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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 76,325

Journal Archives

Wendell Potter: When Medicare Isn't Medicare

Published on Monday, December 26, 2011 by [font color="red"]CommonDreams.org[/font]
When Medicare Isn't Medicare

by Wendell Potter

Let's say you have a Ford and decide to replace everything under the hood with Hyundai parts, including the engine and transmission. Could you still honestly market your car as a Ford?

That question gets at the heart of the controversy over who is being more forthright about GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to "save" Medicare, Republicans or Democrats.

If you overhaul the Medicare system like you did your Ford and tell the public it's still Medicare, are you doing so honestly?

As I noted last week, PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Time's fact checker, decided that the Democrats' claim that Ryan's plan would mean the end of Medicare was so blatantly untrue it merited designation as the 2011 "Lie of the Year." Republicans, whose erroneous claims about health care reform garnered "Lie of the Year" prizes in 2009 and 2010, cheered. Democrats, as you might imagine, jeered -- as did some journalists and pundits. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/26-2

Miami Herald: Law (NCLB) turns kids into commodities

Law turns kids into commodities
By Fred Grimm fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com

Compared to modern school kids, I was a downright worthless student.

I don’t mean worthless as a pejorative. (My father would have used a more colorful term to characterize my scholarly pursuits.) But worthless as a commodity. Us kids at Montrose Elementary School weren’t making anyone rich. Not like today’s pupils, particularly those in Florida, who’ve become valuable cogs in a burgeoning industry.

Such precious little dummies, these wayward students. Their benighted ways in the classroom have given rise to a recession-proof enterprise. To a no-lose sort of capitalism. Educational entrepreneurs (some backed by Wall Street hedge funds who know a sure thing when they see it) have figured out how to make millions without the usual risks of the marketplace, drilling for profits in the ever lucrative field of school reform.

No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s 2001 education reform package, since embraced by President Obama, may have forced needed attention onto failing schools, but the law also created an extraordinary new industry funded exclusively with public money. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/17/2551128/law-turns-kids-into-commodities.html#storylink=cpy

China tests 500 km/h super high-speed train

BEIJING (Reuters) - China launched a super-rapid test train over the weekend which is capable of travelling 500 kilometers per hour, state media said on Monday, as the country moves ahead with its railway ambitions despite serious problems on its high-speed network.

The train, made by a subsidiary of CSR Corp Ltd, China's largest train maker, is designed to resemble an ancient Chinese sword, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

It "will provide useful reference for current high-speed railway operations," it quoted train expert Shen Zhiyun as saying.

But future Chinese trains will not necessarily run at such high speeds, CSR chairman Zhao Xiaogang told the Beijing Morning News. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-tests-500-km-h-super-high-speed-060158634.html

USDA Approves Monsanto’s Drought Tolerant Corn

from Treehugger:

USDA Approves Monsanto’s Drought Tolerant Corn

Sara Novak
Living / Green Food

December 24, 2011

Just in time for the New Year, the USDA has approved MON 87460, drought resistant corn. Approval discussions began last May upon fears that droughts could cripple the U.S. crop in a country where 40 percent of crop loss insurance is collected as a result of moderate to major drought.

Monsanto sees a high demand looming and dollar signs as a result, especially considering that corn growing regions lose 15 percent of their crops worldwide each year due to drought. Monsanto will begin crop trials in the Great Plains region of the U.S.

But tests have found Monsanto’s new genetically modified breed ineffective at its intended purpose. In fact, the USDA found that the crop didn’t perform well according to an article in The New York Times, which said that "[t]he reduced yield [trait] does not exceed the natural variation observed in regionally-adapted varieties of conventional corn."

Gambling on Monoculture Crops

But it’s not just an ineffective crop that creates a problem. It’s that the USDA is missing the ball entirely by deregulating another GM seed variety. Rather than continuing to approve monoculture crops for large scale production, we need to head back to our roots. The only way that farmers can adapt to drought conditions, which could occur more frequently as global warming looms, is by moving away from monoculture crops entirely. Just as you vary your investment portfolio, the same holds true for farming. Farmers are gambling on one or a few crops to remain intact even as our climate begins to change. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/usda-approves-monsantos-drought-tolerant-corn.html

The Need For a Revolutionary Party

At the Nov. 19 Socialism Conference, this speech was give by Douglas Kauffman about the need for organization and leadership on a socialist basis in which the working class chooses among their own ranks to lead a movement for a more just and equitable society.

How much does security cost for a sure loser whose campaign demise is a fait accompli?

Rick Perry’s security costs have risen since he entered the presidential campaign in August, costing Texas taxpayers as much as $400,000 a month, according to a report by the Texas Tribune.

An examination of Texas public safety department records found that the agency spent more than $1.4 million on out-of-state trips between September to mid-December, including more than $397,000 between Sept. 5 and Sept. 28 this year.

According to the Texas Tribune, this amount included “$161,786 for airfare, $8,140 for baggage fees, $50,648.84 for food, $6,442.24 for fuel, $112,111.81 for lodging, $54,356.65 for rentals, $2,990.26 for parking and $1,238.57 in an unspecified “other” category.”

