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Faryn Balyncd

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Member since: Wed Nov 23, 2005, 08:15 AM
Number of posts: 4,836

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Senate Votes To Help States Sell Off Public Lands.

The new chair of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee secured a vote Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Senate on a controversial proposal to sell off America’s national forests and other public lands. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) amendment, which passed by a vote of 51 to 49, is now part of the Senate’s nonbinding budget resolution. The proposal would support and fund state efforts — which many argue are unconstitutional — to seize and sell America’s public lands. These include all national forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, historic sites, and national monuments. Murkowski’s amendment, which would need further legislation to become law, follows a similar proposal from House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT) to spend $50 million of taxpayer dollars to fund the sale or transfer of U.S. public lands to states.

The land grab proposals in Congress this year appear to echo the calls of outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy, best known for his armed standoff with federal officials last year, who has infamously refused to recognize the authority of the federal government, including over public lands.

Murkowski’s proposal to sell off public lands, however, is meeting stiff opposition from other western senators. On a conference call yesterday, Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) said that they are determined to turn back legislative attacks on the outdoors. Bennet called efforts to sell off lands to reduce the federal deficit “an assault on our public lands.” . . . . Senator Heinrich also introduced an amendment Wednesday which would block any effort to sell off public lands to reduce the federal deficit. Heinrich said that “selling off America’s treasured lands to the highest bidder would result in a proliferation of locked gates and no-trespassing signs in places that have been open to the public and used for generations.”

Public opinion research has found that a majority of Westerners oppose land grab efforts and believe that transferring public lands to state control will result in reduced access for recreation; higher taxes; increased drilling, mining and logging; and a high risk that treasured public lands will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. . . . .


Here is the roll call of the 51-49 Senate vote:

Alphabetical by Senator Name

Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Ayotte (R-NH), Nay
Baldwin (D-WI), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea
Bennet (D-CO), Nay
Blumenthal (D-CT), Nay
Blunt (R-MO), Yea
Booker (D-NJ), Nay
Boozman (R-AR), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Nay
Brown (D-OH), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Nay
Capito (R-WV), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Nay
Carper (D-DE), Nay
Casey (D-PA), Nay
Cassidy (R-LA), Yea
Coats (R-IN), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Coons (D-DE), Nay
Corker (R-TN), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Cotton (R-AR), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea
Cruz (R-TX), Yea
Daines (R-MT), Yea
Donnelly (D-IN), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Ernst (R-IA), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Nay
Fischer (R-NE), Yea
Flake (R-AZ), Yea
Franken (D-MN), Nay
Gardner (R-CO), Nay
Gillibrand (D-NY), Nay
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Heinrich (D-NM), Nay
Heitkamp (D-ND), Nay
Heller (R-NV), Yea
Hirono (D-HI), Nay
Hoeven (R-ND), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johnson (R-WI), Yea
Kaine (D-VA), Nay
King (I-ME), Nay
Kirk (R-IL), Yea
Klobuchar (D-MN), Nay
Lankford (R-OK), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Lee (R-UT), Yea
Manchin (D-WV), Nay
Markey (D-MA), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Nay
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Merkley (D-OR), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Nay
Moran (R-KS), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murphy (D-CT), Nay
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Nelson (D-FL), Nay
Paul (R-KY), Yea
Perdue (R-GA), Yea
Peters (D-MI), Nay
Portman (R-OH), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay
Risch (R-ID), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rounds (R-SD), Yea
Rubio (R-FL), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Sasse (R-NE), Yea
Schatz (D-HI), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Nay
Scott (R-SC), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shaheen (D-NH), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Sullivan (R-AK), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Tillis (R-NC), Yea
Toomey (R-PA), Yea
Udall (D-NM), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Yea
Warner (D-VA), Nay
Warren (D-MA), Nay
Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay
Wicker (R-MS), Yea
Wyden D-OR), Nay


Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Fri Mar 27, 2015, 10:11 AM (7 replies)

Maker of tainted medical scopes issues new cleaning guide.

So the company that has dominated the global market for endoscopes for over a half century, whose endoscopes have been used by for the majority of endoscopies for decades, now discovers, after an outbreak of antibiotic resistant bacteria at 2 California hospitals, that it didn't know enough about disinfecting endoscopes to devise an adequate disinfection protocol for its duodenoscope.

Maker of tainted medical scopes issues new cleaning guide
By MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer, March 26, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of medical scopes that have been linked to two recent "superbug" outbreaks at California hospitals has issued new cleaning instructions for the devices amid scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and medical professionals. . . . Olympus America sent the new guidelines to U.S. hospitals on Thursday, recommending that its customers begin using them as soon as possible. The updated guidelines call for using a smaller cleaning brush and additional flushing steps to remove debris and disinfect the scope's crevices and hinges. Olympus plans to send the new brush to hospital customers by May 8.

The company's scopes were linked to infections of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 11 patients at two separate Los Angeles hospitals last month, contributing to the deaths of two of those patients. Hospital staff said the infections occurred despite following Olympus' instructions for cleaning the devices, known as duodenoscopes. . . . The scopes consist of a flexible fiber-optic tube that is threaded down the throat, through the stomach and small intestine to diagnose and treat conditions in the pancreas and bile ducts. The tip of the scope includes moveable parts for instruments to help remove tumors, gallstones and other blockages. But this complex design also makes the instruments difficult to clean. Bodily fluids and other debris can stay in the device's joints and crevices even after cleaning and disinfection.

The FDA said in a statement it is reviewing the new cleaning instructions from Olympus as part of a broader evaluation of the company's device. . . . The agency previously disclosed that Olympus did not seek federal clearance for the latest version of its duodenoscope, which it began selling in 2010. FDA clearance is required for all substantive updates to medical devices sold in the U.S. The company's Olympus TJF-Q180V duodenoscope is currently under FDA review. . . . Seven lawsuits have been filed against Olympus in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of patients, alleging negligence and fraud by the company.


If the Olympus duodenoscope has smaller biopsy channels than a colonoscope, it could be more difficult to adequately disinfect using only the chemical disinfectants that these heat intolerant fiberoptic scopes will tolerate, especially given the difficulty of adequately removing all material from the biopsy channels.

Unlike bacterial infections, which if it does not result in an acute infection, often resolves spontaneously, hepatitic C usualloy lies dormant for years or decades before symptoms develop. Of the estimated millions of Americans walking around with undiagnosed occult infections, many when eventually diagnosed turn out to have no known risk factors. The long latency period between infection and symptoms/diagnosis makes it virtually impossible to know how or when the infection was acquired.

Despite these difficulties, isolated cases of endoscopically transmitted hepatitis C have been documented after contaminated colonoscopies, generally following a coloscopy which required biopsy. When such a case is identified, other patients who had proceedured with the same scope can be notified for testing. Small outbreaks have been documented in this fashion.

But without such an index case who becomes acutely ill shortly after the proceedure, it is unlikely that isolated asymptomatic endoscopic transmissions will be diagnosed until it becomes symptomatic years later, when it will impossible to correlate the infection with theinfecting event.

Given the often non-specific symptoms, occult status, and long latency period of hepatitis C, and the many patients diagnosed each year who have had undiagnosed subclinical disease for years despite having no midentified risk factors for hepatitis C, a most relevant question becomes :

How many cases of hepatis C (bothnthose currently diagnosed and undiagnosed occult cases) have been caused by inadequate chemical sterilization of difficult-to-brush-out and impossible-to-heat-disinfect endoscopic biopsy channels?

The fact that the major pioneer in medical endocopy, after 50 years, still can't come up with an effective protocol when it markets a new scope is more a bit disconcerting.

(Here's a bit more
Patient Safety Authority, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
The Dirt on Flexible Endoscope Reprocessing

Endoscope Infection Risk Highlighted in FDA Warning

Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Fri Mar 27, 2015, 03:40 AM (0 replies)

There is only one thing to fear regarding Ted Cruz.

And it is NOT that he will be nominated. (We all know he won't. And the GOP knows that would doom them.)

What we should fear is that Cruz will succeed in his role in framing the melodrama, and that our defunct media will be given an excuse to peddle the eventual Republican nominee as "moderate conservative" and/or "sane".

Ted's role is to be so crazy that CNN, CBS, ABC, MSN, NPR will be enabled in their continued laundering of RW memes to independents, and to frame the discourse so that an eventual nominee to the right of anyone ever nominated, perhaps a Scott Walker, can be falsely peddled as a "compromise".

And, given the complicity of our "media", that is truly something to fear, and to defeat.

(Which we will.)

We can see the real enemy, and it is certainly NOT Ted Cruz, professional rodeo clown, decoy.


Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 10:57 PM (4 replies)

50% of charges at Texas ERs in IN-NETWORK hospitals being billed as out of network.

AUSTIN -- State lawmakers took up legislation Tuesday to give patients more power to defend themselves against surprise medical bills.

The proposal, Senate Bill 481, targets "balance billing," an increasingly common phenomenon that occurs when a patient is treated at a facility in the network of his health insurance plan, but by at least one individual doctor who is not part of the network.

Because patients are responsible for paying for out-of-network costs, getting a balance bill can be very expensive. And a recent report found that such bills are especially common in Texas emergency rooms, with half of charges at ERs in in-network hospitals being billed as out of network.

