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Bill USA

Bill USA's Journal
Bill USA's Journal
July 31, 2013

Noise Machine Fumes As Its Hillary Clinton Caricature Collapses


Reacting this week to the news that NBC had announced it's going to produce a four-hour, primetime miniseries dramatizing the political life of Hillary Clinton, Rush Limbaugh dismissed the simmering controversy surrounding the programming decision. Announcing that he was bored of talking about the Clintons, Limbaugh then spent a good chunk of his first hour on Monday's show discussing the Clintons.

Limbaugh insisted the former First Couple amuse him and he mocked the premise of the NBC miniseries; that there's widespread interest in Hillary's life story. The talker insisted that outside of Democratic circles the Clintons are viewed as "jokes."

Indeed, the NBC press release unleashed all kinds of bitter right-wing commentary about Hillary Clinton and the alleged biases that will be in play in the production. (How dare NBC cast a beautiful actress, Diane Lane, to portray Hillary??) The attacks were laced with angry demands that as part of the miniseries, NBC devote all kinds of time exploring the numerous "scandals" that have allegedly plagued Hillary's career, and especially the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outposts in Benghazi.

"NBC and the Hillary 2016 Bandwagon: Will Miniseries 'Forget' About Benghazi?," a Fox Nation headline demanded to know. The same question was asked endlessly online.

Based on 11 months worth of robotic and increasingly fantastic allegations about Benghazi, the Fox crew seems to actually believe that Clinton was part of a nefarious White House plot to let Americans die last September in an effort to secure President's Obama's re-election.
July 31, 2013

Black Hole Spin Rate Discovery May Shed Light On Evolution Of Galaxies


A newly discovered way to determine the spin of monster black holes could help shed light on the evolution of these bizarre objects and the galaxies they anchor.

Astronomers watched as a black hole that sits at the core of a spiral galaxy 500 million light-years from Earth gobbled up gas and dust from its surrounding accretion disk. They were able to measure the distance between the inner edge of the disk and the black hole, which, in turn, allowed them to estimate the black hole's spin.

“If a black hole is spinning, it drags space and time with it, and that drags the accretion disk, containing the black hole's food, closer towards it," study lead author Chris Done, of the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "This makes the black hole spin faster — a bit like an ice skater doing a pirouette."


It's tough to describe black-hole spin rates because they don't really translate into familiar terms, such as miles per hour. For example, the NGC 1365 team, which used observations by XMM-Newton and NASA's NuStar spacecraft, found the black hole's rotation rate to be 84 percent of the maximum allowed by Einstein's theory of general relativity.

In the new study, Done and her team estimated that the black hole found 500 million light-years away — which is powering a superluminous "active galactic nucleus" known as PG1244+026 — has a relatively low spin rate.


NASA's NuStar helps Solve riddle of Black Holes rate of Spin

July 31, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Impala is Consumer Reports' highest-scoring sedan

(all emphases my own)

For the first time in two decades, a car built by Detroit's Big 3 has bested the likes of Japan's and Europe's best to win the top spot among all sedans from Consumer Reports.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala, a completely revamped model that was previously a rental-fleet mainstay, scored so high in the magazine's testing that it is on the same footing as luxury models like Lexus and Jaguar.

The magazine, the most respected reviewing publication because of its legendary independence, says the Impala's high score is proof that Detroit's auto industry -- and General Motors in particular -- is coming back.

"The Impala's performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance," says Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports automotive testing, in a statement. "We've seen a number of redesigned American models—including the Chrysler 300, Ford Escape and Fusion, and Jeep Grand Cherokee— deliver world-class performance in our tests."

Too bad, so sad Sen. Shelby...

GOP to Detroit: Drop Dead

July 31, 2013

GM Passes Toyota to Win J.D. Power Quality Survey - Bloomberg

(all emphases my own)

General Motors Co. (GM) led one of the auto industry’s most closely watched quality measures for the first time since the survey began almost three decades ago, pacing U.S. carmakers producing their best cars in a generation.

All four of GM’s U.S. brands were ranked above average in J.D. Power & Associates’ Initial Quality Study, led by its GMC truck brand, which trailed only Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Porsche sports-car line. Chevrolet, Detroit-based GM’s biggest-selling brand, ranked fifth in the market, leapfrogging Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s namesake brand, which had the seventh-best score.
Enlarge image

Eight General Motors Co. vehicles led their respective segments, including five Chevrolets and one model each from its GMC, Cadillac and Buick brands. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

“If you were to ask me the question, what corporation has the best quality in the entire industry, the answer would be General Motors” for the first time, David Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of global vehicle research, said in a telephone interview. The gap in quality of domestic cars to imports is now “almost immaterial.”


