Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All 50 States Need to SUE the Insurance Companies

McCarran-Ferguson was originally designed to empower both the federal government and the individual states so that they could act to prevent insurance companies from becoming abusive monopolies.

How ironic that it has instead enabled the health insurance industry to achieve exactly the opposite result because the federal government has chosen not to pass legislation targeting insurance monopolies and the states have, for the most part, shirked their regulatory responsibilities.

States haven't gone after obvious Health Care Monopolies because their budgets are stretched too thin.

All 50 States need to bring legal action collectively and the Federal Government needs to join the suit.

Allegations of price-fixing, bid-rigging, exclusive sales contracts, local price cutting to freeze out competitors, and the dividing up of markets need to be full explored so we can get rid of our dysfunctional corporate health care system that's choking the economy to death.

On a macroeconomic scale it would return money to "our" pocketbooks and be more profitable for America. Less money out of our paychecks going to Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelsons friends at Well Point would be a boom for the economy. It would enable an increase in savings and investing as well as spending.

Our money is being horded by the few to the detriment of the overall market place. That money needs to be returned to the tax payers in mass and available to stimulate the economy across a broad sector of markets as a whole versus the gain of a few Senators from Aetna named Lieberman and Nelson and the hysterically wealthy and tone deaf CEO's they greedily represent.

As conservatives like to say - enforce the laws on the books! It's time to sue the Insurance companies regardless of the Healthcare Bill that Passes.

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home
With thanks to Jerry Policoff

Enforce Anti-Trust Laws Against Insurance Companies - TODAY

I found this article very informative and wanted to pass it along
For OpEdNews: Jerry Policoff - Writer

One of the more under-reported aspects of the healthcare reform efforts currently making their way through the Senate and House of Representatives in Washington is the antitrust exemption conferred upon the insurance industry sixty-four years ago with the enactment of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. The Act fostered the growth of giant health insurance monopolies whose Wall Street driven for-profit corporate culture has produced a dysfunctional American healthcare system where profit takes precedence over health care.

The irony is that the McCarran-Ferguson Act was never intended to exempt the insurance industry from antitrust law or to protect it from strong regulation and enforcement. In fact it was designed to do exactly the opposite. The Act came about as a result of a Supreme Court decision, United States v South-Eastern Underwriters Assn., which found that insurance companies that sell policies across state lines are engaged in interstate commerce, and are thus subject to federal antitrust law.

Up until that decision regulation of the insurance industry was the responsibility of the respective states. Many states were concerned that they no longer had that authority, and McCarran-Ferguson was designed to restore the power to regulate insurance to the states while also empowering the federal government.

The Act permitted the federal government to regulate insurance, but it also stipulated that only the states have broad authority to regulate the insurance industry unless the federal government enacts specific legislation intended to regulate insurance and displace state law.

In plain English that means that the states have the power to regulate the insurance industry but so does the federal government if it enacts specific laws directed at the industry.

McCarran-Ferguson also unambiguously stipulated that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (which prohibits abusive monopolies) and the Clayton Act of 1914 (passed by the U.S. Congress as an amendment to clarify and supplement the Sherman Anti-Trust Act by prohibiting exclusive sales contracts, local price cutting to freeze out competitors, and in general prohibiting abusive monopolies), apply to the business of insurance to the extent that such business is not regulated by state law.

In short, McCarran-Ferguson was designed to empower both the federal government and the individual states so that they could act to prevent insurance companies from becoming abusive monopolies. How ironic that it has instead enabled the health insurance industry to achieve exactly the opposite result because the federal government has chosen not to pass legislation targeting insurance monopolies and the states have, for the most part, shirked their regulatory responsibilities.

It is time to restore the original intent of McCarran-Ferguson by subjecting the insurance industry to state and/or federal regulation and through vigorous enforcement of federal antitrust law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently saw it that way. The House bill specifically subjects the health insurance industry to antitrust law, stripping it of any perceived exemption.

