March 6, 2012
By Steve Watson
“If Mitt Romney’s own relatives won’t support him, why is anyone else?” –KTRN
No less than six relatives of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney have joined the campaign trail in the race for the GOP nomination, but they’re not supporting the former Massachusetts governor, they’re campaigning for Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Three of Romney’s relatives will even speak at Idaho caucus sites, declaring their support for Paul in a story that is sure to create a buzz around Paul’s campaign as he looks to pick up his first caucus win on Super Tuesday.
The Paul campaign issued a press release Monday introducing five Romney relatives, then issued another release shortly afterwards noting a sixth.
Travis Romney, Troy Romney and Chad Romney, all cousins of Mitt Romney, will speak before Ron Paul crowds in Idaho today. Ty Romney and Jared Romney, whose grandfathers are cousins of former Michigan Governor George Romney, the father of Mitt Romney, have also declared their support for Paul.
“I don’t dislike Mitt at all,” Chad Romney (pictured above) said. “He seems like a nice guy. He just doesn’t understand the constitution like Ron Paul.”
“It’s Ron Paul or bust,” Chad Romney added, “Now, a lot of people will ask me if I’m related,” he said. “And I always say: ‘Yes, I’m related, but I vote for Ron Paul.’ ”
When asked who he would vote for if the ticket turns out to be Romney vs Obama, Chad Romney said “I don’t know if I’d vote for either one of them. I’d just write Ron Paul in there.”
February 9, 2012
Do you trust your doctor? A survey finds that some doctors aren’t always completely honest with their patients.
More than half admitted describing someone’s prognosis in a way they knew was too rosy. Nearly 20 percent said they hadn’t fully disclosed a medical mistake for fear of being sued. And 1 in 10 of those surveyed said they’d told a patient something that wasn’t true in the past year.
The survey, by Massachusetts researchers and published in this month’s Health Affairs, doesn’t explain why, or what wasn’t true.
“I don’t think that physicians set out to be dishonest,” said lead researcher Dr. Lisa Iezzoni, a Harvard Medical School professor and director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Mongan Institute for Health Policy. She said the untruths could have been to give people hope.
But it takes open communication for patients to make fully informed decisions about their health care, as opposed to the “doctor-knows-best” paternalism of medicine’s past, Iezzoni added.
The survey offers “a reason for patients to be vigilant and to be very clear with their physician about how much they do want to know,” she said.
The findings come from a 2009 survey of more than 1,800 physicians nationwide to see if they agree with and follow certain standards medical professionalism issued in 2002. Among the voluntary standards are that doctors should be open and honest about all aspects of patient care, and promptly disclose any mistakes.
August 11th, 2011
The Raw Story
By: Agence France-Presse
President Barack Obama has no plans to cancel his summer vacation to deal with the US debt crisis and market turmoil sparked by fears over Europe’s finances, the White House said Wednesday.
The president is due to head to his normal summer vacation spot on Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale resort island off the coast of Massachusetts, later in the month with his family.
But as turmoil rocks world stock markets and fears of a second recession mount, some commentators have called on Obama to stay in Washington and recall Congress to discuss ways to create jobs and reboot the stagnant recovery.
“I don’t think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the president would spend some time with his family,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney,” arguing that Obama was working round the clock to fix the economy.
“There’s no such thing as a presidential vacation. The presidency travels with you. He will be in constant communication and get regular briefings from his national security team, as well as his economic team.
“And he will, of course, be fully capable if necessary of traveling back if that were required. It’s not very far.”
Obama’s vacations have been frequently interrupted by the events which pull a president back into the public eye, even when he is trying to recharge his batteries away from the cameras.
Two years ago, he left his rented vacation farmhouse on Martha’s Vineyard to attend the funeral in Boston of senator Edward Kennedy, his friend and political mentor who died of brain cancer.
During his Christmas holiday in 2009 in his native Hawaii, Obama was criticized for responding too slowly to an alleged attempt by a Nigerian man to bring down a US airliner over Detroit with explosives sewn into his underwear.
