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Showing posts from December, 2010

The Democrat screw up on the 80% rule for insurers

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Image via WikipediaWashington Post:

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Beginning in 2011, insurers must devote at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect to medical claims or other activities that improve customers' health - leaving no more than 20 percent for the insurer's administrative costs or profits. Companies that do not spend enough on the right purposes will have to refund the difference to their customers in 2012.

Consumer advocates have hailed the new "medical loss ratio" standard as a ground-breaking protection against profiteering by insurers. But the law's drafters were concerned that it could prove too onerous for plans selling to individuals, whose customer base is less stable and healthy than those of plans serving small and large businesses. So the law permits states to request temporary adjustments of the standard from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

According to rules issued by HHS, a state must provide data demonstrating that there is a reasonable risk tha…

What a Palin primary campaign would need to look like

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Image by jdlasica via FlickrNate Silver looks at several aspects of the Palin attraction and has some suggestions for how she might win.  It is a long piece with a lot of wonky analysis, but still interesting.  Some I do not agree with, but it seems pretty early to be making a prediction on how things will play out when there are so few declared candidates.

Right now Huckabe seems to be a front runner which kind of surprises me.  While he is a charming guy, he is not all that conservative and I am not sure he can play well with Tea Party voters.  I think the Tea Party will be as energized if not more so in the 2012 campaign.  That will probably help Palin if she decided to run.  Right now she has to decide what is best for her and her family.  She has made a lot of money in the last year, but she could probably make a lot in 2012 if she did not run.  She could still be a credible candidate in 2016 if she decides to wait.

At this point I really do not know what she is going decide to d…

Anti war pukes charged with assault on Sen. Levin

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Image via WikipediaThe Hill:

An anti-war demonstrator who hurled a pie at the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in August was charged Thursday in the attack.

Ahlam Mohsen, 23, of Coldwater, Mich., faces a count of assault for hitting Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in the face with an apple pie, and another count of assault on a federal officer. Her friend Max Kantar of Big Rapids, Mich., was also charged with the same counts.

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She told the Big Rapids Pioneer she hoped "to send a message that liberals and Democrats are just as implicated in the violence (of war) as the Republicans."She now finds her self implicated in the anti war violence she embraced. She should be sentenced to having a pie shoved into her face and Sen. Levin should get to pick the flavor. I think minced meat would do nicely.

I am not a big fan of Levin but he does not deserve this kind of treatment.  He is hard to mistake for Ann Coulter who is usually the target of this kind of harassment by …

Alaska weather follows Bristol Palin to Arizona

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Image by Getty Images via @daylifeDaily Mail:

Heavy snow and strong winds has shut down major roads and left urban areas in a whiteout as winter storms now batter the U.S. West Coast.

States in the west were hit by blizzards in mountainous regions and heavy rain at lower levels, cutting power to thousands of homes and triggering hundreds of accidents.

Even the relatively warm Phoenix desert area has been hit by the freezing weather, with heavy rain and residents warned to expect rare icy conditions.

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Snow and ice forced the closure of parts of Interstate 17 and 40, the two major thoroughfares in northern Arizona, stranding hundreds of motorists south of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.

Abel Gurrola was stuck for several hours on the I-17 as he drove north with his wife and three sons.

He said: 'As far as I can see, it's tail lights.'

...Check out this picture of the snow falling on the Joshua Tree cactus. Global warming has come to Arizona. They can probably use the wat…

The Obama administration 'wilderness land' screw up

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Image via WikipediaWSJ:

An Obama administration directive designed to preserve more public lands as wilderness is stirring anger in the West, where ranchers, sportsmen and energy companies say they could lose access to acreage they count on for their recreation and livelihood.

The regulatory change, initiated this month, directs the Bureau of Land Management to survey its vast holdings stretching between Alaska, Arizona, California and Colorado, in search of unspoiled back country. The agency can then designate these tracts—potentially millions of acres—as "wild lands."

Protections will vary from site to site, but in general such lands will be shielded from activities that disrupt habitat or destroy the solitude of the wild, according to the Interior Department. That might mean banning oil drilling, uranium mining or cattle grazing in some areas. It also could mean restrictions on recreational activities, such as snowmobiling or biking.

"Americans love the wild places wh…

Texas stays with limited legislative sessions

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Image via WikipediaNY Times:

Come January, as Texas lawmakers begin work to pass bills and tackle the yawning budget gap, they will go up against a simple but implacable barrier: time.

Texas is one of a dwindling number of states whose legislatures hold scheduled meetings only every two years. Just three other, far less-populous states — Montana, Nevada and North Dakota — still have biennial legislative sessions.

