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Archive for June 23rd, 2009

Iran Election Watchdog Stands By Results

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Iran Election Watchdog Stands By Results

Iran’s Guardian Council has found “no major fraud or breach in the election” and will not hold a re-vote, a spokesman announced Tuesday. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, meanwhile, jumped into the fray, calling on the Iranian government to “respect fundamental civil and political rights, especially the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of information.”

Read Ban’s full statement here.

BBC:

English-language Press TV reported the Guardian Council’s rejecting an annulment on Tuesday.

On Monday, it had conceded there had been voting irregularities in 50 districts, including local vote counts that exceeded the number of eligible voters.

However, it said they were not enough to affect the overall result and incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had indeed won by a landslide.

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Governor Goes Missing

South Carolina governor and anti-stimulus crusader Mark Sanford has vanished. Sanford gave his staff and security team the slip four days ago and managed to miss Father’s Day without alarming his wife, who also doesn’t know where he is. “He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids,” she explained to the Associated Press.

Daily News:

The State newspaper reported that neither the governor’s office nor SLED had been able to reach Sanford since he left the governor’s mansion in a black SLED SUV Thursday night.

The governor’s state and personal phones were turned off and he did not respond to phone or text messages, the State said.

Sanford’s office emailed NBC to say “it’s not uncommon for him to go out of pocket for a few days at a time to clear his head.” They said he had let his staff know he’d be difficult to reach.

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Public Confidence In Stimulus Package’s Effectiveness Ebbs, Poll Finds

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Public Confidence In Stimulus Package’s Effectiveness Ebbs, Poll Finds
Barely half of Americans are now confident that President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus measure will boost the economy, and the rapid rise in optimism about…

Keith Olbermann, John Hodgman Interview: Hodgman Discusses His Speech And Obama As ‘Nerd-In-Chief’ (VIDEO)
John Hodgman, who gave the keynote address at the White House Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner Friday night praising President Obama as the first Nerd-in-Chief,…

Stuart Shapiro: Governors: Don’t Fray the Medicaid Safety Net
Governors: Don’t Fray the Medicaid Safety Net Congress: Don’t Let Them By Stuart H. Shapiro, M.D. President and CEO Pennsylvania Health Care Association sshapiro@phca.org The…


Nets ignore testimony of cancer patient denied coverage by insurer

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Nets ignore testimony of cancer patient denied coverage by insurer

According to a Media Matters for America analysis*, the evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS have not covered a June 16 hearing by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the practice by insurance companies of investigating the medical histories of people who become ill and submit claims for expensive treatments, on the grounds that those individuals had pre-existing conditions. The hearing featured testimony from Robin Beaton and Jennifer Wittney Horton, former policyholders who stated they had been subject to that practice, as well as testimony from insurance company executives. Noting that Paul Begala highlighted the media’s lack of coverage of the hearing and linking to video of Beaton’s testimony, national political correspondent Karen Tumulty wrote on Time.com’s Swampland blog: “The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a missed opportunity this had been. There’s no way I could possibly tell Robin Beaton’s story nearly as powerfully as she did herself. So I asked C-SPAN’s omnipotent Howard Mortman to dig up the clip out of their video library. Please watch this. It could happen to you or to someone you love.”

In a June 16 post to Time.com’s Swampland blog, Tumulty reported of the hearing:

In May, 2008, Robin Beaton, a retired registered nurse from Waxahachie, Texas, went to her dermatologist to be treated for acne. He mistakenly wrote down something on her chart that made it appear that she might have a pre-cancerous skin condition.

Not a big deal, right? It shouldn’t have been, except that soon after that, she was diagnosed with something far more serious — invasive and agressive breast cancer. Three days before she was scheduled for a double mastectomy, her insurance company, Blue Cross, called her and told her they were launching an investigation into the last five years of her health records. It turned out that dermatologist’s note had been a red flag, and the company was looking for a way to cancel her policy on the grounds that she had been hiding a serious medical condition.

What Robin went through after that was a nightmare, one she tearfully described Tuesday morning in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee. “The sad thing is, Blue Cross gladly took my high premiums, and the first time I filed a claim and was suspected of having cancer, they searched high and low for a reason to cancel me,” said Robin, whose hair is just beginning to grow back in from chemotherapy.

The subcommittee took a look today at an immoral — and illegal — practice in which some health insurance companies engage. It’s called post-claims underwriting, and you should know about it. Because you or someone you love could be a victim if they buy insurance on the individual insurance market. Robin got her mastectomy, but only after her congressman, Joe Barton, leaned on the head of the company. (This is constituent service, in the very best sense of why we elect these guys. But the best thing they could do is to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone’s constituent.)

There were other witnesses, too. Like Peggy Raddatz, whose brother Otto Raddatz lost his insurance coverage right before he was scheduled to receive an expensive stem-cell transplant to treat his lymphoma. Why? Because Fortis Insurance Company discovered that his doctor had found gall stones and an aneurysm on a CT scan — conditions that had nothing to do with his cancer, and that never bothered him, and that he wasn’t even aware of. And Jennifer Wittney Horton of Los Angeles, whose coverage was canceled because she had been taking a drug for irregular menstruation. Now, she can’t get coverage anywhere else. “Since my recission, I have had to take jobs that I do not want, and put my career goals on hold to ensure that I can find health insurance,” she told the subcommittee. “Fortunately, after my husband and I got married, I was able to gain coverage through his company’s group health care plan. However, if he ever loses his job, or I don’t have employment with a company that offers group health insurance, I might have to go without insurance.”

