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Mira's Journal
Mira's Journal
October 1, 2013

Shutdown impact: Tourists, homebuyers hit quickly

Shutdown impact: Tourists, homebuyers hit quickly
source: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/shutdown-impact-tourists-homebuyers-hit-quickly-20400122

Posted: September 28

WASHINGTON &MDASHA government shutdown would have far-reaching consequences for some, but minimal impact on others.
Mail would be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits would continue to flow.
But vacationers would be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.
A look at how services would or would not be affected if Congress fails to reach an agreement averting a government shutdown at midnight Monday.
Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.
The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.
Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.
Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.
Deliveries would continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers that would be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco and the Washington Monument.
New patients would not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted and some studies would be delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls suspend most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections would be expected to proceed as usual.
A small number of Head Start programs, about 20 out of 1,600 nationally, would feel the impact right away. The federal Administration for Children and Families says grants expiring about Oct. 1 would not be renewed. Over time more programs would be affected. Several of the Head Start programs that would immediately feel the pinch are in Florida. It's unclear if they would continue serving children.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.
School lunches and breakfasts would continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Americans would still have to pay their taxes and file federal tax returns, but the Internal Revenue Service says it would suspend all audits. Got questions? Sorry, the IRS says taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, would be shut as well.
Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays during the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, wouldn't underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended.
NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms. The scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey would be halted.
The majority of the Department of Homeland Security's employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country's borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees would continue to process green card applications.
The military's 1.4 million active duty personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees would be furloughed.
All 116 federal prisons would remain open, and criminal litigation would proceed.
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Veterans would still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits. But those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.
Federal occupational safety and health inspectors would stop workplace inspections except in cases of imminent danger.

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Frederic J. Frommer, Kevin Freking, Andrew Miga, Deb Riechmann, Lauran Neergaard, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Mark Sherman, Stephen Ohlemacher, Lolita Baldor, Jesse Holland, Seth Borenstein, Mary Clare Jalonick and Alicia Caldwell contributed to this report.
October 1, 2013

States of Health / Atul Gawande / The New Yorker

States of Health
by Atul Gawande October 7, 2013

Ours can be an unforgiving country. Paul Sullivan was in his fifties, college-educated, and ran a successful small business in the Houston area. He owned a house and three cars. Then the local economy fell apart. Business dried up. He had savings, but, like more than a million people today in Harris County, Texas, he didn’t have health insurance. “I should have known better,” he says. When an illness put him in the hospital and his doctor found a precancerous lesion that required treatment, the unaffordable medical bills arrived. He had to sell his cars and, eventually, his house. To his shock, he had to move into a homeless shelter, carrying his belongings in a suitcase wherever he went.
This week, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, which provides health-insurance coverage to millions of people like Sullivan, is slated to go into effect. Republican leaders have described the event in apocalyptic terms, as Republican leaders have described proposals to expand health coverage for three-quarters of a century. In 1946, Senator Robert Taft denounced President Harry Truman’s plan for national health insurance as “the most socialistic measure this Congress has ever had before it.” Fifteen years later, Ronald Reagan argued that, if Medicare were to be enacted, “one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” And now comes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing the Affordable Care Act as a “monstrosity,” “a disaster,” and the “single worst piece of legislation passed in the last fifty years.” Lacking the votes to repeal the law, Republican hard-liners want to shut down the federal government unless Democrats agree to halt its implementation.
The law’s actual manifestation, however, is rather anodyne: as of October 1st, healthcare.gov is scheduled to open for business. A Web site where people who don’t have health coverage through an employer or the government can find a range of health plans available to them, it resembles nothing more sinister than an eBay for insurance. Because it’s a marketplace, prices keep falling lower than the Congressional Budget Office predicted, by more than sixteen per cent on average. Federal subsidies trim costs even further, and more people living near the poverty level will qualify for free Medicaid coverage.
How this will unfold, though, depends on where you live. Governors and legislatures in about half the states—from California to New York, Minnesota to Maryland—are working faithfully to implement the law with as few glitches as possible. In the other half—Indiana to Texas, Utah to South Carolina—they are working equally faithfully to obstruct its implementation. Still fundamentally in dispute is whether we as a society have a duty to protect people like Paul Sullivan. Not only do conservatives not think so; they seem to see providing that protection as a threat to America itself.
Obstructionism has taken three forms. The first is a refusal by some states to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs. Under the law, the funds cover a hundred per cent of state costs for three years and no less than ninety per cent thereafter. Every calculation shows substantial savings for state budgets and millions more people covered. Nonetheless, twenty-five states are turning down the assistance. The second is a refusal to operate a state health exchange that would provide individuals with insurance options. In effect, conservatives are choosing to make Washington set up the insurance market, and then complaining about a government takeover. The third form of obstructionism is outright sabotage. Conservative groups are campaigning to persuade young people, in particular, that going without insurance is “better for you”—advice that no responsible parent would ever give to a child. Congress has also tied up funding for the Web site, making delays and snags that much more inevitable.
Some states are going further, passing measures to make it difficult for people to enroll.

