial aid — it's like pulling teeth if you want to get something done over there."
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Bankruptcy is Jefferson County's best remedy to the sewer debt crisis and the best hope for sewer-rate relief, Alabama pension boss David Bronner told an audience of elected officials Friday.
"You need to make sure the culprits meet their maker in bankruptcy," Bronner said, referring to the investment banks that persuaded the county to borrow $3.2 billion for sewer repairs and expansions. "It's time to stop the money train."
Bronner, chief executive of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, spoke to about 35 Jefferson County commissioners, mayors and state legislators Friday morning at the regular monthly meeting hosted by Alabama Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills. About 35 other people showed up to hear Bronner's speech at Vulcan Park in Birmingham.
From Pew's latest survey:
Fox viewers identify themselves as: 39% Republican, 33% Democratic, 22% independent
CNN: 18% Republican, 51% Democratic, 23% independent (more Democratic than in 2006)
MSNBC: 18% Republican, 45% Democratic, 27% independent (slightly less Democratic than in 2006...really... I know...even with Keith...)
Other fun nuggets:
** The Daily Show claims the largest percentage of indpenedents in the survey -- 45%.
** Only 34% of the sample said they read a newspaper the day before the survey, down from 40% in 2006. 37% of the public gets their news online. A lot more Americans get their news from a variety of sources. Local TV news appears to be the biggest. Younger folks use social networking sites for news.
** Rush Limbaugh's audience is 72% male; the audience for religious radio is 69% female. Sunday morning talk shows are split 50-50.
** Search engines are used for news; Yahoo is the top news site.
** Go us: readership rates for major national magazines have held steady: "Readership rates for news magazines, national news publications and magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper's Magazine have remained relatively steady in recent years, as newspaper readership has dipped.:"
Welcome to Music City. Now, pay up.
Even though the National Business Travel Association says Nashville has the second-highest tax rate for travelers in the nation, the city is poised to tax its tourists once more.
Visitors to Nashville's downtown area pay nearly $40 a day in taxes for lodging, car rentals, food and other general sales taxes. The cost is second only to Chicago's.
The Metro Council next week will consider a proposal to raise the hotel/motel tax by 50 cents, just a year after a $2-per-room tax was added on lodging. The overall effective tax rate on a room in Nashville is now 17.18 percent, the association says.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Federal prosecutors offered a glimpse of previously unseen evidence against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in new court filings Thursday, including allegations that Stevens used insider help to turn a secret $5,000 investment in a Florida condo development into more than $100,000 in quick profits.
The government also dismissed assertions by Stevens that his conduct was shielded by the constitution as a member of Congress, citing nine examples of Stevens' "errands" and requests involving Veco that had nothing to do with protected lawmaking.
Among them: an intercepted telephone call in which Stevens discusses how his son Ben, then the state Senate President, planned to push a bill favored by the oil industry as a prelude to gas development.
The new filings go substantially further than the indictment handed up against Stevens last month charging him with seven counts of failing to disclose gifts from 1999 through 2006. Most of the alleged gifts were from the former Alaska-based oil field service company Veco and its politically active chairman, Bill Allen. Allen and Veco vice president Rick Smith have pleaded guilty to bribing elected officials and are working with government prosecutors and are expected to testify at Stevens' trial, tentatively scheduled to start with jury selection Sept. 22.
First Rep. Laura Richardson was having problems making house payments, defaulting six times over eight years.
Then after a bank foreclosed on her Sacramento house and sold it at auction in May, the Long Beach Democrat made such a stink that Washington Mutual, in an unusual move, grabbed it back and returned it to her.This week, in the latest chapter in the housing saga, the Code Enforcement Department in Sacramento declared her home a "public nuisance.""I would call it an eyesore," said Peter Thomsen, a retired bank executive who lives nearby.
The city has threatened to fine her as much as $5,000 a month if she doesn't fix it up.
Neighbors in the upper-middle-class neighborhood complain that the sprinklers are never turned on and the grass and plants are dead or dying. The gate is broken, and windows are covered with brown paper.
The city action was prompted by police action.
In a letter to supporters after her money problems received widespread publicity in June, Richardson said she was current on her house payments.
"Many elected officials are married, rely on two incomes or are independently wealthy," she wrote.
"I do not fit any of these descriptions," she added. "I made the decision to borrow money against my home to help finance my campaign. The election was too important to me, to our community and to our country to roll over."