Monday, April 23, 2012

All Day Teach-In will focus on the Occupy Movement

Among the subjects of the sessions are “Media and Occupy,” “May Day and Occupy,” “Israel and Occupy,” “Occupy and Democracy” and many others. Provost Steve Goldstein will welcome participants, President Fred Lawrence will lead a discussion of “Occupy as National Teaching Moment” and Environmental Studies Program chair Laura Goldin will hold a session on “Whose Earth Anyway? Environmental Justice for the 99%.” Numerous students and other faculty will participate, as will activists from around greater Boston.

In case of inclement weather, the teach-in will be held in the campus center atrium....

How much USA intelligence information can Iraq and Iran share?

This photo released, (click here) Dec. 8, 2011, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims to show US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which Tehran says its forces downed, as the chief of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, right, listens to an unidentified colonel, in an undisclosed location, Iran. (AP Photo)

The drone lost over Iran isn't really a concern. Sincerely. It is unfortunate this occurred, but, if all Iran can do is duplicate the drone then that is easy to retaliate against it. 

If the Iranians sell the technology to others, the USA is at least one step ahead of that strategy and has other technology to nullify the effects of any copied information. It seems silly to think a flying stealth Iranian drone cannot be controlled using USA technology. It is even more intriguing to realize if the USA technology sold throughout the world would then dominate an entire global military; that could then be countered by new USA technology. Such a dynamic would insure peace. In the wrong hands, like Bush/Cheney, it would also insure chronic war, but, it is an interesting thought.

What worries me more is any collaboration by Iraq with Iran if Iraq has left over information garnered during the USA occupation. Iraq has some interesting USA assets including an international airport and a billion dollar embassy.

I remember former Secretary Gates stating the USA was taking much of the equipment and technology out of Iraq when we left. I hope that occurred and there was no theft of dangerous information by militants in Iraq. Because if there was, it would completely nullify the invasion in the first place. If then there was collaboration with Iran to create a stronger Shi'ite alliance, it would serve to escalate the tensions between many countries and any alliance of Iraq/Iran. 

On Line: 23 April 2012 16:34
In Print: Tuesday 24 April 2012
TEHRAN – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said that the Islamic Republic of Iran is satisfied with the growing power of Iraq in the region and the Arab world.  
The Leader made the remarks during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Tehran on Monday. 
He said that some developments in recent months epitomized the power of the Iraqi nation and government in the Arab world....

Why is the conviction of former Senator John Edwards such a priority in North Carolina?

(Clockwise from top left) John Edwards, Rielle Hunter, Elizabeth Edwards and Andrew Young (click here)

I know the story all too well. A underemployed photographer, a close friend too dedicated to friendship, a wife with a successful career both as a mother and attorney and a couple in too much pain over losses they suffered in life's process.
But, far more than that, John Edwards is a rather brilliant man with a great deal of potential and a message that dedicated itself to ending poverty and the 'increasing divide of inequality' in America.
"There are two Americas."
How dare a Senator take inequality to the forefront of a Presidential election? How dare he, indeed.
This trial doesn't become more ludicrous when today the USA is more divided than ever by inequality and we are witnessing the purchase of a GOP nominee for President. Silencing and defaming a former Democratic Senator from North Carolina has never been more important.
John Edwards has had a very turbulent personal life with loss being at its core. It was no surprise he would seek to bring justice to those aggrieved by their own losses in becoming an attorney for the inequality of liability from injury.
I hope this trial brings to focus the extent his life was dominated by service to others and a sincere lack of self through most of his life.

John Edwards Jury Seated for Trial Over Payments for Mistress (click here)

By Sophia Pearson and John Peragine on April 23, 2012
...Edwards, who has maintained his innocence, argues that the funds in question weren’t campaign donations and came from his friendships with a 101-year-old multimillionaire heiress, Rachel Mellon, and Fred Baron, a now-deceased trial attorney....

It is not unusual to have intense friendships in the culture of North Carolina. Andrew Young and his devotion to see Ms. Hunter's pregnancy to term for the sake of the child is somewhat typical. Seriously, for as uncertain as it was, Andrew Young would shoulder the responsibility. The child was more than likely the focus of both Young and Ms. Mellon.  It seems very obvious to me. Two people intensely involved with a man that reflected their values would find a way to smooth over a rare and strange affair for Edwards.

"Medicare Advantage" is too expensive to continue.

Let's start with an astounding reality in the USA today. A known criminal that diverted any formal charges by paying fines is actually a Governor in Florida. He is Republican and it goes to prove how money can subvert democracy.