Not so with the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Senator Max Baucus and his special interest-friendly gang of three, which produced a bill reportedly written by one Elizabeth Fowler. Fowler, no stranger to Baucus, had worked for him from 2001 to 2005 as Chief Health and Entitlements Counsel for the Democratic Staff of the Senate Finance Committee. She returned to the Senate in February of 2008 as Senior Counsel to Senator Baucus. In between she served as Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs for insurance giant WellPoint, Inc., a small detail left out of the February 26, 2008 Max Baucus press release announcing her return to his staff where her portfolio would "include the panel's yearlong preparation for broad-based health care reform."

Apparently Baucus, Fowler, and WellPoint saw no need to strip the insurance industry of its antitrust exemption, so they didn't even though it was never intended to actually be an anti-trust exemption.

Senator Patrick Leahy had other ideas. He proposed an amendment to the Baucus Finance Committee Senate bill that would subject health and medical malpractice insurers to federal laws forbidding price-fixing, bid-rigging, or the dividing up of markets, an amendment favored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who maintained that a repeal of the anti-trust exemption would produce more competition and better prices for consumers. President Obama also implied support for the Leahy amendment when he voiced criticism of the antitrust exemption in his weekly radio address, complaining that the health insurance industry is "earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exemption from our antitrust laws."

The final word on the Senate bill belonged not to Max Baucus, but to Harry Reid, so one might have expected the removal of the antitrust exemption to make its way into the Senate bill that was finally passed last week.

The media has largely ignored the fact that the final Reid bill never did address the anti-trust issue, thus leaving the perceived exemption intact, and at odds with the House bill. The obvious question is why, and the answer would be Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. Nelson, a former insurance industry executive (He served as CEO of the Central National Insurance Group, as chief of staff and executive vice president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and as director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance), took issue with the Senate bill depriving his insurance industry friends of the right to legally defy federal anti-trust law. The insurance industry had also lobbied to keep the Leahy anti-trust provision out. Harry Reid, desperate for Ben Nelson's vote which would give him a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, went along, and out it went.

Does the continuation of the insurance anti-trust exemption really make a difference? In a word, absolutely!

Both the Senate and House bills leave regulation of the insurance industry to the states which have never been known for holding the industry's feet to the fire. A recent study by The Center for American Progress found that State regulatory authorities rarely bring consumer protection suits against insurance companies and that is especially true in the states most dominated by one or two insurance companies that enjoy virtual monopoly status. In fact in the five states with the least competition four of the five had brought no such suits in the past five years. The report suggested that most states are stretched too thin, and lack the resources to enforce antitrust laws, citing Congressional testimony by Georgetown health policy professor Karen Pollitz's pointing out that "In four states, the Insurance Commissioner is also the fire marshal." Senator Leahy cited the study in support of his effort to repeal the antitrust exemption for health and medical malpractice insurers. "If we remove it, they will have to compete," Leahy saidin a conference call with reporters.

Of course we have come to learn that the minority, not the majority, rules, if the minority bears the name of Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman (sometimes referred to as the Senator from Aetna).

There are some serious reformers who find much to fault in the healthcare reform bill just passed by the Senate, but who think it is time to hold our collective noses and pass this bill. I respect their opinions, but unless this bill undergoes some serious revision during the House/Senate reconciliation process I fear dreadful consequences if this bill becomes law.

First and foremost, it is absolutely essential that federal antitrust law be recognized as something that applies to the health insurance industry, and the time is long past due for it to be utilized to strip the industry of the monopolistic power it both enjoys and abuses.

I don't see the insurance companies mending their ways, and now, armed with mandates, they will have even more power and more money with which to thwart any attempt to enforce regulations that already exist, or that may be enacted in the future.

To the extent the insurance industry has attained its exempt antitrust status; it is because the states and the federal government never exercised the regulatory authority that McCarren-Ferguson explicitly granted them.

Any effort to reform health care has to start with reigning in and dismantling the health insurance monopolies. We need no laws empowering the government to do this, just an acknowledgement that present law allows it and always has.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

"I randomly stumbled upon this book online and it looked intriguing. I recommend the hell out of it!" -- Jonny Bear
"I randomly stumbled upon this book online and it looked intriguing. Little did I know it was more than just a curious cover.... I recommend the hell out of it!" -- Jonny Bear

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Band on the Road
A Book for Our Modern Times

Virginia Beach, VA – A modern story that unfolds a hundred and one truths about life and takes us to an unforgettable journey, Paul Burke’s Journey Home is a short and deceptively simple book about a struggling band traveling from one place to another for their gigs. As they pursue their dream, we meet their friends, their families, and the strangers that will affect and be affected by the band members. But the story is far larger than what we are made to believe at first.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm a big fan of Voice of the Wetlands check them out - http://ping.fm/6Las0

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Health Care is Crippling the Country - Where are the Republicans - Drinking?