For Texas legislators, the challenge will come into stark relief when they must plug a budget gap that could top $20 billion for the fiscal years 2012-13; the state’s general revenue funds budget for the current biennium, by comparison, is estimated at $87 billion. They must make major financial decisions and plan budgets that will stand for the next two years at a time when the economy is difficult to predict.

It is partly because of the challenges associated with biennial budgeting that most states moved to annual sessions.

“It’s just something that doesn’t work well,” said…

Liberal hype about comeback wrong again

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Image via WikipediaNiles Gardiner:

Ignore the revisionist hype in sections of the liberal media about President Obama staging a (mythical) political comeback – this is a presidency with an approval rating of 45 percent (according to the RealClear Politics poll of polls), that presides over a nation where just 27 percent of voters think the country is moving in the right direction, and which just 29 percent of Americans think will be returned to power in 2012. The White House may be claiming a couple of political wins in the dying embers of the lame duck Congress after expending a great deal of political capital in the Senate over the reckless ratification of the Moscow-friendly START Treaty and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but these are issues barely on the radar screens of most American voters in the lead-up to 2012, an election which will be dominated by the economy and health care reform.

The political landscape still looks strikingly bleak for the “transformational…

What the liberals got wrong the last two years

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David Paul Kuhn:

The media establishment that hyped this Democratic president but refused to be humbled with him. Pundits' premises so fundamentally disproved. The conservative collapse that was not. The so-told emerging liberal era that was not. The Democratic leaders who bought the hype, acting on the masochistic premise that if big liberal things were done, the American mind's apprehension to big liberal things could be undone. The hapless Republican generals saved by conservative foot soldiers. A liberal opposition that, all over again, undid itself in Pyrrhic victory. It was a year of conventional irony.

But there was a particular irony to the chasm between the excessive rhetoric that greeted this president and the electoral rebuke that closed the year. These were, nearly, the best of liberal times. The most progressive legislation passed since at least the Beatles broke up. But it was also the worst of liberal times. Liberalism's most historic midterm defeat since the…

Banks making it harder to buy Iran's oil

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Image via WikipediaNY Times:

Officials in India and Iran scrambled Thursday to keep the $11 billion in oil and gas trade between them going after India’s central bank declared last week that a regional clearinghouse could no longer be used to settle such transactions.

The move, which was long sought by the United States as a way to tighten sanctions against Iran, makes it tougher for Indian companies to buy Iranian oil and gas because they can no longer use the Asian Clearing Union, which was set up by the United Nations in the 1970s to ease commerce between Asian countries, to handle payments.

The clearinghouse allowed Indian companies to pay Iranian companies via the two countries’ central banks. But it also meant that the transactions were less transparent, making payments to companies linked to Iranian companies controlled by groups banned under the sanctions regime more obscure.

Central bankers from both countries were preparing to meet Friday to resolve the impasse, officials in …

New York union thugs try to hold city for ransom in blizzard clean up

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Image by Getty Images via @daylifeExaminer Editorial:

Gotham sanitation workers call themselves "New York's Strongest" in an effort to identify with the city's "finest" (police) and its "bravest" (firefighters). But when militant sanitation labor leaders chose this week's Blizzard of 2010 for a work slowdown to protest modest budget cuts, they brought down upon themselves the well-deserved anger of millions of residents struggling with snowbound streets and subway delays. Their job action was especially maddening because, like public employees virtually everywhere, New York's unionized municipal workers enjoy outstanding pay and exceptionally generous health and pension benefits. At least 300 Sanitation Department workers make more than $100,000 annually, according to SeeThroughNY, the Web site that posts New York public employee compensation data. All Sanitation Department workers get excellent health care benefits at no cost,…

FBI says Dallas based computer was source for attacks on PayPal

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Image via CrunchBaseThe Smoking Gun:

As part of an international criminal probe into computer attacks launched this month against perceived corporate enemies of WikiLeaks, the FBI has raided a Texas business and seized a computer server that investigators believe was used to launch a massive electronic attack on PayPal, The Smoking Gun has learned.

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The PayPal assault was part of “Operation Payback,” an organized effort to attack firms that suspended or froze WikiLeaks’s accounts in the wake of the group’s publication of thousands of sensitive Department of State cables. As noted by the FBI, other targets of this “Anonymous” effort included Visa, Mastercard, Sarah Palin’s web site, and the Swedish prosecutor pursuing sex assault charges against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.

On December 9, PayPal investigators provided FBI agents with eight IP addresses that were hosting an “Anonymous” Internet Relay Chat (IRC) site that was being used to organize denial of service attacks. …

Iran to test nuclear bomb in North Korea

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Image by adaptorplug via FlickrFox News:

On December 24, a research report from the South Korean Foreign Ministry Institute indicated that North Korea would carry out another nuclear bomb test after the beginning of the year. -- South Korean media reported earlier this month that the North was digging a tunnel in preparation for such a nuclear test.