Whistleblower states Rick Scott knew about Medicare Fraud. (click here)
By John Davis, WGCU
FORT MYERS (2010-6-18) -
Two whistleblowers say the new front-runner in the Republican race for governor is lying when he says he did not know about fraud in his former company, the Columbia/HCA hospital chain.
In July 1997, FBI agents raided Columbia/HCA accounting offices in seven states, including Florida. Within days, Columbia’s board of directors ousted Scott, but gave him a nearly $10 million severance package, including stock shares worth $300 million and a $1 million a year consulting contract....

"Medicare Advantage" costs American taxpayers a lot of money. It is Wall Street, not an entitlement. It is Wall Street paid for by entitlement monies. Why would a private Wall Street company not cost more than government administered Medicare; the accounting that goes along with writing the check and ensuring there is no duplication of regulation Medicare coverage is enough to create a separate government department alone. So, why would a private company paid by the USA government not cost more? The question that comes to mind is how did this wayward program survive the Ryan Budget and remain a darling to the GOP?

Disaster Of The Day: HCA (click here)Dan Ackman12.15.00, 4:59 PM ET
...Yesterday, the nation's largest hospital chain, known until recently as Columbia/HCA Healthcare (nyse: HCA - news - people), pleaded guilty to a variety of fraud charges. It admitted to bilking various government programs and agreed to pay a total of $840 million in fines and penalties. The fraud settlement is the largest in U.S. history, breaking the old record held by Drexel Burnham. Even so, parts of the investigation into the company's practices remain unsettled.
The guilty plea follows a seven-year federal investigation that resulted in charges being filed in five different federal courts in Florida, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee, where HCA is headquartered. The fraud revealed by that investigation ran deep within HCA's way of doing business. Speaking at a news conference yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said about the plea deal, "It's a simple message--if you overbill the U.S. taxpayer, we're going to make you pay it back, and then some."...

...The company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors "loans" that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.
The investigation and the plea is an obvious blow to a company that became a Wall Street darling by promising to bring first-class business practices to the hospital sector, still dominated by not-for-profits. Under former Chief Executive Richard Scott, it bought hospitals by the bucketful and promised to squeeze blood from each one....

"Medicare Advantage" costs the USA 114% of the cost of regular Medicare.

The Medicare Advantage Scam (click here)
Philip Rucker takes a good, hard look at the scam that is Medicare Advantage. Essentially, it works like this: Congress allowed private HMOs to compete for Medicare patients under the rationale that they could offer better service at lower cost than the government. They couldn't. So Republicans in Congress began boosting their payments, to the point that Medicare Advantage gets paid 114 percent what Medicare gets paid to care for a patient. That leads to some fun perks, like free gym memberships and complimentary aspirin and band-aids, which in turn leads seniors to defend the program because they like their perks. But it also means a lot of unnecessary expense for taxpayers....
...economists have estimated that for every extra dollar we pay the program, 14 percent is passed on to seniors and 86 percent goes to profits or other costs. In other words, we're getting only 14 cents of obvious value for every dollar of overpayment....

Given the facts it is completely obvious there is corruption and plenty of it. I think everyone can agree this program needs to be cut by half a billion dollars USA as prescribed in the Affordable Care Act.
Now there is a report slamming the Affordable Care Act for spending $8.3 billion to buffer the effects on Seniors to transition from "Medicare Advantage." Although thoughtful, it may be careful handling the USA cannot afford.

...But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, (click here) says the GAO report suggests that the administration abused its authority, pumping money to the plans to avoid more criticism over unpopular cuts.
Medicare Advantage is a popular private insurance alternative to the traditional health care program for seniors. More than 3,000 private plans serve nearly 12 million beneficiaries, about one-fourth of Medicare recipients. They offer lower out-of-pocket costs, usually in exchange for some limitations on choice.
President Barack Obama's health care law trimmed Medicare Advantage to compensate for prior years of overpayments that had allowed the plans to offer attractive benefits — and pocket healthy profits.
Republicans fiercely attacked those cuts during their successful campaign to take control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections. Seniors, a key constituency of swing voters, responded by backing GOP candidates.
After the election, the administration announced what it called a "demonstration program" to test whether a generous bonus program would lead to faster, broader improvements in quality. (The health care overhaul law had already provided a smaller bonus program only for top-rated plans.)...

