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Archive for February 27th, 2010

2 Huge Icebergs Break Off Antarctica

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 10:01 am by HL

2 Huge Icebergs Break Off Antarctica
A massive iceberg struck Antarctica, dislodging another giant block of ice from a glacier, Australian and French scientists said Friday. The two icebergs are drifting together about 62 to 93 miles off eastern Antarctica following the collision on Feb. 12 or 13, said Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young. “It gave it a pretty big nudge,” Young said of the 60-mile (97-kilometer) -long iceberg, about the size of Luxembourg, that collided with the giant floating Mertz Glacier and shaved off a new iceberg. “They are now floating right next to each other.” The new iceberg is 48 miles (78 kilometers) long and about 24 miles wide and holds roughly the equivalent of a fifth of the world’s annual total water usage.


Looking Back at Chile In Light of Today’s Earthquake

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 9:50 am by HL

Looking Back at Chile In Light of Today’s Earthquake
My greatest fear personally is for the Santiago archaeological museum, a priceless collection of pre-Columbian art and mementos. Sadly, the building itself is of stone, a renewal of the monumental architecture period that saw a downtown built of heavy, immense, stone structures. Circling an interior courtyard, the collections are on two stories, with large stairways, heavily built and decorated, many tiles and carved stones. Many of the earthenware remnants of the tribes that occupied the country before Europeans arrived will be easily damaged, and is not recoverable.

Chile earthquake

photo courtesy todosnuestrosmuertos (flickr)

From working on a build with Habitat for Humanity in Chile I am sure that the little houses we put up are still standing. Most of the building we did was wood frame, and even by falling wouldn’t do a lot of damage. The area where we built, CasaBlanca, is a wine growing area and lowland, so there would not be great threat from earthquakes.

My greatest fear personally is for the Santiago archaeological museum, a priceless collection of pre-Columbian art and mementos. Sadly, the building itself is of stone, a renewal of the monumental architecture period that saw a downtown built of heavy, immense, stone structures. Circling an interior courtyard, the collections are on two stories, with large stairways, heavily built and decorated, many tiles and carved stones. Many of the earthenware remnants of the tribes that occupied the country before Europeans arrived will be easily damaged, and is not recoverable.

In Santiago, the downtown area contains multitudes of the monumental style of buildings,and even farther out the lack of space has militated many-storied buildings. Ominously, as in Port au Prince, Haiti, there are supermarkets on the bottom floor scattered everywhere. Apartment buildings abound, many of stone and concrete.

In Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, seaside towns that we visited, the hills rise up from the shore, and older buildings built of stone are interspersed with funiculars, to climb the steep hills. Houses are built one above the other, rising up the hills, around the shore. Shopping centers are formed by several stories of stores, with stairways winding up through the stores through several layers. A tsunami has hit Valparaiso, where the docks are full of ships and old stone buildings, and a seaside cafe that has particular appeal – that I hope wasn’t destroyed.

In Vina del Mar, there are many tall apartment buildings where visitors from all over the world vacation. The parks on the beach are lovely, and there is a flower clock that is a feature the town prides itself on. The shopping mall there has several stories, which include a supermarket in the bottom story.

As word continues to come in, I am terribly concerned for the Chileans who were woken up in the middle of the night to find a world tumbling around them. Soon the assistance will start coming in, to do what it can. Much that was of such great worth, though, will never be replaced.

The relief effort is one that I will be personally involved in. Please consider joining in.

Tags: Chile, earthquake, irreplaceable art, relief effort


Danish Paper Apologizes for Cartoon

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 9:47 am by HL

Danish Paper Apologizes for Cartoon
A Danish newspaper that published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban has apologized for offending Muslims. The penitence was part of a settlement between the paper and eight Muslim groups. The apology has been denounced by other members of the Danish media, which previously stood united in rejecting calls to back down in the face of Islamic outrage over the cartoon. —JCL The Telegraph: A Danish newspaper on Friday became the first in the country to apologise for offending Muslims by printing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban, rekindling a heated debate about free speech. Politiken said its apology was part of a settlement with a Saudi lawyer representing eight Muslim groups in the Middle East and Australia. The daily drew strong criticism from Danish media, which previously had stood united in rejecting calls to apologise for 12 cartoons that sparked fierce protests in the Muslim world four years ago. Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the prime minister, expressed surprise at Politiken’s move, saying he was worried that Danish media no longer were “standing shoulder to shoulder” on the issue. Politiken said it did not mean to offend Muslims in Denmark or elsewhere when it reprinted one of the most controversial cartoons, showing the Prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the Prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry. Read more  

