Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Great Recession is OVER! This is GOP viciousness.

This mess is going on all over the country where Republicans are in government in majority. Most teacher unions took pay cuts in 2008 to maintain the quality of education to American children. It is time to return pay increases and benefits so their quality of life and that of their students return!
Brownback hates children!
School funding had been cut during recession, (click here) but with additional tax cuts Kansas may not be able to reinstate funding
The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday said the state's current public school funding levels are unconstitutional.
In the much-anticipated ruling, the court said Kansas' poor school districts were harmed when the state made the decision to cut certain payments after tax revenues declined during the world financial crisis in 2008.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to district court for more review to "promptly" determine what the adequate amount of funding should be, but didn't set a deadline for a hearing. It did, however, set a July 1 deadline for legislators to restore money for two funds aimed at helping poorer districts with capital improvements and general school operations.
A state Department of Education official estimates legislators now must increase funding by $129 million, in addition to the more than $3 billion the state has budgeted for the 2014-2015 school year.
The case also has broader implications beyond the classroom: Kansas enacted sweeping cuts to income taxes in 2012 and 2013 championed by Gov. Sam Brownback, which means the state might not have enough money to comply with the court order. Lawmakers could be forced to reconsider the tax cuts that Kansas and other Republican-run states have pushed as a means to stimulate their economies....

Do I hear the echos of the women's rights movement?

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, seen here during a March hearing, is sponsoring a bill to provide job protections for pregnant women in Illinois. (Antonio Perez / March 13, 2014)

May 20, 2014
By Maura Zurick

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois employers (click here) could not fire, segregate against, or refuse to hire women for being pregnant under legislation the Senate approved today.
Sponsoring Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said the measure aims to eliminate the tough decision some women face by keeping them working but offering accommodations like time off after childbirth.
"This is actually very interesting that we need to do something like this in 2014," she said.
The bill passed 57-0 and now goes to the House. It also would require employers to make reasonable accommodations based on a woman’s needs, but a boss can ask for a doctor’s note. Employers could try to accommodate pregnant women by limiting physical duties such as heavy lifting or giving them time for doctor visits and care after birth. The bill also includes things like longer rest room and water breaks.
“In 2014, no woman should have to choose between a job or a career and the ability to provide for her family,” Hutchinson said....

The country is not going to be privatizing the VA.

May 20, 2014
By Michael D. Shear
WASHINGTON — Growing allegations of mismanagement (click here) at veterans hospitals across the country are threatening to engulf President Obama in another scandal that brings into question his ability to make government work.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama denounced delays and poor care for veterans at hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and vowed that his administration would fix the backlogs and dramatically improve care for those returning from the battlefield.

In a speech in 2008, Mr. Obama pledged to build “a 21st century VA” and promised to confront what he called “the broken bureaucracy of the VA - the impossibly long lines, or the repeated calls for help that get you nothing more than an answering machine.”

But five-and-a-half years into his presidency, Mr. Obama has once again found himself exposed to political danger by a bureaucracy that seems out of his immediate control....

To begin the process to rehab the VA's overburdened bureaucracy has been in the works for several years already. The country has already made the investment.

July 5, 2011
By Alice Lipowic
...“T4 is a major tool in the transformation of VA (click here) into a 21st Century organization,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement at the time. “These contracts will enable VA to acquire services for information technology programs that will help ensure timely delivery of health care and benefits to our Veterans.”
The contract awardees were:
  • Booz Allen Hamilton, Red Bank, N.J.
  • CACI-ISS, Inc., Chantilly, Va.
  • Harris Corporation, Melbourne, Fla.
  • Systems Research and Applications Corporation, Fairfax, Va.
  • Creative Computing Solutions, Inc. (CCSi), Rockville, Md.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services, LLC, Herndon, Va.
  • ASM Research Inc., Fairfax, Va.
  • Systems Made Simple, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Firstview Federal TS, Rockville, Md.
  • Information Innovators, Springfield, Va.
  • 7 Delta, Fulton, Md.
  • By Light, Arlington, Va.
  • Technatomy, Fairfax, VA.
  • Adams Communications & Engineering Technology, Waldorf, Md.
All the selected companies will compete for task orders to integrate VA systems, network and software to modernize the VA’s information technology infrastructure. The services and products may span the life-cycle of a computer system, and include program planning and management, systems and software engineering, cybersecurity, operation and maintenance, and support to facilities....

