Tuesday, September 29, 2009

JADA Study Proves Fluoridation is Money down the Drain

RJ Note: This study raised my eyebrows. Fluoridated water doesn't reduce cavities? I wonder if the children studied in this research brushed and/or flossed their teeth. Was fluoridation the only variable? Hmmm. At any rate, it seems like fluoridated water has been the norm for something like 40 years or so.

/PRNewswire/ -- Children's cavity rates are similar whether water is fluoridated or not, according to data published in the July 2009 Journal of the American Dental Association by dentist J.V. Kumar of the NY State Health Department(1), reports NYSCOF.

In 2008, New York City spent approximately $24 million on water fluoridation ($5 million on fluoride chemicals)(1a). In 2010, NYC's fluoride chemicals will cost $9 million(1b).

Fluoride in water at "optimal" levels (0.7 - 1.2 mg/L) is supposed to reduce tooth decay without creating excessive fluorosis (fluoride-discolored and/or damaged teeth). Yet cavities are rampant in NY's fluoridated populations(1c).

Attempting to prove that fluorosed teeth have fewer cavities, Kumar uses 1986-1987 National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) data which, upon analysis, shows that 7- to 17-year-olds have similar cavity rates in their permanent teeth whether their water supply is fluoridated or not (Table 1).

In 1990, using the same NIDR data, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis published equally surprising results in a peer-reviewed journal. He concluded, "No statistically significant differences were found in the decay rates of permanent teeth or the percentages of decay-free children in the F [fluoridated], NF [non-fluoridated], and PF [partially fluoridated] areas."(2).

Kumar divided children into four groups based on their community's water fluoride levels:

Less than 0.3 mg/L where 55.5% had cavities
From 0.3 to 0.7 mg/L where 54.6% had cavities
Optimal 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L where 54.4% had cavities
Over 1.2 mg/L where 56.4% had cavities

"Dr. Kumar's published data exposes more evidence that fluoridation doesn't reduce tooth decay," says attorney Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.

"It's criminal to waste taxpayers' money on fluoridation, while exposing entire populations unnecessarily to fluoride's health risks, especially when local and state governments are attempting to balance budgets by cutting essential services," says Beeber.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

NASA Spacecraft Sees Ice on Mars Exposed by Meteor Impacts

RJ Note: Cool.

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed frozen water hiding just below the surface of mid-latitude Mars. The spacecraft's observations were obtained from orbit after meteorites excavated fresh craters on the Red Planet.

Scientists controlling instruments on the orbiter found bright ice exposed at five Martian sites with new craters that range in depth from approximately 1.5 feet to 8 feet. The craters did not exist in earlier images of the same sites. Some of the craters show a thin layer of bright ice atop darker underlying material. The bright patches darkened in the weeks following initial observations, as the freshly exposed ice vaporized into the thin Martian atmosphere. One of the new craters had a bright patch of material large enough for one of the orbiter's instruments to confirm it is water ice.

The finds indicate water ice occurs beneath Mars' surface halfway between the north pole and the equator, a lower latitude than expected in the Martian climate.

"This ice is a relic of a more humid climate from perhaps just several thousand years ago," said Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona.

Byrne is a member of the team operating the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, which captured the unprecedented images. Byrne and 17 co-authors report the findings in the Sept. 25 edition of the journal Science.

"We now know we can use new impact sites as probes to look for ice in the shallow subsurface," said Megan Kennedy of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, a co-author of the paper and member of the team operating the orbiter's Context Camera.

During a typical week, the Context Camera returns more than 200 images of Mars that cover a total area greater than California. The camera team examines each image, sometimes finding dark spots that fresh, small craters make in terrain covered with dust. Checking earlier photos of the same areas can confirm a feature is new. The team has found more than 100 fresh impact sites, mostly closer to the equator than the ones that revealed ice.

An image from the camera on Aug. 10, 2008, showed apparent cratering that occurred after an image of the same ground was taken 67 days earlier. The opportunity to study such a fresh impact site prompted a look by the orbiter's higher resolution camera on Sept. 12, 2009, confirming a cluster of small craters.

"Something unusual jumped out," Byrne said. "We observed bright material at the bottoms of the craters with a very distinct color. It looked a lot like ice."

The bright material at that site did not cover enough area for a spectrometer instrument on the orbiter to determine its composition. However, a Sept. 18, 2008, image of a different mid-latitude site showed a crater that had not existed eight months earlier. This crater had a larger area of bright material.

"We were excited about it, so we did a quick-turnaround observation," said co-author Kim Seelos of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., "Everyone thought it was water ice, but it was important to get the spectrum for confirmation."

The Mars orbiter is designed to facilitate coordination and quick response by the science teams, making it possible to detect and understand rapidly changing features. The ice exposed by fresh impacts suggests that NASA's Viking 2 lander, digging into mid-latitude Mars in 1976, might have struck ice if it had dug four inches deeper.

The Viking 2 mission, which consisted of an orbiter and a lander, launched in September 1975 and became one of the first two space probes to land successfully on the Martian surface. The Viking 1 and 2 landers characterized the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface. They also conducted on-the-spot biological tests for life on another planet.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. The Context Camera was built and is operated by Malin. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, which Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colo., built. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory led the effort to build the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer and operates it in coordination with an international team of researchers.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You hafta read the rest of these...

I just shoulda put 'em all on here to begin with... sad, sad, sad...

