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Posts from — July 2009

The “Free Market” In Health Insurance

DCap has compiled the data for a piece on the almost total lack of competition in the health insurance industry.

It’s like early Fords – “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.”

The way things are going, we are headed back to the years of the Bell System in local telephone service, and Intel and Microsoft are probably more complete monopolies than IBM was in the computer world.

Beginning under Reagan businesses began consolidating into ever larger entities, and competition has disappeared in many industries, including health care.

July 26, 2009   Comments Off on The “Free Market” In Health Insurance

Microsoft Should Sue

PZ Myers has a post, Scientology values, that covers the contract people have to sign to get into Scientology. It sounds like a rip off of the M$ End User License Agreement.

July 26, 2009   2 Comments

Ahmadinejad Snapping At His Leash

The BBC reports on more turmoil in the Iranian government: Iran intelligence minister sacked

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sacked one of his ministers, a day after he was forced to cancel the appointment of his vice-president.

No reason was given for the sacking of Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie.

Meanwhile, the culture minister quit, saying the government was weakened.

On Saturday, however, Mr Ahmadinejad appointed Mr Mashaie as his chief of staff, setting up another potential confrontation with conservatives.

Poor Ahmadinejad is probably one of the handful of people in Iran who believe that he actually won the election. He thinks he has a mandate from the people to run the country.

If you missed it, Mr. Mashaie is the father-in-law of Ahmadinejad’s daughter, and he needs a job. What’s the point of being President if you can’t hire friends and relatives?

July 26, 2009   Comments Off on Ahmadinejad Snapping At His Leash

Police Tactics

I’ve mentioned before that I was in law enforcement for a decade, so I look at the Cambridge Police vs Harvard Professor with a different point of view than most people. Cutting to the chase, the sergeant was wrong, he knew he was wrong, and his actions told every officer who stayed awake in the academy that he was wrong.

In his column in the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts made these observations:

Please take a good look at Dr. Henry Louis Gates.

He is 5’7”, weighs 150 pounds, wears glasses and uses a cane. His legs are of unequal length, his mustache and goatee are gray. He is 58 years old and looks it.

The police report says he was “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior in a public place.” That being his own front porch.

In the end, he still winds up standing on his front porch with his wrists shackled, just like any drug dealer or carjacker anywhere.

Mr. Pitts caught one of the points, but missed the most telling point for cops, because cops are aware of the significance.

[Read more →]

July 26, 2009   9 Comments

C’est Fini

Tour de FranceMark Cavendish took his sixth stage win, and still ends up without the green jersey, and in 131st place. Fumiyuki Beppu of Japan won the red numbers for the final stage.

The Final results:

Yellow Jersey: Alberto Contador of Spain
Green Jersey: Thor Hushovd of Norway 280 points
Polka Dot Jersey: Franco Pellizotti of Italy 210 points
White Jersey: Andy Schleck of Luxembourg
Super Combative: Franco Pellizotti of Italy
Team: Astana
Final Rider: Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus

The Final Standings:

1. Alberto Contador (E/Astana) 85:48:35 [yellow jersey]
2. Andy Schleck (LUX/Saxo Bank) +04:11 [white jersey]
3. Lance Armstrong (US/Astana) +05:24
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +06:01
5. Frank Schleck (LUX/Saxo Bank) +06:04
6. Andréas Klöden (D/Astana) +06:42
7. Vincenzo Nibali (I/Liquigas) +07:35
8. Christian Vande Velde (US/Garmin) +12:04
9. Roman Kreuziger (CZ/Liquigas) +14:16
10. Christophe Le Mevel (F/Francaise) +14:25

Selected others after the fold.

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July 26, 2009   Comments Off on C’est Fini

Pilot OK, But Water Tanker Lost In BC Fires

FireThe CBC reports that a Plane fighting wildfire crashes into Okanagan Lake

A waterbomber battling the Terrace Mountain fire north of Kelowna, B.C., has crashed into Okanagan Lake.