A Danish newspaper that published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban has apologized for offending Muslims. The penitence was part of a settlement between the paper and eight Muslim groups. The apology has been denounced by other members of the Danish media, which previously stood united in rejecting calls to back down in the face of Islamic outrage over the cartoon. —JCL

The Telegraph:

A Danish newspaper on Friday became the first in the country to apologise for offending Muslims by printing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban, rekindling a heated debate about free speech.

Politiken said its apology was part of a settlement with a Saudi lawyer representing eight Muslim groups in the Middle East and Australia.

The daily drew strong criticism from Danish media, which previously had stood united in rejecting calls to apologise for 12 cartoons that sparked fierce protests in the Muslim world four years ago.

Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the prime minister, expressed surprise at Politiken’s move, saying he was worried that Danish media no longer were “standing shoulder to shoulder” on the issue.

Politiken said it did not mean to offend Muslims in Denmark or elsewhere when it reprinted one of the most controversial cartoons, showing the Prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the Prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

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Gadhafi’s Personal Holy War

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Gadhafi’s Personal Holy War
Moammar Gadhafi has had it up to here with Switzerland. First they arrest his son on charges of beating up two servants at a luxury hotel. Then they pass a pretty horrible law banning mosque’s minarets. Now, Gadhafi has called for a holy war against the country, a move which has received almost universal denouncement. —JCL The Guardian: Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, ­yesterday [Thursday] called for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland, in an escalation of his vendetta against the country where police once arrested his son. At a meeting in the city of Benghazi to mark the prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Gaddafi described the country as an infidel state that was “destroying” mosques. Last year he urged the UN to abolish Switzerland and divide it between Germany, France and Italy. “Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate – is against Muhammad, God and the Qur’an,” Gaddafi said. Read more

Moammar Gadhafi has had it up to here with Switzerland. First they arrest his son on charges of beating up two servants at a luxury hotel. Then they pass a pretty horrible law banning mosque’s minarets. Now, Gadhafi has called for a holy war against the country, a move which has received almost universal denouncement. —JCL

The Guardian:

Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, ­yesterday [Thursday] called for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland, in an escalation of his vendetta against the country where police once arrested his son.

At a meeting in the city of Benghazi to mark the prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Gaddafi described the country as an infidel state that was “destroying” mosques. Last year he urged the UN to abolish Switzerland and divide it between Germany, France and Italy.

“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate – is against Muhammad, God and the Qur’an,” Gaddafi said.

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Sen. Bunning Stalls Jobless Benefits Bill
Sen. Jim Bunning was not a popular man among his Democratic colleagues this week. The Kentucky Republican, apparently so concerned about the federal budget deficit that he thought it unwise to allow the passage of legislation extending unemployment and health care help to jobless Americans, enacted a “one-man filibuster,” as the Los Angeles Times put it, and he didn’t budge by Friday afternoon despite the outrage coming at him from the other side of the aisle.  —KA Los Angeles Times: The programs are set to expire at midnight Sunday, and the Senate’s inaction could delay payments. Democratic and Republican leaders had agreed to pass a one-month extension through a process known as unanimous consent, in which no formal vote was required. But Bunning’s objection means the bill can’t go forward. The extension had been passed by the House and was ready to be signed into law. Read more

Bunning

Sen. Jim Bunning was not a popular man among his Democratic colleagues this week. The Kentucky Republican, apparently so concerned about the federal budget deficit that he thought it unwise to allow the passage of legislation extending unemployment and health care help to jobless Americans, enacted a “one-man filibuster,” as the Los Angeles Times put it, and he didn’t budge by Friday afternoon despite the outrage coming at him from the other side of the aisle.? —KA

Los Angeles Times:

The programs are set to expire at midnight Sunday, and the Senate’s inaction could delay payments.