Eight GM vehicles led their respective segments, including five Chevrolets and one model each from its GMC, Cadillac and Buick brands. Honda Motor Co.’s Honda, Kia Motors Corp. (000270), Mazda Motor Corp. (7261) and Porsche fielded two models that won segment awards.

... so sorry Sen. Shelby....

GOP to Detroit: Drop Dead - Bloomberg


July 31, 2013

HSS: Medicare drug premiums remain stable four years in a row (part D costs remain stable)

[font size="+1"]Once more Republican Bullshit is thrown back in their faces by reality[/font] (well, not of course, on ever obsequious (to the GOP) M$M tv).. the GOP Masters of the Big Lie were wailing away saying changes to Medicare Part D pushed by Obama (that enabled the Government to get bulk pricing on prescription drugs) would make Part D costs skyrocket. Well, four years running the Schedule D premiums have remained stable and 2014 is expected to go up a whole $1 from $30 to $31, Oh My!

Of course, the important thing is that Obama called an end the Pharmaceutical industry's windfall from the GOP in the Bush regime, --- that of the Government giving prescription drug availability to Medicare patients - but with the promise (written into the law) to the Pharmaceutical industry that the Government would not negotiate quantity pricing for the millions of prescriptions paid for by Medicare. (remember when the GOPers said the Government should be run like a business. well, there is no business in the WORLD that would agreee to pay one-off Retail prices for items they were buying in enormous quantitities.)

THe other thing of even greater importance is that people who scrimped on medications (and got sicker as a result) have now been able to take the medications in the proper amounts and thus are healthier. This has an additional benefit that it will lead to significant savings in less Hospital admissions which make the cost of brand name prescription drugs look like a pittance by comparison.

Oh, and there's the other pay-off: Medicare patients will be healthier due to more of them getting the amount of medications their doctor's prescribed and fewer of them not only going into the hospital more but also not dieing as soon. That's kindof a nice bennie too.


(emphases my own)
the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released data showing that the average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 is projected to remain stable, at an estimated $31 per month.

This news comes as seniors and people with disabilities continue to save money on out of pocket drug costs. Yesterday, HHS announced that more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, [font color="blue" size="+1"]an average of $1,061 per beneficiary[/font]. The Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time.

“Seniors are benefiting from improved benefits and low premiums, thanks to a competitive and transparent marketplace for Medicare drug plans,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

For the fourth straight year, the average Medicare Part D monthly premium will remain steady, and is projected to be $31. For the last three years – for plan years 2011, 2012, and 2013 – the average premium was projected to be $30. Today’s projection for the average premium for 2014 is based on bids submitted by drug and health plans for basic drug coverage during the 2014 benefit year, and calculated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary.


Medicare premiums to remain stable in 2014
(emphases my own)


WASHINGTON — Medicare Part D premiums will average about $31 in 2014 — up from $30 for the past three years.

The Part D deductible will fall from $325 to $310 in 2014.

"There is continued very strong competition within the Part D plan," said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for the Center of Medicare. When the coverage gap program began, "there was lots of concern that filling in the doughnut hole would cause Part D costs to go up."

Instead, Blum said a transparent bidding process and competition among private insurers participating in the program kept costs low.

This follows news that more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved more than $7 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the gap coverage, or an average of $1,061 per beneficiary. The administration also announced this week that [font color="blue" size="+1"]Medicare spending was the lowest it had been in 50 years[/font].
July 31, 2013

Activist Toolkit: Confronting ALEC on its 40th Annual Meeting - People for the American Way


Table of Contents:(each of the items below are links on the PFAW site-B_USA)

Taking Action in Chicago

Social Media Tools

Submitting Letters to the Editor

ALEC Primer

ALEC on the Issues

Further Reading and Acknowledgments


On August 7-9th, the American Legislative Exchange Council will be holding its annual policy meeting at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Over the course of three days, following standard ALEC protocol, state lawmakers from across the country will be wined and dined by corporate lobbyists; “educated” by climate change deniers and free market doctrinaires; and instructed on what corporate-backed bills they should bring back to their respective statehouses.

In Chicago, ALEC will be celebrating its 40th year of existence. ALEC was founded in the city by a coterie of conservative activists in 1973, and has decided to come back to its roots for its 40th annual celebration. For forty years, ALEC has worked behind closed doors to push its extreme agenda, one that harms the American people and weakens our democratic institutions.

That is why activists are rallying to make sure ALEC receives the proper “welcome” it deserves, and that ALEC lawmakers, ALEC corporate sponsors, and ALEC supporters across the country are called out for backing such a reactionary group.

We hope the following toolkit helps you in your efforts to expose ALEC in Chicago.

Taking Action In Chicago:

On August 8th at 12:00 PM outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, thousands of concerned citizens are holding a protest against ALEC.