1. Obama Disappoints NBC By 'Falling Short' on 'Climate Change,' Fret Expectations 'Dashed'
A lover's quarrel emerged Tuesday night in the media's love affair with President Barack Obama. He disappointed NBC by failing, at the UN's "Summit on Climate Change," to go far enough on global warming. "President Obama's being accused of falling short on the environment today with the whole world watching," Brian Williams teased NBC Nightly News. Williams framed his lead story through the prism of the left as he fretted that, "in the eyes of a lot of environmentalists," Obama "fell short." Worse, while other nations are "ready to change, ready to get cleaner, President Obama's speech left a lot of people wanting more." Reporter Anne Thompson wistfully recalled that "when Barack Obama became President, many in the world hoped the U.S. would take a leadership role in stopping climate change" and so "that led to big expectations for today's speech - expectations that were quickly dashed." Thompson asserted "the world wanted to hear President Obama make a commitment to specific cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of action, it got talk" and, in the ultimate insult a journalist can deliver, she rued how Obama had "one line that sounded a lot like his predecessor, George W. Bush, who refused to agree to emission cuts without similar actions from India and China."

2. Matthews Warns Talk Radio 'Gonna Pay' If Any Anti-Obama Violence
Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, ominously warned that the "activists on the radio," are "gonna pay," if "we have violence in this country against our president of any form," for having "encouraged the craziness." Matthews made that charge in a segment, with NBC News' Chuck Todd and the Politico, that began by the MSNBC host wondering if the GOP was "jumping the shark," with "these crazy town meetings," and declared "the clown show is over."

3. Worried Lauer Asks Bill Clinton if NY Gov Hurting Democratic Party
During a wide-ranging interview with Bill Clinton, on Tuesday's Today show, about his Clinton Initiative summit, NBC's Matt Lauer wanted to get the former President's advice on whether current New York Governor David Paterson should run again. Lauer, seemingly concerned about the GOP capturing the governorship in New York state, asked Clinton if the unpopular Democrat's reelection bid might "hurt the Democratic Party."

4. ABC Notices Obama Administration's Effort to Suppress Criticism of ObamaCare
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision to go to the Senate floor on Tuesday to call out the Obama administration for using the full power of a federal regulatory agency to suppress free speech -- specifically, to silence Humana's predictions about the impact of proposed ObamaCare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program -- led ABC, but not CBS or NBC, to air a story on the "gag order."

5. News Photographer Excoriates Newsweek for Cropping to Make Cheney Look 'Sinister'
Famed news photographer David Hume Kennerly took to the New York Times' "Lens" blog last week, with an update on Monday in which he denounced Newsweek's "skewed imagery to advance its editorial agenda," to excoriate the magazine for "photo fakery" in how it cropped a picture he took of former Vice President Dick Cheney to imply "something sinister, macabre, or even evil was going on." Kennerly proposed: "The Sept. 14th Newsweek cover line -- 'Is Your Baby Racist?' -- should have included a sub-head, 'Is Dick Cheney a Butcher?'"

A daily compilation edited by Brent H. Baker, CyberAlert items are drawn from daily BiasAlert posts and distributed by the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division, the leader since 1987 in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.
Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996 Wednesday September 23, 2009 @ 09:04 AM EDT

Some things are so wacky they don't need commentary...

Matthews Warns Talk Radio 'Gonna Pay' If Any Anti-Obama Violence
Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, ominously warned that the "activists on the radio," are "gonna pay," if "we have violence in this country against our president of any form," for having "encouraged the craziness." Matthews made that charge in a segment, with NBC News' Chuck Todd and the Politico, that began by the MSNBC host wondering if the GOP was "jumping the shark," with "these crazy town meetings," and declared "the clown show is over."

From: A daily compilation edited by Brent H. Baker, CyberAlert items are drawn from daily BiasAlert posts and distributed by the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division, the leader since 1987 in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.

(sign up for the daily update, it's a real eye-opener)

Does China's Growing Overseas Investments Signal a Global Power Shift?

RJ Note: Interesting story from Emory University--- Thought you'd be interested in reading it as well.

On July 20, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the country intended to invest some of its record-breaking $2 trillion foreign exchange reserve to accelerate China’s overseas investments in natural resources and resource-extraction companies.

Although Chinese officials have refused to specify how much of their reserve they plan to reinvest, and some experts cite practical reasons China’s foreign currency reserve should be kept intact, on September 1 the country’s state-controlled lender, China Development Bank, formed a $5.1 billion investment fund that will be used in part to help Chinese companies acquire essential natural resources abroad.

Regardless of the ultimate dollar value of China’s overseas investment plans, professors at Emory University and its Goizueta Business School see these moves as the latest signs that China is increasingly in the driver’s seat of the world economy.

The tactical move Wen announced is part a larger strategic shift that China is making to transform itself from an export-driven economy and toward an economy fueled mostly by Chinese consumers, according to Jagdish Sheth, a chaired professor of marketing at Emory University's Goizueta Business School and author of the book Chindia Rising: How China and India Will Benefit Your Business (Tata-McGraw Hill, 2007).

Building a huge consumer market in China makes good strategic sense, Sheth says—and it’s similar to a shift the U.S. economy made in the late 19th century.

But why would a strong domestic economy entail buying commodities and assets outside China? The reason is that unlike the U.S., which had abundant resources but needed technology to harvest them, China has technology but limited resources. “In order to achieve its vision, its biggest challenge is going to be access to natural resources, including agricultural resources,” Sheth says. “China has great human talent, but it does not have sufficient natural resources within its own geographical boundaries,” he says.

