Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Minimum Wage is moving in some areas of the country.

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:08pm EST
Dec 17 (Reuters) - Washington's city council (click here) on Tuesday approved raising the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, one of the highest rates among U.S. cities and part of the wealthy region's push to hike base pay.
The minimum wage in the U.S. capital would rise in 2016 from the current $8.25, and then be indexed for inflation. The council gave unanimous final approval to the measure, which it first passed two weeks ago.
Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray has opposed the measure, saying it was not known how it would affect the labor market, and urged an increase to $10 an hour instead. The unanimous vote means the council could pass it over Gray's veto....
The AFL/CIO has been advocating for the increase in minimum wage. This is from their newsletter. They are happy underpaid labor is finally being treated with fairness to provide a better quality of lifel
In Washington, D.C., there is great news for working families. The District of Columbia Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 and extend paid sick days to tipped workers. 
The measures now go to Mayor Vincent Gray for consideration. 
The minimum wage will increase in three steps to $11.50 by July 2016. Beginning in July 2017, the wage rate will be indexed to inflation, so that as the cost of living increases, so will the minimum wage rate. Prince George's County (Md.) Executive Rushern Baker signed the Prince George’s County minimum wage bill today—the wage rate will rise to $11.50 by 2017. These wage increases in Washington, D.C., Prince George's County and Montgomery County (Md.) are part of an innovative approach to raise wages in a region, with all three areas working together to pass these laws. 

64 to 36

It's that interesting? 64 votes for the budget. I'll be darn.

By Ed O’Keefe and Lori Montgomery

Updated: Wednesday, December 18, 4:57 PM

Congress declared a holiday truce (click here) in a years-long fight over the federal budget, sending President Obama a spending blueprint Wednesday that is designed to ease sharp spending cuts and keep government operations funded through 2015.
Senators voted 64 to 36 to approve the bipartisan budget agreement Wednesday afternoon. Nine Republicans joined with 55 Democrats to approve the legislation, which Obama is expected to sign before departing this weekend for his Christmas vacation in Hawaii....

A big win for the USA economy. GM with the collaboration of the UAW is bringing it home.

General Motors World Headquarters (C) is seen looking south from the midtown area in Detroit, Michigan October 23, 2013.

(Reuters) - General Motors Co (click here) said on Monday it will invest nearly $1.3 billion at five U.S. plants to make a new transmission and boost output for a planned new engine as well as add a vehicle paint shop.
GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, said the investment at the plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will create or retain about 1,000 jobs combined, but did not say how many will be new jobs. The five plants employ about 7,500 people.
The investment is part of $8 billion that GM typically spends annually on its global operations and will be used to make a new 10-speed transmission and boost planned output of a new V6 engine, as well as support production of an existing 6-speed transmission, the company said. GM also will add a new paint shop and logistics center....

In 2011, when the UAW negotiated new contracts with the Big Three automakers, the union won commitments from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to invest more than $27.3 billion in their plants, creating 20,000 new jobs at the three automakers and thousands more in the industries that are part of the auto manufacturing supply chain.   
At the ceremony at GM’s Flint, Mich., truck assembly plant announcing the investment, GM North America President Mark Reuss told the cheering workers:
These investments are a sign of our confidence in our workforce and our UAW partners that have given and tried so hard and in our vehicles and the continued demand for excellence in each one of these products. You earned this.

Looks as though everyone is having a good time.

First Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families participate in a craft project in the State Dining Room during the White House holiday press preview, Dec. 4, 2013. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses helps children decorate Springerle cookie ornaments. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

How did the White House get involved in this? Can the EU and the USA offer the same help to the Ukraine?

I thought the Cold War was over.

December 18, 2013, 4:58 am
...White House Spokesman Jay Carney (click here) indicated that Washington was unimpressed by the deal, saying it would "not address the concerns" of the thousands of protesters camped out day and night on Independence Square over the last weeks. 

"The Russian government made a decision to invest part of the National Welfare Fund to the amount of $15 billion in Ukrainian government securities." Putin said at a ceremony with Yanukovych....

...Putin also said Russia's state energy giant Gazprom would now sell natural gas to Ukraine at a price of $268.50 for 1,000 cubic metres -- a substantial discount from the current level of around $400....

..."I would like to calm everyone down, today we have not discussed the issue of Ukraine joining the Customs Union at all," Putin said.