In 2011, the Texas public safety department spent $1.1 million for the entire fiscal year on out-of-state security costs. ........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/rick-perrys-security-costs-texas-taxpayers-up-to-400000-a-month/

The New Dealers: Is the recession driving Americans into the economy's last growth sector?

from Mother Jones:

The New Dealers
Is the recession driving Americans into the economy's last growth sector?

—By Tony D'Souza
| November/December 2011 Issue

For some time, I'd been hearing stories from my sources in the interstate marijuana racket about law-abiding "civilians" turning to the game because of the recession, and so, armed with introductions, I hit the road to meet some of these unlikely criminals face to face. That's how, on a hot evening in June, I found myself in Dan's Northern California kitchen.

Dan isn't his real name. Nor are any of the names in this story, for obvious reasons. But his situation is a familiar, harsh reality for many Americans, as I learned while doing research for my recent novel on this subject. Dan is in his early 40s, a slim, soft-spoken former short-haul trucker who once owned all the toys: a used Mercedes, snowmobiles, Jet Skis. When they were both employed, he and his wife—a retail manager—easily cleared $100,000 a year. "We ate out breakfast, lunch, and dinner," Dan, now a minimum-wage laborer, tells me with folded arms. "That's the way life was for 17 years."

Today, Dan's toys are gone, sold to support an underwater mortgage. His wife, who kept her job, left him three years ago, driving away in the Mercedes. "She didn't like the fact that I sat at home and she was going to work," he tells me. "There were no jobs. I filled out a thing for the city, and 400 people were there for one opening—a garbage truck driver."

Keeping the house has been Dan's only real goal since 2008, when he was laid off. It's a simple three-bedroom, two-bath in a prefab, working-class subdivision off the I-5 corridor. "I wanted my kid to grow up in a safe community," he explains. "I have always made my house payment, and I've always made it on time." But he fretted over things like gas prices. "My daughter would say, 'Can I take your truck to the store?' That's 1.2 miles, which makes it 2.4 miles round-trip. If she went there once, I would not make it to work the next day. That's how my money was. I've fought for it the past three years working two and three jobs. I've even changed my morals." ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/tony-dsouza-marijuana-growers

Baby formula probe widens beyond Enfamil

(Reuters) - U.S. health regulators said on Friday they are looking at several types of baby formula that could be linked to the death of an infant, expanding an investigation beyond Mead Johnson's market-leading Enfamil.

An official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the baby, 10-day-old Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Missouri, had consumed a variety of baby formulas before his death but declined to give more details.

Initial results of the probe could be available at the end of next week at the earliest, though the full investigation could take up to a month.

A top investment bank warned that Enfamil sales could be hurt even if health regulators find no link between it and the death.

Shares of Mead Johnson Nutrition Co, the largest U.S. formula maker, closed 5 percent lower on Friday, on top of a 10 percent drop on Thursday when news first emerged that Wal-Mart Stores Inc was pulling cans of Enfamil Newborn formula off its shelves following the death of the infant. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://news.yahoo.com/enfamil-questions-linger-over-mead-johnson-205030953.html

Crappy Christmas, Sheriff Joe. F**k you very much.

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday barred high profile Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio from detaining people simply for being in the country illegally, in a ruling that faulted the local lawman for enforcing federal immigration law.

The 40-page written opinion by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow came on the same day he issued legal sanctions against Arpaio over destroyed documents.

The decisions come as a further blow for the controversial sheriff, who already has faced rebukes from the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

Both rulings by Snow stemmed from a 2007 civil lawsuit against Arpaio and his agency, which accuses his officers of racial profiling of Latinos in traffic stops the judge found were conducted as immigration sweeps. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://news.yahoo.com/arizona-sheriff-sanctioned-over-destroyed-documents-011601111.html

Civil Liberties for Christmas?

from Consortium News:

Civil Liberties for Christmas?
December 25, 2011

Congress has sent to President Obama a military spending bill that expands the government’s powers to fight the Long War on terrorism, including the ability to imprison alleged “terrorists” and accomplices indefinitely, even if Americans on U.S. soil, warns ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley.

By Coleen Rowley

Sad, isn’t it, that just two days before Christmas, we had to stand out in the cold and worry about getting another big lump of coal from our politicians? But unfortunately it’s expected that President Barack Obama will sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law right after the holiday.

Since that’s the same day the big post-Christmas sales/returns start, few Americans will probably be paying attention to the police statebeing officially ushered in.

On Dec. 23, however, we were still able to protest the despicable NDAA in front of Obama’s Minnesota Campaign Headquarters. At the end of the rally led by members of “Occupy Minnesota” and the “Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression,” everyone taped their signs to the front window of Obama’s campaign office, hoping he’d somehow get the message.

Then we made telephone calls to tell Obama’s volunteer receptionists to act as his better angels and plead for him to veto the NDAA. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2011/12/25/civil-liberties-for-christmas/

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