Wen’s announcement is far from the first sign of the country’s plans to diversify the economy. Over the past six years, China’s overseas investments have risen geometrically, from $143 million in 2002 to $40.7 billion in 2008, according to Chinese government statistics, and up over 63% in 2007 alone.

In search of energy and other natural resources, the Chinese have been reshaping the face of Africa. Some authorities estimate that there are now more than 750,000 Chinese expatriates at work throughout the continent, many involved in developing mines and oil fields. Now they are reportedly looking farther afield, particularly to natural resources and resource companies in South America.

Although China has been criticized for its involvement with unsavory regimes such as the government of Sudan, Robert Ahdieh, a professor at Emory School of Law who has a specialty in international trade law, doesn’t see an ideological agenda involved in these investments. The Chinese are in such places, he says, mainly because assets in more stable and desirable spots were bought up long ago by Western companies. “The Chinese didn’t randomly say we only want to buy oil from rogue states,” he explains. “It’s just that the rogue states are the only ones on the table.”

Why the obsession with commodities? China’s reasoning, Ahdieh believes, is that getting hold of commodities in 10 years’ time could be difficult if India and China continue to grow as quickly as they have lately. “If their growth rates and industrialization pace continue, the level of demand for commodities is going to look very different in 10 and 20 years than it does today,” Ahdieh says.

The decision to cut down its foreign exchange reserve might seem like an internal matter for China, but it has significant implications for the U.S. In June, China, currently the largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities, reduced its holdings of U.S. Treasury debt by 3.1%, the largest percentage drop in eight years, according to Reuters and a Treasury Department report issued on August 17. In addition to the clear hint that China’s leaders may be tiring of the dubious privilege of serving as America’s largest creditor, the presence of a new competitor in the scramble for natural resources heightens geopolitical rivalries in an arena once dominated primarily by U.S. and European companies.

If China were to reduce its foreign exchange reserve, it could have a huge impact on federal borrowing costs and interest rates generally, since many of China’s foreign exchange assets are thought to be kept in U.S. Treasury bonds. (China does not divulge the exact breakdown of its foreign currency stockpiles.) “At the worst, if they really stopped buying they could throw America into a recession because they are now a major purchaser of the Treasury securities we have to sell in order to finance the government deficit,” explains Jeffrey Rosensweig, a professor of international finance at Goizueta and director of Emory’s Global Perspectives Program.

But Rosensweig and other professors don’t anticipate China making this move, except perhaps in a gradual way over time. It’s not in China’s interest to see the dollar go down or to see its best customers out of work, says Rosensweig.

“They may move some of the money they hold in foreign exchange reserves into some of those investments, but I don’t expect them to move a very significant part of it,” agrees Narasimhan Jegadeesh, a chaired professor of finance at Goizueta.

Levent Bulut, a visiting assistant professor of economics at Emory, is also of the mind that China will instead “gradually try to invest in profitable areas in the real market, in the real economy.”

The question remains if the Chinese can’t get away with a large-scale diversification right away, what is the meaning of Wen’s announcement? Rosensweig says we should read Wen’s announcement partly as a warning to the U.S., “reminding us that we’re now in a very vulnerable position. We can no longer just call the tune and lord it over other economies; part of it is saying, `you better respect us, because we could break you.’”

At the moment, it may be only a threat. Although the Chinese seem stuck in what both Chinese and American economists call “the dollar trap,” Emory scholars don’t appear optimistic that they will stay in that trap for good. When they finally escape, Americans could have a major adjustment ahead.

Although the U.S. has dealt with competition before, such as with Germany and Japan, Sheth argues that the competition with China will be different. “The scale economy of the domestic market China has is much larger and that gives it enormous advantages, both in making products but also in sourcing raw materials because you become such a big buyer,” he says.

The volumes demanded by a market of 1.3 billion could create a “Wal-Mart effect,” in Sheth’s view, in which China becomes the dominant buyer of a number of commodities, giving it a built-in cost advantage over other markets.

If that happens, Israeli business strategist Eli Goldratt has quipped, in ten years, the U.S. will have moved from the world’s number one power to “an island of 300 million, six weeks from China.”

Sheth argues that the rise of China to economic superpower isn’t at all far-fetched. Already, the U.S.’s position in the world has changed profoundly, he says. “Think about it—ten years ago, who would have ever imagined that China would become the biggest lender to America?”

While some critics point to the many challenges China faces—the need to feed and employ an enormous population; a government that lacks an electoral mandate; huge gaps between rich and poor—others see, as does Sheth, a country that has made precious few missteps on its way to economic power and is unlikely to start now. “In my view, they’ve done everything right,” Sheth says.

On the other hand, U.S. policy has few defenders among the faculty, some of whom see a much less important future ahead for the U.S.

“It’s our own bloody fault,” says Rosensweig. “We’ve run deficits for so long and had to borrow to finance them, and our own people have not saved enough to buy the bonds themselves—we’ve dug ourselves a debt trap.”

Sheth sees one problem that looms even larger: “The biggest problem in America is we are in a denial stage. We still don’t accept where the world is going and adapt accordingly.”