On the day she was sworn in for a third term at the helm of Europe's top economy, German Chancellor Angela Markel warned against getting into a "tug-of-war" with Russia over Ukraine. "A confrontation would not lead anywhere," she said in an interview with public television....

The West is still trying to ostracize Russia in a way that would destroy it. As a result, Russia is not attempting to create an independent Customs Union built similarly to the European Union. 

The West always has this idea it has power over Russia. When is the global community going to come to terms with peace and the path to peace? Creating a one world government isn't going to work. Not because a military struggle may secure it, but, because it is idiocy to follow a path of war to benefit Wall Street.

This is Ukraine politics. 

18 December 2013 
Last updated at 00:10 ET

...Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko (click here) told pro-EU protesters in Kiev Mr Yanukovych was betraying Ukraine's independence.
"He has given up Ukraine's national interests, given up independence," Mr Klitschko, a former boxing champion, told the crowd on Tuesday.

"[President] Yanukovych used our country as collateral. According to our sources, he has agreed to a bailout from Russia and put Ukrainian plants, strategic industries, heavy industries, aviation and energy manufacturers up as collateral against it. We want to know what exactly he did put up as collateral, and his reasons for doing it."
He called on the Ukrainian president to hold a snap election....

Soldiers of the UNR Army in front of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev.

The Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore and the Ukrainian–Soviet War ended in 1917. War and the destruction of infrastructure doesn't promote economic growth. If the Ukraine is ever going to be a sovereign nation with potential to improve the lives of it's citizens it has start somewhere. 

I realize Yanukovych is not the popular choice and his image laced with fear of oppression and old world hatred, but, where is the Ukraine going to get a better opportunity to grow it's economy and relieve it's debt?

None of these economic plans erase the past or make the world ignorant of any future problem. So, what is the issue, really? Who is in office and what market place is preferred? That political impetus is far different than the region is used to. I think there is room for growth from both Russia and Europe and in time it will occur. 

In the year 2013 with the soon beginning of 2014 the world has come a long way to seek peaceful and economic standards to define nations. If we can proceed with non-proliferation our children might have a real shot at eliminating such threats to life. 

Is there something wrong with that I don't get? 

Because you see, every time the USA has assets in place, it inevitably becomes an issue of tensions and war. "American interests" have been the cause of more war than any other nation on Earth. The West should think about that for a while.

Now, about that enormous unnecessary US Industrial Complex....that chronically threatens war without end and global stability. Not to mention enormous USA National Debt.

Surge Seen in U.S. Oil Output, Lowering Gasoline Prices (click here)

I would think this would be enough reason for oil barons to stop coveting the Russian oil assets. How much power does a nation need? How much money does one person need? When does the 'wanting' of Wall Street come back into the realm of reasonable while the Middle Class flourishes and the Poor have upward movement? Too much to ask?

Ah, the "Evil Russian Empire," will it ever die? I like John McCain and I certainly like him better than some of the other options in Arizona politics. He has a nice wife and a lovely daughter. Can someone please give him a makeover that is modern day and a better byline? Perhaps one that moves him ever so slightly away from threatening war in the Third World at every turn?

“Harry, I’m going to go kick the crap out of you,” (click here) McCain reportedly told Reid minutes before he took to the floor of the upper chamber of Congress to lay into Democrats for ushering in a “black chapter in the history of the Senate.”

One might notice, since the filibuster has been busted, most of the votes in the Senate have carried a greater than 60 vote margin in favor of the measure. Why didn't that happen before? Perhaps, Senator McCain can explain that.

Excuse me? Something wrong with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church?


Published: May 03, 1991

In a major encyclical addressing the economic questions raised by the upheaval in Eastern Europe in 1989, Pope John Paul II warned capitalist nations yesterday against letting the collapse of Communism blind them to the need to repair injustices in their own economic system.
The encyclical, "Centesimus Annus" ("The Hundredth Year"), includes the fullest, and in many ways the most positive, treatment of the market economy in any papal document. But praise is typically followed with qualifications and ringing reminders about economic failures in both developing and developed countries.
The point of departure for much of the 25,000-word document is the collapse of Communism in Pope John Paul II's native Poland and other Eastern European countries and the moral and philosophical lessons that those events hold for rebuilding the economies of Eastern Europe and confronting economic inequities throughout the world. 'Human Needs' Beyond Market
"The free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs," the Pope said. "But there are many human needs which find no place on the market," he immediately added, and many people without the purchasing power to meet their needs through the market. [ Excerpts, page A10. ]

What is going on with Russia? Is the nation actually worried about it's image?

Videographer Kieron Bryan of Britain (C), one of the 30 people who were arrested over a Greenpeace protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, reacts as he is released on bail from prison in St. Petersburg, November 22, 2013.

(Reuters) - Thirty people (click here) arrested in Russia over a protest against Arctic oil drilling will avoid trial and the threat of jail under an amnesty set to be approved by parliament, lawyers and Greenpeace said on Wednesday.
Last-minute changes to the amnesty proposed by President Vladimir Putin mean legal proceedings against the 30 are "almost certain" to end and the 26 non-Russians among them should be able to go home, the environmental group said.
The arrest of the men and women whom Greenpeace call the "Arctic 30" drew criticism from the West and was widely seen as a signal that Putin will not tolerate efforts to stop Russia developing the resource-rich region....
...Lawyers say two women from punk protest band Pussy Riot are likely to be freed. They are serving two-year sentences for a protest against Putin in a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in 2012.
They are due for release in early March. It is not clear how soon they would walk free once the amnesty is approved....

A great idea for gift giving when material gifts seem meaningless.

The National Film Preservation Foundation seeks to preserve some of the most important statements about our popular and classic culture. Making a donation in other's names can be a statement that is meaningful and long lasting.

As an example of the type of cultural statements preserved by this foundation is "Inklings."

Inklings, Issue 12 (1925)

Production Co.: Inkwell Studios/Red Seal Pictures Corp.

Director/Animator: Dave Fleischer

Transfer Note: Copied at 24 frames per second from a 35mm print preserved by the Museum of Modern Art. 

New Music:Original score composed by Fred Steiner. 

Who is Fred Steiner? He is iconic to our culture. These artists are important to remember and their work important to preserve. They are the very foundation of an industry that has added quality of life to Americans and launched our imaginations. They make us smile, cry and ask for more.

Fred Steiner dies at 88; Hollywood composer created 'Perry Mason' theme (click here)

The composer also crafted music for 'Gunsmoke,' 'The Twilight Zone,' 'Star Trek,' 'Have Gun, Will Travel,' 'Rawhide,' 'Hogan's Heroes,' 'The Bullwinkle Show' and other TV series....

Performed by Frederick Harris, Jr (conductor), Dawn Perlner (violin), Elizabeth Connors (clarinet), Jimmy Leach (trumpet), Reid Jorgensen (percussion), and Kyle Hoepner (piano). Running Time: 6 minutes.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! (click here)
For a limited time, choose a Treasures DVD set when you donate.
Why not start the holidays by snuggling up with Dave Fleischer’s The Inklings (1925), one of the 225 films in our award-winning Treasures from American Film Archives DVD sets? Once you see this amazing cartoon, we’re sure you’ll want more from the Treasures series. For film fans, these DVDs make great presents. So choose a set as a gift when you support our work with a donation of $200 or more....

This organization seeks to reach back in our history to preserve the greatest films of our time, including silent films. It is a worth considering as a meaningful gift these holidays.

Poor Wall Street, their welfare is ending.

Hard to Turn Back Once Fed Tapering Begins: Zentner (click here)

Well, they might actually have to work for a living to earn their bonuses now. What a shame.

Merry Christmas, Wall Street says foul play in regard to a charity assisting the poor with their health care plans.

Dec. 16, 2013 8:19 p.m. ET
A charity's plan (click here) to help people pay for coverage through new health-care exchanges has put it at the center of a high-stakes fight between the insurance and hospital industries that could pose a challenge to the economic underpinnings of President Barack Obama's health law.
A Better LA, a decade-old Los Angeles nonprofit, said last week it was signing up 50 low-income people for health plans in California's health-insurance marketplace. The charity, which said it has the blessing of the state agency overseeing the marketplace, will pay $50 to $100 a month to cover the share of the people's premiums not already financed by federal subsidies.
Those 50 people are at the vanguard of a push that could shift the balance between hospitals and insurers across the nation. Nonprofits, including some hospitals, say paying premiums would ensure coverage for people currently uninsured who can't afford even a small monthly payment for health insurance....

Heroes everyone. Health care insurers are actually upset over assistance to the Poor? This is ridiculous. By stating they don't want the Poor on their exchanges, Wall Street is saying the Poor are sicker and they aren't profitable. Really? I thought the day of "Picking the winners and losers" in the benefit of health was over.

...Hospitals making such payments would be fulfilling the law's mission of extending coverage to millions of Americans, said Melinda Hatton, the American Hospital Association's general counsel. "We thought it was the kind of thing the Affordable Care Act would really support and encourage," she said.
But such plans have drawn criticism. "It is a conflict of interest for hospitals and drug companies to pay patients' premiums and cost-sharing for the sole purpose of increasing utilization of their services and products," said Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, the health-insurance industry's trade group....
This level of charity care has existed for a long time. There are actually hospital systems, usually government teaching hospitals, in the USA that extend a full access to the Poor in their states. The insurance companies never had to bear that burden because the government did. The state and federally funded hospitals absorbed the cost of the Poor. NOW. These folks have health care insurance. I'll be darn. So, instead of absorbing the costs of the Poor, the hospitals will finally have the care they provide paid for. Wall Street is crying about it because they never had to provide care for these people before and don't want the cost. Wall Street wants hospitals to continue to fail to continue their exorbitant profits.

...But insurers say they can't make a profit unless the health-insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act draw a balanced mix of healthy and sicker customers. The law's rocky start, many insurers fear, has already skewed the mix toward people in worse health. Help from nonprofits or hospitals could speed the arrival of less healthy customers into the exchanges, outpacing the arrival of younger, healthier people who might not cross paths with hospitals....

In many cases these individuals receiving care through charity care are young and have children and have been the ONLY method of receiving Well Baby Care. 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands on HIPPA and actually insures portability of insurance. Now, the Poor can actually CHOOSE their physicians and take the insurance with them if they find employment and/or are able to attend training for work that is available in the USA. Wall Street needs to shut up and put up, these people are just as mixed in health as any other population. 

So, while the political Right Wing are saying the new health care insurance is unaffordable, Wall Street lawyers are playing with words and phrases in the law to bring about higher profits and depriving people of coverage. That is amazing. Ya know, we need Single Payer. That is the only thing that is going to end this circus. 

One of the problems with the health care of the Poor in lack of continuity. The reason is because they accept care where they can find it. That means they don't necessarily have a primary physician so much as 'clinic care.' In 2011 a private foundation called, "The  Commonwealth Fund" did a survey and found the inconsistent care was CAUSING poor health.

An international survey of adults (click here) living with health problems and complex care needs found that patients in the United States are much more likely than those in 10 other high-income countries to forgo needed care because of costs and to struggle with medical debt. In all the countries surveyed, patients who have a medical home reported better coordination of care, fewer medical errors, and greater satisfaction with 

These are only four of the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Fund. Something tells me they know what they are doing:

James R. Tallon, Jr., Chairman (click here)
Mr. Tallon, president of the United Hospital Fund of New York, is recognized nationally for his leadership in health care policy.
Cristine Russell, Vice Chairman
Ms. Russell is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written about science, health, and the environment for more than three decades.
Maureen BisognanoMs. Bisognano, a prominent authority on improving health care systems, is president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

David Blumenthal, M.D. Dr. Blumenthal is president of The Commonwealth Fund. Prior to joining the Fund in 2013, he was the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief Health Information and Innovation Officer at Partners Healthcare System in Boston. From 2009 to 2011, he served as U.S. National Coordinator for Health Information Technology....

What does continuity of care mean? It means a person won't be wandering from doctor to doctor or hospital to hospital starting all over again every time they seek care. Continuity of care also means the Poor will be educated to what health care actually means and how to continue and/or improve their wellness and that of their family. It means IF the Poor are unwell, they won't stay that way. They won't DIE because there isn't a professional overseeing their progression to health from illness. Wall Street can go straight to hell and will not stand in the way of a healthier nation in the USA!

The USA has the highest cost of health care in the world. The insurance companies make plenty of money from the health care of the USA because it is the most expensive in the world. The USA will finally rein in the runaway costs of health care in the nation and find a healthier population which will bring down THE COST to everyone. One would think bring down the cost of health care rather than charity care and emergency room would be something the insurance industry would welcome. But, the fact of the matter is the more chaos a system has the greater the chance of making elicit and illegal money while people die. Why is it the Health Insurance Industry in the USA can't get on board with a nation of over $3.1 million people? Hm?

...Ms. Reaser said she likely still couldn't afford her share of the premiums, in part because she is still paying off $1,900 in hospital bills after two emergency-room visits last year—for an asthma attack and what she was told was a mild stroke.
Rowan Vansleve, the charity's chief executive officer, said the initiative came from a donor who watched news reports on the health law and was struck by how little it would cost to pay some people's premiums....