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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 47,063

Journal Archives

REID:“If I didn`t care so much about our country-I would hope he will get the Republican nomination"

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Republican nomination for president, it would destroy the GOP.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday night, Reid discussed fallout from the 16-day government shutdown, which ended two weeks ago. He said he’s sure the debacle will help Cruz raise more money.

“If I didn`t care so much about our country, I would hope he will get the Republican nomination for president, because that would be the end of the Republican Party,” Reid said.

“Ted Cruz, he`s someone else.”


Phone-hacking trial: three ex-News of the World staff plead guilty

Source: The Guardian

Phone-hacking trial: three ex-News of the World staff plead guilty
Prosecution reveals news editors admitted charges as it outlines case against Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and others

Three former News of the World employees have pleaded guilty to phone hacking charges, an Old Bailey jury was told this afternoon, as part of the opening of the trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Brooks's husband and four other former employees of the now closed Sunday newspaper.

The crown prosecutor revealed that the individuals had already pleaded guilty at an earlier stage in proceedings, as he outlined to the court that News of the World was at the centre of three criminal conspiracies dating back to the year 2000, involving the two former editors.

Andrew Edis QC said that those pleading guilty were former News of the World news editors Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup. The court also heard that the private investigator contracted by the newspaper to undertake the alleged hacking, Glenn Mulcaire, had pleaded guilty.

But the prosecuting counsel told the jury that journalism was not on trial. "There is no justification of any kind for journalists for getting involved in phone hacking. That is an intrusion into people's privacy which is against the law," Edis said. "The prosecution says that journalists are no more entitled to break the law than anyone else," he added.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/30/phone-hacking-trial-news-of-world-staff

Insurers, far from 'dropping' or 'canceling' coverage-They are working hard to keep coverage holders

a lot of insurers, far from 'dropping' or 'canceling' coverage are working hard to keep their existing coverage holders from going to the exchange

I am not terribly different than some other writers who have been in the individual market. We have BCBS covering a family of four with a variety of pre-existing (but not life threatening) conditions. Like others, BCBS of Illinois informed us that our policy would no longer be valid after January 1, 2014. They also informed us that they would role us automatically into a slightly more expensive (and largely comparable) plan if we did nothing.

Here is where it gets a bit more interesting. The "cancellation letter" directed us to the BCBS website, where we could shop through various other options. There are a large number of options (e.g., network breadth, deductibles, co-pays, etc.), many of which are also comparable to what we have at lower rates. Relatively minor tweaks to our deductible will save us hundreds per month - more than offsetting the deductibles. And, since getting the letter, we have gotten follow-up emails and telephone calls from BCBS encouraging us to compare our options at the BCBS website.

It has become quite clear over the past couple of weeks that BCBS does not want us shopping on the Illinois Exchange. Of course I will ultimately do that, if nothing else to check out competitive options. BCBS has huge market share here and they have the best, most comprehensive network - I won't be a bit surprised if we stay with them. That said, we have suddenly become much more attractive and important to BCBS than we were. Getting through underwriting a few years ago was ridiculously difficult, now we are being marketed heavily and encouraged essentially to skip the exchange all together and shop exclusively at BCBS.

Count me among those who think the ACA will ultimately work to the net benefit of the vast majority of people in the individual market - myself included.


Bill Maher to Piers Morgan: Women will ensure Obamacare won’t fail

Talk show host Bill Maher said Tuesday night on “Piers Morgan Live” that he was certain the Affordable Care Act would succeed, despite technical issues and political opposition to the program.

“Every program of this size was a headache at first,” Maher said. “So was (George W.) Bush’s Medicare prescription drug program for the old folks. Remember, ‘Hey, free Viagra, have a boner on George Bush — remember me at the polls.’ Social security, Medicare — all these programs have these kind problems when you start with them.”


“Even with all the problems, in four polls last week, Obamacare is more popular than ever,” Maher said. “Republicans like to cite this statistic that something like 54 percent of the people are against Obamacare. It’s very, very misleading. That includes the 16 percent of people who think it doesn’t go far enough.”

Maher said women are driving the program’s popularity and would be the eventual reason it succeeds.

“Yes, young men do not want to sign up because they think they’re invincible,” Maher said. “Women get it because women are a little more complicated. You know, they want contraception, they want breast exams (and) they’re a little smarter about that, too. They don’t think they’re invincible.”


Americans are hungry, starving and homeless, so one cuts food stamps and social spending?

A Surreal Descent Into Poverty and Desperation
by paradox


............they’re cutting food stamps as we speak and want to cut Social Security! Democrats own the
White House and Senate, but we didn’t learn any economics in 70 years of alleged intellectual development, it’s 2013 and we’ve frantically breathed life into the zombie of Herbert Hoover, he rules Washington DC again!

How on earth did we ever allow ourselves to get into such a twisted, ass-backwards political mental state? This isn’t perception of policy or ideology, Americans are hungry, starving and homeless, so one cuts food stamps and social spending? Proposes cuts to Social Security?

An absurdly conservative corporate DC media bubble, overwhelming special interest money, gerrymandering, voter suppression, whatever, somehow our politicians got so cut off from reality in some surreal fantasy of what are people are going through they’re doing precisely the wrong thing in policy and morality, oh my god. Hello? We shouldn’t be cutting Social Security, we should be significantly increasing it.

In a shocking development it turns out 401k’s are a joke from a macro policy perspective, a huge wave of elderly poverty is soon to engulf the country and all of us. Not only is the idea of cutting Social Security surreal in its blindness to current reality, it’s laughably absurd in the face of what the United States will soon need for its people.