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reading Not a Lost Art for Travelers Stuck at Airports

RJ Note: Reading a great book while twiddling my thumbs at an airport or a doctor's office ranks high on my list. I've certainly ready my share of them while I've been a captive audience at both venues. Reading. It does a body good.

/PRNewswire/ -- Despite a measurable decline in reading among the general population, travelers overwhelmingly prefer to read when killing time at the nation's airports, according to a recent survey.

Conducted by GO Group, LLC, the nation's largest airport and ground transportation provider, the survey asked travelers to identify which activities they engaged in while waiting at the airport. Some 83 percent cited reading a book, newspaper or magazine as the No. 1 choice on a list of several options available.

The poll of more than 200 travelers also shows that doing crossword puzzles, Sudoku or other thinking games is the second-most popular method for entertaining oneself while waiting for take off, cited by 29 percent of respondents. Listening to music on an MP3 player was the third-most popular activity at 21 percent, in a survey that allowed for multiple responses.

About 45 percent of the respondents said they found other diversions, such as grabbing a bite to eat, accessing the Internet or buying gifts at airport shops. Other activities included playing handheld video games or watching DVD movies on laptop computers or other devices. Respondents were able to check all of the methods that applied to their time traveling, but reading was the clear favorite activity.

"These results imply that travelers primarily use their downtime at the airport to become either better informed or entertained as they deal with the delays often encountered at the nation's air hubs," says John McCarthy, president of GO Airport Express.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Social Security Administration Plans to Raise Identity Verification Fees by Nearly 900%

RJ Note: I can see it now-- another $4.46 on a mortgage will take the deal down. Right.

/PRNewswire/ -- Effective October 1, 2009, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be raising its fees for mortgage and financial companies to authenticate borrower Social Security numbers from $0.56 to $5.00 per verification. This price increase could significantly impair the industry's move to protect itself against identity-based mortgage fraud.

According to a letter sent to Michael Astrue, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration by Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas), this fee increase could lead to the de facto cancellation of the CBSV (Consumer-Based Social Security Number Verification) program, as it could significantly lead to fewer and fewer lenders using the program. According to that same letter, the decision to increase fees for the CBSV program was made by the Social Security Administration without collaboration with the U.S. Congress. Mr. Astrue denied Congresswoman Granger's initial request for a 60-day delay to evaluate the necessity of this fee increase.

On Tuesday, September 22, Congresswoman Kay Granger and key staff, which includes committees of oversight for the SSA, plan to meet with the Social Security Administration to discuss the negative repercussions this planned increase in fees will have on the mortgage industry and the nation as a whole, and intend to re-propose a delay in implementing these fees. Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Speaker Pelosi, House Majority Leader Hoyer and Senators Hutchinson, Harkin, Cochran and Cornyn have been contacted and are expected to support a delay in implementation as well.

"With lower loan production and lenders' increased focus on cutting costs, this fee increase could have a highly detrimental impact on the mortgage industry, as well as the U.S. and global economies," says fraud expert Jay Meadows, CEO of Rapid Reporting, the mortgage industry's largest provider of third-party income, identity and employment verification services. "While unfortunate, it's a definite possibility that lenders will avoid using these higher priced CBSV-based Social Security number authentication, even though it's a reliable way to protect against identity fraud."

Mortgage fraud has been widely recognized as a leading cause of the industry's collapse, and of the economic troubles that the nation is facing. Increasing the cost for lenders to screen for fraud could prove counterproductive to the industry's recovery efforts, particularly at a time when the industry is still struggling to repair the damage caused by fraud in the earlier part of this decade, asserts Meadows.

According to an article published by National Mortgage News on September 18, 2009, written by Paul Muolo, co-author of Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis, "The country has seen a 'drastic increase' in mortgage fraud cases as a result of the upheaval in the housing market, according to FBI director Robert Mueller. FBI agents are investigating 2,600 mortgage fraud cases as of July 31, up from 1,600 for all of 2008."

Furthermore, the Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI) lists elderly and immigrant identity fraud -- the predatory practice of stealing the identities of elderly and non English-speaking individuals for use in straw-buying or other property transactions -- as one of the three emerging fraud schemes expected to rise throughout 2009, and a Reuter's article citing the FBI Mortgage Fraud report states that higher lending standards have increased the value of identities of individuals with good credit to those who perpetrate fraud.

"Lenders need to remain diligent in their efforts to combat fraud," says Meadows. "With buy-backs costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per incident, even adding a few extra dollars per applicant still brings about a strong return on investment."

About Rapid Reporting

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, Rapid Reporting Verification Company is a national provider of definitive income, identity and employment verification services for mortgage lenders to help combat fraud. In 2007, the company won the 2007 Fix-It Award for a technology solution that solves an industry problem. Core offerings include IncomeChek, which is used to verify income through information obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), DirectChek, which meets USA Patriot Act compliance and verifies identity via a direct comparison of the SSN to the Social Security Administration (SSA) database and searches of over 15 billion records in public and private databases for identity fraud and abuse, and EmploymentChek, the company's newest offering that combines live, person-to-person telephone contact and comprehensive database research to verify borrower employment. All services operate over a secure Web-based portal, which is audited daily for security purposes, and both IncomeChek and DirectChek are available through RapidChek, a web services platform that allows companies to access both solutions through a single interface. Rapid Reporting formed and continues to build relationships with government agencies, such as the IRS and the Social Security Administration (SSA), to gather electronic data for verification purposes. Rapid Reporting's executive team led the successful lobbying efforts to secure the continuation of the enumeration verification system (EVS) with the SSA database. For additional information, email Info@RapidReporting.com, call 888.749.4411 or visit www.RapidReporting.com .

