Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Judge says Free Speech is OK during elections

Thank YOU to Judge Stephen Mickle. Busybody state legislatures can NOT stop US from commenting on political matters by making the reporting requirements overly burdensome.

Link
TALLAHASSEE -- A federal judge has thrown out Florida’s rules governing so-called electioneering groups, the shadowy political organizations known as “527s” on the national stage.

In striking Florida’s broad campaign-season reporting requirements, U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle said the state had placed an unconstitutional burden on nonprofit organizations that want to discuss candidates and issues on the ballot.

The Broward Coalition of Condominiums, Homeowners Associations and Community Organizations brought the lawsuit forward, after the group ran into the reporting law when it tried to print a newsletter including information on candidates and constitutional amendments last November.

While it is true the legislature has the power to regulate elections, it does not have the power to regulate purely political discussions about elections,” Mickle wrote in a 19-page opinion, released Friday. “This legislation cannot be justified by the government’s interest in preventing political corruption because the communication that is swept up in this legislation is issue advocacy speech, pure political speech.”

Thank YOU, politicians with good intentions.

Ethanol is ruining car engines!!

Link
City Garage manager Eric Greathouse has found that adding ethanol to the nation's gasoline supply may be a foolish government mandate, but it has an upside he'd rather not deal with. It's supplying his shop with a slow but steady stream of customers whose plastic fuel intakes have been dissolved by the blending of ethanol into our gasoline, or their fuel pumps destroyed. The average cost of repairs is just shy of $1,000.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You will turn over your health data and YOU WILL LIKE IT

There is a bill in the TN legislature that will require ALL heathcare patient information be turned over to the State of Tennessee. The bill REQUIRES that your doctor and insurance company provide the information to the State. HERE is the bill. This bill will raise the cost of healthcare and is a major invasion of privacy.

This bill needs to be stopped and stopped NOW.

Click HERE to send an Email to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who will be considering this bill.

UK Govt Health Service lost patient data 140 times

So far this year.

Link

The personal medical records of tens of thousands of people have been lost by the NHS, the Department of Health has confirmed.

A total of 140 security breaches were reported within the NHS between January and April this year.

These included computers containing medical records stolen and left by skips and stolen and passwords taped on encrypted discs with sensitive information, The Independent newspaper said.

Over the last six months, the Information Commissioner has been forced to take action against 14 NHS bodies for breaching data regulations.

In an interview with the newspaper, Commissioner Richard Thomas, said the watchdog had ordered an urgent review of data security in the health service.

Mr Thomas has written to the Department of Health calling for immediate improvements to the lax treatment of personal data within the NHS.

The Independent reported that Mr Thomas plans to send in a "crack team" of inspectors to examine how data is protected by hospitals and medical workers across Britain.

One GP downloaded a complete patient database, including the medical histories of 10,000 people, on to an unsecured laptop, the newspaper reported. The laptop was then said to have been stolen from his home and never retrieved. In another alleged breach, a memory stick containing the medical histories of 6,360 prison patients and ex-inmates of Preston prison was lost. Though the data was encrypted, the password was written on a note that was attached to the device.

Twitter Alerts: Email Alert when keywords in Tweets

Link Ht: Marcus Zillman
If you love Twitter, you'll love TweetBeep! Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates! You can even keep track of who's tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL (like bit.ly or tinyurl.com). Now, how cool is that?!

Great for online reputation management, catching all your @replies and @mentions, finding job/networking opportunities, keeping up on your favorite hobby, and more!

But they had such great good intentions for our tax money

Doesn't it just bring tears to your eyes when you think about all the great good intentions that Phil Bredesen has for all of us unwashed...err, citizen types. He lies awake at night thinking how his intellectual and moral superiority can be put to use to help us all...the man is a saint!!

Remember the great Switchgrass biofuel intiative from last year that was going to put Tennessee on the map. Stacey Campfield has an update for us....its going nowhere FAST.

The great $62 million solar plant that Phil wants for us this year will meet the same fate but it won't stop Phil.

Link
It is funny how people run into each other. I was at a cookout my uncle had at a state park yesterday. One of the other guests worked for the higher ups at UT's Agriculture department. Curious, I asked how the switchgrass refinery was coming. They shot back a "Don't you know?" look and said it was not going to be much of a refinery after all. It has been scaled back to more of a research facility for switchgrass and not much actual production of fuel would ever come to pass. More testing is needed. Lots of research still to go.

Make your car less stealable with rust stickers

Link

These rust and scratch stickers are designed to make your beautiful bike/car look rusted and scratched so that passing thieves assume it's not worth stealing due to its apparent shabbyness.

Another Mid-Tenn Mass Transit Boondoggle

The Music City Star , our first attempt at Middle Tennessee mass transit, is a complete disaster. Now, the mass transit pushers want us to "invest" in another boondoggle, a train from Clarksville to Nashville. But, they assure us, only those who are "better at raising money" will receive the benfits of this gem. I volunteer NOT to pay a dime.

Link
Transit planners say one of those cities could become the second link in Nashville's rail transit network. But which corridor is built first could depend on which community is better at raising money.

State lawmakers took a step last week toward allowing local leaders to do that. They passed a bill — now awaiting the governor's signature — that would allow local governments to, through ordinance or referendum, set up a funding source dedicated to public transportation projects.

It also would give regional transportation authorities in the state the power to borrow money by issuing bonds.

"To become a world-class city you have to have ability to move masses of people," said Greg Atkins, executive director of the Tennessee Public Transportation Association.

Hey! Maybe there IS a crisis?

The unfunded liability of Social Security and Medicare is now over $100 trillion, i.e., we would need $100 trillion in the bank today to pay future benefits.

Clue: we don't have $100 Trillion in the bank. The only thing in the social seciurity "trust fund" are IOUs left there by Congress when they took the surplus and spent it on other things.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cap and Trade and Bait and Switch

HT: TaxGuru

Who could possibly object to low cost healthcare?

DOCTORS!!

Link
That is why it is disappointing that bills and amendments died during the Texas legislative session that would have allowed advanced practice nurses to diagnose and to prescribe for common, minor illness and injures without doctor supervision.

You can blame Texas doctors.

Despite better protections from malpractice lawsuits and lower malpractice premiums, Texas has a doctor shortage. Nevertheless, the Texas Medical Association took every step to ensure physicians will have a tight rein on the activities of well-trained nurses.