Obama is enduring one of the most testing periods of his presidency, and facing a volley of unusually harsh media criticism after many commentators said he came off second best in a debt showdown with Republicans.
He has said he will unveil a new set of measures to create jobs and cut the US deficit in the coming weeks and will leave for vacation next week after a three-day bus tour of midwestern states hit hard by the recession.
August 23, 2010
By: Christina Hoag
Next month’s opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools will be auspicious for a reason other than its both storied and infamous history as the former Ambassador Hotel, where the Democratic presidential contender was assassinated in 1968.
With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation’s most expensive public school ever.
The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of “Taj Mahal” schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.
“There’s no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the ’70s where kids felt, ‘Oh, back to jail,’” said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. “Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning.”
Not everyone is similarly enthusiastic.
“New buildings are nice, but when they’re run by the same people who’ve given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they’re a big waste of taxpayer money,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. “Parents aren’t fooled.”
At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex’s namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel.
Partly by circumstance and partly by design, the Los Angeles Unified School District has emerged as the mogul of Taj Mahals.
The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation’s costliest — the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009.
The pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation’s second-largest school system: Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation’s lowest performing.
Los Angeles is not alone, however, in building big. Some of the most expensive schools are found in low-performing districts — New York City has a $235 million campus; New Brunswick, N.J., opened a $185 million high school in January.
Nationwide, dozens of schools have surpassed $100 million with amenities including atriums, orchestra-pit auditoriums, food courts, even bamboo nooks. The extravagance has led some to wonder where the line should be drawn and whether more money should be spent on teachers.
“Architects and builders love this stuff, but there’s a little bit of a lack of discipline here,” said Mary Filardo, executive director of 21st Century School Fund in Washington, D.C., which promotes urban school construction.
Some experts say it’s not all flourish and that children learn better in more pleasant surroundings.
Many schools incorporate large windows to let in natural light and install energy-saving equipment, spending more upfront for reduced bills later. Cafeterias are getting fancier, seeking to retain students who venture off campus. Wireless Internet and other high-tech installations have become standard.
Some pricey projects have had political fallout.
After a firestorm over the $197.5 million Newton North High School in Massachusetts, Mayor David Cohen chose not to seek re-election and state Treasurer Timothy Cahill reined in school construction spending.
Now to get state funds for a new school, districts must choose among three designs costing $49 million to $64 million. “We had to bring some sense to this process,” Cahill said.
In Los Angeles, officials say the new schools were planned long before the economic pinch and are funded by $20 billion in voter-approved bonds that do not affect the educational budget.
Still, even LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines derided some of the extravagance, noting that donations should have been sought to fund the RFK project’s talking benches commemorating the site’s history.
Connie Rice, member of the district’s School Bond Oversight Committee, noted the megaschools are only three of 131 that the district is building to alleviate overcrowding. RFK “is an amazing facility,” she said. “Is it a lot of money? Yes. We didn’t like it, but they got it done.”
Construction costs at LA Unified are the second-highest in the nation — something the district blames on skyrocketing material and land prices, rigorous seismic codes and unionized labor.
James Sohn, the district’s chief facilities executive, said the megaschools were built when global raw material shortages caused costs to skyrocket to an average of $600 per square foot in 2006 and 2007 — triple the price from 2002. Costs have since eased to $350 per square foot.
On top of that, each project had its own cost drivers.
After buildings were demolished at the site of the 2,400-student Roybal school, contaminated soil, a methane gas field and an earthquake fault were discovered. A gas mitigation system cost $17 million.
Over 20 years, the project grew to encompass a dance studio with cushioned maple floors, a modern kitchen with a restaurant-quality pizza oven, a 10-acre park and teacher planning rooms between classrooms.