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hope you'll take a minute to do this...

If you care about making sure we're not dependent on foreign countries for our energy, we have a very timely call to action that will take you less than 1 minute.

The Department of Interior, which decides when and where we drill for oil and gas, has been holding a "notice and comment" period. This is when they solicit input from the public as to whether we should drill or not.

This is one way that the anti-energy interest groups have been able to successfully block any common sense development for decades.

Well the deadline for submissions is on Monday, and we need your help to overwhelm the Interior Department with comments in favor of drilling.

Please take 1 minute to submit your comments right now at YourEnergyOpinion.com.

If you don't have time to write anything, don't worry. We've already taken care of it for you.
Once you submit your comment, please forward YourEnergyOpinion.com to anyone else that you think would be willing to help out.

This is an opportunity that we must seize.

Thanks so much for your participation, and we'll report back soon as to how we all do.

Dan Varroney
Senior VP & COO
American Solutions

Dreamin' of th' Scurvy Pirate Again

Th' the seven seas outside be all wet 'n gloomy, so we might as well find a way to put a smile on our faces.

Bin always adored th' image 'o th' handsome scurvy pirate wit' his white billowin' shirt open exposin' his wonderfully bronzed muscular chest. But somehow, all th' accounts 'o Blackbeard just don't jive wit' th' scurvy pirate 'o me imagination. Nope, I suspect th' scurvy pirates were probably much, much worse.

Heartly enjoy speak Like a scurvy pirate Day, me buckos.

Just in case ye're not up on ye scurvy pirate shout, here's th' link to fix that gross lack 'o education fer ye.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Arrggghhh Mateys, Get Ready for Talk Like a Pirate Day

The day all you lovers of pirates have been waiting for is on Saturday, September 19. Arrrgggg, remember to talk like a pirate or be prepared to walk the plank!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day-- kinda makes me want to see good ole Captn Jack Sparrow again.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Wake of Obama Visit to GM Plant, Administration Told GM Could Cause Soaring Mercury Emissions Starting Jan. 1, 2010

/PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of President Obama's visit to a General Motors (GM) plant earlier in the week, his Administration and key states were warned today that GM would be excluded from the country's automotive mercury recycling program at the end of this year.

The national administrator overseeing mercury recycling in automobiles made the announcement in an update to program participants this morning. In response, two allied environmental groups called on the Obama Administration or Congress to direct GM to change course, or risk the collapse of the program and a spike in toxic mercury emissions in U.S. communities nationwide.

"When GM testified before Congress last year, they said their bailout resources would be used to make the company greener, and they continue to insist that is what they are doing. Instead, today we find out that after December 31st, the company is actually going to be responsible for spewing more mercury into the air," said Michael Bender, director of the Vermont-based Mercury Policy Project. "GM is not lean and green if it sheds all of its environmental obligations onto the taxpayer and its competitors."

The national administrator, known as End of Live Vehicle Solutions (ELVS), issued a letter to states and the U.S. EPA today saying that unless General Motors (GM) acts now, ELVS will have to stop accepting mercury switches from scrap-yard bound GM vehicles starting January 1, 2010. This could result in tons of unnecessary mercury emissions from smoke stacks across the country, especially given that more than 700,000 vehicles poured into the system during the recently concluded Cash for Clunkers program.

ELVS is being forced to take this drastic step because GM is hiding behind its bankruptcy and reneging on its commitment to help fund the auto industry partnership that is crucial for keeping mercury out of the environment, the environmental groups agreed.

Over the past month, a number of environmental and industry groups have called on GM to meet its obligation to fund legacy mercury recovery costs from scrapped vehicles. On August 26, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for him to support efforts to get GM to restart its mercury efforts.

"When Obama spoke to the GM employees this week, he committed to 'fighting for an America where clean energy generates green jobs,' said Charles Griffith, head of the Ecology Center's Clean Car Campaign. "We take him at his word, and fully support him in that effort.

"But GM, the company that his Administration owns, is pulling out of all its legacy environmental commitments. The Administration should step up and simply direct GM to rejoin this mercury recycling program - and live up to its responsibility to the environment more broadly."

ELVS was created to coordinate the efforts of auto manufacturers for the collection, transportation and proper recycling of mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's facilitated National Vehicle Mercury Switch Removal Program. ELVS is reliant on funding from car manufacturers who produced these mercury switches on a proportional basis (i.e. the fees they pay are based on the number of mercury switches they produced).

Because it is estimated that around 54 percent of the vehicles containing mercury switches are GM models, GM has been the program's largest funder. According to industry estimates, nationally GM models now on the road contain more than 18 million mercury switches, or 39,000 pounds of the highly toxic substance.

Following their federally structured bankruptcy, General Motors Company or "new GM" last month informed ELVS that it was not a member of ELVS and is not responsible for mercury switches from older vehicles produced by "old GM", now known as Motors Liquidation Corporation. Since then Motor Liquidation has not communicated with ELVS, and has stopped funding the program.

Mercury switches were used to operate hood and truck convenience lights in vehicles made before 2004, when automakers stopped their use. Unless they are removed first, the mercury from auto switches is released to the air when vehicles are recycled at steel mills. This source contributes to both local and global mercury pollution and contamination of fish, and ultimately can cause devastating effects in human beings.