Okay now that the Republicans won't play and big pharma and big insurance have Joe Lieberman all wrapped up (yes that's him boozing with Grahm and McCain) who is going to break the monopoly and price fixing that is crushing the middle class and destroying our economy and Country?

Since the middle class and small business (99% of the Country) isn't getting any help from the Republicans - not one - we need to strip the mandates out that require everyone to have insurance and that provide an economic windfall to the 1% of the Country Republicans and Joe Lieberman answer to.

If we aren't going to get competition for big pharma and we can't buy cheaper drugs from overseas (so much for free trade) and we can't buy into medicare (no public option) how are we to create competition and incentives for the private insurers to lower their cost?

Small businesses just got informed by blue cross their rates are going up 37% this year. There is no incentive for a monopoly to lower costs. The collusion in pricing needs to be investigated and the anti-trust exemption needs to be terminated - with prejudice. The insurance companies have a gun to our head and the republicans are loading the barrel with glee.

The fact remains that In 2007, before the current economic downturn, an American family filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of illness every 90 seconds; three-quarters of them were insured. Over 60% of all bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were driven by medical incidents. The share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007. Most victims are middle class, well educated and had health insurance - (The American Journal of Medicine).

If they don't fix how much it costs the middle class and keep squeezing us to pay their CEO's 20 million dollars a year they are going to break the country. The money needs to stay in the hands of the middle class so they can support the broader economy not just a few CEO's. The insurance companies can't be allowed to skim 40% off the top for salaries and profit. Their manufactured monopoly has to be broken up by the Government. It's called governing. It's the SEC's job to do this and Congresses job to legislate the rule of law when monopolies are crushing the overall economy. It's bad for our National security on top of everything else. For all their preaching of free markets the Republicans are elected to eliminate competition and consolidate power for their big business and fiscal allies in the corporate world.

How stupid are our representatives? Spare me the republican talking points they have offered nothing and are only playing politics to win power in their little world of politicking. Meanwhile the Country is crumbling. 1% of the population is doing well. That eventually will lead to civil war. And there are plenty of guns out there.

The republicans hope health care reform and this President fail because they govern for 1% of the country and 1% alone. How can there not be one republican who doesn't understand the cost of health care is weakening our Country? The republicans can't do what's right for the country because they are scared the corrupt who they take their money from can lead the ignorant against them in any election and win because they control the media.

As it has been for a long time the Republican party worrying about their own seat in Congress have sold out to the highest bidder and have proudly become a wholly owned subsidiary of Corporate America. They do "NOT" represent the middle class.

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What's "Journey Home" About?

I get asked this question a lot and even though its a one off question I haven't been able to come up with a one off answer. There aren't any vampires in it if that helps. Journey Home took over twenty years to write and finish so that should tell you it has some substance and thought behind the story. It's not a formula book. It was a labor of love and written to offer a little entertainment and maybe a slightly different way of looking at the world.

It's deep but its fun and the story has a bunch of twists and turns. After reading a slew of classics I finally sat down and wrote the book I always wanted to read. It was an unbelievable process filled with frustration, heartache and joy, peaks and valleys. The sheer determination and energy put into it I think comes out in the end. It was worth the struggle to see it through. The reader comments speak for themselves.

But what is Journey Home about? Well it's about everything. It's about life, its about love, its about adventure, its about travel, its about music, its about crime, its about anger, its about bloodshed, its about death, its about life - oh wait I already said that - its about humor, its about the art of creation, its about song, its about earth, its about the universe, the stars in the sky and the water in the ground. Its about consciousness, its about a band, its about teenagers, its about adults, its about decisions, choices, and results. Its about wrong and right and the middle area between the two.

