Abortion and the Senate bill to take over health care

Abortion might be the most difficult obstacle that Democrats have, but it won't be the only one. I predict that gun control will also be relevant.

The White House is on a collision course with Catholic bishops in an intractable dispute over abortion that could blow up the fragile political coalition behind President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
A top Obama administration official on Thursday praised the new Senate health care bill's attempt to find a compromise on abortion coverage - even as an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Sen. Harry Reid's bill is the worst he's seen so far on the divisive issue.
The bishops were instrumental in getting tough anti-abortion language adopted by the House, forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to accept restrictions that outraged liberals as the price for passing the Democratic health care bill. Reid, D-Nev., now faces a similar choice: Ultimately, he will need the votes of Democratic senators who oppose abortion to get his bill through the Senate.
So far, Reid has steered the Senate bill in a direction that abortion rights supporters can live with: allowing coverage for abortion in federally subsidized health care plans, provided that beneficiaries' own premiums are used to pay for the procedure. But abortion opponents say his compromise would gut current federal restrictions on abortion funding.
Despite criticism, there were growing indications Reid would prevail on an initial Senate showdown set for Saturday night. He needs a 60-vote majority to advance the bill toward full debate, expected to begin after Thanksgiving and last for weeks. It's during that debate that the battle over abortion will be joined in earnest. Reid will need to clear other 60-vote hurdles before senators cast their final vote on the bill. . . .
But Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops' conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said Reid's "is actually the worst bill we've seen so far on the life issues."
He called it "completely unacceptable," adding that "to say this reflects current law is ridiculous."
The bill would forbid including abortion coverage as a required medical benefit. However, it would allow a new government insurance plan to cover abortions and let private insurers that receive federal subsidies offer plans that include abortion coverage. . . .

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Did Global Warming Advocates Manipulate Data?

Hackers have apparently hacked into a university email server and gotten a large number of emails belonging to prominent global warming advocates.

Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world's leading climate scientists during the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online, it emerged today.

The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change sceptics who have studied the emails allege they provide "smoking gun" evidence that some of the climatologists colluded in manipulating data to support the widely held view that climate change is real, and is being largely caused by the actions of mankind.

The veracity of the emails has not been confirmed and the scientists involved have declined to comment on the story, which broke on a blog called The Air Vent.

The files, which in total amount to 160MbB of data, were first uploaded on to a Russian server, before being widely mirrored across the internet. The emails were accompanied by the anonymous statement: "We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it."

A spokesperson for the University of East Anglia said: "We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites. Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all this material is genuine. This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and have involved the police in this inquiry."

In one email, dated November 1999, one scientist wrote: "I've just completed Mike's Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline." . . .

UPDATE: Even the NY Times felt compelled to write about this news. They may want to claim that it is "not something secret," but the term "hide the decline" makes that difficult to accept.

But several scientists and others contacted by The New York Times confirmed that they were the authors or recipients of specific e-mail messages included in the file. The revelations are bound to inflame the public debate as hundreds of negotiators prepare to negotiate an international climate accord at meetings in Copenhagen next month, and at least one scientist speculated that the timing was not coincidental.

Dr. Trenberth said Friday that he was appalled at the release of the e-mail messages.

But he added that he thought the revelations might backfire against climate skeptics. He said that he thought that the messages showed “the integrity of scientists.” Still, some of the comments might lend themselves to being interpreted as sinister.

In a 1999 e-mail exchange about charts showing climate patterns over the last two millenniums, Phil Jones, a longtime climate researcher at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, said he had used a “trick” employed by another scientist, Michael Mann, to “hide the decline” in temperatures.

Dr. Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, confirmed in an interview that the e-mail message was real. He said the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often used the word “trick” to refer to a good way to solve a problem, “and not something secret.”

At issue were sets of data, both employed in two studies. One data set showed long-term temperature effects on tree rings; the other, thermometer readings for the past 100 years. . . .

