News and Notes June 23. 2014

PA Dems re=elected Jim Burn to a four year term as Chair Saturday.  I’ve lost all respect for the man after he refused to step aside for Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf’s choice.  Much as I dislike Katie McGinty and all the energy money she takes she was his choice to lead the Party in November’s general election, a privilege most Governor candidates get to make.  I went kayaking instead of going to Camp Hill.  I’m sick and tired of being kicked out of Democratic Party “open” meetings while to give them coverage and get stories.  It’s a waste of my time and money.

I’ve written about Social Security for years, always pointing out that it has nothing to do with the deficit.  In fact the federal government owes Social Security trillions of dollars, not the other way around.  Regardless Republicans have cut its budget to the extent that they’re being forced to close offices.  Now many seniors will have to drive (if they can) longer distances to obtain benefits they’ve paid for over many years.

President Obama issued an Executive Order last week providing employment discrimination against LGBT persons by any federal contractor.  Kudos.

Now we have to pass an ENDA bill nationally and here in Pennsylvania.  No person should be evicted or refused service at a business due to their real or perceived sexual orientation.  From the ACLU:

House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300 would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.”

“Even after the historic achievement of marriage equality in Pennsylvania, the struggle for full equality is far from over,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “When Pennsylvanians go to work, they expect to be judged based on their performance.

“But LGBT workers in the commonwealth can still be fired simply for who they are. It is past time to pass this bill and bring a greater level of fairness in the workplace, in housing, and in public services.”

The PHRA prohibits discrimination in employment, in housing, and in “public accommodations,” such as restaurants and hotels. Seventeen states include legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination laws, and four additional states include protections based on sexual orientation. In Pennsylvania, 34 municipalities have similar ordinances.

The legislation was introduced this legislative session with a record number of co-sponsors from both parties, with 96 co-sponsors in the state House and 25 in the state Senate. Meanwhile, polling again shows more than 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support this type of legal protection.

“The people of the commonwealth support fairness in daily life,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The public is leading the way for lawmakers on this issue.”

HB 300 is currently in the House State Government Committee. SB 300 is in the Senate State Government Committee.

According to HHS the Affordable Care Act has saved 15,000 lives and $4 billion in health care spending:

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that new preliminary data show an overall nine percent decrease in hospital acquired conditions nationally during 2011 and 2012.  National reductions in adverse drug events, falls, infections, and other forms of hospital-induced harm are estimated to have prevented nearly 15,000 deaths in hospitals, avoided 560,000 patient injuries, and approximately $4 billion in health spending over the same period.

The Affordable Care Act is also helping reduce hospital readmissions.  After holding constant at 19 percent from 2007 to 2011 and decreasing to 18.5 percent in 2012, the Medicare all-cause 30-day readmission rate has further decreased to approximately 17.5 percent in 2013.  This translates into an 8 percent reduction in the rate and an estimated 150,000 fewer hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries between January 2012 and December 2013.

These improvements reflect policies and an unprecedented public-private collaboration made possible by the Affordable Care Act.  The data demonstrates that hospitals and providers across the country are achieving reductions in hospital-induced harm experienced by patients.  These major strides in patient safety are a result of strong, diverse public-private partnerships and active engagement by patients and families, including efforts from the federal Partnership for Patients initiative and Hospital Engagement Networks, Quality Improvement Organizations, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration on Community Living, the Indian Health Service, and many others.

 

I don’t understand how some folks who call themselves “pro life” can oppose laws which actually save lives.

The White House is hosting a summit today on working families.  Opening remarks this morning were from Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.  Other participants include SEIU, Claudia Goldin, Economics Professor at Harvard, the Center For American Progress, Rep. Martha Edwards of Maryland, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and closing remarks from the First Lady and Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America.

Meet The Press simply isn’t  the show it used to be since David Gregory took over.  I won’t even watch it any more.  Sunday he allowed Sen. Paul to repeat debunked lies about Benghazi without challenge.  Shameful journalism.

A scientific study confirms that liberals and atheists are smarter.  I suppose this explains why conservatives don’t believe in science.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values.  The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years.”

“Evolutionarily novel” preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess.  In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are “evolutionarily familiar.”

Gov. Corbett says an on time state budget isn’t likely to pass by June 30th.  For someone who has ballyhooed the fact he has passed a budget on time every year this is but one more black eye for the vulnerable sitting Governor.  I love the fact he spent $3 million in campaign ads this spring and moved his approval number all the way from 29% to 30%.  Interestingly the Guv has given $1.5 billion in corporate tax breaks intended to create jobs.  Our current fiscal deficit is $1.4 billion.  His tax breaks haven’t created any jobs.  We rank 49th in the country in job creation so they obviously aren’t working.  Instead of making the state budget worse by privatizing the Wine and Spirit Stores and gutting pensions let’s simply repeal those tax cuts.