(Unfortunately, the link at http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/health/article/Surprise-hospital-bills-are-common-in-Texas-5759688.php is behind a subscription wall.)

And those out of network bills are not only paid 100% by the patient, but the amount billed is often a fantasy "regular price" which is ofter 250 -600 percent higher than any insurance company ever pays.

When the culture of predatory capitalism in medicine gets so bad that even Republicans introduce bills to curb it, it's clear that this is an issue that we need to address.

Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 07:03 PM (19 replies)

Democracy for America: "Stop the TPP" petition:

(In today's email from Democracy for America) :

It's one of the biggest progressive mobilizations in years -- all to stop a bad trade deal that could destroy more American jobs.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) badly hurt the American middle class, sending hundreds of thousands of our jobs overseas and eroding wages for others -- while benefitting huge, multinational corporations.

Now Congress is considering approval of a new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that many are calling "NAFTA on steroids." Worse, Congress is being asked by the White House to rubber stamp the deal. The president wants Fast Track authority that would limit Congress's ability to amend or even review the proposed deal.

Progressive leaders are coming together to stop Fast Track and the TPP. We've successfully delayed a Fast Track bill for over a month. But we need your support to stop it for good.

Join members of Democracy for America, Progressives United, Daily Kos, Campaign for America's Future, and Representatives Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, and Mark Pocan -- sign the petition to stop Fast Track for the TPP today!

Senator Elizabeth Warren has led the charge against the Fast Track provision of the TPP. She's zeroed in on a clause in the deal that would allow companies to go to an independent panel, made up of corporate lobbyists, to overturn American laws and regulations.

We only learned about that provision because of leaks from the TPP negotiations. Right now, the complete text of the deal is secret. If Congress gives Fast Track authority to the White House, Congress won't see the full text until shortly before they vote on the TPP -- and under Fast Track rules, they won't be able to amend the deal.

That's not good for democracy, and it's not good for jobs. Progressives are coming together to stop this deal and stop Fast Track authority. To keep up the momentum, we need your signature ASAP.

Sign our coalition's petition to stop Fast Track for the TPP today!

Thank you for helping stop this awful trade deal.

- Robert

Robert Cruickshank, Senior Campaign Manager
Democracy for America


Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Mar 21, 2015, 12:16 PM (0 replies)

Froman should be fired (yesterday):

Lawmakers Say TPP Meetings Classified To Keep Americans in the Dark

“Making it classified further ensures that, even if we accidentally learn something, we cannot share it. What is working so hard to hide? What is the specific legal basis for all this senseless secrecy?” Doggett said to The Hill.

“Open trade should begin with open access,” Doggett said. “Members expected to vote on trade deals should be able to read the unredacted negotiating text.” . . . . . .



Perhaps he can go back to Citigroup, or managing his sleazebag Cayman investments:

...After the end of the Clinton administration in 2001, Froman followed Robert Rubin from the Treasury Department to Citigroup. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of CitiInsurance and head of Emerging Markets Strategy at Citigroup, managing infrastructure and sustainable development investments. He received more than $7.4 million from January 2008 to 2009 alone....

On May 2, 2013, Froman was nominated to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. Financial documents provided to the Senate Finance Committee showed he had nearly $500,000 in an offshore fund at Ugland House on the Cayman Islands, which Obama had once described as “the biggest tax scam in the world.”. . .


Actually, what did we expect from a "trade" representative that Warren voted against because he refused to commit to even the pathetic transparency standards of the Bush 43 administration?

....His nomination was opposed by only four senators – chiefly Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who faulted Froman for refusing to commit to even the paltry standard for transparency in trade talks set by the George W. Bush administration. Warren was right to be concerned. In backroom negotiations, Froman has worked to undermine new European Union fuel standards intended to lower the continent's carbon emissions. The European standards would work, in part, by grading the carbon toxicity of various crude oils. They logically propose placing polluting tar-sands oil in a carbon class all by itself; on its path from a pit mine to the filling station, a gallon of tar-sands gas is responsible for 81 percent more climate pollution than the average gallon of regular. But instead of respecting the EU's commitment to slow global warming, Froman has worked to force North America's dirtiest petrol into the tanks of Europe's Volkswagens, Peugeots and lorries.

His hardball tactics were revealed in obscure written congressional testimony last year. In a question to Froman, Rep. Kevin Brady, an oil-friendly Texas Republican, slammed the European proposal as a "discriminatory, environmentally unjustified" trade barrier. Froman responded, "I share your concerns," and described his work to "press the Commission to take the views of . . . U.S. refiners under consideration." He explained how he had turned the standards into a point of contention in negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – a major free-trade pact being hammered out between the U.S. and the EU. Last October, Froman's team even went before the World Trade Organization to demand that all globally traded petroleum products be treated "without discrimination."


Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Mar 21, 2015, 01:18 AM (0 replies)

NYT: House GOP budget proposes to voucherize Medicare, block grant Medicaid, repeal ACA:

...Future recipients of Medicare would be offered voucherlike “premium support” to pay for private insurance rather than government-provided health care.

Spending on Medicaid would be cut substantially over 10 years, with the money turned into block grants to state governments, which in turn would have much more flexibility in deciding how it is allocated.

The budget “repeals all of Obamacare,” Representative Diane Black, Republican of Tennessee, said the same day the Obama administration announced that the law had provided coverage to 16.4 million previously uninsured people.To placate advocates of the military who say strict budget caps are hurting national defense, the House budget adds “emergency” war spending through the “overseas contingency operations” account, which does not count against the spending limits. . . . .


Well, do we have the issue to throw these bums out?

Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Mar 17, 2015, 07:14 PM (6 replies)

Warren: "ISDS is a bad deal for America" (TPP Petition)

(In today's Email, from Elizabeth Warren):

The United States is in the final stages of secret, closed-door negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade agreement with 11 other countries.

Who will benefit from it? One provision hidden in the fine print – “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” – may sound harmless, but don’t let that fool you: ISDS could let foreign companies challenge US laws without ever stepping in an American court.

That would undermine US sovereignty and tilt the playing field even further in favor of multinational corporations.

Sign my petition and spread the word: ISDS is a bad deal for America.

Here’s how ISDS would work: Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge that regulation in a US court.

But with ISDS, the company could skip the US courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the multinational company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in US courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions – and even billions – of dollars in damages.

If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Really.

And if the tilt toward giant corporations wasn’t clear enough, consider who would get to use this special court: only international investors, which are, by and large, giant corporations. So if a Vietnamese company with US operations wanted to challenge our refusal to import a dangerous chemical, it could use ISDS. But if an American labor union or human rights group believed Vietnam was allowing Vietnamese companies to pay slave wages in violation of trade commitments, the American labor group would have to make its case in the Vietnamese courts – and if an environmental group thought the Vietnamese company was dumping waste in their rivers in violation of the new trade agreement, they would have to go to a Vietnamese court as well. In other words, the great deal for corporations is only for corporations – everyone else is left out.

Giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system would be a bad deal for America. Sign my petition to say no to ISDS.

Opposing ISDS isn’t a partisan issue – even your Tea Party relatives should be worried about this dangerous provision:

Conservatives who believe in US sovereignty should be outraged that ISDS would shift power from American courts, whose authority is derived from our Constitution, to unaccountable international tribunals.
Libertarians should be offended that ISDS effectively would offer a free taxpayer subsidy to countries with weak legal systems.
And progressives should oppose ISDS because it would allow big multinational corporations to weaken labor and environmental rules.

If a final TPP agreement includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement, the only winners will be multinational corporations. Join me in saying No to ISDS.

Thank you for being a part of this,



(I signed it.)

Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Mon Mar 16, 2015, 09:30 PM (8 replies)

Petition now over 238,000


Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Thu Mar 12, 2015, 03:49 PM (2 replies)

The 7 GOP Senators who chose not to participate in unprecedented subversion of foreign negotiations,

...and violation of the Logan Act, by 47 of their colleagues (87% of the GOP Senate caucus):

Lamar Alexander
Dan Coats, Senate Intelligence Committee
Thad Cochran
Susan Collins
Bob Corker, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Jeff Flake
Lisa Murkowski

In an age when their party's habitual hypocrisy, with regard to the Constitution and the rule of law, knows no limits, at least some of the 7 must wonder what happened to the party they joined long ago.

Coats, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, presents an interesting study on this issue, in that in November he wrote a letter to (then) Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) urging them to use existing authority to request a report from the Secretary of State on the verifiability of the administration’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran, iindicating that he favored Congressional oversight under existing law.

It would appear that both Coats and Corker, the current GOP Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, (and probably the other 5 non-signers), while favoring traditional legal Congressional involvement, made a decision not to participate with 87% of their GOP caucus in their deliberate and unprecedented attempt to subvert sensitive vital negotiations, and in clearly violating the Logan Act, and in misstating the legal realities in their subversive letter.

There hasn't been much room in the Republican caucus for traditional Republicans, or anyone with an ounce of judgement or integrity for years, and its clearly getting smaller.

Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Mar 10, 2015, 09:10 AM (24 replies)
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