In his June 19 CNN.com commentary piece, Begala wrote of the hearing:

It was as dramatic as congressional testimony gets. Yet it got no airtime on the networks, nor, as far as I can tell, on cable news, although CNN.com did run a story. Time’s Tumulty was all over it, as was Lisa Girion of The Lost Angeles Times. But the story did not make The New York Times.

Nor The Washington Post, which found space on the front page the morning after the hearing for a story on the cancellation of Fourth of July fireworks in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, but not a story on the cancellation of health insurance for deathly ill Americans who’ve paid their premiums.

Stupak, and the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Henry Waxman, D-California, did their job. Why didn’t the media do its? Why were the outrages uncovered by Stupak and Waxman un-covered by most of the media?

Indeed, according to a Media Matters search** of the Nexis database, The New York Times and The Washington Post have still not reported on the hearing.

* Media Matters searched the Nexis database for ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS transcripts after June 15 using the search terms: health! or insurance or coverage or rescission or post-claims underwriting or hearing or subcommittee or (Margaret pre/2 Raddatz) or (Peg! pre/2 Raddatz) or (Otto pre/2 Raddatz) or (Robin pre/2 Beaton) or (Jen! pre/2 Horton) or (Wittney Horton). Media Matters reviewed all broadcasts not available in Nexis.

** Media Matters searched the Nexis database for The New York Times and The Washington Post after June 15 using the search terms: (Margaret pre/2 Raddatz) or (Peg! pre/2 Raddatz) or (Otto pre/2 Raddatz) or (Robin pre/2 Beaton) or (Jen! pre/2 Horton) or (Wittney Horton).


Husband Of Ensign’s Girlfriend To Fox’s Kelly: Help Me Expose Senator’s “Relentless Pursuit Of My Wife”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Husband Of Ensign’s Girlfriend To Fox’s Kelly: Help Me Expose Senator’s “Relentless Pursuit Of My Wife”
OK, now the Ensign story is really getting good. Yesterday we wrote about how Team Ensign is now saying that they went public about the affair because Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign’s girlfriend, was threatening to go to a…

Ensign Admits He Helped Girlfriend’s Husband Get Jobs
The sex is looking like the least interesting aspect of the John Ensign story. Ensign’s camp has confirmed to the Associated Press that the Nevada senator helped Doug Hampton, his old friend and the husband of his girlfriend, to get…






The Anti-Republican Reality Belt

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:36 am by HL

The Anti-Republican Reality Belt


We Made Them Rich and They Called Us Criminals

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:35 am by HL

We Made Them Rich and They Called Us Criminals
Companies exploit undocumented workers, and then claim that sanctions require them to fire them when it's convenient.

Ending Mountaintop Removal Mining is AlterNet’s Top Take Action Campaign of The Week
No source of energy is worth the price we're paying. Tell your senators it's time to stop blowing up our mountains.

We Made Them Rich and They Called Us Criminals
Companies exploit undocumented workers, and then claim that sanctions require them to fire them when it's convenient.

Are Mind-Enhancing Drugs a Dangerous Fad or a Great Way to Get Ahead?
Advocates say they are an irresistible way of improving students' performance. Critics argue they are a dangerous fad.


Americans, the events in Iran, and nuclear prospects

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Americans, the events in Iran, and nuclear prospects
Pres. Obama has been coming under a lot of pressure to express a more forthright stand in favor of the pro-Mousavi demonstrators in Iran. He is quite right to resist those pressures, for a number of reasons. Meanwhile, the deep…

Obama Needs to Get in Touch with His Inner Head-Banger
That’s a paraphrase of Mike Tomasky’s terrific piece on the Guardian site. His immediate subject is health care and the heads that need to be banged belong to recalcitrant Democrats. It’s excellent advice for other fights down the pike, too….



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Shep Smith responds to right-wing critics: ?I do belong here? at Fox News.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Shep Smith responds to right-wing critics: ?I do belong here? at Fox News.
On June 10, Fox News anchor Shep Smith made headlines with his response to the shooting by a white supremacist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. He said the incident showed that the much-maligned DHS report on violent, right-wing extremists was a “warning to us all,” even though “the right went absolutely bonkers” in response […]

shepsmith08 On June 10, Fox News anchor Shep Smith made headlines with his response to the shooting by a white supremacist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. He said the incident showed that the much-maligned DHS report on violent, right-wing extremists was a “warning to us all,” even though “the right went absolutely bonkers” in response to it. The right quickly went after him, calling for his resignation from Fox News. In a new interview with the New York Times, Smith responds:

“When a crazy man has walked into a Holocaust museum and shot the security guard, maybe that’s an appropriate time to warn people: you’ve got a crazy person in your life, keep an eye on him,” he said in an interview in his Manhattan office last week.

