Saturday, August 18, 2012

Assad isn't being very prudent. No doubt the new UN Envoy isn't welcome.

Airstrike kills 8 in Syria town near Turkey border (click title to entry - thank you)
BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian warplane on Saturday bombed a small town partially controlled by anti-regime fighters near the Turkish border, killing eight people and wounding at least 20, the latest escalation in the use of air power by President Bashar Assad's government in the Arab nation's civil war....
The afternoon airstrike, reported by activists in the area as well as the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, was one of at least two that took place on Saturday. The increased use of airstrikes by the regime is taking its toll on civilians, and, in the eyes of activists, is evidence of its insensitivity to civilian casualties as it battles for survival against the rebels....

Viviette Applewhite has obtained her Voter ID, however, it is a poll tax.

She presented her Medicare Card and proof of her residence. Easy enough, however, she had to take two public transit buses to get to the ID processing office.

Ms. Applewhite, age 93, has never had a problem voting before in her life and in the very year when an African American President is running for re-election she has to surmount a heroic effort to receive a voter ID. How ridiculous is this? Shen then had to take two public transit buses back home after she was successful. A 93 year old women was harassed into making a trip she could have failed at finishing in order to vote in the 2012 elections.

The people responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves. 

If Voter ID is a statement about the crime ridden society we live in, then it should have been phased in and not abruptly cast a shadow over elections where there is little to no voter fraud identity issues registered in the USA. This is an obvious poll tax and should be outlawed. It is an unreasonable burden to people least able to over come it. 

The ID may not do Ms. Applewhite any good at all if she relies on her church to take her to early voting on Sunday either.

Early voting is not a novel idea, most allies to the USA practice it including Canada to our north border.

Early voting in Florida began in 2004 and not without problems. The turnout exceeded one million in 2004, but, there were computer failures in Orange and Broward Counties, there where some ballots actually erased in Volusia County and Jacksonville lacked early voting sites at all.

Florida Dems applaud federal court decision expanding early voting (click title to entry - thank you)

By Mike Lillis 08/18/12 10:38 AM ET
Florida Democrats are cheering a federal court's decision to roll back a state law slashing early voting hours.  
The year-old statute, championed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, empowers counties to reduce in-person early voting from eight days before the election to four, while barring early voting on the Sunday before election day.
But a panel of federal judges this week invoked the 1965 Voting Rights Act to rule that the statute would discriminate against African American voters who are known to use early voting at a much higher rate than other populations....
Presidential Debate Question: Do States have the right to tamper with federal statues and precedent such as the 1965 Voting Rights Act? And does the 1965 Voting Rights Act need to be updated and modernized? Why or why not?

The Medicare Debate. Is anyone afraid of the truth? Not from where I stand.

I question the wisdom in making changes until there is a reasonable Congress to write legislation, though. We don't need extremism. 

The nation has to have a conversation about Medicare, but, I sincerely believe it has to come from the professionals at the center of the debate. If they don't chime in and propose an answer; one the USA can reasonably provide; they will be left out of the answer all together. That would be very sad, to the professionals in medicine and to the patients seeking medical care.

The lack of a sincere answer to the Medicare issue, would provide a higher number of uninsured that would hasten their death.

Besides being a medical issue facing our most vulnerable, it is also a family issue. The cost of taking care of the elderly will fall to families if this support network fails. Again, a failure of Medicare will cause an economic recession as families seek to find ways to provide for their loved ones. The market place will suffer if there is a failure of this program.

The Medicare Program (click title to entry - thank you) is the second-largest social insurance program in the U.S., with 48.7 million beneficiaries and total expenditures of $549 billion in 2011. The Boards of Trustees for Medicare (also Boards) report annually to the Congress on the financial operations and actuarial status of the program. Beginning in 2002, there is one combined report discussing both the Hospital Insurance (Medicare Part A) and the Supplementary Medical Insurance program (Medicare Part B and Prescription Drug Coverage). The Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) prepares the report under the direction of the Boards.

The Boards of Trustees issued their most recent report on April 23, 2012....