Mercury, particularly in the methylmercury form, is a potent neurotoxin that can impair neurological development in fetuses and young children and damage the nervous system of adults. It is toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative. Mercury can be deposited in water, soils, and air where microorganisms can convert it into the highly toxic methylmercury. Methylmercury is also created by combustion of mercury-containing materials like auto switches.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Freedom Watch Founder to Serve Iranian President Ahmadimajad With Class Action Lawsuit for Human Rights Violations, Wrongful Death, Torture and Terror

/PRNewswire/ -- Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch, has announced that he will personally seek to serve fraudulently elected Islamic Iranian President Ahmadimajad with a class action complaint, filed on behalf of Akbar Mohammadi and all oppressed, tortured and murdered Iranians seeking freedom, by Nasrin Mohammadi, the sister of Akbar. The case, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., can be found on Freedom Watch's website at www.freedomwatchusa.org, and is detailed in Mr. Klayman's soon to be released book, WHORES: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment, is now available for presale at www.borders.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and other on-line booksellers.

This effort by Klayman to serve the Islamic Iranian president in person during his visit to the U.N. on September 23 is unprecedented and will show the world that it needs to do more to support the brave Iranians now fighting for freedom in their homeland. "Thus far, the Obama administration has not even paid lip service to the freedom movement in Iran, but instead seeks to negotiate with these terrorist despots. The quickest way to bring freedom to Iran, remove the nuclear threat, and bring greater stability and security to the Middle East the world, is to bring these Islamic fascists to justice and remove them from power," stated Klayman.

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Baucus Health Plan Won't Rein in Health Insurer Price Gouging of Middle Class; Consumer Watchdog Calls for 'Prior Approval' Rate Regulation in Health

RJ Note: Are you beginning to wonder why all the plans the Democratic Congressmen release on their watch include soaking the American worker and family? Why must we be forced to pay penalties if we choose not to have government run health care? Exercise your freedom of speech and let your elected officials know that freedom of choice by consumers is a good thing. Mandated penalties for health care are not so good for the country.

/PRNewswire/ -- The new health reform plan released today by U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) will charge middle-class families nearly 20% of their annual income for health coverage, while letting insurance companies charge what they please for policies, said Consumer Watchdog. The consumer group, which pioneered the most successful insurance premium regulation law in the nation, today said only the extension of such regulation to health insurance can make insurance affordable -- which it must be, if Americans will be forced to buy it.

The group called on Congress to adopt health insurance rate regulation that requires prior approval of rate increases. Such regulation has saved drivers in California $62 billion on auto insurance rates since 1988, and similar savings would be expected for health insurance rates. Such regulation would control the startling health premium and out of pocket rates illustrated in a chart leaked from the Senate Finance Committee, showing yearly average out-of-pocket costs of $15,300 for a family of four making $78,000.

Americans who do not purchase insurance policies under the Baucus plan would pay up to $3,800 in penalties.

"Government cannot force families to pay more than their mortgage to purchase coverage from a for-profit insurer," said Jerry Flanagan, health policy director of Consumer Watchdog. "Yet if families paying more than 10% are automatically exempted from the law, they will still be without health care. It's an impossible bind, and tough, transparent regulation is the right start to fixing it."

Download Consumer Watchdog's report, Regulation, Not Deregulation: The Prescription for Lowering Health Costs Without Cutting Coverage (With or Without a Public Option), at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Regulate_Not_Deregulate.pdf

The components of California's landmark property and casualty insurance regulation law, Proposition 103, include:

** A prior approval system for rates requiring insurers to seek permission from government regulators and justify rate increases. Since 1988, California's Proposition 103 has saved drivers $62 billion while fostering a competitive and still profitable insurance market.

** An intervenor system that allows the public to challenge unnecessary premium hikes. Since 2003, Consumer Watchdog has saved $1.7 billion by challenging unnecessary premium increase and insufficient decrease requests using the public intervention process.

** An elected state-level commissioner accountable to the public directly for premium hikes. To ensure that the reforms would be properly enforced, Proposition 103 made the state insurance commissioner an elected position accountable directly to the voters, not a political appointee.

A 2008 Consumer Federation of America report detailing the savings of Proposition 103 can be downloaded at: http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/state_auto_insurance_report.pdf. A related press release is available at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/articles/?storyId=19888.

In addition, Consumer Watchdog in its report Regulation, Not Deregulation:

** Calls for legal accountability of health insurance companies and HMOs. The Baucus plan fails to close a loophole in existing law that bars many Americans from holding health insurance companies and HMOs financially accountable. Currently, for patients who receive health coverage through a private employer, HMOs and health insurers face no financial consequences for mishandling claims. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), lawsuits are removed to federal court where victims can only recover the cost of the procedure or service denied in the first place -- no damages or penalties are allowed. As a result, HMOs and insurers are largely free to deny access to care without fear of reprisal or financial consequences.