The next President must fix the labor market and must address climate change, yet hugely increased Social Security benefits must immediately be implemented too. Somehow we must find a liberal candidate and President in 2016 to put the little people always first or the country as we know it will simply vanish, a hollow shell of a once proud county horribly degraded in human poverty, hunger, desperation and furtive human agony.


I reject your vision of America, Mr. Cruz, et al.

GOP to Moms of Slain Black Sons: Stand Your Ground Laws Help Black People

We couldn’t think of a way to make a joke about yesterday’s spectacle of Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans lecturing Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, about how “Stand Your Ground” laws have actually been good for black people. So instead, here’s something far easier to laugh at: “Stand Your Ground,” an inspirational painting by Constitution artist and great novelist Jon McNaughton. Subtle, isn’t it?

Cruz and other Republicans argued that they had exciting data to show that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was excellent for black families — sorry about your loss, Ms. Fulton — because 55% of black defendants using a stand your ground defense were successful. But if you’re Fulton or Lucia McBath, whose son was shot and killed for being in a car with a loud stereo last year, your mileage may vary.

Read more at http://wonkette.com/532958/ted-cruz-lecturing-trayvons-mom-not-funn-here-is-a-stand-your-ground-painting-instead#4eFx7iqw4BE532YD.99

Bernie Sanders: "People like the Koch brothers, believe in a very different America"

Stop The Social Security Stupidity: A Q&A With Bernie Sanders

The Koch brothers, Pete Peterson and other billionaires are spending huge amounts of money trying to cut Social Security and other vitally important federal programs. As part of this campaign, an enormous amount of misinformation is floating around. Let me try to set the record straight by answering a few of the questions that people are asking my office.


Is Social Security "going broke"?

No! Social Security is not going broke. According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion. This sum, plus revenue that comes in every day, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years. In 2033, unless Congress acts, Social Security will be able to pay out only 75 percent of benefits owed. Congress must act and make Social Security strong for the next 50 to 75 years.

Has the Social Security program been successful?

Social Security has been the most successful and reliable federal program in modern American history. For 78 years, Social Security has succeeded in keeping millions of senior citizens, widows, and the disabled out of poverty. Throughout its history, in good economic times and bad, Social Security has never failed to provide 100 percent of the benefits owed to eligible Americans. Before Social Security, about half of our senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, while still too high, fewer than 10 percent of seniors live in poverty, and more than 57 million Americans receive Social Security benefits.

Why is there so much talk about cutting Social Security?

Despite the fact that poll after poll shows that the American people - Democrats, Republicans and Independents - overwhelmingly do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, very powerful Big Money interests and campaign contributors are pushing Congress and the President to do just that. People like the Koch brothers, a family worth $71 billion, believe in a very different kind of America than we currently have. To a significant degree, they want Congress to end or drastically reduce government involvement in retirement programs (Social Security) and health care (Medicare and Medicaid) while, at the same time, giving more tax breaks to the rich and large corporations. The Koch brothers and other ultra-conservative individuals have contributed hundreds of millions into the political process.

As a member of a Senate and House committee that meets for the first time on Wednesday to begin work on a new long-term budget, my job is to represent the needs of ordinary Americans, not powerful special interests.


Kremlin slips spying gadgets into G20 summit gift bags, newspapers say

Kremlin slips spying gadgets into G20 summit gift bags, newspapers say

Russian hosts of the Group of 20 summit near St. Petersburg in September sent world leaders home with gifts designed to keep on giving: memory sticks and recharging cables programmed to spy on their communications, two Italian newspapers reported Tuesday.


The USB thumb drives marked with the Russia G20 logo and the three-pronged European phone chargers were "a poisoned gift" from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turin-based La Stampa said in its report.

“They were Trojan horses designed to obtain information from computers and cellphones,” the paper said.

The bugging devices were included in gift bags given to all delegates who attended the Sept. 5-6 summit at the palace in Stelna, outside of St. Petersburg, the newspapers said.


oh, yes there is MORE:

“Don’t worry mate -- there’s bigger crooks in the market than us guys!”

Internal Rabobank Groep e-mails cited in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against the bank show a culture where fixing benchmark interest rates had become an easygoing routine, one in which employees joked about rate rigging while telling each other they weren’t really that bad.

Exchanges among traders, rate submitters and a money manager in London were laced with jokes and requests to raise or lower rates depending upon the traders’ positions, according to a statement of facts filed yesterday in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut, as part of a deferred prosecution deal reached with Rabobank.

“Don’t worry mate -- there’s bigger crooks in the market than us guys!” the Rabobank yen Libor submitter, identified as Submitter-4 in the filing, said in a Sept. 21, 2007, e-mail, after agreeing to increase its submission to the one-month yen rate by seven basis points from the previous day. Another mid-level manager joked to a colleague seeking help rigging rates: “I am fast turning into your Libor bitch!!!

Rabobank, the co-operative formed in 1898 to lend to Dutch farmers, was fined 774 million euros ($1.1 billion) for its involvement in rigging benchmark interest rates, the second-largest in the global investigation.



SHAME On US: Only 5 Elected Officials Attend Drone Strike Congressional Briefing

Despite being heralded as the first time in history that U.S. lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a U.S. drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.

Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children—9 year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair—came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack that killed Rafiq's mother, Momina Bibi, and injured the two children in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October.

"I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don't fly when sky is grey." –Zubair Rehman, 13-year-old drone victim

According to journalist Anjali Kamat, who was present and tweeting live during the hearing, the only lawmakers to attend the briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), were Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).

Before the handful of reporters and scant lawmakers, however, Rafiq and his children gave dramatic testimony which reportedly caused the translator to break down into tears.

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