Its about a bunch of people thrown together with a few other people and a bunch of stuff happens, some good, some bad, some horrible, some supreme with still more people and everyone having a helluva time whether they know it or not.

In fact if I started to get into the details I would give the story away and I'm not going to do that. So if you want to know what Journey Home is about read the book. What is so awesome about reading is that it involves you, and your inner self,and what you bring to the story,and how you interpret what is around you, and how it mingles with your internal dialogue, and Journey Home is about that as well, and oh yeah there's sex.

Journey Home

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Message To Tea Baggers and the Greens

Of course some want the health care bill killed it wasn't their parties idea. But that kind of us against them thinking is what enables corporate america to step into the divide and take control. The corporatist are going to rig the system in their favor. No matter what political party you align yourself with the corporatist win as they fight tooth and nail to direct OUR tax dollars their way, and WE THE PEOPLE loose.

Most of us just want the politicians whichever party they belong to doing a good job for the american people.

Over 60% of all US bankruptcies are attributable to medical problems. Most victims are middle class, well educated and have health insurance - (The American Journal of Medicine)

The insurance companies and their representatives in Congress would love to perpetuate a business model that is crippling our overall economy – a bunch of great Americans aren’t they? Because its about their wealth and not the health and well being of the entire Country.

If we get a compromise reform Bill through this Congress that ends the pre-existing conditions exclusions, adds full insurance portability, makes it illegal for insurers to drop patients or raise their rates just because they get sick, repeals the anti-trust exemption, allows for national programs but prevents consolidation, conglomeration and "too big to fail", and gets the same policy prices for us as the congressmen and women pay - as well as setting up exchanges to increase competition, then we will really have done something important.

That the republican party hasn't taken the opportunity to participate in the bipartisanship that was offered to them by this new administration is unconscionable bordering on treasonous and flat out petty.

Their main goal is to win elections - not govern, and to the extent they are on the other side of the isle try and make sure this Presidents star doesn't rise any further.

These are not people with "our" best interest at heart. Us against them is ruining this country and quite frankly I think the tea-baggers should sit down with the greens.

Both the far right and the far left have a lot in common mainly their total disgust with the Status Quo, wall street and big oil stealing our tax dollars. Why are the hyper profitable oil companies receiving tax dollars - millions - when that money could be going to veterans benefits?

I saw the fire congress bumper stickers believe me we all feel the same way. You want us against them? How about the people vs the lobbyist and the corporate buyout and rigging of our so called representative government. How about a tax overhaul so that everyone is paying their fair share, how about the corporate person hood overturn so that CEO's are held accountable for their actions?

A slavish focus on profit margin might be good for the individual or a business, but it is one helluva lousy way to "govern" a Country. Most congressmen both (D) and (R) are just personally owned and wholly owned subsidiaries of Corporate America.

Sad but true. But there is hope even though major corporate media won't talk about it because they are gaming the system, consolidating and just the P.R. machines for the biggest of the big conglomerations and their political puppets in congress.

Still - we - us - far right - far left and those in the middle can fix it all with campaign finance reform.

The status quo doesn't want us talking about that (anything but that) but that's what should happen. Campaign finance reform is what we should ALL be talking about morning, noon and night. We have a broken country hijacked by the highest bidders. Campaign finance reform - make that your number one talking point - then we can get back to governing by common sense, and stop accusing each other of complete non-sense. People who want clean air and clean water and to help their fellow Americans are not socialist, commies who hate Jesus, and right to gun ownership, deficit hawks - do not want to see people kicked out of their homes.

It has been my experience that it is the rare politician who puts country first but not rare at all for the citizens left, right and center. We need to join together to fix our politicians because they are incapable of fixing themselves - campaign finance reform and lobby reform TODAY!

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ask Interior Secretary Salazar to protect America's wilderness from Bush-era "no more wilderness" policy. http://ping.fm/UhIvg

Former Medic's Lettter About Health Care to Congress

Reposted with permission - this Veterans Senator is Jim Webb -


Dear Jim,
I am troubled by the direction we are taking in the healthcare debate. I was recently turned down by the Veterans administration for healthcare due to the fact that my income is more than allowed even though I’m one serious illness away from bankruptcy.