Read the rest
: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2013/10/07/131007taco_talk_gawande?printable=true¤tPage=all#ixzz2gQHL28TN

September 21, 2013

Real Time with Bill Maher. On in an hour. We may be in for a treat and be entertained.


Billy Crystal

Joy Behar

Jeremy Seifert

David Frum

and Chris Hayes

HBO 10 pm EST
and a repeat at 11 pm
September 20, 2013

Chelsea Clinton- my first exposure to the grown woman

She's on with Jon Stewart, and overwhelmingly I am thinking I'm looking at Hillary. She has the features of her Mom's face, and there's a bit of Bill as well. But the way she uses her eyes is an exact replica of her Mom.
That eye sparkling thing they do is not something I'm fond of watching, so I was not happy she has adopted that for herself.
Oh, well. It's such a treat to see a grown Democratically raised child of substance and breeding, one who was also fortunate to have had the best possible education.

She is of course smart, articulate, brilliant. That first smart does not include her appearance.
The dress is one where I wish the money spent on it had gone elsewhere to feed some poor children, it was way too much of a not so good thing. Had she fed those children there would have been plenty money left to put her into a less ridiculous looking simple dress.

I had fun seeing her and listening to her. After all, I've "known" her since she was about 12.

September 20, 2013

Did I read self portrait? Here's one though a little late for "purple". Spoiler: Bruise on my arm.

I took this photo with the camera built into my laptop. A week ago I braced myself with the arm where I broke the humerus 2 years ago, and have a new but EVER SO MUCH LESS BAD break.

Tonight I feel sorry for myself enough to show it to you.

I"m told I'll be quite OK in two months.
So, don't cry for me, Argentina. Just send healing light!

September 19, 2013

McCain publishes opinion piece in Pravda but not in the Pravda he wanted / Geezer embarassment

Posted by
CNN's Leslie Bentz

Senator John McCain has a message for the Russian people; “I am pro-Russian, more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today”.
In an opinion piece titled “Russians Deserve Better That Putin,” published by the Russian news website Pravda, Senator McCain took aim at the current Russian leadership, including Vladimir Putin.

“They punish dissent and imprison opponents. They rig your elections. They control your media,” the senator said in his piece.
The Arizona Republican, who does not support same sex marriage in the U.S., also criticized Russia’s recently passed anti-gay legislations, saying Russian lawmakers “codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn.”
The legislation banning the promotion of "gay propaganda" among minors became law in June, as Putin began his third term as president.
The article was published Thursday, after some initial confusion over which “Pravda” McCain would actually be writing for.
The Pravda McCain had publically said he wanted to be published in is one of the oldest Russian newspapers, founded in 1912.
Pravda, which means “the truth” in Russian, became the biggest newspaper during the Soviet period of Russian history. It was the official mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party. The newspaper was closed down after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, then reopened in 1997 as the official paper of the Russian Communist Party. The current Pravda has a considerably smaller circulation compared to its Soviet glory days.
Pravda.ru, the news outlet that actually published McCain’s piece, is an electronic news website founded in 1999.

For the rest go to:
September 17, 2013

Dr. Janis Olowski is allowed to speak and finish on Rachel's show. Was cut off earlier by CNN

She is the chief medical officer at the hospital where the victims are today.
She was making an emotional plea about her constant exposure to victims of gun violence and says something needs to be done to put a stop to it, all but teary eyed making an appeal to help her have to deal with less victims.

As soon as she started the personal comments, and the direction they were going in became apparent, CNN cut her off and went to inane sideline chatter about today's tragedy.
I yelled at my TV to let her finish.

Just as I had yelled at the TV earlier, when they cut away from President Obama's speech about the economy and they went to pundit talk about his comments on the shootings.

CNN needs to hear from any of us who have a few minutes to spare.
They so suck in the inanity and repetition of their reporting, and in their making editorial choices in what they "let us hear".

It's deplorable.

edited to add that Rachel just said the Docor had put in her resignation this morning before the shootings, and will be on Lawrence O'Donnell's show in a half an hour.

Thank you Rachel for picking up their slack.

September 16, 2013

Spectacular idea. Can you support a new system to name storms? Well worth considering.

Go to http://www.climatenamechange.org

Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. But we propose a new naming system. One that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy. If you agree, sign the petition at http://www.climatenamechange.org/#/pe...

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