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NY Times misses the point on stimulus spending

Again, the New York Times just assumes that this stimulus spending creates jobs and ignores the more basic question of where the money comes from.

The government watchdog overseeing the federal stimulus program testified Thursday that he could not vouch for the Obama administration’s recent claims that the money had saved or created 640,000 jobs. He suggested that the administration should have treated the number with more skepticism.

The 640,000 figure, announced by the White House with some fanfare last month, came from reports filed by recipients of the stimulus money, many of which have been shown to be inaccurate or overstated since they were made public. But the watchdog, Earl E. Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, said that it was also possible that the figure understated how many jobs were affected. Up to 10 percent of the recipients had not filed the required reports showing how many jobs they had created or saved, he said. . . . .

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"Extended [Unemployment] benefits will expire unless Congress acts"

Why was it so necessary to increase unemployment benefits when the unemployment rate was around 7 percent but now that it is 10.2 percent it is no longer necessary? The title for the CNN piece is "1 million jobless face benefits loss in January."

One million people could lose unemployment benefits in January if Congress doesn't extend federal aid, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report is likely to turn up pressure on lawmakers and the president, who earlier this month enacted a record-long extension of federally paid benefits. But the law only helps those who exhaust their lifelines by year's end.

As it stands now, the deadline to apply for federally paid benefits is Dec. 31. So while unemployment benefits now run as long as 99 weeks, depending on the state, not everyone will receive checks for that long a stretch.

"Congress has less than four weeks left on its schedule to legislate this year, and unless it acts to renew the unemployment provisions during this period, the clock will run out for a million workers," said Christine Owens, executive director for the National Employment Law Project.

Those who run out of their 26 weeks of state-paid coverage in 2010 will not receive any additional benefits. The jobless currently receiving extended federal benefits, which are divided into tiers, will stop getting checks once they complete their tier. . . .

See also this story here.

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A cheap vote for the government health care takeover

A $100 million in an almost $900 billion package doesn't seem like very much. It is about 0.01 percent of the total. For a mere $100 million, Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu is willing to vote for a massive change in the life of Louisianans.

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:

What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform?

Here’s a case study.

On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.

Here’s the incredibly complicated language:


UPDATE: From the Washington Post.

On the eve of Saturday's showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn't secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.

And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote -- and to trumpet the financial "fix" she had arranged for Louisiana. "I am not going to be defensive," she declared. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix."

It was an awkward moment (not least because her figure is 20 times the original Louisiana Purchase price). . . .

Lincoln made clear that she still planned to hold out for many more concessions in the debate that will consume the next month. "My decision to vote on the motion to proceed is not my last, nor only, chance to have an impact on health-care reform," she announced. . . .

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) won a promise from Reid to support his plan to expand eligibility for health insurance. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) got Reid to jettison a provision stripping health insurers of their antitrust exemption. Landrieu got the concessions for her money. And Lincoln won an extended, 72-hour period to study legislation.

And the big shakedown is yet to occur: That will happen when Reid comes back to his caucus in a few weeks to round up 60 votes for the final passage of the health bill. . . .

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Sen. Ben Nelson moves towards supporting Senator Reid's health care bill, Everything might depend on Lieberman

What hope there was that Sen. Ben Nelson would stick to his requirement that at least some Republicans support the bill seems to have disappeared. It sure looks like he is going to vote for cloture, which is effectively going to mean that the bill will pass.

Some who define it as a vote in favor of the Reid bill are misinformed, or are intentionally trying to mislead people. I remember that some in my party said the same thing—equating this procedural vote with a vote for a bill—when the Republicans were in charge. If your goal is to obstruct, that’s a convenient argument. . . .

Lieberman doesn't seem to be backing down, though the Democrats might pull the public option just to get it through the Senate. I don't think that removing the public option won't improve this bill very much. From Politico about Lieberman:

Sen. Joe Lieberman’s threat to filibuster any health care bill with a public option could kill health reform this year — and embolden Democratic challengers who’d like to send him packing in 2012.

But Lieberman doesn’t seem worried.

“I don’t think about that stuff,” Lieberman told POLITICO this week. “I’m just — I’m being a legislator. After what I went through in 2006, there’s nothing much more that anybody [who] disagrees with me can try to do.”

Lieberman left the Democratic Party in 2006 after liberal Ned Lamont beat him in Connecticut’s Democratic Senate primary. Lieberman defeated Lamont in the general election and returned to Washington as an independent, where he continues to caucus with Democrats — even though he accuses them of engaging in a bit of bait and switch when it comes to the public option.

“It’s classic politics of our time that if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can’t find a mention of public option,” Lieberman said. “It was added after the election as a part of what we normally consider health insurance reform — insurance market reforms, cover people, cover people who are not covered.

In fact, the 2008 Democratic Party Platform referred to the need for a “public plan,” and candidate Barack Obama referred more than once to the idea of providing people who can’t get private insurance with government-backed insurance similar to that which members of Congress get.

But Lieberman says support for the public option has now become a “litmus test” for Democrats, adding: “I thought Democrats were against litmus tests.”

Despite the strong words against some in his old party, Lieberman still entertains the idea of a reunion. Asked this week if he might run again as a Democrat in 2012, Lieberman smiled and said, “Yeah, sure.”

“I’m for health care reform,” Lieberman told POLITICO. “And, of course, this will all be over by then, and I hope we will be strongly supporting health care reform. I haven’t changed my thoughts about 2012, which is, I’m keeping all my options open. . . .



Surprise, firing guns at Pirates actually works

This attack worked out quite differently than the attack seven months ago. A big difference is that this time the ship being attacked had guns. A spokeswoman for the Maersk Shipping Line said: ""The crew and the captain are safe." The wife of the Maersk Alabama's captain said: "I'm really happy at least it didn't turn out like the last time." The reaction of a pirate who had been in communication with those who attacked the ship: "They told us that they got in trouble with an American ship, then we lost them. We have been trying to locate them since."

Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.

A U.S. surveillance plane was monitoring the ship as it continued to its destination on the Kenyan coast, while a pirate said that the captain of a ship hijacked Monday with 28 North Korean crew members on board had died of wounds.

Pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama last April and took ship captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days. Navy SEAL sharpshooters freed Phillips while killing three pirates in a daring nighttime attack.

Four suspected pirates in a skiff attacked the ship again on Wednesday around 6:30 a.m. local time, firing on the ship with automatic weapons from about 300 yards away, a statement from the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said.

Evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire
An on-board security team repelled the attack by using evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a Long Range Acoustic Device, which can beam earsplitting alarm tones, the fleet said.

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the Maersk Alabama had followed the maritime industry's "best practices" in having a security team on board.

"This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they're in high-risk areas," Gortney said in a statement.

However, Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the international maritime community was still "solidly against" armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but that American ships have taken a different line than the rest of the international community. . . . .

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Copy of Harry Reid's version of the Senate Health Care Bill is available here

A copy of the new Senate health care bill is available here.

From the WSJ:

Among other things, the Senate legislation would create a new government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers, while allowing states the option not to participate. . . .

If someone believes the CBO cost estimate, I have a bridge to sell them.

The $849 billion figure and the prospect of deficit reduction cheered Democrats. . . .

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The media hates Palin

The Associated Press devotes 11 Reporters to Palin Book 'Fact Check," but didn't devote any reporters to do the same to Obama's books. But "the Associated Press' treatment of Palin's book seems an unprecedented move at the wire service." The claimed few errors in her book were also difficult to accept.

The organization did not review for accuracy recent books by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, then-Sen. Joe Biden, either book by Barack Obama released before he was president or autobiographies by Bill or Hillary Clinton. . . . AP didn't fact-check recent political tomes by Republicans Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich. . . . .

What other politician would have Newsweek or Time run this type of cover picture on? There are a lot of covers to check on with Time running one every other month on Obama.

What on earth was Sarah Palin thinking when she posed in a pair of teeny-tiny gym shorts for a photograph that ended up on the cover of Newsweek -- a cover she has called "sexist"? Perhaps she was thinking that her image would only appear in the magazine she was posing for, Runner's World, and nowhere else, at least not for months and months. If so, she had good reason -- since, as DailyFinance has learned, the photographer who shot the picture violated his contract by reselling them to Newsweek. . . .

Why would all these media publications try to get this picture of Palin?

A source with knowledge of the situation says multiple outlets, including Time, approached Runner's World after the photos first appeared on its website in July to inquire about obtaining the reuse rights. . . . .

On her Facebook page, Palin writes:

The choice of photo for the cover of this week's Newsweek is unfortunate. When it comes to Sarah Palin, this "news" magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant. The Runner's World magazine one-page profile for which this photo was taken was all about health and fitness - a subject to which I am devoted and which is critically important to this nation. The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention - even if out of context.

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Republican Sen. Judd Gregg predicts Democrats will pass what they want on health care

This is pretty depressing, but probably accurate. The Republicans can do nothing to stop this even if they remain united. All depends on Lieberman and Nebraska's Nelson.

Senate Democrats will eventually cobble together the 60 votes they need to pass their version of healthcare reform with a public plan intact, one top Republican lawmaker acknowledged Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will "shop the votes" he needs to bring the bill to the floor and end debate when the time arises, and his efforts should again prove successful once the chamber considers a healthcare conference report, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) told CNBC last night.

"My guess is, they'll be able to pass something, and it will be very, very expensive and add a lot to our debt," the New Hampshire Republican said, noting that Democrats are likely to allege the bill is "paid for [but] most of the pay-fors will never come to" fruition.

"Then they'll take it to conference, and in conference, all the hard language will be put on by the Speaker and her cadre," Gregg added. "You'll end up with a public plan, you'll end up with a very expensive plan, you'll end up with major tax increases.... premiums will go up, and they'll bring that bill back [to the Senate]."

Once that bill returns, Gregg explained Democrats will only face one more 60-vote procedural vote before considering the conference report for final passage. He predicted then, too, the party's efforts would prevail. . . . .


Palin gives Oprah her best rating in two years

The full story is here:

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with former vp candidate Sarah Palin scored the talk show host her highest rating in two years.

Monday's episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" drew a 8.7 household rating and 13 share -- the best since Oprah had the entire Osmond family on the show in 2007.

That means Palin also topped Oprah's heavily viewed interviews with Whitney Houston at the start of the season. . . .

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Dems pushing new jobs bill

I have written how the unemployment rate has gone up faster in countries with more of a stimulus program, but more government spending is just assumed to create jobs. No discussion in the media about where the money comes from or the jobs that are lost from taking that money away from other uses. Anyway, the AP has this:

House Democrats are looking at swelling deficits further, at least temporarily, on a jobs-producing bill in response to double-digit unemployment and a sense within their ranks that the party needs to do more to put people back to work.

But many of the ideas on the table so far are extensions of last February’s $787 billion economic stimulus package — such as unemployment benefits and subsidies to help the jobless pay for health insurance. They maintain the social safety net for the 15.7 million Americans out of work but they don’t directly create new jobs.

Aware that the February stimulus bill has not prevented unemployment from reaching 10.2 percent and of public opinion polls showing the free spending measure is losing popularity with voters, Democrats are wary of putting a stimulus label on their new package.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a second stimulus,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday. “I don’t want to be as broad as that, I want it to be very targeted on jobs.”

House Democrats debated ways to address job creation at a caucus meeting Monday night, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised colleagues the chamber would take up a jobs measure after it completes its health care overhaul bill. That makes it unlikely to pass into law this year.

Job-creating ideas include additional help for small business, more road and bridge spending, and extending business tax breaks slated to expire at the end of the year, according to spokespersons for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. . . .

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The cost of counterfeiting goods and company names

The entire article here is worth reading:

The only authorized Apple reseller in Beijing is Drangonstar. The hundreds of phony Apple “Authorised” stores (could be 100+ locations in Beijing alone) no doubt fool many shoppers. The Macs, iPods and iPhones on display look amazingly real. And I suspect that many are in fact the real McCoy. Yet buyer beware! I learned from some Apple savvy expats in Beijing that you can only tell you’ve got a bandit (Shanzhai ji) when you take your purchase home and discover the erratic (crappy) non-Apple like UI and inability to synch to iTunes.

So many have been burned by these incidences that the miss-trust unjustly spills over to the real Apple Store in Beijing (Sanlitun). I heard anecdotally that one Sanlitun Apple Store shopper insisted that the new iMac he purchased be completely unboxed and booted up before he would leave the store. Sounds crazy as the legit Apple Store at Sanlitun has an impeccable record of integrity and service. But this just goes to show how deep-rooted the mistrust is in China as a result of the Shanzhai ji (counterfeit goods) markets. . . .


Drugmakers raising prices before controls are imposed

I certainly hope that drug companies are trying to raise the prices of drugs before various regulations go into effect. The only problem is that they are being forced to raise prices more than they think that they should. Lowering these prices will only result in fewer new drugs and fewer lives being saved.

Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years.

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year.

Drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.

“When we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases,” says Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the University of Minnesota. He has analyzed drug pricing for AARP, the advocacy group for seniors that supports the House health care legislation that the drug industry opposes.

A Harvard health economist, Joseph P. Newhouse, said he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare a few years ago, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices by the widest margin in a half-dozen years.

“They try to maximize their profits,” Mr. Newhouse said.

But drug companies say they are having to raise prices to maintain the profits necessary to invest in research and development of new drugs as the patents on many of their most popular drugs are set to expire over the next few years. . . . .

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida now wants to investigate reports that prescription drug makers are raising prices.

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So much for unprecedented transparency: "EPA Employees Silenced for Criticizing Cap and Trade"

What would the reaction be if the Bush administration had tried to silence critics this way? This is not the first time that the Obama administration has tried to silence experts in government who disagreed with their global warming decisions. From Fox News:

Laurie Williams and husband Alan Zabel worked as lawyers for the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, in its San Francisco office for more than 20 years, and they know more about climate change than most politicians. But when the couple released a video on the Internet expressing their concerns over the Obama administration’s plans to use cap-and-trade legislation to fight climate change, they were told to keep it to themselves.

Williams and Zabel oppose cap and trade -- a controversial government allowance program in which companies are issued emissions limits, or caps, which they can then trade -- as a means to fight climate change.

On their own time, Williams and Zabel made a video expressing these opinions.

VIDEO: EPA Employees Speak Out Against Cap and Trade

"Cap-and-trade with offsets provides a false sense of progress and puts money in the pockets of investors," Zabel said in the video. "We think that these restrictions might not be constitutional," he said.

Their bosses in San Francisco approved the effort by Williams and Zabel to release the tape, but after an editorial they wrote appeared in the Washington Post, EPA Director Lisa Jackson ordered the pair to remove the video or face disciplinary action. . . .

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Appearing on Coast-to-Coast AM for a couple of minutes during George Noory's news segment sometime between 1:05 to 1:15 AM EST

George Noory is having me on tonight to briefly to talk about the increase in gun sales in the US.

All over America demand for firearms and ammunition is rising amid concerns that rising unemployment, which passed 10 per cent this month, will lead inexorably to higher rates of crime. Fears of terrorism have also helped to lift demand, as have concerns among gun owners that the Obama Administration may introduce restrictions on gun ownership and impose additional taxes.

Smith & Wesson is expecting sales to rise by 30 per cent to $102 million (£61 million) in the first quarter of the next financial year, after growing by more than 13 per cent this year to $335 million.

At Sturm and Ruger, sales for the third quarter hit $71.2 million, up 70 per cent from the same period last year. At Glock, the leader in law enforcement markets, pistol sales rose by 71 per cent in the first quarter of the financial year for 2010, in comparison with the same period last year.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the FBI carried out more than a million background checks on behalf of gun dealers in September (a check is required with every sale), an increase of 12.4 per cent on the same period in the previous year. . . .

See also this from the Washington Post:

In a year of job losses, foreclosures and bag lunches, Americans have spent record-breaking amounts of money on guns and ammunition. The most obvious sign of their demand: empty ammunition shelves.

At points during the past year, bullets have been selling faster than factories could make them.

Gun owners have bought about 12 billion rounds of ammunition in the past year, industry officials estimate. That's up from 7 billion to 10 billion in a normal year.

It has happened, oddly, at a time when the two concerns that usually make people buy guns and bullets -- crime and increased gun control -- seem less threatening than usual.

The explanation for the run on bullets lies partly in economics: Once rounds were scarce, people hoarded them, which made them scarcer.

But the rush for bullets, like this year's increase in gun sales, also says something about how suspicious the two sides in the gun-control debate are of each other, even at a time when the issue is on Washington's back burner.

The run started, observers say, as people heeded warnings from the gun-rights lobby that a new Democratic administration would make bullets more expensive or harder to get. Now that the shortage is starting to ease, gun-control groups are voicing their own dark worries about stockpiled ammunition. . . .

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More Americans think that Global Warming is Created by the Sun and Similar Causes

One wonders where the 20 percent come from who think that Mr. Obama believes that planetary trends are causing global warming. Anyway many more Americans think that something like the sun is responsible for any warming compared to man-made.

Nearly half the nation’s voters still believe that global warming is caused primarily by long term planetary trends, not human activity.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 47% of voters blame global warming on planetary trends, while 37% of voters take the opposite view and blame human activity. Just 5% point to some other reason.
Voters continue to believe the president holds the opposite view. Fifty percent (50%) say President Obama blames global warming on human activity, while only 20% think he blames planetary trends. But another 21% are not sure what the president believes. . . .

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Yet more errors in claimed jobs "saved or created"

The biggest error with these numbers is something that is never discussed in these news stories: where did the money come from? What jobs in other industries would have existed if the government hadn't taken the money that would have been spent there?

ABC News has this:

Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc, who chairs the powerful House appropriations Committee, issued a paper statement demanding that the recovery.gov Web site be updated.

"The inaccuracies on recovery.gov that have come to light are outrageous and the Administration owes itself, the Congress, and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes." . . .

Another ABC News piece has this:

One recipient – Talladega County of Alabama – claimed that 5,000 jobs had been saved or created from only $42,000 in stimulus funds. . . .

Some of the other recipients whose data was omitted included Belmont Metropolitan Housing Authority in Ohio that reported 16,120 jobs saved or created after receiving $1.3 million in stimulus funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Shelton State Community College in Alabama reported 14,500 jobs saved or created after receiving $27,000 from the General Accounting Office. And Alkan Builders of Alaska reported 3,000 jobs saved or created after receiving $11 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. . . .

Dem Rep David Obey, the chair of the House appropriations committee, speaks out on these errors:

“The inaccuracies on recovery.gov that have come to light are outrageous and the Administration owes itself, the Congress, and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes.

“Credibility counts in government and stupid mistakes like this undermine it. We’ve got too many serious problems in this country to let that happen.

“We designed the Recovery Act to be open and transparent and I expect the the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, who oversees the recovery act web site and data to have information that is accurate, reliable and understandable to the American public. Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now.”

GAO says that 50,000 of the jobs came from projects that reported spending no money yet.

More than 50,000 jobs, or one out of every 10 jobs the White House says were "saved or created" by their economic stimulus plan, came from projects that reported spending no money yet, according to a government report obtained by ABC News. . . .

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New York's Dem Gov Attacks Plan to Try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in NYC

One point that needs to be mentioned is just the cost of the security in a city as big as NYC. Anyway, here is a discussion about Paterson's statement:

Gov. David Paterson openly criticized the White House on Monday, saying he thought it was a terrible idea to move alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspected terrorists to New York for trial.

"This is not a decision that I would have made. I think terrorism isn't just attack, it's anxiety and I think you feel the anxiety and frustration of New Yorkers who took the bullet for the rest of the country," he said.

Paterson's comments break with Democrats, who generally support the President's decision.

Republicans said the group should be tried in a different location under military tribunal because the attacks are considered an act of war. . . .

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Robert Samuelson on Obama's "willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both"

Robert Samuelson rarely uses so strong of language:

There is an air of absurdity to what is mistakenly called "health care reform." Everyone knows that the United States faces massive governmental budget deficits as far as calculators can project, driven heavily by an aging population and uncontrolled health costs. Recovering slowly from a devastating recession, it's widely agreed that, though deficits should not be cut abruptly (lest the economy resume its slump), a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending, and curb massive future deficits. The administration estimates these at $9 trillion from 2010 to 2019. The president and all his top economic advisers proclaim the same cautionary message.

So, what do they do? Just the opposite. Their sweeping overhaul of the health care system -- which Congress is halfway toward enacting -- would almost certainly make matters worse. It would create new, open-ended medical entitlements that threaten higher deficits and would do little to suppress surging health costs. The disconnect between what President Obama says and what he's doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president, his advisers and allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both. . . .

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Questions about Terrorist Trial in NYC

Jurors are asked: "Do you have any association with the crime?" What will people in NYC say? Wasn't anyone living there at the time of the attack impacted?

Why is the Obama administration using military tribunals for some trials and not others?


Rationing health care for old people

Sarah Palin was right that the health care bill was going to restrict health care to the elderly. The phrase "It is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid would not be realized" means rationing. Even the headline in the Washington Post says: "Report: Bill would reduce senior care."

A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending -- one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama's proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system -- would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.

The report, requested by House Republicans, found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.

Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but "so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings" than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

More generally, the report questions whether the country's network of doctors and hospitals would be able to cope with the effects of a reform package expected to add more than 30 million people to the ranks of the insured, many of them through Medicaid, the public health program for the poor.

In the face of greatly increased demand for services, providers are likely to charge higher fees or take patients with better-paying private insurance over Medicaid recipients, "exacerbating existing access problems" in that program, according to the report from Richard S. Foster of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Though the report does not attempt to quantify that impact, Foster writes: "It is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid would not be realized." . . .

The administration is going to cut Medicare by $500 billion and yet still continues to claim:

"The president has made it clear that health insurance reform will protect and strengthen Medicare," said White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass. "And he has also made clear that no guaranteed Medicare benefits will be cut." . . .

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Zelaya won't recognize Honduran elections

As if there wasn't already enough evidence that Zelaya was anti-democratic. From Fox News:

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya insisted late Saturday that he will not accept any deal to restore him to office if it means he must recognize elections later this month. . . .


Is the US paying the Taliban to ensure that US supply trucks are allowed to get supplies to US troops in Afghanistan?

The UK Guardian has this amazing story. The biggest problem seems to stem from being "banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle."

At first the contract, for "host nation trucking", was large but not gargantuan. But over the summer, citing the coming "surge" and a new doctrine, "Money as a weapons system", the US military expanded the contract 600% for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: "Service members will not get the food, water, equipment and ammunition they require."
Each of the military's six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360m, or a total of nearly $2.2bn. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10% of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defence minister's well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.
Host nation trucking does, indeed, keep the US military efforts alive in Afghanistan. "We supply everything the army needs to survive here," one American trucking executive told me. "We bring them their toilet paper, their water, their fuel, their guns, their vehicles."
The epicentre is Bagram air base, just an hour north of Kabul, from where virtually everything in Afghanistan is trucked to the outer reaches of what the army calls "the battlespace" – that is, the entire country. Parked near Entry Control Point 3, the trucks line up, shifting gears and sending up clouds of dust as they prepare for their various missions across the country.
The real secret to trucking in Afghanistan is security on the perilous roads, controlled by warlords, tribal militias, insurgents and Taliban commanders. The American executive I talked to was fairly specific about it: "The army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money." . . .

Sometimes, he says, the fee is high, and sometimes it is low. "Moving 10 trucks, it is probably $800 per truck to move through an area. It's based on a number of trucks and what you're carrying. If you have fuel trucks, they are going to charge you more. If you have dry trucks, they're not going to charge you as much. If you are carrying Mraps [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] or Humvees, they are going to charge you more."
Hanna says it is just a necessary evil. "If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially." . . .

The heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The security firms don't really protect convoys of US military goods here because they simply can't; they need the Taliban's co-operation.
One of the big problems for the companies that ship US military supplies across the country is that they are banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle. That makes them ineffective for battling Taliban attacks on a convoy. Insurgents are "shooting the drivers from 3,000ft away" with Kalashnikovs, a trucking company executive in Kabul told me. "They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] that will blow up an up-armed vehicle. So the security companies are tied up. Because of the rules, security companies can only carry AK-47s, and that's just a joke. I carry an AK – and that's just to shoot myself if I have to!" . . . .

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Wage regulations help cause the BofA CEO to leave and now the rules are preventing them from hiring a new person

Regulations causing one problem after another.

Bank of America Corp. directors are hitting a new hurdle as they hunt for the giant bank's next CEO: Obama administration pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.

William Demchak, senior vice chairman at PNC Financial Services Group Inc., spurned a feeler last week from a recruiter for the Charlotte, N.C., bank, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mr. Feinberg's required approval of the compensation package for whomever succeeds Kenneth D. Lewis was a major factor in the decision, this person said. Mr. Demchak also didn't see the bank's situation as fixable given the government's heavy influence over the company.

The bank would "get blasted" for buying out Mr. Demchak's shares in PNC, this person said. The 46-year-old executive helped turn around the Pittsburgh bank and is widely viewed as the likely successor to PNC Chief Executive James Rohr.

Such purchases are common in hirings of top company executives. According to a securities filing, Mr. Demchak earlier this year held PNC shares worth $34.3 million based on the bank's stock price Friday.

Mr. Feinberg's role as overseer of seven companies that received huge government aid gives him enormous influence in the succession process at Bank of America. Once directors make a decision and negotiate contract terms with their chosen CEO, the compensation package must be submitted to Mr. Feinberg for approval. . . .

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Homeowner shots robber who sprayed him with mace

A defensive gun use in Las Vegas, Nevada:

A Valley man is safe, but only after being forced to defend himself in his own home.

It all happened in just a matter of seconds, a door broken in, mace sprayed, and shots fired. Unfortunately, someone ended up dying, but fortunately, it wasn't the person who tells Action News he was simply minding his own business in his own home.

The crime scene reflected one of the more rare home invasions, in which the victim came out the victor.

Royce Gubler lives right across the street from where his neighbor was forced to shoot a man Thursday night near Rancho and Vegas.

"That is your domain, and when people come in, they should realize the risk involved," says Royce.

Inside Friday, crews began cleaning up the remnants of the scene.

Following his lawyer's advice, the homeowner didn't want to go on camera, but told Action News off-camera that a man broke through his door and sprayed him with mace.

Blinded, he fired four shots with a .22 pistol, killing the intruder, while a co-conspirator took off in a getaway car outside.

"I'm very happy when the homeowner is coming out on top, and not the bad guy," says Royce.

In this case, the homeowner says police warned him prior to the shooting that someone may be targeting him because he's known to keep around $35,000 cash for his hobby: high-stakes poker.

The homeowner also says he normally doesn't even keep a gun on him, but is thankful he had one Thursday night. . . .