This was not what I was told in 1969 when I was needed by my country to fight the highly lucrative war in Vietnam. Robert McNamara’s book sure shed light on just how expendable we were as common Americans who did not enjoy the deferments received by the children of then members of congress.

I was a medic and lucky that my time was in Army hospitals and away from the battles. It was still difficult and to this day I still see the boys we picked up from the sidewalks that had managed to get to the high floors before jumping to their deaths because of what the war did to them.

Strangely, most were clutching bibles as something that meant something special to them, something bigger than they, something stronger than the fear and disorientation in their lives.

America turned her back on us as we came home from a war that we didn’t want or ask to join. She turned and looked away when my brothers’ caskets were carried from Dover to their final resting place and I can’t help but think that she is turning her back on us again.

We have all fought and died for this country and not just the military but every auto worker, steel worker, teacher and housewife. We are all living in the greatest country on earth and we can’t even afford to keep ourselves and our families alive. Shouldn’t healthcare be a basic HUMAN consideration that is on par with military and education as government run and supported programs?

The recent votes touted as “victories” in congress still offer NO support for the unemployed and uninsured but yet the insurance industry has managed to gain an even stronger role and a more lucrative role in our healthcare.

These are the same fat cats who turn us down for healthcare procedures if you’re lucky enough to have insurance. The same ones who will bankrupt us if we can’t pay their fees. The same ones who have paid congressmen to vote their way and not vote for the little guy who doesn’t enjoy their privileges or influence.

What do we have to clutch and hang onto as congress throws us to our death? Is there anybody in D.C. working for us that doesn’t put special interest ahead of all of America? Is there anybody? Please help us Jim. I stood with you and other veterans at your rally at election time ...and helped you. Help us Jim, please help us.
Do your part and help our veterans take action here

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't forget look for "Journey Home" for your friends at amazon http://ping.fm/YnOMd
The Solar World Round Up and The Tyranny of Oil - http://ping.fm/qkrDd

Solar World Round Up 12-11-09

While the status quo stifles invention, progress and our standing in the world, promotes two wars to gain pipelines for their antiquated technologies and dirty energy business models that destroy our health and national security - progress is coming. There is no stopping it just a lot of foot dragging and disinformation.

The tyranny of oil and their price fixing - how can gasoline prices go up when demand is down and supply is abundant...you are aware that the price at the pump has gone up again aren't you? Price fixing, price fixing, price fixing oil, coal and nuclear the three heads of the apocalypse have a strangle hold on our tax dollars and politicians, and set prices through comodoties trading agencies in Atlanta.

The wrenching away of control by the insurance companies is just the first battle. Big oil we're coming after you next. Better start bribing the Joe Lieberman's of the world with more money.

In regards to health care if we do get a compromise reform Bill through this Congress that extends coverage to millions of people, ends the pre-existing conditions exclusions, adds full insurance portability, makes it illegal for insurers to drop patients or raise their rates just because they get sick, repeals the anti-trust exemption, allows for national programs across state lines, and it costs us the same as it costs the politicians, and there are exchanges to increase competition, then we will really have done something big, something important.

It's not all doom and gloom here people and we are going to go through the same thing with big oil, nuclear and coal as we try and get a clean energy bill passed. So roll up your sleeves, take a breath and get ready for the next round. I know I am. I can't wait!

In the meantime progress is happening. We have to make sure it isn't compromised, bought out, shelved and/or consolidated away. That's how the big boys do it they buy the competition out and keep feeding us their same tired old crap that was new back in 1900's.

Heck back then they liked electric cars better too but the big boys ripped up all the trolley tracks. They successfully manipulated the masses and led us down the primrose path to two unnecessary wars and a bunch of pissed off people because we are trying to extract oil off their lands while completely marginalizing their populations and propping up their abusive royalty.

Why do you think the Iranians hate us? We supported the Shah of Iran who did our bidding while he chopped off his citizens hands and feet. When you lie with dogs...as the saying goes and the chickens have come home to roost...I think we should let corporate america make all our decisions and long term planning for us. After all they have done such a good job.