The fact that Senator Orin Hatch is facing a very tough primary may speak to the fact he is attempting to cast doubt on the Affordable Care Act and its monies to find better and HONEST options for Seniors through a DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM.
"Medicare Advantage" has done a lot of damage to government run Medicare over the years. It removed nearly one-quarter of Medicare recipients from the population of those covered by government Medicare. I suspect "Medicare Advantage" could have the healthier Seniors simply because they are able to make choices that offer perks other programs do not and it shows some degree of health.
The GOP complains chronically about the cost of Medicare, it targets it in their Ryan Budget, yet provides no answers. They criticize without answers. The only answer offered is to starve the program completely by substituting stipends of $7000 per year to Seniors for their insurance costs. They offer no guarantees there will even be sufficient plans that offer at least what the current government programs offer. The attack the Medicare program by highlighting expensive private programs such as "Medicare Advantage." It is more a bait and switch strategy than any real answer to the Medicare cost issue. The GOP does nothing to reduce costs, but, only bails out their responsibility by pinning the problem on Seniors. After all, it is their age that is the problem.

The Affordable Care Act seeks to propose a sincere answer by finding out if an incentive based program will improve the quality of care offered to our Seniors. That is a completely separate issue from the current costs of Medicare. "Medicare Advantage" is not the answer to the higher costs of Medicare. "Medicare Advantage" is adverse and has been proven to be adverse to the costs of Medicare; it actually raises the cost of Medicare to the USA Treasury. "Medicare Advantage" also has the majority of its costs to stockholders and administrators and not services to the insured, except, for health club perks. While we all wish our Seniors longevity and the health to enjoy it, health clubs are nice and a social contact, but, it isn't going to significantly change the outcomes for our aged. Walking in malls will achieve that on a wider scale than memberships to "Senior Sneakers" programs.
...GAO, the investigative agency of Congress, did not address GOP allegations that the bonuses are politically motivated. But, its report found the program highly unusual. It "dwarfs" all other Medicare pilots undertaken in nearly 20 years, the GAO said....

Senator Hatch and those like him are grasping at straws. The Affordable Care Act is the first law in 20 years to reign in a runaway health insurance industry and find better ways to  bring Medicare costs down while improving the quality of care to our Seniors. The statement by the GAO is irrelevant. It is correct, but, completely irrelevant. To remove these improvements established by The Affordable Care Act is to return to corruption, high costs and poor coverage. That is not acceptable. It should never have been acceptable, but, under Republican leadership, no different than fossil fuels lasted longer than it ever should have; the health care industry has been out of control and out of reach to many Americans.

Hatch is completely wrong. He took the entire issue out of context and spun it to make it fit his agenda of 'getting re-elected." 

Trayvon Martin is dead for no valid reason. That cannot be ignored.

There should be no threats made anywhere against George Zimmerman.

Please don't provide George Zimmerman with excuses for any behavior he decides is reasonable. We already know his ideas are dangerous even to himself. His attorney is stating Zimmerman's apology was premature. In other words, Zimmerman made a bad decision to make a statement of grief of his actions. Well. Zimmerman makes a lot of mistakes and that is what makes him dangerous. His decision making made him dangerous the day he killed Trayvon Martin and that decision making is still obvious today. No one should be providing Zimmerman with excuses for actions he decides is important. Please.

That is not honoring the death of Trayvon or the dedication his family has shown to their son. The movement has been very effective and it is a dignified expression of the sorrow at this loss.

Trayvon Martin shooting: a turning point in gun rights debate? (click here)

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer

April 19, 2012

For years, gun laws had grown less restrictive. But some gun rights advocacy has been curtailed after the Trayvon Martin shooting, which has provided ammunition for gun control groups.

Will Americans leery of a decade of gun rights expansions stand their ground over the Trayvon Martin case?

The Feb. 26 shooting of the unarmed teenager in Sanford, Fla., by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, and the initial police decision not to charge Mr. Zimmerman, sparked a national debate about race and violence in American society....

The death of Trayvon Martin is very complicated. It does involve race and racism. There are definitely stigmas attached to the African American experience in the USA. There are also gun laws in question. Then there is the violence culture. The way this death happened raises many, many questions about the ability current Florida laws and social cultures exist and why a completely innocent and wonderful young black man is dead. I am confident Trayvon is high profile, but, not alone in his death when others are revealed across the country. 

It would be wrong to direct more hatred, more violence and any type of death threat toward Zimmerman. It would validate his fears the day Trayvon was killed and provide a venue for injustice and sympathy for George Zimmerman while justifying the gun lobby's vicious campaign of violence. The answer to finding justice for Trayvon Martin does not exist in violent actions, but, in finding the injustice of violence and the death it caused.

There is a reason President Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama Creates US Atrocities Prevention Board (click here)

It is obvious human rights violations effect him. He has established an "Atrocities Board" to officially address the global tragedies occurring every day of the week.

We are fortunate in the USA. We have benevolence and conscience governing our country with President Obama in the White House. He more than a decent man, he is a dedicated man requiring peace at home and abroad. 

I don't believe we can measure the impact he has on the world, except, to realize violence is less and diplomacy with his Secretary of State is maximized to bring about a world of peace where people are valued.