** Explains why efforts to use health insurance cooperatives ("co-ops") as a vehicle to gut state consumer protection laws would be devastating to consumers and business owners. The Baucus plan would would open the door to deregulation of health insurance by allowing insurance companies that participate in "health care compacts" to choose the weakest state law to govern all their policies, regardless of which state the policies are sold in. The loss of state health benefit requirements could allow exclusion of preventive treatments and exams and prevent early diagnosis of disease, though apparently the state where the consumer lives would retain some authority to address market conduct, unfair trade practices, network adequacy and consumer protection standards.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

National Poll Finds Most Americans Believe Immigration Adversely Affects the Quality and Cost of Healthcare

/PRNewswire-/ -- The American Council for Immigration Reform (ANCIR) national poll on immigration and its impact on health care issues conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC, of 1,000 likely voters on August 26, 2009 found that 78% of Americans believe that high immigration levels have had an adverse impact on the quality and cost of our health care system. Republicans (89%) felt more strongly on the issue, but Democrats (69%) were not far behind. Other key findings were:

-- Seventy-three percent (73%) of likely voters agreed that hospitals
should be allowed to inquire and collect data about the immigration
status of those seeking Emergency Room care without affecting the
legal requirement that they must provide emergency care. Just 18%
said no.
-- Seventy-seven percent (77%) of the respondents believed that providing
health insurance to illegal immigrants will just encourage more
illegal immigration.
-- After receiving emergency medical care, if it is determined that an
illegal immigrant will require long term follow-up medical care, 47%
believed that the person should be deported to his/her home country.
38% believed care should be provided, but time and cost limits should
be established for eventual deportation. Only 8% believed long term
care should be provided in the U.S.
-- Eighty-three percent (83%) of likely voters were very or somewhat
concerned that the United States will add 135 million people to its
population in the next 40 years, 75% of which is due to immigration.
Republicans (90%) were more concerned than Democrats (74%).
-- Seventy-eight percent (78%) of likely voters were opposed to
legalizing the status of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants
in the U.S. with only 19% supporting it. 88% of African-Americans
were opposed to legalization.
-- Fifty-five percent (55%) were opposed to a government insurance option
under any national health care plan with 28% in favor and 17% not
sure. 73% of Republicans were opposed with 11% in favor. A plurality
of Democrats (47%) supported a government option with 34% opposed and
19% unsure.

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Justice Department Commemorates Fifteen Years of the Violence Against Women Act

/PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Justice today commemorated the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was signed into law on September 13, 1994. This critical legislation was created in recognition of the severity of the crimes associated with domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The anniversary also marks 15 years since the creation of the Department's Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), which administers financial and technical assistance to communities around the country to facilitate the creation of programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

"We've made tremendous progress since the Violence Against Women Act first passed in 1994, but we have much more to do. We cannot rest. It will take all of us to fulfill the promise to end domestic violence and sexual assault," said Vice President Joe Biden, the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act.

"The Violence Against Women Act forever changed the way this nation meets our responsibility to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It has been an essential building block in the Justice Department's work to end violence against women," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "It is only in working together that we can make a difference and save lives, and the Justice Department will continue to take every possible step to enforce laws protecting victims of violence and to provide resources to aid victim service providers."

"Without a doubt, VAWA would never have happened without the steadfast commitment and work of the countless advocates, coalitions and community partners who worked tirelessly for federal legislation to mark the importance of the issue and provide vital resources," said Catherine Pierce, Acting Director of OVW. "In the past 15 years, countless lives have been saved, the voices of survivors have been heard, families have been protected, and the criminal justice community has been trained on the complex responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking."

The anniversary marks the start of a year-long anniversary effort to raise public awareness on issues around violence against women, to reinforce and build coalitions among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and victim services communities, and to reinforce the goal of ending domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking for men, women and children across the country.

In recognition of the severity of the crimes associated with gender-motivated violence, Congress passed VAWA as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. VAWA is comprehensive legislative designed to end violence against women through criminal penalties, civil remedies, federal grant programs, and research and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. Since the passage of VAWA, there has been a paradigm shift in how the issue of violence against women is addressed in communities throughout the nation.

OVW was created to specifically implement VAWA and subsequent legislation. Currently, OVW administers two formula grant programs and 17 discretionary grant programs, all of which were established under VAWA and subsequent legislation. The office has also maintained a 15-year partnership with state, local and tribal governments, coalitions, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and court personnel, victim advocates, health care providers and national organizations.

Every day, VAWA funding makes a difference in how communities across America help victims and hold offenders accountable. For example, subgrantees receiving funding awarded by states through OVW's STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program reported that, in calendar year 2007:

-- More than 505,000 victims were served;
-- Over 1,201,000 services were provided to victims; and
-- More than 4,700 individuals were arrested for violations of protection

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bible Literacy Quiz: How Well do You Know the World Around You‏

/Standard Newswire/ -- Bible Literacy Project, publisher of the acclaimed public school Bible
textbook "The Bible and Its Influence," has released a new Bible Literacy Quiz to demonstrate how widespread Biblical references are in our culture. This fall, the textbook is being taught in 337 schools in 43 states, including more than 50 in Texas.

"In national surveys, both high school English teachers and English professors at leading
universities said almost unanimously that students must know the Bible to understand English literature. Our research also found that students need basic biblical literacy to even understand the daily newspaper -- much less to study history, music, art and culture," said Chuck Stetson, Chairman of the Board of the Bible Literacy Project.

The importance of academic study of the Bible was recently underscored by USA Today contributor William R. Mattox's August 17 column, "Teach the Bible? Of Course." The column quoted Barbara Newman, Northwestern University professor of English, Religion and Classics, who said, "Students who want to do serious study of Western civilization need to know the Bible. They need to know the Bible, even if they do not believe the Bible." In February, the United Kingdom's Poet Laureate, atheist Andrew Motion, joined the call for public school education
about the Bible, saying he had struggled to teach Milton's "Paradise Lost" to undergraduates because they had no concept of the fall of man.