Secretary Shinseki was the one seeking to change the way veterans received services. He has been their advocate. These reforms were needed BEFORE soldiers were sent to war, not after they returned and succumbed to the effects of PTSD in record numbers.

If anyone wants to assign blame it can begin with the Bush administration. I mean those power brokers sent troops into battle without body armor and SUVs and Humvees rather than tanks, for god sake. Then the troops were exposed to road side bombs and war conditions unheard of before. And the media wants to blame whom exactly? The one man trying his level best to move a medical system that couldn't even provide decent rehab at Walter Reed without the place falling apart is at blame here? No he isn't. 

It isn't Secretary Shinseki's fault the GOP needs a reason for re-election. He didn't go out and provide passes to those that violated his directives. He expected them to be followed.

May-June 2010
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki (click here) has announced that the department’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force has nearly completed a comprehensive report that will redefine how VA addresses the pain and suffering of ill veterans who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991.
“At VA, we advocate for veterans – it is our overarching philosophy and, in time, it will become our culture,” Secretary Shinseki said. “Every day we must challenge our assumptions to serve our nation’s veterans.”...

The Gulf War? That is Bush 1. Get for real. Shinseki has been the strongest Secretary the VA has ever had and that is not about to change. 

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In the wake of calls from a few vocal crit­ics in the media and vet­er­ans’ com­mu­nity for Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs Sec­re­tary Eric K. Shin­seki to resign, AMVETS National Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Stew­art Hickey today announced his organization’s sup­port for the VA leader’s con­tin­u­a­tion in his post.

Hickey argued only Shin­seki, a man with a proven record as a trans­for­ma­tional leader, with a clear and well-articulated vision for improv­ing the VA claims back­log, is capa­ble of suc­cess­fully lead­ing VA through the nec­es­sary planned changes that will make ser­vices and ben­e­fits more read­ily avail­able to those vet­er­ans who have earned them.

There is a rea­son major vet­er­ans ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing AMVETS, are stand­ing with Sec­re­tary Shin­seki,” said Hickey. “It’s because we’re work­ing along­side VA to con­nect thou­sands of vet­er­ans with their ben­e­fits each year, and we under­stand the orga­ni­za­tional chal­lenges VA faces. We know the Sec­re­tary is on the right path, pri­or­i­tiz­ing older and more com­plex claims, and insti­tut­ing a new elec­tronic pro­cess­ing system.”...

Eric Shinseki is not going anywhere unless he feels moved to do so. He is encouraged to continue to stay and invoke the massive reforms he has instilled during his entire time in office. No one, from where I stand, regrets his leadership one day. Not one day.

"Moral Mondays" have another reason to worry; putting profits before human health.

The results are already in. There have been countless chemical evaluations of contaminated water due to fracking wells. It is obvious who the offenders are in this industry. Disclosing chemicals is simply a formality. It is no secret anymore. These North Carolina legislators are among the most immoral people ever to be voted into office. 

By Molly Redden
Mother Jones

...As hydraulic fracturing (click here) ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to require the disclosure of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.

North Carolina isn’t on that list of states yet – and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.

On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and healthcare providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.
“The felony provision is far stricter than most states’ provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets,” says Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations....

One thing citizens have to ask is "Why is the petroleum industry in such a hurry to flood the market with their products?"

By Brianna Mordick
May 7, 2014
Natural gas extraction (click here) and related activities, including hydraulic fracturing and the underground injection of wastewater, can cause earthquakes. We know this to be true. The occurrence of so-called “induced seismicity” or man-made earthquakes is a documented phenomenon around the globe, including in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. 

If North Carolina proceeds in opening the state to the oil and gas industry, the issue of induced seismicity must be further scrutinized.

The North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission and state lawmakers in Raleigh have slapped together 120 rules in just 18 months to throw wide open the door to fracking in our state. In their rush to give the oil and gas industry everything it wants, our “public servants” have not adequately addressed the issue of induced seismicity. It would be prudent for North Carolina legislators to re-examine this issue immediately at their Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy meeting Thursday and begin a new public comment process....

We have witnessed North Dakota permitting a glut of oil onto the market monopolizing freight lines and maximizing oil pipeline capacity. We have witnessed the USA infrastructure stretched to breaking causing horrible fires and deaths. Why?

Because there is no time like the present to make hay. People are being educated and made aware of the very present dangers of hydraulic fracturing. Citizens will begin to move in the direction of alternative energies. There is no capacity for the USA to export natural gas. Many countries are aware of the dangers of the climate crisis. We just had a stunning review of the dangers to the USA if it continues on this path of carbon pollution. 

