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Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Florida Is Trying To Attract Foreign Patients Instead Of Extending Insurance To Its Own Residents


Florida lawmakers may vote to spend millions of dollars to encourage sick people to use local health care services — just not the hundreds of thousands of poor and uninsured people who actually live in the Sunshine State.

The Florida state Senate’s Commerce and Tourism committee unanimously backed a bill on Tuesday that would appropriate $5 million in 2015 for attracting medical tourism — a burgeoning industry in which people travel to other countries to seek health care that is either too expensive or too difficult to access in their own. If the full legislature passes the funding, Florida’s tourism arm will direct a marketing campaign that plays up the state’s health care providers and specialty medical services to an international audience.

Medical tourism usually brings to mind the hundreds of thousands of Americans — both insured and uninsured — who go to other countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, India, Thailand, and Brazil to seek treatment because medical care in the United States can be prohibitively expensive. But according to Patients Beyond Borders, between 600,000 and 800,000 foreign patients came to the U.S. for health services in 2013 despite the relatively high costs of care here. These patients are often from countries that have yet to develop certain advanced procedures or technologies, or where those procedures are still far too costly. For instance, many international consumers visit well-known clinics such as the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Johns Hopkins in Maryland, and the Mayo Clinic arms in Arizona, Minnesota, and Florida for cancer care and dental, orthopedic, and cosmetic surgery.

Those are all still pretty expensive and lucrative specialized procedures that attract patients who can afford them (on top of an international trip to the United States). So it’s not surprising that the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida is a big supporter of the bill, which was proposed by state Senate Health Policy Committee Chair Aaron Bean (R). “Florida can and should be a top-tier health care destination,” said Bean of his legislation.


Thursday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest







Thursday Toon Roundup 2- Cons, neo and otherwise



Thursday Toon Roundup 1- Driven insane by the plane

2nd radiation release indicated at New Mexico site

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — New air sampling data from southeastern New Mexico's troubled nuclear waste dump indicates there has been another small radiation release.

Department of Energy officials say a monitoring station picked up elevated radiation readings around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad on March 11. That's nearly a month after a Valentine's Day leak contaminated 17 workers and shut the only repository for toxic waste from the nation's nuclear bomb-building program.

Engineers say they believe the contamination is from previous deposits on the inner surface of exhaust ductwork.

Officials say occasional low-level releases are anticipated, but they should be well within safe limits.



The Law That Makes It Illegal to Report on Animal Cruelty

What makes Idaho's agricultural industry deserve special protection from journalists and activists?

A complaint filed Monday in federal court in Idaho challenging the state's new "ag-gag" law is one of the most compelling I have read in a long time. As much a history lesson and muckraking manifesto as a series of factual allegations, the document asserts that Idaho's nascent effort to chill public oversight of its agricultural industry is both unconstitutional and unwise. Even if the plaintiffs lose, and I don't think they will, this initial pleading nobly advances their cause.

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed the measure into law just three weeks ago. The statute creates the crime of "interference with agricultural production" by punishing anyone who makes an unauthorized "audio or video recordings" of what transpires inside food processing facilities in Idaho with up to one year in prison. It is designed, as its lengthy legislative record suggests, to help Big Ag prevent the public dissemination of images of animal abuse or unsafe conditions.

Images like those posted in April 2011 as part of an award-winning investigation into the state's dairy industry by the Boise Weekly. Or the video of farm workers in Idaho kicking and stomping on cows that the Boise Weekly posted in October 2012. It was this investigative work that caused one concerned lawmaker to lament recently not the cruelty, or unclean food, but the injustice of these farm operators being "tried and convicted in the press or on YouTube."

Yet these grim images, say the plaintiffs, are a vital part of "the public debate about animal welfare, food safety, environmental, and labor issues that arise on public and private lands." Indeed, the complaint alleges, the success of past undercover investigations—leading to food safety recalls, plant closures, and criminal convictions—are the very reason why Idaho's powerful farming lobby went to its legislature seeking this protection.



Republicans Against Democracy

Remember community Get Out The Vote campaigns? Those were the days. Although most of the warm memories folks have as they get older, in which everything was idyllic in the old days, are completely untrue, there was something truly wholesome, upbeat and white-picket-fence American about Get Out The Vote campaigns.
For starters, everyone believed in the civic goodness of encouraging voting, regardless of party or political point of view. Believing as many people as possible should vote simply meant believing in America and believing in democracy.