In a written release, the Kelowna RCMP said two boats in the area responded right away and rescued the pilot, who was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The cause of the crash hasn’t been determined.

They are making some progress on the fires because of better weather conditions, including some rain, but they won’t be out for a while.

July 25, 2009   5 Comments

Stage 20

Tour de FranceJuan Manuel Garate of Spain took the last stage before the parade into Paris tomorrow, barring some disaster today’s results will be the final ranking.

Tony Martin won the red numbers, and the overall award for combativeness is the one award that is in question, as the jerseys seem to be firmly in place.

The Current Standings:

1. Alberto Contador (E/Astana) 81:46:17 [yellow jersey]
2. Andy Schleck (LUX/Saxo Bank) +04:11 [white jersey]
3. Lance Armstrong (US/Astana) +05:24
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +06:01
5. Frank Schleck (LUX/Saxo Bank) +06:04
6. Andréas Klöden (D/Astana) +06:42
7. Vincenzo Nibali (I/Liquigas) +07:35
8. Christian Vande Velde (US/Garmin) +12:04
9. Roman Kreuziger (CZ/Liquigas) +14:16
10. Christophe Le Mevel (F/Francaise) +14:25
11. Mikel Astarloza (E/Euskatel) +14:44
12. Sandy Casar (F/Francaise) +17:19
13. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/Катюшa) +18:34
14. Rinaldo Nocentini (I/AG2R) +20:45
17. Carlos Sastre (E/Cervelo) +26:21

Selected others after the fold.

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July 25, 2009   Comments Off on Stage 20

Reality Check

I keep seeing references to Dr. Regina Benjamin’s weight as being something important to her appointment as Surgeon General. While she isn’t as svelte as Dr. Antonia Novello, the Surgeon General under GHW Bush, Dr. Benjamin also lacks Dr. Novello’s fraud conviction.

Dr. Benjamin reflects the reality of the area she lives in, Bayou la Batre, Alabama, a fishing village on the Gulf Coast. There are a lot of people who are carrying extra weight in the area because they have limited access to good food at a reasonable price. While seafood, in good years, can be great tasting and plentiful, man does not live by protein alone, and that’s where the problems begin.

You can’t grow much in a salt marsh. The fresh fruits and vegetables that the nutritionists talk about are a wonderful concept if they are available. The closest store that would qualify as what people think of when “supermarket” is said is a minimum of 20 miles away by road. The markets around the Bayou are the equivalent of “convenience stores” in the rest of the country. They generally carry products for the Vietnamese or Mexican segments of the local population.

The common menus feature rice, corn meal, and beans, and anything green comes from a can. People eat a lot of fish and some chicken, but beef and pork are special occasion foods. You gain weight on diets like this, and there is no way of avoiding it without a lot of manual labor. It is what poor people eat on the Gulf Coast, and Dr. Benjamin is well acquainted with poor people.

July 25, 2009   5 Comments

They Have No Shame

So, I was doing my normal scan of media sites this morning and landed on CBS “News?”. This is an organization that has been honoring one of the great pioneers of television news, Walter Cronkite, for a week. This is an organization essentially created by Edward R. Murrow, who, it could be said, was a founder of the concept of television news. Pretty good credentials, a firm foundation on which to build.

What do I see when I get down to their opinion area? What name appears there, that by all measures of decency and honesty should have been swept into the dustbin of bad media experiences: Ben Domenech!

The piece notes that “Ben Domenech is the editor in chief of the The New Ledger.” Well, he would have to be the editor in chief, because no one who had anything approaching even a facsimile of actual integrity would hire him. In an astounding bit of clueless irony they include at the end of the drivel “Reprinted with permission from The New Ledger”, a concept that never intruded in Ben’s world.

As Joseph Welch famously asked Joe McCarthy, I would ask CBS: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

July 25, 2009   Comments Off on They Have No Shame

A Higher Authority?