For contributions: https://secure.pfaw.org/site/Donation2?df_id=9820&9820.donation=form1&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr004=0r80fvvkce.app305b

July 30, 2013

House Farm bill demonstrates GOP hypocrisy re self proclaimed Fiscal prudence


This month, in a break with tradition, the House passed its version of a farm bill without including any money for food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), ostensibly to rein in waste.

But that's not what's happening. The House bill retains lavish subsidies for an agriculture sector that is doing much better than many other parts of the economy — so lavish that they make a mockery of House Republicans' attempts at cost cutting.

The measure would cost roughly $200 billion over the next decade. That's nearly 10 times the much-maligned bank bailout, which is now expected to cost $21 billion, thanks to much of the original $700 billion having been paid back or never spent in the first place.

The Senate's version of the farm bill, largely a Democratic product, isn't quite as bad, but it also spends too much, rewards inefficiency and creates monopolies and cartels, all in an effort to transfer wealth from taxpayers to farmers.
July 30, 2013

State health exchange rates vary, but lower than expected - USA Today

AHHh - Republicans proven to be FULL of SHIT, AGAIN


[font size="4"]Health insurance rates for Americans who will buy insurance on state exchanges starting Jan. 1 are lower than expected, a variety of government and insurance industry studies show.[/font]

WASHINGTON — As state health exchanges continue to announce lower-than-expected rates for health insurance, experts say both state and regional issues play a part in how much a consumer will pay for insurance beginning in January.

Several factors come into play: a state's regulations, how many insurers will participate in the state and federal exchanges, and what kind of a risk those insurers are willing to take.

"There is tremendous existing variation within the rates in the states now," said Sherry Glied, professor of health policy and economics at Columbia University and former assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services. "It's hard to compare the old rates to the new."

Maryland's insurance commissioner said Friday that the expected new rates for residents who will need to buy insurance starting Oct. 1 are up to 33% lower than expected, and that coverage for a 21-year-old non-smoker could cost as low as $93 a month.
July 29, 2013

Turmeric-Derived Compound Curcumin May Treat Alzheimer’s


In 2004, a group in Japan demonstrated that submicromolar concentrations of curcumin in solution could inhibit aggregation of amyloid-? and break up preformed fibrils of the stuff (J. Neurosci. Res., DOI: 10.1002/jnr.20025). Shortly after that, the UCLA team demonstrated the same (J. Biol. Chem., DOI: 10.1074/jbc.m404751200).

As an Alzheimer’s drug, however, it’s unclear how important it is that the spice compound inhibits amyloid-? aggregation, Cole says. “When you have something that’s so pleiotropic,” he adds, “it’s hard to know” which of its modes of action is most effective.


Some researchers, such as Salk’s Schubert, are tackling curcumin’s low bioavailability by modifying the compound to improve its properties. Schubert and his group have come up with a molecule, called J147, that’s a hybrid of curcumin and cyclohexyl-bisphenol A. Like Cole and coworkers, they also came upon the compound not by initially screening for the ability to interact with amyloid-?, but by screening for the ability to alleviate age-related symptoms.

The researchers hit upon J147 by exposing cultured Alzheimer’s nerve cells to a library of compounds and then measuring changes to levels of biomarkers for oxidative stress, inflammation, and nerve growth. J147 performed well in all categories. And when given to mice engineered to accumulate amyloid-? clumps in their brains, the hybrid molecule prevented memory loss and reduced formation of amyloid plaques over time (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027865).

Other researchers have tackled curcumin’s poor bioavailability by reformulating it. Both Baum and Cole have encapsulated curcumin in nanospheres coated with either polymers or lipids to protect the compound from modification after ingestion. Cole tells C&EN that by packaging the curcumin in this way, he and his group have gotten micromolar quantities of it into the bloodstream of humans. The researchers are now preparing for a small clinical trial to test the formulation on patients with mild cognitive impairment, who are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.


more on Curcumin and it's absorption from UCLA: http://alzheimer.neurology.ucla.edu/Curcumin.html

July 26, 2013

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says She's Not Surprised By New Voter ID Law Push Following Supreme Court Ruling


WASHINGTON -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she's not surprised that Southern states have pushed ahead with tough voter identification laws and other measures since the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections.

Ginsburg said in an interview with The Associated Press that Texas' decision to implement its voter ID law hours after the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month was powerful evidence of an ongoing need to keep states with a history of voting discrimination from making changes in the way they hold elections without getting advance approval from Washington.

The Justice Department said Thursday it would try to bring Texas and other places back under the advance approval requirement through a part of the law that was not challenged.

"The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn't make any sense to me," Ginsburg said in a wide-ranging interview late Wednesday in her office at the court. "And one really could have predicted what was going to happen."

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About Bill USA

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

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