The barrier against nurses will continue to keep low-fee retail health clinics, such as those operated by Walgreen and CVS drug store chains, from expanding in Texas. The state law requiring doctor supervision adds too much cost to the clinics.

Hawaii vote is first all digital

Link
Some 115,000 voters in Honolulu's neighborhood council election were able to pick winners entirely online or via telephone. The voting, which started May 6, ended Friday.

City officials say the experiment appears to have generated few problems; it has even saved the financially strapped city around $100,000.

"It is kind of the wave of the future," said Bryan Mick, a community relations specialist with the city Neighborhood Commission, "so we're kind of glad in a way that we got to be the ones who initiated it."

Web voting, which produces no paper record, cannot be used in city council or state elections because state law bars voting systems that do not include a vote verification process, said Warren Stewart, legislative policy director for Verified Voting Foundation, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

Lori Steele, head of Everyone Counts, the San Diego-based firm chosen by the commission to run the election, said Web voting will make it easier for civilian and military voters who live overseas or those who just don't have time in their busy days to visit a polling place.

The commission's move to digital voting was dictated more by a lack of money than a strong desire to use the Internet in new ways.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Housing Market Solution: Creative Destruction

Politicians want SOOO badly to be relevant when, ironically, their greatest contribution is irrelevance. If they will simply leave the decision making up to the citizens we would ALL be freer and more prosperous and happier...but alas they just can't stand being irrelevant.

Phil Bredesen says HE creates jobs....not true. Michael Bloomberg jumps in front of any PR parade he can find to claim he is solving the citizen's problems...not really.

Their self-righteous fervor is so cute and so unnecessary.

The housing market in Phoenix is re-creating itself throught the efforts of sovereign citizens making self directed decisions about their own welfare without anyone "directing" them...its a miracle? Nope, it freedom.

Link
With this sweltering desert city enduring one of the largest tumbles in housing prices for any urban area since the Depression, there is an unrelenting stream of foreclosures to choose from. On some days, hundreds are offered for sale at the auctions that take place on the plaza in front of the county courthouse.

There is also a large supply of foreclosed families who can no longer qualify for a loan. And that is prompting a flood of investors like Mr. Jarvis, who wants to turn as many of these people as possible into rent-paying tenants in the houses they used to own.

Real estate got just about everyone into trouble in Phoenix, and the thinking seems to be that real estate is going to get everyone out.

The low end of the real estate market here — and in some equally hard-hit places like inland California and coastal Florida — is becoming as wild as anything during the boom.

One real estate agent was showing a foreclosed house to a prospective client when a passer-by saw the open door, came in and snapped up the property. Another agent says she was having the lock changed on a bank-owned home when a man happened by, found out from the locksmith that it was available, and immediately bought it. Bidding wars are routine.

UK Traffic Cameras to log ALL License Plates

Link

Pictorial of Massive May 16 Indian Election

Link

Green Good Intentions and Polluting Realities

Link
The research conducted by the group Transport Watch found that diesel powered vehicles emit approximately half as much CO2 as electric cars when the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity is taken into account.

The research paper says: "We conclude that the notion that electric cars will reduce emissions is a fiction."

Factors making the rechargeable cars less efficient include the amount of electricity lost on the journey between the coal fired power stations which generate it and the point where it recharges the car, and the energy lost by the batteries and the motor.
The researchers calculated that of the energy burned in a power station, only a quarter reaches an electric car after leakages and losses along the supply chain are considered, giving the vehicle an energy efficiency score of 24%.

A modern diesel engine, by contrast, achieves 45% efficiency.

White House Shuts Out the Press

Producing Its Own News Reports...think this will create any journalistic skepticism? I doubt it.

Link
Do you recognize this lower third? It's from the only video news story about the UCONN Women's basketball team's visit to the White House last month.

It might not look familiar because it's not produced by one of the networks, but rather, by the White House.

ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper brings to light this new media operation by the Obama administration.

"Obama White House officials decided to do their own media report on the visit, complete with cuts, interviews, and chyrons identifying who's speaking," writes Tapper, while the pool report from the day said: "Your Pool was not allowed to go over and shoot POTUS with the team shooting hoops. We protested loudly."

Tapper asks, "Do Obama White House officials think their media coverage isn't flattering enough?"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mass Transit Rail System in Central Fla Shuts Down

Link
Tri-Rail officials rolled out a budget Friday that calls for reducing service from 50 to 30 trains a day, ending weekend and holiday runs and shutting down the system altogether by early 2011.

Members of the board that oversees Tri-Rail voted 5-2 to approve the service cuts and closing the system -- but the action was not final because they instructed staff to tweak the budget and return with a new proposal next month that somehow could ensure service without cuts.

The drastic budget option was unveiled at the regular monthly meeting of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. Officials also disclosed that the Federal Transit Administration is threatening to demand the return of $256 million Tri-Rail used for adding a second track -- if service is cut below 48 trains a day.

Graphic Artists take a go at Re-Branding America

Link

Milkyway Galaxy Rise

Starts about 21 secs.

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Hugo Chavez nationalizes iron, steel companies

Silly dictator!! Nationalization is for REAL tyrants, like Geitner and Obama, not the petty variety. Barack Obama can nationalize more industries in a single day than Chavez can in a month.

Link
CARACAS (AFP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the government would nationalize several iron and steel companies to pave way for a large "socialist" state-run enterprise.

"There is nothing to discuss. We've been on this for a long time," Chavez said in a televised address Thursday, ordering the beginning of "a process of nationalization to create an industrial complex."

Chavez, who has nationalized many of the mineral-rich country's biggest industries, named Matesi, Consigua, Ceramicas Carabobo and Tavsa, which produces seamless steel
pipes for the oil industry.

Also affected were Orinoco Iron and Venprecar, subsidiaries of Venezuelan-owned International Briquettes Holding (IBH), which exports iron briquettes.

The announcement is the start of a "transition" so that these companies can become the "solid platform of socialism," he said.

Where is OUR Daniel Hannan? Why can't we hear

someone in Congress stand up and FIGHT for the dignity and sovereignty of the individual citizen? Why can't we hear a clear, unapologetic condemnation of a government out of control.