The 1,700-student arts school was designed as a landmark, with a stainless steel, postmodernistic tower encircled by a rollercoaster-like swirl, while the RFK site involved 15 years of litigation with historic preservationists and Donald Trump, who wanted to build the world’s tallest building there. The wrangling cost $9 million.
Methane mitigation cost $33 million and the district paid another $15 million preserving historic features, including a wall of the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub and turning the Paul Williams-designed coffee shop into a faculty lounge.
Sohn said LA Unified has reached the end of its Taj Mahal building spree. “These are definitely the exceptions,” he said. “We don’t anticipate schools costing hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.”
August 5, 2010
The head of an eastern Pennsylvania amusement company has yanked a carnival game in which players shot foam darts at an image resembling President Barack Obama.
Irvin Good Jr. pulled the target-shooting game after receiving a complaint from a Massachusetts woman attending a fair in Roseto, about 65 miles north of Philadelphia. Good said Wednesday his company, Hellertown-based Goodtime Amusements, won’t offer the game again.
“It was just a big, big mistake in judgment, and I feel sorry about it,” he told The Associated Press. “I can’t take it back, but I can try to make it better.”
The game, dubbed “Alien Attack,” featured a large painted image of a black man wearing a belt buckle with the presidential seal and holding a scroll labeled “Health Bill.” Players could win prizes such as stuffed animals by hitting targets on the image’s head and heart.
The game was featured in late July at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Big Time Celebration, an annual fair that raises money for the Roman Catholic parish in Roseto.
Kathryn Chapman, 55, of Medford, Mass., who spent part of her childhood in Roseto and was in town for a family reunion, spotted the game and complained to Good.
“What is the message you are sending kids, that if your views don’t agree with somebody else’s, shoot them? I just found it incredibly disrespectful and violent,” Chapman said Wednesday. “And this was the president, the highest office in the country. It was absolutely appalling.”
Good said that he voted for Obama and that the game wasn’t meant to encourage violence against the president. He said the image was conceived and painted by a staffer.
“He just drew it up, and that’s the way it came out,” Good said. “We didn’t talk about it being political.”
Good said he has not been contacted by anyone in law enforcement regarding the game.
Goodtime Amusements has been in business for 26 years, operating carnival-themed fundraisers throughout the Allentown region. The Obama-themed game had been running since April. Good said he had received one other complaint about it before Chapman’s.
June 21, 2010
By: Paul Schemm
CAIRO – Al-Qaida’s U.S.-born spokesman warned President Barack Obama Sunday that the militant group may launch new attacks that would kill more Americans than previous ones.
In a taunting, 24 minute message that dwelled on Obama’s setbacks, including the loss of Massachusetts Senate seat to the Republicans, Adam Gadahn set out al-Qaida’s conditions for peace with the U.S., including cutting support for Israel and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Gadahn said that if you compared the number of dead Muslims “with the relatively small number of Americans we have killed so far, it becomes crystal-clear that we haven’t even begun to even the score,” he said, dressed in a white robe and turban.
“That’s why next time, we might not show the restraint and self-control we have shown up until now,” he said. Even if al-Qaida was defeated, “hundreds of millions of Muslims” would still fight the U.S., he added.
Al-Qaida offered the same conditions for an end to hostilities to then President George W. Bush in 2007, including the release of all Muslim prisoners and cutting off aid to Middle East governments.
Gadahn’s statement was notable for its mocking tone, in which he described Obama as “a devious, evasive and serpentine American president with a Muslim name,” and seemed to delight in his setbacks.
“You’re no longer the popular man you once were, a year ago or so,” he crowed, ascribing his drop in popularity to the escalation of the U.S. wars abroad.
At the time of Obama’s election, many analysts said al-Qaida was worried that his race and Muslim family connections would make him more appealing to Muslims and Arabs angry at Bush’s foreign policy.
In its statements since his election, al-Qaida has taken pains to show the continuity between Obama’s foreign policy and that of his predecessor.