Hydraulic fracturing is not about energy independence. The USA has many, many alternatives possible for local governments to harness free sources of energy to make it work for their communities. Companies can build their own alternative power plants. Buildings can place wind turbines on their roofs and power an entire hotel. There is no need for natural gas and the global community has been preparing for their own energy independence.

Now, I ask. Why would the petroleum industry be pushing past the safety of citizens of the USA?

Only one reason. 

Profits, here, profits, now.

This is ridiculous. Hash oil is dangerous both in production and concentration, but, a life sentence for a teenager is extreme government overreach.

ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) — A Texas teenager (click here) accused of making and selling brownies laced with marijuana and hash oil is facing a punishment that could include anywhere from five years to life in prison.

Nineteen-year-old Jacob Lavoro was arrested in April when Round Rock police searched his apartment and found the 1.5 pounds of brownies. Police say they also found additional marijuana and hash oil, leading to a felony charge.

Authorities say hash oil is a controlled substance with much harsher state penalties than marijuana. The oil has higher concentrations of the psychoactive component of marijuana. It's in a penalty group with amphetamines and ecstasy....

Sometimes I think young people need to be given driver's education courses in substance abuse (including food abuse) and the road to a destroyed life, but, jail? The prison system will introduce him to the cartels. Why do that?

This is exactly why this needs to be legalized and taken off the street.  The potency of THC can be as much as 65% in concentration with some processes resulting in 99% pure THC. This type of product has to be monitored for quantity of ingredient content, yet the answer the government wants is 'make it illegal.' Obviously, that isn't the answer.

Mobile home explosion may have been caused by hash oil manufacturing
...But as its popularity grows, (click here) so do the number of hash oil enthusiasts eager to attempt their own homebrew BHO, a process that usually involves the highly flammable solvent butane. The result in a number of cases, as the FEMA bulletin notes, has been “fires and explosions [that] have blown out windows, walls, and caused numerous burn injuries.”

Local media reports often describe hash oil explosions as the result of “cooking hash” or “cooking hash oil,” but that isn’t strictly accurate. There are no Breaking Bad Bunsen burners or chemistry sets involved, and the process of producing hash oil is a relatively simple one, albeit one that ill-informed stoners can still manage to screw up.

Hash oil is typically produced by filling a cylindrical glass or stainless steel canister with pot (Bed Bath and Beyond’s metal turkey basters are a popular choice), and flooding the canister with a solvent — usually butane — that strips the plant matter of its cannabinoid-containing oils. The resulting mixture of psychotropic plant oil and chemicals is then purified to remove traces of the solvent. One common method of butane removal includes boiling it off in a hot water bath, while another involves the use of a vacuum pump and vacuum chamber to lower butane’s boiling point, pulling butane from the oil....

This is interesting. Egotistical commencement speakers are more interested in collecting their fees than step aside.

Birgeneau is more of a scandal than Rice in some ways. The former Chancellor still has a lot of self-reflection to carry out before he should ever speak to young minds and hearts again.

This is such a joke. This was Berkley. There is an entire generation without hope for employment and he stomped on the Occupy movement? I don't think so. There is every reason to run Birgeneau out of town and not just object to his actions during a time when he should have realized how wrongful the country's path was to never see this tragedy coming.

Mary Beth Marklein
USA Today 
May 17, 2014

...Robert Birgeneau, (click here) former chancellor at the University of California-Berkeley, says he won't apologize for his decision in 2011 to allow campus police to use force against participants in the Occupy movement. Nor will he speak at commencement exercises Sunday at Haverford College....

Chancellors, College Presidents and Boards of Trustees should have been up in arms ALONG WITH the Occupy movement. They should have been marching side by side. 

And the Rice thing. Well. "Bush lied and young men and women died." That administration actually expects to be forgiven? Really?

There is something confusing about the reality of the USA during the Bush years? Seriously? 

This country was terrified of being annihilated by WMD because the Bush Administration ran around screaming "The British are Coming and they look like Muslims in plain site."  It was the biggest joke ever played on this sovereign nation. This is not to say Ms. Rice stands alone. She does however stand with many who simply thought their power was more important than the sanity of the people of this nation. They 'ran game' on this country and they damn well know it!

"...I don't remember....," Ms. Rice? Oh! I see. There is a lot we don't want to remember, but, we do.

Object to commencement speakers when they are as obviously contemplative about their words and deceptions to an entire nation of people? I would think so. Now. You'll excuse us while we retake our dignity.

How can anyone be charged with breaking the law if the facility has an open door policy?

May I have guests in the Dining Room? Can they stay overnight? (click here)

Absolutely! Guests are welcome to share meals with you in the Skylight Dining Room for a modest fee. Guests may stay with you in your Apartment or Garden Home, or if you prefer, overnight guest rooms are available at a nominal charge.

This is an independent living facility. Who is to say what visitor may visit or not? There is no freedom of speech in Mississippi? Not that I am surprised, but, what was so terrible about the photo?

By Conor Finnegan, CNN
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014

...Police say Kelly broke into the facility (click here) and took the picture by Rose Cochran's bedside. The photo surfaced in a political attack ad on YouTube that aimed to smear Cochran, according to The Clarion-Ledger. It is unclear how the photo was used because the ad was removed within hours of being posted, according to the newspaper.

Kelly, a 28-year-old Madison, Mississippi, resident, has a host of social platforms that cover politics and often attacks the senior senator.

The video, like the majority of Kelly's material, supported Cochran's opponent in the Republican primary -- and that's where things get politically complicated....

What was the issue? Abuse? Bedsores? Or simply a family secret that was considered "A Shameful Reality" when in fact it was simply someone aging? What was the problem within the nursing home and this patient? Does someone need to have federal officers investigate because Mississippi is so corrupt the truth can't be known about the preeminent facility in the state? Elder abuse is elder abuse, what's going on here?

I have to say, I am a bit surprised Mrs. Cochran is housed in a facility rather than near her loving husband with supportive home care.

Thank you. This should have been done decades ago.

It isn't as though the 'government of the people' are preventing these facilities from using the water. The prevention of such 'fish die off' is easy to do. There is no reason for any industry to believe they have the right to adversely effect another. These fish and shellfish are frequently the life blood of family fishing operations. It is about time the US EPA stood up and made sure these fishing enterprises were protected.
Thousands of industrial facilities (click here) use large volumes of cooling water from lakes, rivers, estuaries or oceans to cool their plants. Cooling water intake structures cause adverse environmental impact by pulling large numbers of fish and shellfish or their eggs into a power plant's or factory's cooling system. There, the organisms may be killed or injured by heat, physical stress, or by chemicals used to clean the cooling system. Larger organisms may be killed or injured when they are trapped against screens at the front of an intake structure.
Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires EPA to issue regulations on the design and operation of intake structures, in order to minimize adverse environmental impacts. EPA promulgated regulations in 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2014. The requirements are included in the NPDES permit regulations, 40 CFR Parts 122 and 125 (Subparts I, J, and N)....

When one industry is oblivious to the rights and needs of another that is just pure laziness. Sometimes it takes so little in prevention to be a good neighbor. Then they wonder why they have bad reputations and others don't want them around.

Frank Reynolds, a commercial fisherman, sees thousands of dead fish near the intake of FirstEnergy Corp.'s Bay Shore power plant in Oregon. The fish are sucked into intake screens and succumb to injury, fatigue, and starvation. Smaller ones are pulled inside.

Published: Thursday, July 29, 2004
By Tom Henry
Blade Staff Writer
To the naked eye, (click here) it looks like an ecological disaster: Thousands of dead fish near the shoreline of Lake Erie's Maumee Bay east of Toledo.
Much to the chagrin of commercial fisherman Frank Reynolds, though, it's a sight that occurs far too often - almost daily, he says, near the intake of FirstEnergy Corp.'s coal-fired Bay Shore power plant in Oregon.
Sadly, Bay Shore is not alone.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 550 large power plants across the country - those with cooling-water capacities of 50 million gallons a day or more - are needlessly killing off fish.
Fish die because they get caught up in the powerful intake currents. Larger fish bang against grated screens hard and succumb to injury, fatigue, or starvation. Smaller fish and minnows elude the screens and pass through the plant. A few survive the trauma, but most die, officials said.
The problem - long presumed to be one of the unfortunate trade-offs of generating electricity - may be older than the 32-year history of the nation's Clean Water Act itself.
But the U.S. EPA, in responding to a court order brought on by those hoping to minimize losses, announced Feb. 16, that it will use the Clean Water Act as its legal muscle for protecting fish....
It actually takes litigation to do the right thing? Really?