Democratic and Republican leaders had agreed to pass a one-month extension through a process known as unanimous consent, in which no formal vote was required. But Bunning’s objection means the bill can’t go forward. The extension had been passed by the House and was ready to be signed into law.

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Kamala D. Harris: The Mortgage Crisis is Not Colorblind

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Kamala D. Harris: The Mortgage Crisis is Not Colorblind
Ask anyone to define the “American Dream” and almost surely, the reply will be: “owning a home.” And for good reason – a home…

S. Ward Casscells, MD: Seeds of the Summit
We know that we are in the pundit minority but we do not think the health care summit was a failure. Our thought is that Democrats, Republicans, and Americans emerged winners.

Sen. Byron Dorgan: Army Decision to Deny KBR Millions in Bonuses Is Right Call, But Only a First Step
The decision to deny KBR millions in bonuses for its work in 2008 is welcome news, and is a significant change from the Army’s past practice, but the Army clearly needs go much further.

Despite Lack Of Work, Millennial Generation Remains Buoyant
The recession has created a dismal employment picture for 18- to 29-year olds, the worst since 1972. But despite that harsh economic reality, today’s “Millennials”…

Harold Pollack: Experts Say: It’s Time to Act on Comprehensive Health Reform
Yesterday’s bipartisan summit marked a milestone, hopefully the last critical milestone, before the final vote is taken on comprehensive health reform.


Hannity is the one “obscuring the facts” on premiums under health care reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Hannity is the one “obscuring the facts” on premiums under health care reform

While attempting to correct President Obama, Sean Hannity cited the Congressional Budget Office’s statement that “the average premium” for individual policyholders would increase “10 to 13 percent” under the Senate health bill. However the CBO stated that premiums paid by a majority of people insured on the individual market would decrease when factoring in federal subsidies included in the bill.

From the February 26 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

HANNITY: Biden’s hot mic wasn’t the only problem the Democrats ran into at yesterday’s health care summit. Facts also seemed to pose difficulty for them. Now that was particularly evident in the President’s exchange with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.

OBAMA: So, Lamar when you mentioned earlier that you said premiums go up, that’s just not the case according to the Congressional Budget Office.

ALEXANDER:  If you going to contradict me I ought to have a chance to — the Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise in the individual market, as a result of the Senate bill.

OBAMA: No, this is an example of where we got to get our facts straight.

HANNITY: All right, now a look back at that CBO report commissioned by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh shows that it is the president who needs to get his facts straight. The report concludes, “the average premium per person covered would be about 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under the current law.” Wow, what a great bill. No wonder the Democrats are obscuring the facts.


CBO backs Obama: Bill would actually result in lower premiums for most enrollees

CBO: Premiums paid by most individuals would decrease. The CBO estimated that premiums paid by a majority of people insured on the individual market would decrease when factoring in federal subsidies that are included in the bill. CBO stated, “The majority of nongroup enrollees (about 57 percent) would receive subsidies via the new insurance exchanges, and those subsidies, on average, would cover nearly two-thirds of the total premium, CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate. Thus, the amount that subsidized enrollees would pay for nongroup coverage would be roughly 56 percent to 59 percent lower, on average, than the nongroup premiums charged under current law.” Conservative claims that the bill would increase premiums in the individual market are based on estimates that do not factor in subsidies. CBO stated that figures identical to those cited by conservatives “indicate what enrollees would pay, on average, not accounting for the new federal subsidies.”

CBO: Premiums increase for some in nongroup market rise due to people buying more coverage. CBO found that the increase in average premiums in the nongroup market was due to people purchasing “a greater amount of coverage:

Average premiums would be 27 percent to 30 percent higher because a greater amount of coverage would be obtained. In particular, the average insurance policy in this market would cover a substantially larger share of enrollees’ costs for health care (on average) and a slightly wider range of benefits. Those expansions would reflect both the minimum level of coverage (and related requirements) specified in the proposal and people’s decisions to purchase more extensive coverage in response to the structure of subsidies.

This increase would be partially offset by “a net reduction in costs that insurers incurred to deliver the same amount of insurance coverage to the same group of enrollees” and “a shift in the types of people obtaining coverage.”

Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein: “CBO found health-care reform would reduce premiums.” The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein reported on Alexander and Obama’s exchange in a February 25 post:

Lamar Alexander and Barack Obama just had a contentious exchange on this point, so it’s worth settling the issue: Yes, the CBO found health-care reform would reduce premiums. The issue gets confused because it also found that access to subsidies would encourage people to buy more comprehensive insurance, which would mean that the value of their insurance would be higher after reform than before it. But that’s not the same as insurance becoming more expensive: The fact that I could buy a nicer car after getting a better job suggests that cars are becoming pricier. The bottom line is that if you’re comparing two plans that are exactly the same, costs go down after reform.

CNN’s Velshi: “57 percent of those insured will see a government subsidy, which will bring the average premium down, actually.” During CNN’s coverage of the health care summit, Wolf Blitzer aired a portion of Obama’s exchange with Alexander, and chief business correspondent Ali Velshi stated that Obama was “more right than Senator Alexander.” Velshi stated: “The CBO, which is an independent — independent of the political party — says that rates will go up. But here’s the reality: 57% of those insured will see a government subsidy, which will bring the average premium down, actually. It would be — it would drive average premiums down 7 to 10 percent, but this is all based on assumptions.”

PolitiFact: “CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease.” A January 27 PolitiFact.com analysis labeled the claim that health care reform would cause premiums for most Americans to increase “pants on fire” false and stated: “The CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease.” From PolitiFact.com:

On Nov. 30, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, released a detailed analysis on how health insurance premiums might be affected by the Senate Democrats’ health care bill. The CBO is an independent agency whose estimates for pending legislation are considered nonpartisan and rigorous.

The CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease. This was especially true for people who get their insurance through work. (Health policy wonks call these the large group and small group markets.) People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people — 57 percent, in fact — would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop.

CBO: Premiums in group market will not increase. CBO estimated that the large group and small group markets make up 83 percent of the insurance market and that those premiums will not increase.

 


After Rep. Resigns In Sex Scandal, Georgia County Elects GOPer Who Had Affair With Mother-In-Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:42 am by HL

After Rep. Resigns In Sex Scandal, Georgia County Elects GOPer Who Had Affair With Mother-In-Law
After a Georgia county lost its state representative to a high-profile sex scandal, it elected another family-values Republican who admitted to having an affair with his mother-in-law while his then-wife was pregnant.

Rangel: I Was Misled On Caribbean Junkets; Ethics Panel: Us Too!
The ethics committee’s official report admonishing Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), released late last night, concludes that Rangel’s staff knew that two Caribbean junkets were paid for by corporations, in violation of House rules.


Republican-Style HC Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Republican-Style HC Reform


Is Hardcore Porn Played Out? A New Site Showing Real People Orgasm Gives a Sexy Alternative

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Is Hardcore Porn Played Out? A New Site Showing Real People Orgasm Gives a Sexy Alternative
The hard stuff has gotten boring for many people. A new site where real people submit videos of their faces as they come shows a different direction for porn.

The hard stuff has gotten boring for many people. A new site where real people submit videos of their faces as they come shows a different direction for porn.

Arrested for Doodling on a Desk? "Zero Tolerance" at Schools Is Going Way Too Far
How much longer can we tolerate abuses of power by teachers and school officials in the name of ‘zero tolerance’ policies?

How much longer can we tolerate abuses of power by teachers and school officials in the name of 'zero tolerance' policies?

Why ‘Everything Has a Cause’ Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence
Why on earth would we assume that any currently unanswered question about physical existence would eventually turn out to be caused by God?

Why on earth would we assume that any currently unanswered question about physical existence would eventually turn out to be caused by God?

How the Mountain of Climate Change Evidence Is Being Used to Undermine the Cause
We’ve gotten to a point where fewer Americans believe humans are warming the planet than before — here’s how it happened.

We've gotten to a point where fewer Americans believe humans are warming the planet than before — here's how it happened.


Free Trade Trap

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 27th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Free Trade Trap
I’ve been arguing for the last four months that we have entered a New Normal era in which the combination of a naive embrace of free trade, aggressive use of automation and a substandard education and retraining system, has left…


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Try again!
The trade press reports that the President is trying again to pass an energy bill with a long term price on carbon emissions. Good! Its critical to realize how easy this transition from carbon to clean can really be. With…


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