Below is an eight-question quiz. How do you fare in understanding the world around you? For more questions, visit http://quiz.bibleliteracy.org.

1. On the evening before he was assassinated, Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these words: "I've been
to the mountaintop....And I've looked over. And I've
seen the Promised Land." To what place does the
Promised Land refer?

A. Atlanta, Georgia.

B. Washington, D.C.

C. The "new world," or North America.

D. A land flowing with milk and honey.

2. A sign at the gas pump gives payment
instructions: "Insert first-born child here." To what
Biblical story is this an allusion?

A. Plagues inflicted on the Pharaoh of Egypt.

B. The crucifixion of Jesus.

C. The stoning of St. Paul.

D. Eli's instructions when Hannah dedicated her son
to the Lord.

3. Erik Brady called basketball star Marcus Vick
a "Prodigal son" ("USA Today," 9/19/05). Why might
someone be called a prodigal son?

A. He is extremely bright and brings honor to his

B. He did something regrettable and brought shame
to the family.

C. He hosted a big family gathering, celebrating victory
over evil or over a formidable opponent.

D. He parted the Red Sea.

4. A national nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that
provides hot, nutritious meals is named Loaves and
Fishes. The name is a reference to ...

A. Psalm 23, "Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies."
B. The Lord's Supper, a traditional meal of "broken"
bread, wine, and fish.

C. The meal the Good Samaritan offered to the victim
of hoodlums.

D. Five loaves and two fish that fed 5,000 people.

5. Which law giver is sculpted on the peak of the
eastern entrance of the U.S. Supreme Court Building?

A. Jesus.

B. Abraham.

C. Moses.

D. George Washington.

6."U.S. News & World Report" reported: "King
Solomon had it easy.... he never would have dreamed
of the complexities that face modern family court
judges, or the rise in the number of stepparents,
unrelated guardians, unmarried couples, gay parents,
and surrogate moms..." (1/17/00, page 46). What
famous dispute is the magazine article referencing?

A. Dividing the land of the Medes and Persians.

B. Sibling quibbling of twins Jacob and Esau over their
father's inheritance.

C. Two mothers disagreeing about a newborn.

D. Dividing the Jewish Kingdom into Israel and Judah.

7. The bronze monument outside the United Nations
Building, New York City, is titled "Let Us Beat Swords
into Plowshares." This is an allusion to ...

A. Words of the prophet Isaiah.

B. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

C. Jesus' parable of the mustard seed.

D. Jesus' parable of the seed sown (1) near the path,
(2) on rocky soil, (3) among thistles, and (4) on good

8. To what does the title of John Steinbeck's "Grapes
of Wrath" allude?

A. Fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and

B. God's judgment (wrath) on those who follow the
ways of the devil.

C. Years of famine which prompted the Israelites to
migrate to Egypt where they were enslaved by

D. The new (at the time) breakfast sensation named
Froot Loops.

Answer Key: 1:D, 2:A, 3:B, 4:D, 5:C, 6:C, 7:A, 8:B.

Bible Literacy Project is a division of Essentials in Education, an educational publisher. Its web sites are

www.bibleliteracy.org (http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102697998978&s=13633&e=001FrGMa0_To9QiTX0cZ4ArUWatf8ZMH1NrZn9NRkXO3sLeXubrOm_FFMzZ1gR
Totnb3BntwZF9a06CTjzJqvcgSN_af6lOW3jpRWYZrP2LTOYBU2chu27VXg==) and
www.essentialsineducation.org (http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102697998978&s=13633&e=001FrGMa0_To9TGPPKlH1-7iw3XMkxBk5RsPKdpOikDSVaRG2HgpxY5KJxCqAxFeRkOIzIy

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pledging Allegiance to Obama

I wrote about this one in my Read My Lipstick Network blog so I won't repeat myself... but I did want to share this with my readers on this blog. This link is to a news story about a pledge to Obama video shown to public school children in a school assembly: http://connect2utah.com/content/video/?cid=48702

Here's the video these kids watched at school, public school, in an assembly... your tax payer dollars at work:

Be sure to watch all the way to the end.

And, if you missed it, read the post I made right before this one about what's going to be happening to our school kids across the nation on Sept. 8th.

Just in case they take it down (which is prone to happen when attention is brought to things like this), here are some duplicate links to the same video:



Critics Decry Obama's 'Indoctrination' Plan for Students

A suggested lesson plan that calls on students to write letters to themselves about what they can do to help President Obama following his address to students nationwide is troubling and establishes the president as a "superintendent in chief," education experts told FOXNews.com.

A suggested lesson plan that calls on school kids to write letters to themselves about what they can do to help President Obama is troubling some education experts, who say it establishes the president as a "superintendent in chief" and may indoctrinate children to support him politically.

But the White House says the speech is merely "designed to encourage kids to stay in school."

Obama will deliver a national address directly to students on Tuesday, which will be the first day of classes for many children across the country. The address, to be broadcast live on the White House's Web site, was announced in a letter to school principals last week by Education Secretary Arne Duncan....

...But in advance of the address, the Department of Education has offered educators "classroom activities" to coincide with Obama's message.

Students in grades pre-K-6, for example, are encouraged to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals."
Teachers are also given guidance to tell students to "build background knowledge about the president of the United States by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama."