Prominant blogger Andrew Sullivan is often very in tune with mainstream public opinion. Here are[...]
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Paul Krugman says that the main Republican strategy to fight climate change legislation will be to attack it as hurting the economy:
By 2050, when the emissions limit would be much tighter, the burden would rise to 1.2 percent of income. But the budget office also predicts that real G.D.P. will be about two-and-a-half times larger in 2050 than it is today, so that G.D.P. per person will rise by about 80 percent. The cost of climate protection would barely make a dent in that growth. And all of this, of course, ignores the benefits of limiting global warming.
So where do the apocalyptic warnings about the cost of climate-change policy come from?
Are the opponents of cap-and-trade relying on different studies that reach fundamentally different conclusions? No, not really. It?s true that last spring the Heritage Foundation put out a report claiming that Waxman-Markey would lead to huge job losses, but the study seems to have been so obviously absurd that I?ve hardly seen anyone cite it.
Instead, the campaign against saving the planet rests mainly on lies.
Thus, last week Glenn Beck ? who seems to be challenging Rush Limbaugh for the role of de facto leader of the G.O.P. ? informed his audience of a ?buried? Obama administration study showing that Waxman-Markey would actually cost the average family $1,787 per year. Needless to say, no such study exists.
But we shouldn?t be too hard on Mr. Beck. Similar ? and similarly false ? claims about the cost of Waxman-Markey have been circulated by many supposed experts.
A year ago I would have been shocked by this behavior. But as we?ve already seen in the health care debate, the polarization of our political discourse has forced self-proclaimed ?centrists? to choose sides ? and many of them have apparently decided that partisan opposition to President Obama trumps any concerns about intellectual honesty.
So here?s the bottom line: The claim that climate legislation will kill the economy deserves the same disdain as the claim that global warming is a hoax. The truth about the economics of climate change is that it?s relatively easy being green.
Hassan Nemazee's brother-in-law has been charged as an accomplice in the same alleged $292 million Ponzi scheme that Nemazee himself was indicted for earlier this week.
Shahin Kashanchi, 46, of Telluride, Colorado, was charged with helping Nemazee -- a major fundraiser for the Democratic party -- to submit fraudulent documents and correspondence to the banks Nemazee allegedly swindled.
According to a Justice Department press release:
Indeed, based on e-mail traffic between Kashanchi and Nemazee summarized in the complaint, Kashanchi was regularly producing what Kashanchi referred to as the "normal quarterly statements" for one of the non-existent collateral accounts, among other things. Kashanchi would simply create phony account statements designed to look like real account statements, but bearing account numbers for accounts that did not exist and reflecting balances that purported to establish Nemazee's great wealth.
Kashanchi also assisted Nemazee in Nemazee's submission of fraudulent correspondence to banks. For example, on Aug. 11, 2009, representatives of Citibank told Nemazee that he needed to produce written verification of his collateral for the Citibank loans, which collateral was purportedly being held in an account at Pershing LLC. The Citibank representatives specified that the verification would have to be "an original letter on Pershing stationary [sic] signed by an authorized representative of Pershing." On Aug. 13, Nemazee and Kashanchi exchanged e-mails arranging to talk the next day. On Aug. 14, Kashanchi sent Nemazee an e-mail in which Kashanchi stated in part: "Here is a try. Looks good from my end. . . . Compare it to an original if you have it." Attached to that e-mail was a piece of fake Pershing letterhead stationery, listing as Pershing's address and telephone number an address and telephone number associated with a Manhattan-based "virtual office" that Nemazee himself had established and bearing the name of an actual Pershing LLC employee. As a result, in the event anyone made an effort to contact that Pershing representative, they would in fact be contacting a telephone number assigned to Nemazee himself, and not any financial institution. Later that same day, Kashanchi sent Nemazee two different versions of the same phony stationery.
Kashanchi has been charged with two counts of bank fraud, each of which carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.
Crazy Pete Hoekstra lives up to his nick-name with this op-ed today in the right wing Washington Times.[...]
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Today, much of the world’s economic growth is outside of the U.S. So for now at least, many (and maybe most) of the compelling investment opportunities are outside the U.S., too.But for years, Americans had…
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Brooklyn native, has been released from a Washington, D.C. hospital, one day after falling ill in her office.
A court spokesperson says Ginsburg was hospitalized last night as a precaution.
Should Obama actually change his mind about Afghanistan, our elite journalists -- obsessed as they are with how the game is played -- will almost inevitably characterize this as vacillation and declare it a sign of political weakness. But that really misses the point.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that over the last several months, what's emerged when it comes to Afghan policy is a sort of consensus of the realists -- from across the political spectrum. The consensus: That our national interests in Afghanistan are pretty limited and that the harder we try to change things over there, the more resistance we face; that Afghanistan, after eight years of U.S. occupation, has become a Vietnam-like quagmire where escalation only leads to more escalation, not victory; and that what little we could possibly accomplish there is not worth more American blood.
Pretty much the only people left supporting a massive sustained military approach (no matter how cleverly retooled) are the neocons, the reflexive Obama supporters, and the military commanders charged with carrying it out. Otherwise, a wide swath of experts and politicians -- not to mention a significant majority of the American public -- have concluded that our interests are best served at this point by getting out and certainly not by sending more troops in.
Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world's leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is blocking an EPA nomination because he wants the agency to delay establishing safety procedures for formaldehyde. Meanwhile, major emitters of the dangerous chemical have been generous contributors to the senator's reelection campaign.
Vitter met yesterday with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who sought, unsuccessfully, to convince him to remove the hold he had placed on Paul Anastas, who has been nominated to be the EPA's assistant administrator in charge of its Office of Research and Development, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
No one has a problem with Anastas, who served in environmental posts in the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations. Rather, according to the Times-Picayune, Vitter wants the EPA to let the National Academy of Sciences review EPA's assessment of the risks posed by the chemical formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA, and has been linked to nasal, lung, and brain cancer, as well as leukemia. EPA says it's been studying the issue since 1997, and it's now time to issue a risk assessment and establish safety standards.
Vitter presents his position as one of concern about the risks of formaldehyde, dangerously high levels of which were last year detected in FEMA trailers housing Katrina evacuees, forcing FEMA to relocate some people to "safer housing." "Because of the FEMA trailer debacle, we need to get absolutely reliable information to the public about formaldehyde risk as soon as possible," a Vitter spokesman told the Times-Picayune. "That's why Sen. Vitter started working with a bipartisan group over a year ago to have the National Academy of Sciences weigh in."
But Vitter's stance on the issue is identical to that taken by the Formaldehyde Council Inc. (FCI), a trade group of formaldehyde producers. The group told TPMmuckraker in a statement that "an NAS review of formaldehyde has been a long-standing policy goal of the industry," and added that "FCI believes that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that formaldehyde and formaldehyde-derived products are safe when used appropriately." In addition, lobby disclosure reports examined by TPMmuckraker show that the group paid $30,000 to a lobbying firm this year in part to win "support for a National Academy of Sciences review of scientific studies on the toxicity of formaldehyde."
It's perhaps not surprising that Vitter's and the formaldehyde industry's positions on the issue would correspond so closely. Many of Louisiana's top emitters of the pollutant are contributors to Vitter's 2010 re-election bid. According to FEC records examined by TPMmuckraker, the Louisiana senator has received $9000 from Dow Chemical's political action committee, $5000 from Monsanto's, $4000 from Exxon-Mobil's, and $2500 from the American Forest and Paper Association's. Dow, Exxon, and Monsanto are all among the top formaldehyde polluters in the state, EPA data examined by TPMmuckraker show, while both Dow and the American Forest and Paper Association are members of FCI.
Vitter's office did not immediately respond to TPMmuckraker's request for comment.
Paul Kirk sworn in as junior senator from Massachusetts. [...]
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One of the worst abuses of private insurance companies is the practice of using spurious reasons to deny claims. In April, Rosalinda Miran-Ramirez awoke and found her shirt soaked in blood. Realizing that her “her left breast [was] bleeding from the nipple,” she rushed to the emergency room.
Today, CBS-5 reports that this San Francisco Department of Public Health employee has had her claim denied because her insurance company, Blue Shield of California, didn’t consider her situation to be an “emergency.” Even though her doctor told her it was likely a tumor, Blue Shield said that Miran-Ramirez should have known it wasn’t:
But Miran-Ramirez said the real shock came when her insurance company, Blue Shield of California HMO, which had initially approved the claim for the emergency room visit, reversed course and sent her a new bill three months later requiring her to pay the total charges for that visit: $2,791.00.
Why? Documents from Blue Shield indicate the company had reviewed the case and determined Miran-Ramirez “reasonably should have known that an emergency did not exist.”
“I am like how can they say that it was not an emergency? Like, my breast was bleeding! I am not a clinical person but if your breast is bleeding, for me that’s an emergency,” she said. [...]
So she appealed. And she was denied again. This time Blue Shield told her she hadn’t been in “any acute distress.”
Watch CBS-5’s report:
The sad truth is Miran-Ramirez is certainly not alone in having her claim denied by a major health insurer. The California Nurses Association (CNA), a nurses’ union and health care advocacy group, recently released a comprehensive study of claims denials across California. The study found that the six largest insurers in California rejected 47.7 million claims in the first half of 2009, nearly 22 percent of all claims submitted. The CNA twice successfully lobbied the California legislature to pass legislation that would establish a single-payer universal health care system in the state, only to have it vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).
Last week, in a congressional hearing titled “Between You and Your Doctor: the Bureaucracy of Private Health Insurance,” top insurance executives testified before Chairman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) that the insurance company practice of denials can be fatal for its customers.
Indeed, such a denial cost 17-year old Nataline Sarkisyan her life in 2007, when Cigna denied coverage for a liver transplant until it was too late. Her mother, Hilda Sarkisyan, came to D.C. earlier this year to lobby for a public health insurance plan that would stop such denials. She told the press, “Insurance companies cannot decide who’s going to live and who’s going to die.”
Following the CBS-5 investigation, Blue Shield agreed to pay for all charges for Miran-Ramirez’s emergency room visit.
Senators can afford to wait for Health Care reform -- after all they ALREADY HAVE Health Insurance for their Families!Trigger? -- No Problem!2013? -- Who Cares!Public Option only for the Few -- No Worries ... ( -- For Them! )Montana Senators have a[...]
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