The Local Puppy Trainer reports on the implosion at a local school: Heads of Rocky Bayou Christian arrested in abuse case

NICEVILLE — A current and former administrator at the area’s largest Christian academy have been arrested for failing to report a sex abuse allegation, according to police.

Rocky Bayou Christian School co-founder and interim Superintendent Bob Grete, 72, and former Superintendent Don Larson, 48, were arrested Friday and charged with failure to report child abuse.

Meanwhile, a 28-year-old basketball coach, unidentified by Niceville police, had a warrant out for his arrest on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct. He was expected to turn himself in Monday.

Police detective Kate Devine said the investigation was “kept very quiet” since allegations arose June 27, when the father of a 14-year-old girl reported “possible sexual abuse” to Grete.

Grete “informed (the father) not to contact the authorities until after Rocky Bayou Christian School could conduct their own investigation,” according to his arrest report.

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July 24, 2009   17 Comments

Khamenei To Ahmadinejad: Bad Dog!

In case you still hadn’t figured out who holds the leash and who wears the collar in Iran, the BBC makes it plain: Iranian vice-president ‘sacked’

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed his most senior vice-president, it has been reported.

The decision, the state news agency Irna said, came after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered Mr Ahmadinejad to do so.

First Vice-President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie had angered hardliners last year by saying Iranians and Israelis were friends.

An aide said Mr Mashaie did not now consider himself first vice-president.

The decision came after a week-long stand-off between Ayatollah Khamenei and Mr Ahmadinejad, who had defended Mr Mashaie.

Ayatollah Khamenei wrote to the president, telling him that appointing Mr Mashaie was “against your interest and the interests of the government”.

In the letter, which was broadcast on Iranian state TV, Ayatollah Khamenei said: “It is necessary to announce the cancellation of this appointment.”

Ahmadinejad isn’t even allowed to select his own deputies, much less make decisions on important issues.

July 24, 2009   Comments Off on Khamenei To Ahmadinejad: Bad Dog!

A General Question

How many more revelations will it take before District of Columbia officials declare 133 C Street a “disorderly house”?

July 24, 2009   8 Comments

Simple Answers To Hard Questions

How do you solve the health insurance crisis? Medicare for all.

How do you pay for it? Remove the cap on FICA and stop Congress from stealing the money to cover their bad ideas.

But you’re raising taxes. Au contraire, as Republicans have told us for years, poor people don’t pay taxes, and they pay FICA on every dollar they earn, so it can’t be a tax. 😈

July 24, 2009   29 Comments

Wildfires Light Up The Mediterranean

FireThe high temperatures, minimal rainfall, and foolish humans have resulted in wildfires all along the northern coast of the Mediterranean. The BBC reports that Wildfires rage in southern Europe

Thousands of firefighters are battling to bring under control summer wildfires that are spreading across parts of southern Europe.

At least seven people have died in fires that have struck Spain, France, Greece and the Italian island of Sardinia in the past few days.

Spain has been the hardest hit with at least seven major fires raging in the south and east.

Strong winds have fanned the flames during the hot dry weather.

Meanwhile, an inquiry is under way in France after a military exercise sparked a major wildfire on the outskirts of Marseille.

The fire, which threatened homes and destroyed 1,300 hectares (3,211 acres) of brush, provoked an angry reaction from both officials and residents.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon called it a “professional mistake” and local prefect Michel Sappin accused the military of “imbecilic” actions.

The officer in charge when soldiers fired tracer bullets during a training exercise has been suspended.

Tracers are the flashes of light you see filling the air when people use automatic weapons. They are used as a quick way of aiming the weapon as you can easily see where the rounds are hitting. The problem is that the rounds use phosphorus which may not burn itself out in the air and definitely start fires. In antiaircraft use, that is a definite feature, but in training on a tinder dry range it is a major hazard.

July 24, 2009   2 Comments