Gadahn is wanted by the FBI since 2004 with a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction. He is also known as Azzam al-Amriki, Arabic for the American.
May 19, 2010
By Jay Heflin
The new healthcare law will pack 32 million newly insured people into emergency rooms already crammed beyond capacity, according to experts on healthcare facilities.
A chief aim of the new healthcare law was to take the pressure off emergency rooms by mandating that people have insurance coverage. The idea was that if people have insurance, they will go to a doctor rather than putting off care until they faced an emergency.
People who build hospitals, however, say newly insured people will still go to emergency rooms for primary care because they don’t have a doctor.
“Everybody expected that one of the initial impacts of reform would be less pressure on emergency departments; it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years,” said Rich Dallam, a healthcare partner at the architectural firm NBBJ, which designs healthcare facilities.
“We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less,” he said.
Some Democrats agree with this assessment.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) suspects the fallout that occurred in Massachusetts’ emergency rooms could happen nationwide after health reform kicks in.
Massachusetts in 2006 created near-universal coverage for residents, which was supposed to ease the traffic in hospital emergency rooms.
But a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that nearly two-thirds of the state’s residents say emergency department wait times have either increased or remained the same.
A February 2010 report by The Council of State Governments found that wait times had not abated since the law took effect.
“That is not an unrealistic question about what’s going to happen in the next four years as you bring all these people on; who are they going to see?” McDermott said.
The Washington congressman tried to include a provision in the healthcare bill he thought would increase the number of doctors.
McDermott’s legislation would have required the government to pay for students’ medical education in return for students serving four years as a primary care physician. The measure did not make it on the final bill that eventually became law.
McDermott stressed that creating a “whole new cadre of doctors” needs to begin now to meet the rising need from patients in the future.
While the measure wouldn’t prevent the infrastructure crunch, it would have provided new doctors for people seeking care.
Richard Foster, Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told The Hill that the current dearth of primary care physicians could lead to greater stress on hospital emergency rooms.
“The supply of doctors can’t be increased very quickly – there’s a time lag,” he said, adding, “Is the last resort to newly covered people the emergency room? I would say that is a possibility, but I wouldn’t say anybody has a very good handle on exactly how much of an infrastructure problem there will be or exactly how it might work out.”
The Academy of Architecture for Health predicts hospitals will need at least $2 trillion over the next 20 years to meet the coming demand.
“As more people have access, you have to deal with the increased capacity,” said Andrew Goldberg, senior director of federal relations at the American Institute of Architects. “At the moment there is not a lot of building going on because of the economy and a lot of health care facilities can’t get the financing. We’ve been working on the Hill to try to address that issue.”
The group has called on Congress to beef-up bonding authorities and expand energy efficient tax breaks for professional buildings. The vehicle targeted is the green energy legislation making its way through the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance.
Dan Noble, a principal at the Dallas-based architecture firm HKS Inc., which also specializes in designing health care facilities, believes the only remedy to meet the coming demand on hospitals is to start projects immediately.
“We would have to get very busy soon,” he said. “It would take a fairly aggressive building campaign for the next decade.”
April 9, 2010
By: Maggie Fox
The agency stressed there are no grounds to recommend any changes in the use of triclosan but said some recent studies merited a closer look.
One member of Congress, Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey, called for strict limits.
“Despite the fact that this chemical is found in everything from soaps to socks, there are many troubling questions about triclosan’s effectiveness and potentially harmful effects, especially for children,” Markey said in a statement.
“I call upon the federal government to ban the use of triclosan in consumer soaps and hand-washes, products intended for use by children, and products intended to come into contact with food. In addition, I will soon introduce legislation to speed up the government’s efforts to evaluate and regulate other substances that may pose similar public health concerns.”
The FDA noted that there was no evidence that triclosan could be harmful to people but noted that an animal study showed the chemical may alter hormone regulation and several other lab studies showed that bacteria may be able to evolve resistance to triclosan in a way that can help them also resist antibiotics.