If Ryan's speech in Florida is indicative of the focus of their race for the Executive Branch of the USA, they aren't serious. Ryan is trying to save his Congressional seat. They are more interested in the House and Senate.  Not to undermine their desire to be President and Vice President, but, they have a stump speech that isn't serious about the issue. We aren't going to get a serious debate. President Obama is has to have a Medicare Summit with the professions. The Summit will have to include the Simpsons - Bowles as a potential for solving the problem.

The nation cannot afford Medicare Advantage. It has spawned considerable waste and fraud. It also provides programs the nation cannot afford. Rather than seeking to lower the cost to the USA Treasury, Medicare Advantage adds programs for Seniors as if they can simply dole out monies with abandon. No. This is USA Treasury monies, it is not simply a grant for spending on every whim a commercial institution believes it can use for marketing.

Posted by Ezra Klein

...For one thing, (click here) compromising with Obama is compromising with a Democratic president who’s at 44 percent in the polls and at 9 percent among Republicans. No Republican politician can survive that. Compromising on Simpson-Bowles is compromising with two men who have become synonymous with bipartisanship and tough choices and hard decisions and all sorts of other platitudes voters love. And it’s not as if members of Congress haven’t seen this graph:...

When Romney/Ryan gets serious about the real problems of the USA and accepts reassuring the American people means trusting them with the knowledge of their income tax returns, I'll be back.

Presidential Debate Question: "Explain the concerns with Medicare as you understand it. What is the best path forward?"

Have a better day.

If the Russian Orthodox Church can forgive Pussy Riot then the Kremlin needs to consider doing the same.

(AP) – 21 minutes ago 
MOSCOW (AP) — Two top clerics in the Russian Orthodox Church say it has forgiven the members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot who were convicted of hooliganism and sent to prison for briefly taking over a cathedral in a raucous prayer for deliverance from Vladimir Putin.
Tikhon Shevkunov, who heads Moscow's Sretensky Monastery and is widely believed to be Putin's spiritual counselor, said on state TV Saturday that his church forgave the singers right after their "punk prayer" in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
Archpriest Maxim Kozlov agreed, but he also said on state TV that his church hopes the young women and their supporters "realize that their acts are awful."
Both clerics supported a court's decision to prosecute Pussy Riot, despite an international outcry that criticized it as unfair.
I admire the willingness of the Russia Orthodox Church to forgive a group of women seeking recognition for their art while making a political statement. I question they ever thought prison would be their consequence for their song.
I was seeking a similar punishment in the USA for a crime. The closest I came to hooliganism in the USA code, would be mayhem. In California, a person can be charged with minimally two years of prison for mayhem, but, there is a physical destruction component to the law. It requires body injury of another. There is an interesting side track in the California law which states the punishment for torture is life in prison. 
Hooliganism is a behavior issue, it is defined in Merriam-Webster as rowdy, violent or destructive behavior.

There is no doubt when people cause damage to property there has to be recognition of what costs others hardship of any kind, but, there is a danger to jailing for behavior that does not harm as opposed to behavior that does harm.   The USA is no example of what is equitable in law, though. Recently, a young gay man committed suicide after being caught on a camera and the person causing the distress to his roommate basically went without penalty. I suppose the stigma of being the person of causing another's death has some penalty itself, but, under the law he was basically exonerated. I saw it as a hate crime not one of mischief.

I believe President Putin did the right thing by speaking up before the verdict and no doubt the court considered his words in their decision. He is joined now by the Russian Orthodox Church. It would a good thing for the people of Russia, their government and their courts to examine the way power is leveraged when the Russian people are attempting to make a political statement. 

Perhaps, this is a chance for Russia to surpass the USA in leveraging justice in political speech. Pussy Riot being jailed can be a turning point for Russia. What I find incredibly interesting about the demonstration in a church, was the lack of maliciousness. There was no damage. There was no harm to others. It was a purely political act, but, well behaved in its demeanor. I think Russia has less to worry about when it comes to embarrassing behavior by its people than it imagines.

11:32 16/8/12
MOSCOW, August 16 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti)
AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova

...Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, (click here) 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 – speculation over their fate has only grown. They have already spent five months in custody, and two of the women have small children with whom they have been deprived of contact since their incarceration....