Who, who makes a long term plan of dismantling mass transportation and replacing it with a transportation system that relies on resources that we don't have enough of ourselves - that we have to bargain and deal with other countries, that props up our whole industrial structure? I'll tell you who - self serving, ignorant and completely stupid assholes - that don't have a clue and can't long range project and don't care as long as they get rich - that's who.

Here's your Solar World Round up for this week

Sopogy introduces new solar technology at NELHA
MicroCSP is an achievement in rugged, modular and cost effective solar thermal technology.” The 2-megawatt thermal energy plant utilizes 1000 proprietary ...

Mission Statement; Solar Energy Trade Mission to India, February 15-19, 2010
Export opportunities in Maharashtra include solar thermal systems and rooftop solar energy units. The goals of the second Solar Energy Trade Mission to ...

Australia Government Calls For Applications
On A$1.5 Billion Solar Program
15 , will target 400 megawatts of solar generation from commercially proven technologies. Two projects will be selected--one solar thermal and one solar ...

India's green energy promises
... will be a statutory requirement to purchase a percentage of electricity from clean sources, and a program for developing solar thermal electricity. ...

Innovation in solar technology helps conserve water, create jobs
It seems cruelly ironic that tapping into Southern Nevada's vast solar energy potential could slowly drain our desert. Traditional solar thermal power ...

Israeli Cleantech Heats Up

In October, Siemens purchased Israel's Solel, a market leader in solar thermal power. The list of Israeli energy startups goes on and on. ...

Lockheed Martin ramps up its green energy efforts
It has a solar thermal test bed the size of a football field in New Jersey and an ocean thermal energy conversion program, which uses the temperature ...

1300MW solar power to be added over three years
“The Clinton Foundation, of the former US President, will undertake two solar
thermal power projects of 3000MW each in Gujarat and Rajasthan. ...

$13M Awarded to Wind and Solar Projects in Ohio
Grants started at $250000, but solar thermal projects, such as the Great Lakes Brewing Company's hot water heating systems, received much less. ...

Beyond Oil - Action Alerts

Expose Exxon - Action Alerts
Follow the oil money

Monday, December 07, 2009

Call Randy Huffman, Secretary at DEP, and ask him to intervene at Coal River Mountain. Call him at 304-926-0440.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Three Heads of the Apocalypse

The so-called conservatives (I wish they actually had been) since Regan have been promoting ideology over practical, common sense governing for decades. Milton Freidman and Ayn Rand and the mythical pillars of the free market system being a panacea for ALL of our problems is patently naive, a prayer for easy answers, a license to steal (wall street deregulation) and none of it takes into account the evil men do.

If the subsidies that went to big oil had gone to clean energy technologies over the past four decades since the oil embargo in the 70's we wouldn't be in a war in Iraq, have put 100's of bases in the Mideast - propped up a corrupt royalty in Saudi Arabia. They have pissed off the poor and exploited so much so that we now have Al Quaeda. All of that thank you very much as a result of so called "conservative" policies.

If they had been true conservatives they would have never gone into the "war and spend" business, but then again Texas (Exxon Mobil) needed more oil reserves to sell...if they (Regan, Bush, Clinton, Bush) had governed the country instead of trying to buy overseas loyalty to preserve the status quo, and their own pockets - the "honest" assessment of our national security would have been addressed much differently.

During the oil embargo of the 1970's it was well demonstrated just how vulnerable we are to rely on an energy source controlled by foreign entities. We should have moved away from non-renewable resources and towards clean energy starting back then. But what was the first thing Regan did when he got into office? He took the White House solar panels down.

Think about this - Russian bases on American soil - Arabian bases on American soil - do you think the "tea baggers" would stand for that in their neighborhoods?

WE have military bases all over the world - and WE are surprised that there is something called Al Qaeda...those are the result of so called "conservative" policies - but truth be told there is nothing "conservative" about imperialism.

There is a clean energy sector busting at the seams to get out and re-kindle the economy but if the status quo can't make a dime off of it they are going to legislate out (through their corrupt politicians they OWN) any innovation and progress that competes with their outdated last century technologies and business models. Subsidized monopolies are not free market enterprises.