Meanwhile the Republican Governors Association made an illegal million dollar contribution towards Gov. gasbag’s re-election in violation of Pennsylvania election law.  Sheldon Adelson gave the money despite the fact he owns the Sands Casino in Bethlehem.  Casino owners are barred from making political contributions in Pennsylvania.

Radiation from Fukushima continues polluting the Pacific Rim.  Tuna being caught are so radioactive they cannot be consumed.

Surprise, surprise, we’re listed as the fifth most corrupt state.

News & Notes May 23, 2012

The Obama Bethlehem office had a good turnout for Harvey Milk Day.  Adrian Shanker, President of Equality Pennsylvania, spoke about the gains for the community from the Obama Administration.  Liz and Trish from the Pennsylvania Diversity Network were also there.  The Obama campaign launches its LGBT outreach with a conference call this morning.  In light of the medical marijuana crackdown how this impacts those living with AIDS is something which was not addressed on the call this morning.

Sen. Casey is under pressure to support marriage equality now that President Obama is on board.

Has Newark Mayor Cory Booker doomed any chance he had of gaining higher office.  He went on Meet The Press and criticized President Obama’s Bain Capital ads.  How is Obama using the issue different from his Republican rivals using it in the primaries?  This is a big deal and it is what he predicates his qualifications to be president on.  That demands examination.

The situation at Fukushima is getting dire.  Another earthquake now might jeopardize the lives of most people living in the northern hemisphere according to some experts.

There’s more data about why Tea baggers are so stupid:  they watch Fox News.  Of course this is a lifestyle choice so perhaps we can round them up, send them to electrified camps and wait for them to die.  That’s what Pastor Worley would recommend, I’m sure.

Speaking of Pastor Worley, now he’s saying that “forty years ago they would’ve hung (homosexuals), bless god, from a white oak tree.”  The problem with this is not only its bigotry but the ignorance from Worley that such things have happened.  How different is a white oak tree from the wood (faggots) used to burn gays alive during the Dark Ages or the fence to which Matthew Shephard was chained and left to die?  Having a pulpit is no excuse to exercise in hate speech.  Real people get hurt by things people like Worley say.

A new effort is underway to mandate that all state campaign finance reports be submitted electronically.  Pennsylvania may yet enter the 21st century in one way.  Fair elections require disclosure prior to election day.

Fox viewers are the least knowledgeable audience of any outlet, and they know even less about politics and current events than people who watch no news at all.

Marcellus shale drilling consumed 1.5 billion gallons of our precious water last year.  There was so much gas produced that there is now a glut on the market and prices for gas have collapsed.  Royalty checks are also on the decline and some landowners may see nothing for those well pads located on their property.  Imagine living with a drill rig going 24/7 and getting nothing for it?

Bill DeWeese’s vacation from prison was short lived.  He was ordered to return yesterday pending the outcome of his appeal.  The naughty former House Speaker has had all of his offices and staff removed.

One of the stains on the Obama record is his militant assault on legal marijuana in states which have legalized its use for medicinal purposes.  So much for him being a liberal, much less a socialist lefty.

Keystone Progress reports that all Pennsylvania Democrats have left ALEC.  Why were they there in the first place?

News & Notes December 12, 2011

I’ll be in Harrisburg Tuesday for a Planned Parenthood Board meeting.

Police in North Dakota called on an ICE drone to track several “sovereign citizens” wanted.  This is dangerously close to violating the Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the military from police activity.

Reporter at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing for Jerry Sandusky will be allowed to text and Tweet from court so I’ll follow the proceeding that way and attend our Board meeting in Harrisburg instead.  The media petitioned the court to have the previous ban overturned.

The AP finally published the analysis of wrongdoing at Penn State surrounding the entire institutional failure allowing Sandusky to allegedly molest boys on campus.  They were denied access to a considerable number of documents because Penn State is exempt from the Open Records Act.  Read the article here (without using up access to in state newspaper restrictions).

Mitt Romney chose the wrong veteran to approach in New Hampshire this morning.  He got an earful about his stand on gay marriage from the vet and his husband.

When asked at the last debate what financial sacrifices they’ve been forced into due to financial hardship not one of the GOP candidates could produce a response to the query.  Of course they’re all rich and members in good standing of the richest 10%.  Newt has traded on his public service to become quite wealthy.