Mr. Smith said he fully anticipated one result of those comments: the nasty e-mail increased.

“Thousands of them,” Mr. Smith said. “And I know they don’t mean the things they say. I know they don’t hate me and want death on my family.”

What they mostly say, he explained, is: “You don’t belong there.” Mr. Smith paused a moment before adding: “I do belong here.”

Smith said that his colleagues, such as Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, are “fascinating, terrific entertainer,” but that he tries to provide the “news” in Fox News.

Under Misspelled Banner, Buchanan And White Nationalist Brimelow Argue For English-Only Initiatives
On Saturday, Pat Buchanan hosted a conference to discuss how Republicans can regain a majority in America. During one discussion, panelists suggested supporting English-only initiatives as a prime way of attracting “working class white Democrats.” The discussion ridiculed Judge Sotomayor for the fact that she studied children’s classics to improve her grammar while attending […]

On Saturday, Pat Buchanan hosted a conference to discuss how Republicans can regain a majority in America. During one discussion, panelists suggested supporting English-only initiatives as a prime way of attracting “working class white Democrats.” The discussion ridiculed Judge Sotomayor for the fact that she studied children’s classics to improve her grammar while attending college. The panelists also suggested that, without English as the official language, President Obama would force Americans to speak Spanish.

One salient feature of the event was the banner hanging over the English-only advocates. The word conference was spelled “Conferenece.” View it here:

Pat Buchanan and Peter Brimelow

The panelists pressed on with their anti-bilingualism diatribe without noting the irony of the obvious misspelling on the banner:

PAT BUCHANAN: Judge Sotomayor is up there at school in New York, she gets a scholarship to Princeton, she’s graduated with all these big honors and awards they said she never won. What’s she doing there in the summer? They said her adviser told her to read children’s classics so she can learn English better. How do you graduate number one in Princeton if you’re in the summer and you’re reading Rumpelstiltskin and Snow White? [laughter] […]

PETER BRIMELOW: I really do recommend the language issue because you know that polls better than immigration and affirmative action. Eighty-five percent of Americans say they would favor official language policy. The wonderful thing about this issue if you look at what’s going to actually happen here is you’re going to find that the Obama administration is going to gradually institute institutional bilingualism in the country. It’s going to be required to speak Spanish in key positions, the police force and so on. This is a direct attack on the American working class because they are not going to be bilingual.

ThinkProgress attended the event and obtained audio of the panel. Listen here:

Mocking Sotomayor’s struggle to learn English has become a habit for Buchanan. On CSPAN a few weeks ago, Buchanan tried to undermine Sotomayor’s qualifications by saying she had read Pinocchio as a part of her “college work.” Buchanan was referencing a New York Times article, which talked about how hard Sotomayor had to work to graduate at the top of her class from Princeton. The article stated that she “spent summers reading children’s classics she had missed in a Spanish-speaking home and ‘re-teaching’ herself to write ‘proper English’ by reading elementary grammar books.” Sotomayor never read children’s books as part of her “college work” and the books consisted of classics such as “Huckleberry Finn” and “Pride and Prejudice” — not Snow White, as Buchanan contends.

Peter Brimelow, one of the panelists to the event, is the editor of Vdare.com. He has written extensively against immigration and has long advocated that the GOP must “appeal to its base: white Americans.” Brimelow has defended accusations that he writes and publishes white supremacist material by declaring his content to be merely “white nationalist.”


President Obama Delievers Remarks at the Signing of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:32 am by HL

President Obama Delievers Remarks at the Signing of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
SPEAKER: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA [*] OBAMA: I am thrilled to be here for what is, I think, an extraordinary accomplishment by this Congress, a bill we’re about to sign into law. I want to acknowledge a few of our special guests. First of all, we’ve got the crew from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free …

Iran Unrest Reveals Split In U.S. on Its Role Abroad
Iran’s post-election tumult has exposed the sharply divergent ways in which the Obama administration and its Republican opponents view the nature of American power and the president’s role in speaking to political dissent outside the borders of the United States.

President Obama Delievers Remarks on Seniors and Prescription Drugs.
SPEAKER: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA [*] OBAMA: Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, first of all, I want to thank Barry Rand for the introduction, but also AARP, the organization he so ably represents, for coming together with us on this critical issue today. Last week in my address to the Amer…


People on Terrorism Watch List Bought Guns Hundreds of Times, GAO Says
People named on the government’s terrorism watch list have successfully purchased firearms hundreds of times since 2004, government investigators reported yesterday. In one case, a known or suspected terrorist was able to obtain an explosives license, the Government Accountability Office reported.

Obama Announces Agreement With Drug Companies
President Obama today announced an offer by drug manufacturers to contribute $80 billion over the next decade to narrow the controversial gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage, a deal the president said moves the nation a step closer to comprehensive health-care reform.


Unjust Ruling on Age-related Suits

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 23rd, 2009 4:29 am by HL

Unjust Ruling on Age-related Suits

5 Keys to Getting a Health Care Deal
Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico

Obama’s Health Care Promise