Public campaign finance reform is what we need so we can start governing for the good of the country instead of whats good for Enron, Halliburton and the dirty energy kings - coal, oil and nuclear power - those are the three heads of the apocalypse and all are national security risks.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Health Care Amendments Bipartisan Support for REFORM! - http://ping.fm/Yjdkp
Is your Senator an insurance puppet ? http://ping.fm/iU7FL Pls RT!

Health Care Amendments Bipartisan Support for REFORM!

Lieberman's face is the vision of deceit. Tom Carper can't believe he is such a shit stain.

But while Lieberman continues to be a flat out whore I thought the votes on the following amendments are more than indicative of the broad bipartisan support and the realization that the health industry is milking us dry and that reform is a MUST.

The laws regarding the health industry as they have been gamed by the health lobbyist and their "whores" on Capital Hill has to be undone. The monopoly the health industry has cobbled together since the 1940's has to be terminated with prejudice. It is a major factor in the collapse of the United States economy across a broad spectrum of markets.

On its fourth day of floor debate, the Senate finally began to vote on amendments to the healthcare reform bill on Thursday.

Getting the first nod in a 69-31 vote was the amendment proposed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on Monday that would promote and expand preventive healthcare for women. Insurers would now cover a range of women's health screenings and would encourage no copays for those services.

The amendment, which calls for coverage of screening procedures, such as mammographies and Pap smears, would also cover cervical cancer, postpartum depression, heart disease and diabetes. The amendment received some bipartisan support with three Republicans—Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME), Sen. Susan Collins (ME), and David Vitter (LA)—voting for it.

After that vote, the senators moved to a competing amendment that had been offered by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which would prohibit government panels from determining which specific women's procedures would be covered. Her amendment just failed 59 41.(Amendments need at least 60 votes to pass.)

Meanwhile, the amendment proposed Monday by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to remove nearly $500 billion in Medicare cuts from the Senate bill was turned down in a 58 42 vote. Had the proposal passed, the Senate bill would have had to be returned back to the Senate Finance Committee.

Other amendments proposed (but no votes had been scheduled yet through Thursday) are:

* A bipartisan proposal from Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and seven other senators that would permit Americans to purchase lower cost prescription medications from other countries, such as Canada. This amendment is likely to spur challenges from the pharmaceutical industry.
* An amendment offered by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D VT) that would repeal the health insurance industry's antitrust exemptions—similar to the provisions found in the House bill.
* Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed an amendment supporting the idea that surpluses generated by the Senate bill be reserved for Social Security, and that savings from the long-term insurance program be reserved for that program.

This is a repost from Janice Simmons a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online.
Insurance Puppets Home Page

Thursday, December 03, 2009

America's 11 Hottest Species Stressed by Climate Change - http://ping.fm/ymkfK

America's 11 Hottest Species Stressed by Climate Change

(Photo by 'Ebe)

WASHINGTON, DC, December 1, 2009 (ENS) – Honeycreepers that sing in Hawaii's mountain forests, the lynx that inhabit the snowy Rocky Mountains and New England, and the grizzly bears of the Rocky mountains are among America's top 10 threatened species already suffering from global warming, according to a new report released today.

The report was produced by the Endangered Species Coalition in conjunction with a coalition of groups, including American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

It focuses on 10 species or groups of related species that are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act or are candidates for listing. The 11th species, selected in an online poll, is the polar bear, which is listed as threatened under the act.

The global warming threats to these species include increased disease, diminished reproduction, lost habitat and reduced food supply.

"Global warming is like a bulldozer shoving species, already on the brink of extinction, perilously closer to the edge of existence," said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Polar bears, lynx, salmon, coral and many other endangered species are already feeling the heat."

"The species in this report are representative of all imperiled wildlife, plants, and fish that are now facing an additional, compounding threat to their survival, and why we need to take action today to protect them," Huta said.

If President Barack Obama and Congress do not lead, these impacts will only worsen, said Huta, who called President Obama's decision to attend the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen next week "encouraging."

"On the cusp of the Copenhagen meeting, the administration has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in protecting imperiled wildlife from global warming," said Huta. "Simply put, we need binding agreements that will reduce emissions."