The situation at the doomed Fukushima nuclear reactor is getting worse and may jeopardize an entire region of Japan.  Reactor 4 is severely damaged and a wall apparently has fallen.

Legislators in Harrisburg are hell bent on making abortion unavailable in Pennsylvania.  If you believe it is immoral to restrict access to healthcare and make a legal medical practice impossible to obtain due to unconstitutional restrictions call your Representative and Senator today.  This is going to be voted on this week.  This is what Republicans (and many Democrats) are doing in Harrisburg instead of creating jobs, providing education and rebuilding our roads and bridges.  While I’m skidding on a rain soaked bridge which cannot provide traction in wet conditions nothing is being done to repair and rebuild these crumbling structures.  Instead we’re restricting all kinds of rights.  I thought conservatives believed in freedom and democracy.  Instead they’re hell bent on destroying it.

The State House passed HB 1977 tonight 146-45.  It prohibits women from purchasing private abortion coverage under the new health care exchanges.   This means women will be unable to obtain abortion coverage in Pennsylvania even if they pay for it themselves.  We’ll be seeing a profusion of back alley abortion providers which will make the Gosnell clinic appear good.  The vote signifies that many Democrats also supported this bill.

Another issue coming up soon is a ban on pigeon shoots.  These inhumane exercises in machismo are immoral.  

The redistricting commission approved House and Senate plans today on a 4-1 vote.  Citizens now have 30 days in which to appeal to courts against the plans.

Joshua Young announced his candidacy for the 45th State House district in Chester County.  The District was represented by Democrat Nick Kotik when it was located in the Pittsburgh area.  Due to population shifts away from western PA several House and senate districts were moved east.

The “family values” crowd is hell bent on dividing families.  Even that “saint” of protecting families Rick Santorum, has come out in favor of splitting up families.  Of course this only applies to those of minority status:  immigrants.  When will conservatives finally give up their hatred and bigotry of minorities?  Excuse me Rick but your racism is showing again.

Occupy Pittsburgh is resisting efforts to evict it.  Other Occupiers shut down western ports today.  It’s impossible to shut down OWS.

Congressional Republicans want to tie extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax to approving the Keystone XL pipeline.  If Obama caves on this one he loses the environmental vote next.  These GOP’ers are crazy like a fox.  They keep forcing the President to do things to piss of his key constituencies.  He doesn’t seem to care.

Republicans are great at brainwashing people with constant repetition of their myths.  Tax cuts don’t actually create jobs, they eliminate them.  Corporate taxes aren’t high because there are so many loopholes most major companies pay zero.  The rich are NOT job creators.  How many jobs are there for butlers, private jet pilots and yacht captains?  The growing wealth inequality has cost us millions of jobs however.

Rick Perry is doing his darned best to make George W. Bush appear to be the smartest Governor in recent Texas history.

Tom Corbett keeps trying to explain away his conflict of interests and handling of the Sandusky/Second Mile scandal but he’s knee deep in shit.  He should be returning all those campaign contributions from Board members of The Second Mile but isn’t.  As long as he keeps that money he’s as dirty as Sandusky.  The Governor needs to take shower to wash all the shit off him that’s showered on him lately.  Perhaps Jerry will help him do it in the Lasch Football Building.

Fukushima: Is It Time to Begin Worrying?

The meltdown at Fukushima is now beyond the core and could be a disaster situation:

The findings of the report, which has been given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, were revealed by the Yomiuri newspaper, which described a “melt-through” as being “far worse than a core meltdown” and “the worst possibility in a nuclear accident.”

The experts have also yet to come up with a plan for decommissioning the ruined plant. Studies have estimated that the cost of the accident at Fukushima may rise as high as $250 billion over the next 10 years.

Can we begin to worry yet?

So much for nukes being cleaner, safer and more economical…  Now where, exactly does all the spent fuel go?  At Fukushima into the ocean.

News & Notes April 5, 2011

It’s a big day for news and the week will continue with news rolling out.  President Obama will be in Fairless Hills tomorrow and The Pennsylvania Progressive will live blog the energy town hall at Gamesa Manufacturing.  It appears a government shutdown is looming once again as the Tea baggers insist on yet another round of austerity cuts to important programs though they’d actually increase the bloated defense budget and keep the ag and oil subsidies.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my sister Marjorie’s passing.  We miss her.

Transocean is giving huge “safety’ bonuses to its executives for their brilliant record last year in causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history.  Their CEO is receiving an 18% raise.  What do they get in good years?