At the same time, reports from inside Iran indicate that a team of Iranian nuclear scientists have been sent to North Korea and that the two governments have agreed on a joint nuclear test in North Korea with a substantial financial reward for the Kim Jong-Il government.

It is no secret that Iran and North Korea are collaborating in a ballistic missile program. The North Koreans provided Iran with the technology and know-how to build the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, which is a copy of the Nodong-1 missile. The Shahb- 3 missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) covering all of the U.S. military bases in the Middle Eas…

What the China US war over Taiwan would look like

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Image via WikipediaPopular Mechanics:

The war for Taiwan starts in the early morning. There are no naval bombardments or waves of bombers: That's how wars in the Pacific were fought 70 years ago. Instead, 1200 cruise and ballistic missiles rise from heavy vehicles on the Chinese mainland.

Taiwan's modest missile defense network—a scattered deployment of I-Hawk and Patriot interceptors—slams into dozens of incoming warheads. It's a futile gesture. The mass raid overwhelms the defenses as hundreds of Chinese warheads blast the island's military bases and airports. Taiwan's air force is grounded, and if China maintains air superiority over the Taiwan Strait, it can launch an invasion. Taiwanese troops mobilize in downtown Taipei and take up positions on the beaches facing China, just 100 miles to the west. But they know what the world knows: This is no longer Taiwan's fight. This is a battle between an old superpower and a new one. Ever since 1949, when Nationalist…

EPA CO2 regs will haunt Democrats for years

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Image via WikipediaNY Times:

With the federal government set to regulate climate-altering gases from factories and power plants for the first time, the Obama administration and the new Congress are headed for a clash that carries substantial risks for both sides.

While only the first phase of regulation takes effect on Sunday, the administration is on notice that if it moves too far and too fast in trying to curtail the ubiquitous gases that are heating the planet it risks a Congressional backlash that could set back the effort for years.

But the newly muscular Republicans in Congress could also stumble by moving too aggressively to handcuff the Environmental Protection Agency, provoking a popular outcry that they are endangering public health in the service of their well-heeled patrons in industry.

“These are hand grenades, and the pins have been pulled,” said William K. Reilly, administrator of the environmental agency under the first President George Bush.

He said that the agency w…

Horses abused by drug traffickers who then abandon them

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Image via WikipediaNY Times:

Found tottering alone in the desert with their ribs visible and their heads hung low, horses play a backbreaking, unappreciated role in the multibillion-dollar drug smuggling industry.

Mexican traffickers strap heavy bales of marijuana or other illegal drugs to the horses’ backs and march them north through mountain passes and across rough desert terrain. With little food and water, some collapse under their heavy loads. Others are turned loose when the contraband gets far enough into Arizona to be loaded into vehicles with more horsepower.

“We would pick up 15 to 20 horses a month, and many more of the animals would get past us,” said Brad Cowan, who spent 28 years as a livestock officer for the Arizona Department of Agriculture before retiring a few months back. “They wear poorly fitted equipment. It’s obvious they were not well taken care of. The makeshift saddles rub big sores in their backs.”

Even once rescued, the horses face an uncertain future. Sinc…

Liberal paranoia and Fallujah

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Image via WikipediaGuardian:

A study examining the causes of a dramatic spike in birth defects in the Iraqi city of Falluja has for the first time concluded that genetic damage could have been caused by weaponry used in US assaults that took place six years ago.

The research, which will be published next week, confirms earlier estimates revealed by the Guardian of a major, unexplained rise in cancers and chronic neural-tube, cardiac and skeletal defects in newborns. The authors found that malformations are close to 11 times higher than normal rates, and rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of this year – a period that had not been surveyed in earlier reports.

The findings, which will be published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, come prior to a much-anticipated World Health Organisation study of Falluja's genetic health. They follow two alarming earlier studies, one of which found a distortion in the sex ratio of newborns since the…

China requires use of state monopoly for internet calls banning Skype

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Image via CrunchBaseTelegraph:

In the latest move dashing Western internet company hopes of breaking into China, it was announced that all internet phone calls were to be banned apart from those made over two state-owned networks, China Unicom and China Telecom.

"[This] is expected to make services like Skype unavailable in the country," reported the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist party.

Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are already blocked in China and Google closed down its Chinese servers last year after heavy government pressure.

Yesterday, Wang Chen, the deputy head of the Chinese Propaganda department, said: "By November ... 350 million pieces of harmful information, including text, pictures and videos, had been deleted [from the Chinese internet]."

Some Chinese users of Twitter, the micro-blogging website, claimed they could already no longer download Skype, but the service appeared to be working normally in Shanghai…