Topping the list of the Hottest Species in America is the Kauai creeper or 'Akikiki, which is a type of honeycreeper, a group of birds that shows tremendous variation. At least 59 species originally occurred in Hawaii, but, with human settlement came multiple introductions of exotic species that caused the extinction of all but 17 honeycreepers.

The imperiled 'Akikiki inhabits the wet mountain forests on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. (Photo © Jack Jeffrey courtesy Endangered Species Coalition)

"Hawaii is the epicenter of extinction in the Americas," said George Wallace, American Bird Conservancy's vice president for oceans and islands. "There are a number of factors that have led to the disappearance of so many of Hawaii's native birds since it was colonized, including introduced pigs, goats, cats, rats, and mosquitoes. Global warming adds a huge new, incipient threat to the 'Akikiki and the other remaining endemic birds of the archipelago."

Avian malaria is a serious threat to the 'Akikiki, one that could be exacerbated by global warming, says Wallace. An increase in temperature of slightly less than 4°F in the montane forests of Kauai would result in an 85 percent decrease in the 'Akikiki's safe haven where malaria transmission is currently limited by cool temperatures.

In response to a petition from American Bird Conservancy and Hawaiian bird expert Dr. Eric VanderWerf, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the 'Akikiki under the Endangered Species Act, along with the Akeke'e, another imperiled honeycreeper found only on Kauai.

Elkhorn coral of Florida's reefs, number two on the list, are bleaching due to the rising temperature of the ocean as a result of global warming. A related threat, ocean acidification, caused by the ocean's absorption of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, impairs the ability of corals to build their protective skeletons.

Bull trout found in the streams of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington is number three on the list of Hottest American Species. Bull trout require the coldest water of all species native to the Rocky Mountains, but as late summer flows are affected by global warming, fewer rivers will be able to provide ample cold water for these fish.

Lynx kittens in Maine (Photo courtesy USFWS)

The Canada lynx still found in the mountains of Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming is number four on the list. This species depends on high elevation habitat with cold, snowy winters. As temperatures rise with global warming, the snowpack and forests that lynx rely on are predicted to move up in altitude and north in latitude.

Pacific salmon that spawn in the streams of California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington are number five on the list. Salmonids typically die when exposed for very long to fresh water temperatures above about 20º C. (72º F.) Global warming has pushed the average summer temperatures of many west coast river systems above that mortality threshold, killing many fish.

The leatherback sea turtles that breed in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and are found offshore of Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coast states occupy slot six on the list. Global climate change threatens reproduction on nesting beaches throughout the leatherback's range

The grizzly bears found in Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming are in the seventh slot. "Grizzly bears are denning later in the fall due to global warming," the report states, leading to an increase in hunter-bear interaction and a decline in grizzly bear food sources.

The small, colorful bog turtle found in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia is number eight. By altering hydrological cycles, the report states, global warming will either dry out or flood the turtle's habitat.

Only one plant made the list - it is the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, which is still found in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota. This orchid relies on regular rainfall to maintain the distinctive Prairie potholes that are the seasonal wetlands of the Great Plains. Both the possible spring flooding and summer drought could harm the orchid.

Number ten on the list is the flatwoods salamander found in the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. With droughts predicted to become more frequent and intense in these states due to climate change, the salamanders are imperiled.

In an online vote earlier this year, the polar bear was chosen by the Endangered Species Coalition's activists and supporters as America's Hottest Species. The polar bear was the first mammal to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act due primarily to global warming.

Sea ice is the key habitat for the polar bear providing dens, hunting grounds, and means of travel, but global warming has an increased effect in the Arctic, with water temperatures increasing faster than elsewhere.

"The loss of summer sea ice will result in the decline of suitable hunting grounds for the polar bear, forcing them to travel greater distances to hunt," the report states. "Declines in polar bear fat storage have already been seen resulting in stress to the bears and sometimes death."

Besides the species listed in the report, Huta points out that climate change is dangerous to a host of other species such as the Pacific walrus, the pika, the wolverine, the Boreal toad, Mason's skypilot, and the bearded, ringed and spotted seals. All literally losing ground to climate change.

Click here to view the report, "America's Hottest Species."

This is a repost from the Environment News Service!

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