Of course, that was before the Republican Party decided its candidates might lose if more people who didn’t look like them or think like them were allowed to vote. That was before Republicans stopped believing in democracy.

State Republicans curtailing voting by people living in Democratic areas or belonging to groups more likely to vote Democratic—people of color, college students, seniors—isn’t just a Wisconsin phenomenon.

It’s definitely a coordinated, national Republican effort. All across the country, Republicans are now leading an anti-democracy Keep In The Vote Campaign.



The Voluntarism Fantasy

Conservatives dream of returning to a world where private charity fulfilled all public needs. But that world never existed—and we’re better for it.

Mike Konczal

Ideology is as much about understanding the past as shaping the future. And conservatives tell themselves a story, a fairy tale really, about the past, about the way the world was and can be again under Republican policies. This story is about the way people were able to insure themselves against the risks inherent in modern life. Back before the Great Society, before the New Deal, and even before the Progressive Era, things were better. Before government took on the role of providing social insurance, individuals and private charity did everything needed to insure people against the hardships of life; given the chance, they could do it again.

This vision has always been implicit in the conservative ascendancy. It existed in the 1980s, when President Reagan announced, “The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern,” and called for voluntarism to fill in the yawning gaps in the social safety net. It was made explicit in the 1990s, notably through Marvin Olasky’s The Tragedy of American Compassion, a treatise hailed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and William Bennett, which argued that a purely private nineteenth-century system of charitable and voluntary organizations did a better job providing for the common good than the twentieth-century welfare state. This idea is also the basis of Paul Ryan’s budget, which seeks to devolve and shrink the federal government at a rapid pace, lest the safety net turn “into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” It’s what Utah Senator Mike Lee references when he says that the “alternative to big government is not small government” but instead “a voluntary civil society.” As conservatives face the possibility of a permanent Democratic majority fueled by changing demographics, they understand that time is running out on their cherished project to dismantle the federal welfare state.

But this conservative vision of social insurance is wrong. It’s incorrect as a matter of history; it ignores the complex interaction between public and private social insurance that has always existed in the United States. It completely misses why the old system collapsed and why a new one was put in its place. It fails to understand how the Great Recession displayed the welfare state at its most necessary and that a voluntary system would have failed under the same circumstances. Most importantly, it points us in the wrong direction. The last 30 years have seen effort after effort to try and push the policy agenda away from the state’s capabilities and toward private mechanisms for mitigating the risks we face in the world. This effort is exhausted, and future endeavors will require a greater, not lesser, role for the public.


US irate with Israeli defense minister comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Wednesday vented its anger at public insults and criticism of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry by Israel's defense minister.

The State Department said Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to protest recent remarks by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who had accused the Obama administration of being weak on Iran and questioned its commitment to Israel's security. Previously, Yaalon has criticized Kerry personally for being unrealistic and naive in trying to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Yaalon's remarks were "not constructive" and "inconsistent" with the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

Psaki repeated Obama and Kerry's oft-stated position that the U.S. commitment to Israel's security is "unshakable," outlined several main elements of the longstanding U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and noted that Netanyahu himself has said the cooperation is now unprecedented.



Utah ‘goblin topplers’ sentenced to probation

By Marissa LangAnd Brett Prettyman | The Salt Lake Tribune

Castle Dale • Utah’s so-called goblin topplers, Glenn Tuck Taylor and David Benjamin Hall, may have to shell out thousands to pay for warning signs telling future visitors to Goblin Valley State Park to leave the rocks alone — advice, Taylor said Tuesday, he wished they had followed last year.

The men were sentenced Tuesday afternoon to a year of probation and no jail time after pleading guilty to knocking over an ancient rock formation in the state park.

They will be required to pay an amount yet to be determined, which the state will use to erect warning signs throughout the park, officials said.

Taylor, 45, who physically pushed over the hoodoo, was charged in Castle Dale’s 7th District Court with third-degree felony criminal mischief. Hall, 42, who videotaped the incident, was charged with aiding and assisting in criminal mischief, also a third-degree felony.

Both charges were punishable by up to five years in prison had the men been convicted.

But each pleaded guilty Tuesday to lesser class A misdemeanors — Taylor to criminal mischief, Hall to attempted criminal mischief.


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