Link

Let's look at the future of these newly confiscated businesses that government will soon control by using the business model or, as they like to call it, the “service” (just to show they have a sense of humor) model of the US Postal Service.

Be assured, pro-union Obama will do nothing to cost the Postal Workers Union anything. Democrats are more afraid of asking a union to make sacrifices than they are of a registered letter.

In a year when Fed Ex and UPS made billions and paid taxes, the United States Postal “Service” lost $2.4 billion. What makes the loss more interesting is that most of that money was lost in the mail.

Since there is little demand for their “service,” the USPS has now raised the price of a stamp to forty-four cents in response. Our government will apply the same logic to Chrysler and GM upon gaining control of them. If the 2012 Cobalt does not sell at $13,000, the government will simply raise the price to $92,000 and eliminate two of the cup holders.

Why Government-run anything will always be a disaster

Government "management" always devolves into 1-power seeking bureaucrats, 2-re-election seeking politicians and 3- rent seeking businesses. Demogoguery and corruption and massive inefficiency are ALWAYS the eventual result.

Link
In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged.

When the plant was finally finished, however -- three years after World War I had ended -- it was millions over budget and able to produce armor plate only at twice what the steel companies charged. It produced one batch and then shut down, never to reopen.

Or take Medicare. Other than the source of its premiums, Medicare is no different, economically, than a regular health-insurance company. But unlike, say, UnitedHealthcare, it is a bureaucracy-beclotted nightmare, riven with waste and fraud. Last year the Government Accountability Office estimated that no less than one-third of all Medicare disbursements for durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital beds, were improper or fraudulent. Medicare was so lax in its oversight that it was approving orthopedic shoes for amputees.

Nashville Convention Center (aka boondoggle) Forum

If you would like to learn more about how you will be obligated to repay $1 Billion for the new Convention Center which is being built despite the wishes of Metro Taxpayers, you can attend a debate:

May 31 @ 2-4 pm at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music Turner Hall

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Groundbot

Link

Daniel Hannan was correct, UK credit rating suffers

Link
May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Britain may lose its top-level credit rating at Standard & Poor’s for the first time as the government’s finances deteriorate amid the worst recession since World War II.

The outlook was lowered to “negative” from “stable” because of the nation’s increasing “debt burden,” S&P said in a statement today. The pound fell the most in almost a month against the dollar. Stocks and bonds slid, and the cost of insuring debt against default rose.

Britain would become the fifth western European Union nation to lose its rating because of the economic slump, following Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The U.K. plans to sell a record 220 billion pounds ($343 billion) of bonds in the fiscal year through March 2010 as the recession cuts revenue and forces the government to raise spending.

“We have revised the outlook on the U.K. to negative due to our view that, even assuming additional fiscal tightening, the net general government debt burden could approach 100 percent of gross domestic product and remain near that level in the medium term,” S&P analysts led by David Beers in London, said in a report today.

An Honest Politician gets elected

Link

"I just told them the truth. This town will be like my family business. If I get a little something, so do they," he explained.

Locals who backed Risa said they would be happy to have him as mayor, despite his bizarre campaign pledge.

Ivan Vjisnic, 57, said: "We know what we're letting ourselves in for.

"We're going to get ripped off no matter who takes over. At least he's being honest and up front about it. And he has said that if things get better for him then they will get better for us."

How the Stress Tests were performed

HT: Big Picture

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adopt and monitor a Stimulus Project

Pro Publica is looking for citizens who will "adopt a stimulus project."

Link
It is never too early to start watchdogging one of the largest spending bills in U.S. history – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It includes $27 billion to repair America’s roads and bridges.

Monitoring thousands of construction sites around the country is an impossible task for a single reporter. Or a handful of reporters. That’s why we need your help.

Search for stimulus projects in your state below, then pick one to monitor over the next few months. We’ll send you suggestions and tips on how to watchdog your project. Use this form to send us reports (we'll also send you a link to it by email when you sign up).

Email Amanda Michel at amanda@propublica.org for more information.

Healthcare "reform" is ALSO about lobbying and money

Link
When President Obama won approval for his $787 billion stimulus package in February, large sections of the 407-page bill focused on a push for new technology that would not stimulate the economy for years.

The inclusion of as much as $36.5 billion in spending to create a nationwide network of electronic health records fulfilled one of Obama's key campaign promises -- to launch the reform of America's costly health-care system.

But it was more than a political victory for the new administration. It also represented a triumph for an influential trade group whose members now stand to gain billions in taxpayer dollars.

A Washington Post review found that the trade group, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, had worked closely with technology vendors, researchers and other allies in a sophisticated, decade-long campaign to shape public opinion and win over Washington's political machinery.

With financial backing from the industry, they started advocacy groups, generated research to show the potential for massive savings and met routinely with lawmakers and other government officials. Their proposals made little headway in Congress, in part because of the complexity of the issues and questions about whether the technology and federal subsidies would work as billed.

Politico: Climate Lobbyists are a happy, incestuous

little cadre of 10 lobbying firms made up of corporate money changers and former legislators.

Democrats are getting co-opted by the big money corporate lobbyists just as surely as the Republicans were seduced. 

If, deity forbid, cap and trade ever gets passed, it will be a grab-bag of corporate corruption negotiated by this band of happy pirates. This is NOT about change, it IS about MONEY.

Link
A new analysis of Senate disclosure records by The Center for Public Integrity found that 10 lobbying firms — all with deep ties to Capitol Hill — have amassed such large client lists that they represent nearly 100 of the business stakeholders in the legislative brawl.

Zilok.com: Rent anything from anybody

Link HT: Makeuseof

Giles County Commission rejects Senior tax Freeze

Link
Concerns raised during Monday’s meeting included questions posed to Giles County Trustee JoAnn Townsend and Giles County Tax Assessor Steve McGill. Both said they would need to hire an additional person for their respective offices to handle the tax freeze program.

Townsend and McGill explained that additional paperwork would have to be handled each year, with McGill adding that field work would increase due to the need to inspect the properties of each applicant.

Some commissioners who spoke on the issue estimated the minimum start-up cost of the tax freeze program at $50,000.

Commissioner Wendell Wilburn noted that 80 percent to 95 percent of the people who would be qualified for the tax freeze program are already served by the state’s Tax Relief program.