Other studies have shown no evidence this has actually occurred in nature, however. Nonetheless, the Environmental Protection Agency has said it will speed up its planned review of triclosan.
“FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time,” the agency said in a statement posted here
The Soap and Detergent Association has repeatedly defended the safety of triclosan, which has been in use for about 30 years.
One environmental group welcomed the FDA’s announcement.
“It’s about time FDA has finally stated its concerns about antibacterial chemicals like triclosan,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“The public deserves to know that these so-called antibacterial products are no more effective in preventing infections than regular soap and water and may, in fact, be dangerous to their health in the long run.”
Many experts agree that soap containing triclosan does little or nothing extra to remove bacteria that using soap without the ingredient, as washing the hands physically removes the excess bacteria.
March 17, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
A former Massachusetts dentist is accused of placing paper clips instead of stainless steel posts inside the teeth of root canal patients while billing Medicaid for the more expensive parts.
The state attorney general announced Tuesday that a grand jury indicted former Fall River dentist Michael Clair last week. The charges include assault and battery, larceny, submitting false claims to Medicaid and illegally prescribing drugs.
Prosecutors say Clair was suspended by Medicaid in 2002. He allegedly hired other dentists for his clinic and filed claims under their numbers between August 2003 and June 2005. He’s also accused of illegally prescribing drugs to staffers who returned medications to him.
Clair is to be arraigned April 8. He now lives in Maryland. A telephone listing could not be found for him, and it was unclear if he has an attorney.
January 22, 2010
By Tyler Durden
We apologize in advance for the NY Magazine-style headline, but this is a report that has to be read by all Senators who are preparing to reconfirm Bernanke for a second term. When voting for the Chairman, be aware that all of America will now look at you as the perpetrators who are encouraging the greatest inter and intra-generational theft to continue, and as prescribed by Newton 3rd law, sooner or later, an appropriate reaction will come from the very same middle class that you are seeking to doom into a state of perpetual penury and a declining standard of living.
America spoke in Massachusetts, and will speak again very soon if you do not send the appropriate signal that you have heard its anger – Do Not Reconfirm Bernanke.
You have been warned.
We present Albert Edwards’ latest in its complete form as it must be read by all unabridged and without commentary. These are not the deranged ramblings of a fringe blogger – this is a chief strategist for a major international bank.
Theft! Were the US & UK central banks complicit in robbing the middle classes?Mr Bernanke’s in-house Fed economists have found that the Fed wasn’t responsible for the boom which subsequently turned into the biggest bust since the 1930s. Are those the same Fed staffers whose research led Mr Bernanke to assert in Oct. 2005 that “there was no housing bubble to go bust”? The reasons for the US and the UK central banks inflating the bubble range from incompetence and negligence to just plain spinelessness. Let me propose an alternative thesis. Did the US and UK central banks collude with the politicians to ‘steal’ their nations’ income growth from the middle classes and hand it to the very rich?
Ben Bernanke?s recent speech at the American Economic Association made me feel sick. Like Alan Greenspan, he is still in denial. The pigmies that populate the political and monetary elites prefer to genuflect to the court of public opinion in a pathetic attempt to deflect blame from their own gross and unforgivable incompetence.
The US and UK have seen a huge rise in inequality over the last two decades, as growth in national income has been diverted almost exclusively to the top income earners (see chart below). The middle classes have seen median real incomes stagnate over that period and, as a consequence, corporate margins and profits have boomed.
Some recent reading has got me thinking as to whether the US and UK central banks were actively complicit in an aggressive re-distributive policy benefiting the very rich. Indeed, it has been amazing how little political backlash there has been against the stagnation of ordinary people?s earnings in the US and UK. Did central banks, in creating housing bubbles, help distract middle class attention from this re-distributive policy by allowing them to keep consuming via equity extraction? The emergence of extreme inequality might never otherwise have been tolerated by the electorate (see chart below). And now the bubbles have burst, along with central banks? credibility, what now?