Radiation in sea water at the Fukushima nuclear plant is 7.5 million times normal and now will be dumped into the Pacific.  Recommendation:  don’t go for the sushi, it’s orange for a reason.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is introducing anti-union legislation this morning in Harrisburg.  We’re about to see the power of unions in Pennsylvania.  Will they accept this attack on their rights or stand up and fight?  I haven’t seen them fight for a long time.

Congressman Paul Ryan is unveiling a multi-trillion dollar cut to Medicare and Medicaid which will involve eliminating the programs and force seniors and the poor into private markets for health care.  This is the onset of a real death panel system as it will doom millions to early graves.  Where’s the outrage?

The Tea Party is driving the GOP over the cliff with their radical agenda.  No one in the Republican Party has the balls to stand up to them and are along for the ill fated ride.  If 2010 was a bloodbath for Democrats 2012 promises to be their best year ever at the polls.  They should drink tea at all the victory parties in honor of the morons who are handing them every independent voter out there and sending every “Reagan Democrat” back to the Party.

Congratulations to the UConn Huskies.  I doubt the Butler Bulldogs are ever going to get laid, ever again.  The poor boys couldn’t get it in the hole for love or money.  Speaking of money did the UConn players get paid before or after last night’s game?

News Updates

There is now a danger of a full core meltdown at Fukushima.  It is obvious the U.S. is using spy satellite images to see what is happening on site in Japan.  One spent fuel rod pond has no water whatsoever in it so the uranium is not being cooled at all.  This is far more dangerous than anyone in Japan is telling us.  So much for honor…

The UN passed a Security Council resolution tonight basically declaring war on Libya.  It gives carte blanche to stop a dictator who is already close to crushing the rebels.  Worse it will drag us into yet another unwinnable war in a Muslim nation.  Will we ever learn?

Tom Corbett created a Marcellus Shale Commission on which he appointed 13 industry executives.  I’m getting a little gas from this announcement and I’m afraid it isn’t going to pass.

News & Notes March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hereby declare that spring has arrived.  Party on.

The situation in Japan is deepening daily.  No one believes anything being said by either Tokyo Power or the Japanese government.  The same thing happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.  There seem to be meltdowns at two of the six reactors at Dai’ichi and spent fuel rods in cooling ponds are also exposed.  A nuclear plume is now on its way encircling the earth while American officials continue to claim that nuclear power is safe.  Yes, the world is also flat.

We’re now entering the fourth part of this disaster.  The quake was first, the tsunami second, the nuclear meltdown third and now an economic meltdown.  Japan will need to begin its vast investment in U.S. Treasury bonds to finance rebuilding its country.  This will greatly reduce the market for future bonds and cripple America’s ability to continue deficits and foster economic growth.  Meanwhile markets are collapsing.

Tom Corbett’s budget isn’t being welcomed.  A F&M poll shows clear opposition to his austerity cuts and refusal to tax gas extraction.  78% are against his cuts for public education, 67% oppose the higher education cuts, 72% say he should tax smokeless tobacco and cigars, 62% want an extraction tax 64% support privatizing the state liquor stores.  The Wine & Spirits Shoppes contribute $500 million a year to the state general fund every year.  Are they willing to pay more income tax to replace that revenue?  No by 68%.  Where do they think the money is coming from?  If the people want to be tough on crime, lock everyone up, they have to be willing to pay for it.

Sen. Bob Casey has introduced his FRAC Act again.  The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act increases accountability by requiring better disclosure and regulation.  Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) is the House sponsor.

WFMZ Channel 69 had egg on its face Tuesday evening when it ran this graphic before the polls had even closed:

New State Senator Judy Schwank is hitting the ground running as budget hearing are set to get underway in Harrisburg.  The Berks County Elections Board must still certify the election results before she can be sworn in.  Sen. O’Pake’s staff remains in place providing her with people from the get go.

The next State Senate special election is likely to be for Jane Orie’s Pittsburgh area seat.  Once her retrial on public corruption charges is rescheduled potential candidates will begin lining up support.  Following her first trial and the announcement her defense fabricated evidence her conviction seems to be inevitable.  The vast amount of evidence against her proved indefensible.

Republicans have decided (along with too many union officials) that teachers must accept pay freezes.  This is because Wall Street bankers defrauded public pension funds of $7 trillion with junk securities rated AAA.  Fraudulent mortgages sold illegally contributed to the collapse of the economy forcing sales and income taxes to plummet.  The recession is entirely their fault but they want you to pay for it.  How fair is that?  Why aren’t we imposing major taxes on these criminal banks to recapture that money?  Why are we punishing teachers instead?

Yet another Republican needs to learn to keep his real opinions to himself.  This one in Kansas thinks immigrants should be treated like wild animals and shot from helicopters like wild hogs.