“This will only put more burden on other taxpayers,” Wilburn said.

Not just NO, but HELL NO!!

Link
NASHVILLE - House Democrats are discussing closing some sales tax loopholes to help offset the need to slash another $200 million in spending from the 2009-10 state budget that starts July 1.

“No one wants to raise taxes, I mean, at all. But we’re in unprecedented times,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, who noted his members increasingly fear the impact of cuts on services.

Rep. Turner said the state has an estimated $6 billion in services and items not subject to the state’s 7 percent sales tax. He did not cite a specific figure. A state income tax is “off the table,” he said, as is a general sales tax increase.

His comments came after House Democrats’ closed-door meeting with Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz in which he outlined the state’s recession-driven fiscal woes.

The Bailout circle just keeps getting bigger and bigger

Link
Washington -- The Treasury Department is preparing to announce as early as today that it will invest an additional $7.5 billion in GMAC LLC in a deal that could allow the U.S. government to hold a majority stake in the Detroit-based auto finance company.
GMAC, whose financial good health is key to providing loans for consumers to buy General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC vehicles, has been in talks for several weeks to secure additional capital. It had hoped to close the deal last week.

In December, the U.S. Treasury invested $5 billion in GMAC by buying preferred stock in the finance company. That stock carries a 9 percent dividend, but has no voting rights. Treasury also loaned GM nearly $900 million to buy GMAC stock.

Religious Affiliation of State Legislators

Link

Here are some interesting trivia from the data:

  • Southern state legislators were much more likely to report their religious affiliation in their biographies.  The states in which 80 percent or more of state legislators specified their religion are Mississippi, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and West Virginia.  The states with the least reporting of religious affiliations were in the West. Less than 40 percent of legislators in Oregon, California Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Washington revealed their religion.
  • Massachusetts had the highest percentage of Catholics (36 percent) but Pennsylvania had the largest number (78).  New York, Illinois and New Hampshire also had 50 or more Catholic legislators.
  • There were more than 10 Jewish legislators only in New York (24), Florida (17) and Maryland (13).
  • Mormon legislators were concentrated in Utah (27), Idaho (24) and Wyoming (11).
  • Three legislators reported that they are Buddhist, three Muslim, and two Hindu.

FingerPrints for Traffic citations Bill rolled to Thurs

Senator Haynes did not have the votes this morning so he rolled the bill to next Thursday May 28. He said there was a lot of concern about the bill on both sides of the aisle....EXCELLENT!! 

He appealed to his fellow Senators by saying the police departments would have to buy the more expensive handheld electronic signature devices if this bill was not passed. 

List of Federal/State Stimulus Feeds from UC Berkeley

Link
Stimulus Feeds is prepared and hosted by the Information and Service Design Program (ISD) of UC Berkeley's School of Information. This is the complete list of feeds currently provided by Federal Agency Recovery Sites as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This table groups these feeds by agency, and then by feed type. In addition to these agency-maintained feeds, the Stimulus Feeds site provides feeds for all weekly reports published on recovery.gov (republishing the Excel data as XML and XHTML); these feeds are available in the Scraped Data column.

27% of Mass Elementary Teachers Pass Math Test

Link
MALDEN, Mass. (WPRI) - According to state education officials, nearly three-quarters of the people who took the state elementary school teacher’s licensing exam this year failed the new math section.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the results Tuesday. They say that only 27 percent of the more than 600 candidates who took the test passed. The test was administered in March of this year.

The teacher’s licensing exam tested potential teachers on their knowledge of elementary school mathematics. This included geometry, statistics, and probability.

"...politicians...are not getting the job done."

Californians overwhelmingly rejected tax hikes on Tuesday's Ballot. Here is what the SUPPORTERS of the tax hike had to say.

Link
"Clearly the voters have spoken," said Bill Hauck, president of the Business Roundtable, who was speaking for the consortium of groups and individuals who supported the measures. "The voters are angry, they're frustrated, and they've concluded the politicians in Sacramento are not getting the job done."

The drubbing appeared to be statewide in scope. In Sacramento County, where residents are closest to state government, none of the first five measures on the ballot were doing much better than they were statewide. In vote-rich Los Angeles County, Propositions 1A through 1E were struggling - and failing - to crack the 40-percent-yes barrier. Even liberal-leaning San Francisco County voters were barely approving the measures.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mr Obama, Healthcare is Not expensive in spite of Govt

It is expensive BECAUSE of government. For starters Medicare/Medicaid regulations are THREE Times the size of the IRS code.

Commonwealth study: time spent interacting with third-party payers per physician per year: doctor: 3 weeks; nurses: 23 weeks; clerical staff: 44 weeks.

PWC/AHA study: for each hour of patient care, there is 30 minutes of paperwork. In the emergency room, the ratio is one to one.

Commonwealth study: the cost of interacting with health insurance plans is $68,274 per physician per year.

PWC/AHA study: Medicare and Medicaid have 130,000 pages of rules and instructions. That's three times the size of the IRS code and federal tax regulations.

Top 100 new words from Wordspy.com

See top 10 below.

Link
11tweetupJune 11, 2008
22time pornAugust 5, 2002
33retrosexualOctober 6, 2004
44phishingAugust 1, 2003
55googleApril 12, 2001
66flotsametricsMay 8, 2009
79invacuateDecember 16, 2002
88sextingMarch 19, 2009
910cosmetic neurologyMay 7, 2009

Many required Stimulus Reports MIA

Click on Link to see those that have been submitted, they are very broad brush and information lite.

Link
Yesterday we wrote about some deadlines in the stimulus package requiring federal agencies to submit reports to Congress and publish guidelines for new programs.

Some of the reports have trickled in—10 of 17—but others remain MIA.

2008 Crime hit record level in Philly Schools

Link
So far this school year, the School Reform Commission has voted on 33 expulsions, mostly for aggravated assaults on teachers, administrators and students, said Ben Wright, the district's head of alternative education. In all, 12 students were permanently expelled, 13 students were temporarily expelled, and eight students were not expelled.

More than 100 cases are in the pipeline, Wright said.

Before this school year, no student had been removed from the system for three years. Stollsteimer had long criticized the district's prior stance against expulsion as illegal and harmful to student safety, a position that earned him the wrath of some state and district officials.

Photos from Cannes Film Festival


The cast from Easy Rider and Arnold at Cannes.

At what point will Obama be "irresponsible"?

Link
From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that's atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70%, up from 41% in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80%).

The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82%.

But wait: Even these totals may be understated. By various estimates, Obama's health plan might cost $1.2 trillion over a decade; he has budgeted only $635 billion.

Next, the huge deficits occur despite a pronounced squeeze of defense spending. From 2008 to 2019, total federal spending would rise 75%, but defense spending would increase only 17%. Unless foreign threats recede, military spending and deficits might both grow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Real Time Object Recognition via Cell Cam for Blind

Link

Have a right to refuse to disclose your health info?

Yes, but not much longer if Governor Bredesen gets his way:

Rep. Susan Lynn has the scoop:
What if you should want to opt-out? Well, you can’t. And should your doctor refuse to comply with giving over your information he or she will receive a $100.00 per day fine from the state.

Recently a similar plan was instituted in Minnesota. The cost was $1.2 million for the databasing of claims data on all Minnesotans for just the first 18 months. Additional costs for analyzing the data are $3.0 million dollars per year. The next phase of educating physicians was another $100,000+, and about $45,000 per year in expenses for the state’s health dept. Of course the cost to the doctors for sending the data has never been calculated.

But the state claims that this bill will cost little more than $10,000 per year.

Insurors wary of Barack's benevolence

The president can't allow this kind of insolence!! Either he will have to throw more money at them or pass a law requiring them to accept this taxpayer money. 

Link
Ameriprise Financial Inc., one of six life insurers preliminarily approved in the past week for billions in federal aid, said Friday that it wouldn't take the money. Prudential Financial Inc. is expected to reject it, too, according to a person familiar with the matter.

5 mos behind schedule and half the work is done?

Any guesses who we are talking about boys and girls?

Link
The federal government is still woefully behind schedule in issuing high-tech identification cards to its employee and contractor work force.

The White House said in budget documents released May 11 that 2.7 million ID cards — about 48 percent of the total 5.6 million cards to be issued — had been issued to employees and contractors as of the beginning of March.

[...]

“It turned out to be a more daunting task than the government realized,” said John Palguta, vice president of policy for the Partnership for Public Service. “We need to have secure credentials in today’s world. Let’s hope the last 52 percent doesn’t take as long as the first 48 percent.”

Palguta said that agencies must maintain their capacity to issue cards once this initial deployment is finished. The federal government will have to hire hundreds of thousands of new employees over the next few years to replace retiring baby boomers, and agencies will need to issue them cards too.

White House and Office of Management and Budget officials were unavailable for comment.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Biggest Threat to Global Health? Yup, Global warming

oops....sorry, should have said "climate change" (does anyone expect that climate won't change?...)

We have reached a new high on the politically correct hogwash meter. Now, "climate change" is so urgent a problem that wild eyed, self righteous, government bureaucrats can claim that everyone has a RIGHT to be free of climate change. 

A Stable Climate is your Birthright!!! Every degree of thermal variation will be cause for the trial lawyers to sue....who? Who the hell cares, we are all responsible and we are all victims. Its a win-win for the crazies!!

Link
Until now the medical profession has not taken a position on climate change, considering issues such as world poverty, HIV and bird flu to be more pressing threats to human health.
However, a study by the University College London, published in the Lancet, concluded that the problems caused by climate change such as food shortages, heat waves and increased threat of tropical diseases such as malaria will kill billions of people.

It means climate change is now the biggest threat to humanity.

"Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century," the authors including doctors, climatologists and economists concluded.

Very Entertaining TED lecture on Creativity

You do have a Choice...

HT: Tax Guru

Public Employee Unions: most powerful political force

Link
Today, public-sector unions sit atop lists of organizations that devote the most money to lobbying and campaign contributions.

In Pennsylvania, a local think tank, the Commonwealth Foundation, counted the resources of the state's teachers union a few years ago. It had 11 regional offices, 275 employees and $66 million in annual dues. In Connecticut, representatives of the teachers union camped outside the legislators' doors in 2005 to keep tabs on school reformers who were calling on these officials to expand school choice.

And in California, unions spent more than $50 million in 2005 to defeat a series of ballot proposals that would have capped growth in the state's budget. Now the state's teachers union is putting its clout behind a ballot initiative, to be voted on next week, that would restore more than $9 billion in educational spending cut from the state's budget.

The results of such efforts are evident in the rich rewards that public-sector employees now enjoy. A study in 2005 by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated that the average public-sector worker earned 46% more in salary and benefits than comparable private-sector workers. The gap has only continued to grow. For example, state and local worker pay and benefits rose 3.1% in the last year, compared to 1.9% in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Jim Cooper PR, July 11, 2007: "More Happy Talk"

The July 11, 2007 press release below is from Congressman Jim Cooper's office complaining about a $205 billion deficit. 

The current budget is now projected to have a deficit of $1.8 trillion. Congressman Cooper calls this budget "honest." In fact, when asked if this budget would have received his support if it had been proposed by President Bush, he said "it would have."

Link
July 11, 2007: NASHVILLE - U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper today criticized President George W. Bush for continuing to mislead Americans about the country's true financial state. The administration announced this afternoon that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year would be $205 billion, lower than it had publicly anticipated.

"The number the president announced today is more happy talk from a guy who seems to have learned accounting from his friends at Enron," Cooper said. "The real, audited federal budget deficit is 15 times larger-about 3 trillion dollars. And what's more, we have a long-term spending crisis on our hands that will literally bankrupt the country unless we take action soon. President Bush does the nation a disservice by pretending things are just fine. It seems we have a leadership deficit, too.

"The good news is that a group of patriotic experts is taking this urgent warning directly to the American people," Cooper continued. "On Monday, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and a bipartisan panel of economists will be in Nashville to give us the real numbers. The Fiscal Wake Up Tour is coming to the Downtown Library, and I encourage all Middle Tennesseans to come hear their important message. Your children will thank you for refusing to bankrupt future generations."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Your Federal Taxes went up 81%. No one told you?

To summarize, we see that taxpayers are on the hook for Social Security and Medicare by these amounts: Social Security, 1.3% of GDP; Medicare part A, 2.8% of GDP; Medicare part B, 2.8% of GDP; and Medicare part D, 1.2% of GDP. This adds up to 8.1% of GDP. Thus federal income taxes for every taxpayer would have to rise by roughly 81% to pay all of the benefits promised by these programs under current law over and above the payroll tax.

Since many taxpayers have just paid their income taxes for 2008 they may have their federal returns close at hand. They all should look up the total amount they paid and multiply that figure by 1.81 to find out what they should be paying right now to finance Social Security and Medicare.

To put it another way, the total unfunded indebtedness of Social Security and Medicare comes to $106.4 trillion. That is how much larger the nation's capital stock would have to be today, all of it owned by the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, to generate enough income to pay all the benefits that have been promised over and above future payroll taxes. But the nation's total private net worth is only $51.5 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. In effect, we have promised the elderly benefits equal to more than twice the nation's total wealth on top of the payroll tax.

Large Families audited by NC Dept of Revenue

Link
Several families contacted by CJ claimed fewer than eight dependents on their state return but still received the audit letter. North Carolina has 86,421 family households with six or more persons, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005-2007 American Community Survey.

Lay declined to offer details on how much cheating his department expected to catch through the audit, or how much the action is costing in manpower and overhead. “I’m not at liberty to say,” he said.

Asked if targeting large families is a new policy or if similar audits have been conducted in past years, Lay said the move is “not a policy.”

“It’s a matter of what we find when we look,” he said. “When we find noncompliance in an area, that’s where we tend to concentrate.”

A spokeswoman for the governor’s office offered no comment other than to say the governor would look into the audits.

Friday, May 15, 2009

1 in 5 Americans admit to peeing in the pool

No way, the true number has got to be higher, much higher.

Link
To check that your public pool is properly chlorinated, the Water Quality and Health Council recommends the use of portable pool and spa testing strips, easily purchased at pool supply stores and discount retailers, in addition to trusting your basic senses.

"A smelly pool is a dirty pool," said National Consumers League President Emeritus and Water Quality and Health Council Vice-Chair Linda Golodner. "Look for water that's clean, clear and blue. Check for tiles that feel smooth and clean. Make sure there are no strong odors. Listen for pool cleaning equipment. Using your senses help you recognize the difference between a healthy pool and one that needs cleaning and treatment."

Should Tea Partiers resort to civil disobedience?

Like LA Teachers.

Link
Schools throughout Los Angeles were disrupted today as thousands of teachers called in sick and hundreds of high school students walked out of classrooms to protest possible teacher layoffs at the nation's second-largest school district.Teachers said they planned to storm the Los Angeles Unified School District's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles today and "jump on some desks" as an act of civil disobedience, according to a memo circulated to district officials by school district Police Chief Lawrence Manion.

District police officials said they did not plan to make arrests. But if arrests became necessary, they would let Los Angeles Police Department officers step in to handle the situation.

OK AG says msgs on private devices still public records

Link
The Oklahoma attorney general issued an opinion Thursday saying that work messages sent by public officials on their private electronic devices, such as cell phones, Blackberries and laptops, are public records. The cool thing is in Oklahoma, AG opinions are binding unless overturned by a court.

The opinion evolved after Oklahoma State University refused to provide a college journalism student e-mails and text messages regarding public business. University administrators were skirting the public records law by conducting their business on their personal communication devices, arguing that a public record is only subject to the public records law if it is sent on a government computer. The lame policy earned the university the annual "Black Hole Award" from FOI Oklahoma Inc. in March.

Isn't it astonishing that supposedly smart people like university officials can come up with such dumb arguments? Kudos to AG Drew Edmondson for putting the university in its place and keeping the public's business public. Also, congratulations are in order for the college students who fought for these records, and for Joey Senat, co-adviser of the OSU student SPJ chapter, who alerted this issue to FOI/FYI and wrote about this in the December Quill. It takes dedicated students, journalists and professors to keep our leaders honest.

Now we are bailing out Insurance Companies

Link
LOS ANGELES — The Treasury Department has agreed to extend billions in bailout funds to six major life insurers, following a months-long quest by some in the sector for government help in shoring up capital positions in the wake of major investment losses.

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. was the first to disclose Thursday that it had been notified by the Treasury Department that it was eligible for $3.4 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Lincoln National Corp., which commonly goes by the name Lincoln Financial Group, said it has been initially approved for a $2.5 billion injection from TARP's Capital Purchase Program.

Allstate Corp., Ameriprise Financial Inc., Principal Financial Group Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. also are among insurers receiving preliminary investment approval, Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams confirmed. He declined to disclose the amount of investment each company will receive.

The total capital injection into the six companies will be less than $22 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senator Ophelia Ford says Shelby County Taxpayers

should pay to embalm indigents just like all the other counties. The County Mayor was trying to pass a bill which would exempt Shelby County from embalming the approx 600 unclaimed bodies which the county deals with each year.

Senator Ford is a licensed funeral director. She declared Rule 13, meaning she had a personal interest in the bill, but voted on the bill. Senator Marrero, the sponsor of the bill made the not so subtle point that funeral homes were welcome to offer to embalm these bodies pro bono.

Senator Ford describes what would happen to her fellow Senators if they happen to meet their maker in Shelby County without proper ID.

Democratic Strategists analyze the cute Teaparty Bumpkins

Democratic strategists try to figure out how they can derail and re-rail the Tea Party movement.

Link
In terms of Democratic strategy, there are two key implications of this analysis:

First, while these voters are unlikely to support Democratic candidates, their distrust and hostility to Obama and the Dems can be significantly moderated, reducing the number who move on to become committed anti-Democratic activists in hundreds of communities around the nation. The key is to reject the assumption that people who do not accept a Keynesian view are necessarily doctrinaire conservatives or committed Republicans. As we have seen, there is good evidence that they are not. Democrats can moderate the opposition of these voters by communicating with them in their own distinct “common sense” and “small business” framework.

The second important strategy for Democrats to follow is to point out—not insultingly, but sincerely—to the “small-town traditionalist” grass roots protesters that there is a genuinely huge gulf that separates their own views from those of the major organizations that have emerged as the main “clearing houses” for the Tea Party movement.

Pelosi and TN Dems vote to protect the crook Murtha

This kind of behavior is despicable. John Murtha is a crook and should not be serving in Congress. This guy is a Duke Cunningham (former Republican Congressman, now in jail) level crook and yet he is still protected by Democrats from an ethics investigation.

All Tennesse Dems (except Tanner who did not vote) voted to protect Murtha. 29 Dems did have the guts to vote for an ethics investigation. Jim Cooper should be ashamed of himself.

4 Republicans voted to protect Murtha: Don Young, Walter Jones, Tim Murphy, and Howard Coble.

Link
As the House prepared to vote this week on Republican Rep. Jeff Flake’s push for an ethics investigation involving Rep. John Murtha and other senior appropriators, Democratic leaders sent an unmistakable message to their members:

“Don’t be a Flake.”

That was the subject line of an e-mail that staffers for first- and second-term Democrats received Tuesday from Rep. Chris Van Hollen, assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The message said that Democrats would once again be “voting to table another Flake resolution” — and it made clear that leadership would have its eyes on any Democrats even thinking about defecting.

Not that they needed reminding.

In another pre-vote e-mail, the office of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) warned Democrats that they would suffer in 2010 if Republicans succeeded in forcing an ethics investigation into the relationships Murtha and other veteran Democratic lawmakers had with the PMA Group.

“If the Flake resolution is referred to the Ethics Committee, members can expect attacks ads to be run against them alleging members to be ‘under investigation by the House Ethics Committee,’” the whip’s staff warned members. “The Flake resolution is nothing more than a fishing expedition.”

The Clyburn-Van Hollen double-team worked — for now.

When the House took up Flake’s resolution Tuesday night, Democrats once again voted overwhelmingly to table it. But the 29 Democratic votes the measure got this week was the highest tally yet — and further evidence of a generational divide that’s pitting newer House members who want to “drain the swamp” against veteran members who don’t want to see their colleagues investigated.

Visible Vote for iPhone: Mob voting

Link

Here's how the app works:

After downloading Visible Vote, the app will ask you to enter your e-mail address, state and zip code (no GPS support in version 1.0, apparently). It will then retrieve your local Senators and Representatives and a list of issues they've voted on recently.

For each issue - everything from taxing AIG bonuses to alternative energy incentives - the app provides more detail and then asks for YOUR vote - Yes, No, or Don't Care.

It then takes your stance and compares it to the members of Congress - showing you how much their votes match with your interests.

Don't like the results? Wanna praise your favorite politician for sticking to his or her guns? The app lets you write them directly, with a simple interface that allows you to e-mail any combination of your Senators or Representatives - from one at a time to all at once.

The app also promises to provide elected officials with weekly reports on how users are voting - and to send users an overview of the candidates when the next election rolls around.

No bleep Sherlock: "taxes could kill recovery"

Link

The barrage of tax increases proposed in President Barack Obama's budget could, if enacted by Congress, kill any chance of an early and sustained recovery.

Historians and economists who've studied the 1930s conclude that the tax increases passed during that decade derailed the recovery and slowed the decline in unemployment. That was true of the 1935 tax on corporate earnings and of the 1937 introduction of the payroll tax. Japan did the same destructive thing by raising its value-added tax rate in 1997.

The current outlook for an economic recovery remains precarious. Although the stimulus package will give a temporary boost to growth in the current quarter, it will not be enough to offset the combined effect of lower consumer spending, the decline in residential construction, the weakness of exports, the limited availability of bank credit and the downward spiral of house prices. A sustained economic upturn is far from a sure thing. This is no time for tax increases that will reduce spending by households and businesses.

Shelby County loses 2k residents, 2nd yr of declines

Link
Residents fleeing the county typically cite crime, high property taxes and school problems.

County chief administrative officer Jim Huntzicker said the direct fiscal impact of the population loss isn't significant. But the decline indicates there is work to be done.

"We've got to improve what we're doing in terms of job creation and economic development," he said.

Vanderbilt Univ selling their surplus stuff

Link

Napolitano says "Rightwing Extremism" report being re-written

Link
A contentious "Rightwing Extremism" report that warned of military veterans as possible recruits for terrorist attacks against the U.S. was not authorized, has been withdrawn and is being rewritten, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Capitol Hill lawmakers.

"The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed," Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

"The report is no longer out there," she said. "An employee sent it out without authorization."

Do what I say I do, not what I do

Link
One way to test whether people live up to their virtuous self-image is to set them up. In one study, for example, 251 Cornell students predicted how likely they would be to buy a daffodil at Daffodil Days, a four-day campus event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Sure enough, 83 percent predicted that they would buy at least one flower but that just 56 percent of their peers would.

Five weeks later, during the event, the researchers found that only 43 percent of the same students actually bought a daffodil. In other experiments, researchers have found that people similarly overestimate their willingness to do what’s morally right, whether to give to charity, vote or cooperate with a stranger. In the end, their less generous predictions about peers’ behavior tend to be dead-on accurate — for themselves as well as others in the study.
.

Get a jump on Inflation, buy a Billion Dollar Note

Link

UK Cops target...people with Bling

You may be a crook if you wear flashy jewelry?

Link

In the latest example of innovative policing in Britain, the Gloucestershire force is encouraging members of the public to report people wearing too much 'bling' during the recession.

They are also urging people to shop anyone who drives flash cars or buys expensive items without the apparent means to afford them during the credit crunch.

The campaign, run with Crimestoppers, was launched by the force today under the title 'Too Much Bling? Give Us a Ring' with the aim of cracking down on those who live a lavish lifestyle on the profits of crime

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

College Students the next Tax Target, think VANDY!!

Hey Karl Dean and the Metro Council, you are missing a GREAT opportunity. Tax the Vandy Students...and Belmont...and Fisk...and Trevecca...and Lipscomb...oh, just think of the possibilities. We could reduce our property taxes to zip!!

Link
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The mayor of Providence wants to slap a $150-per-semester tax on the 25,000 full-time students at Brown University and three other private colleges in the city, saying they use resources and should help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers.

Mayor David Cicilline (sis-ah-LEEN-ee) said the fee would raise between $6 million and $8 million a year for the city, which is facing a $17 million deficit.
If enacted, it would apparently be the first time a U.S. city has directly taxed students just for being enrolled.

Wash State starts ball rolling on Newspaper bailout

Link
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a tax break for the state's troubled newspaper industry.

The new law gives newspaper printers and publishers a 40 percent cut in the state's main business tax. The discounted rate mirrors breaks given in years past to the Boeing Co. and the timber industry.

Great Moments in Political Hypocrisy

Link
As he takes political heat for blocking a push to lower county sales taxes, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is in hot water for a more personal tax issue:

He owes Uncle Sam nearly $12,000 for unpaid income taxes, recently filed records show.

The Internal Revenue Service slapped a $11,668.10 lien on Stroger and his wife earlier this year. The Strogers have yet to fully pay that debt, meaning the federal government could hold up a sale of the Strogers' house or other property if payment terms aren't reached.

ABC News Reports on John Murtha's Airport

Streets of London 1903, lots of horsepower

HT: Maggie's Farm

More Milton Friedman videos: Phil Donohue Show

Link

Betting on the Next Supreme Court Justice

The ladies, lead by Sotomayer and Kagan, are favorites.

Link

The Rebel

PublicRecordsTracker.com: FOIA Mgt for Govts

Link HT: Zillman
Public Records Tracker powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM makes it easy for state, local, and federal government organizations to track, organize, and automate their responses to public records requests (both FOIA and state PRA requests.) Public Records Tracker is 100% web-based so there's no need to download or install any software. Also, Public Records Tracker generates the key reports required for FOIA annual reporting compliance. In short, Public Records Tracker is all you need to manage public records requests.

NY Court says GPS requires Warrant, Hallelujah

In the last few days the Wisconsin State Supreme Court said that cops don't have to have a warrant to attach a GPS device to your car. This was a stunning court approved invasion of privacy.

A NY State Appeals Court thankfully rules that cops must have a warrant.

Link
The New York State Court of Appeals yesterday disagreed with Wisconsin's second-highest court in ruling that police may not use Global Position System (GPS) tracking devices without a warrant. A divided New York court found that the state police violated the law when officers placed a device known as Q-Ball on the van belonging to Scott C. Weaver on the morning of December 21, 2005. This device wirelessly transmitted an up-to-the-minute history of the vehicle's every move over the course of sixty-five days. Police never obtained a warrant for the surveillance, but the evidence obtained was used -- along with the testimony of a witness -- to convict Weaver of participating in a K-Mart burglary.

In evaluating the legal situation, the New York court -- like its Wisconsin counterpart -- turned to US v. Knotts, a 1983 US Supreme Court case involving a modest beeper-like transmitter. The New York judges departed from the reading of the Wisconsin judges by distinguishing the powerful capabilities of modern surveillance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tracking Worldwide Marine Traffic: Marinetraffic.com

Link

The system is based on AIS (Automatic Identification System). As from December 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires all vessels over 299GT to carry an AIS transponder on board, which transmits their position, speed and course, among some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details. 

$440 mil for printing pages that are then thrown OUT

Link
The report, which is based on a survey of 380 federal employees, found that the government spends nearly $1.3 billion annually on printing. Of that, about $440 million -- more than four times the amount President Obama recently asked agency managers collectively to eliminate from their administrative budgets -- is spent on pages that don't need to be printed, the survey found.

NY State Senator arrested for assaulting Photographer

Link
A New York state senator has been charged with a felony and stripped of his legislative leadership positions after being arrested for assaulting a New York Post photographer on Friday.

Sen. Kevin S. Parker (D) was arraigned on Saturday in the Brooklyn incident, but did not enter a plea. His attorney said he will plead not guilty.

New York Post photographer William C. Lopez said he took a picture of Parker at Parker's mother's home. The Post was preparing a story on the apparent foreclosure of a home owned by Parker. The New York Daily News reported that Parker came out of the houseand came toward the photographer. When Lopez retreated to his car, Parker allegedly tried to pull open the door and take his camera. The photographer said there was damage to his car and more than $1,000 of damage to his camera.

This is belt tightening? Avg Federal worker up $3k

Link
President Obama's call last year for "shared sacrifice" doesn't extend to federal employees, at least based on the details of his administration's 2010 budget released this week.

At a time when the official unemployment rate is nearing double digits, and 6.35 million people are receiving unemployment benefits, the U.S. government is on a hiring binge.

Executive branch employment — 1.98 million in 2009, excluding the Postal Service and the Defense Department — is set to increase by 15.6 percent for the 2010 fiscal year. Most of that is thanks to the Census Bureau hiring 102,000 temporary workers, but not counting them still yields a net increase of 2 percent in one year.

There's little belt-tightening in evidence in Washington, D.C.: Counting benefits, the average pay per federal worker will leap from $72,800 in 2008 to $75,419 next year.

Hugo Chavez launches the "penis" phone

Link

"This telephone will be the biggest seller not only in Venezuela but the world. Whoever doesn't have a Vergatario is nothing."
He even telephoned his mother during the launch ceremony. But critics have described the choice of name given to the phone as vulgar and in bad taste.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Haley Barbour vetoed Eminent Domain Reform for THIS?

Haley Barbour vetoed Eminent Domain reform because, as he explicitly stated, it would hamper his ability to TAKE PRIVATE PROPERTY from Citizens so he could give it to large multinational corporations via corporate welfare and REPUBLICANS wonder why they are losing elections???

Barack Obama has just used MY Government and YOURS to take billions of auto company equity and turn it over to a favored Democratic special interest group, the unions and they wonder why thousands of Teapartiers protest Obama???

What the hell is going on???? 

But none of that mattered to Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who promptly vetoed the bill, claiming it would cripple his ability to lure large corporations into the state. As Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, admitted in his veto statement, had he not promised Toyota that he would use eminent domain to secure a piece of contested land for its Blue Springs facility, "Toyota would have broken off negotiations with us and chosen one of the other states competing with us for the project."

That sob story may be true, but it still does nothing to justify the state's forcible seizure of private property for the benefit a rich and powerful corporation. Toyota won't be building bridges or roads or waterways or any other legitimate public project that might permit the use (or threat) of eminent domain. It wants to build a plant to manufacture cars and then sell them for a profit. That's not a legitimate public use. If Toyota—or any other corporation—wants a particular piece of land, it should either pony up the market price or find somewhere else to settle. By the same token, if Barbour wants to attract business to his state, he might try pushing for lower corporate taxes or for any number of other pro-business enticements that don't involve stripping citizens of their fundamental rights.