Archive for October, 2013


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(Part 2)


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Published on Oct 31, 2013

http://www.democracynow.org – A U.S. drone strike killed three people in northwest Pakistan earlier today, marking the first such attack since Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif publicly called for President Obama to end the strikes. Just last week, Amnesty International said the United States may be committing war crimes by killing innocent Pakistani civilians in drone strikes. Today we air extended clips from the new documentary, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” and speak to filmmaker Robert Greenwald. The film looks at the impact of U.S. drone strikes through more than 70 interviews with attack survivors in Pakistan, a former U.S. drone operator, military officials, and more. The film opens with the story of a 16-year-old Tariq Aziz who was killed by drone. just days after attending an anti-drone conference in Islamabad. We are also joined by human rights attorney Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve, co-author of the report, “Living Under Drones.”

Watch the discussion and more clips from the film in part 2 of this segment: http://youtu.be/ew3mXmqoQFg

Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,200+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch it live 8-9am ET at http://www.democracynow.org.

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Reefer madness grips bureaucrats

 

Rady Ananda
Activist Post

To hell with populist will, bureaucrats in Colorado and Washington are dragging their feet or outright banning the sale of recreational cannabis in select cities.

Following the passage of permitted recreational marijuana use in both states last year, a flurry of local ordinances hit the books banning sales inside city limits, or putting a moratorium on allowing it. Over 100 Colorado cities have done this – nine of the most populous ten in the state.

In Washington, regulators are considering dismantling their medical marijuana regulations to enable taxing patients under the new recreational use tax scheme being devised. That’s not at all what voters intended, but accountants won’t ignore the revenue that can be generated from dying people using a plant that’s been around tens of millions of years longer than hominids.

Not only has marijuana been shown to cut tumor growth in cancer patients, improve mood in depressives, reduce nausea and provide safe pain relief, it’s also believed to reduce cocaine cravings in addicts and acts as a neuroprotectant with therapeutic value in treating Alzheimer’s and psychosis.

The British biotech firm GW Pharmaceuticals provides US cannabis patients with Sativex, and recently gained FDA approval to provide researchers with a cannabis concoction aimed at stopping seizures in epileptic children. The new formula, GWP42006 (to be marketed as Epidiolex), excludes all THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid favored by recreational users.
Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary, Weed, highlighted the story of 6-year-old Charlotte Fiji, who suffered 300 seizures a week. Finally, her mother administered a liquid form of marijuana high in CBD and low in THC. The effects were immediate and dramatic. Charlotte didn’t suffer a seizure that night and now only suffers a few a week.

Three different Investigational New Drug studies have been approved using GW’s blend, but all must pass muster with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a history of blocking FDA-approved cannabis studies.

 

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Eretz Zen Eretz Zen

 

 

 

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AGreen Road Project AGreen Road Project

 

Published on Oct 31, 2013

This two- minute animation was created using Kirk Sorensen’s Spent Fuel Explorer, which in turn uses an industry-validated source for generating the data.
http://www.agreenroadproject.org

I apologize for saying “megaton” when I meant “metric ton.” And for the “20 year” text not being quite synced up to that time period. This is a first draft!

The flickering is due to an over-the-air capture of two runs of Sorensen’s program. I didn’t have time to figure out a pure-digital method in order to finish this by the day it was first needed (for the nuclear waste symposium in San Clemente October 19th, 2013). The image on the right had to be time-matched to the one on the left because the computer ran that portion of the simulation much faster than the more colorful left side. The two sides show the same thing different ways, and are in reasonably close synchronization now.

Video by Ace Hoffman
http://www.acehoffman.org

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breakingtheset·

Published on Oct 31, 2013

Abby Martin Breaks the Set with Legendary Director Oliver Stone and Renowned Historian Peter Kuznick.

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Evan Vucci, File / AP Photo

FILE – In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrives in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington for and event with President Barack Obama on the initial rollout of the health care overhaul. As the public face of President Barack Obama’s signature health care program, Sebelius has become the target for attacks over its botched rollout. Republicans want her to resign and even some Democrats _ while not mentioning her name _ say someone needs to be fired.

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October 31, 2013

Another Obamacare shoe drops: Docs not participating

Rick Moran

Obamacare might be signing up millions of people who never had insurance before but it is going to be difficult in some places for them to find a doctor to treat them.

New York Post:

New York doctors are treating ObamaCare like the plague, a new survey reveals.

A poll conducted by the New York State Medical Society finds that 44 percent of MDs said they are not participating in the nation’s new health-care plan.

Another 33 percent say they’re still not sure whether to become ObamaCare providers.

Only 23 percent of the 409 physicians queried said they’re taking patients who signed up through health exchanges.

“This is so poorly designed that a lot of doctors are afraid to participate,” said Dr. Sam Unterricht, president of the 29,000-member organization. “There’s a lot of resistance. Doctors don’t know what they’re going to get paid.”

Three out of four doctors who are participating in the program said they “had to participate” because of existing contractual obligations with an insurer or medical provider, not because they wanted to.

Only one in four “affirmatively” chose to sign up for the exchanges.

Nearly eight in 10 – 77 percent – said they had not been given a fee schedule to show much they’ll get paid if they sign up.

Read More Here

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Stressing that improvements are happening daily, the senior Obama official closest to the administration’s malfunctioning health care website apologized Tuesday for problems that have kept Americans from successfully signing up for coverage.

Health policy cancellations: New blow for admin.

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 – 12:21 am
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 – 12:20 am

Move over, website woes. Lawmakers confronted the Obama administration Tuesday with a difficult new health care problem — a wave of cancellation notices hitting small businesses and individuals who buy their own insurance.

At the same time, the federal official closest to the website apologized for its dysfunction in new sign-ups and asserted things are getting better by the day.

Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said it’s not the administration but insurers who are responsible for cancellation letters now reaching many of the estimated 14 million people who buy individual policies. And, officials said, people who get cancellation notices will be able to find better replacement plans, in some cases for less.

The Associated Press, citing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, reported in May that many carriers would opt to cancel policies this fall and issue new ones. Administratively that was seen as easier than changing existing plans to comply with the new law, which mandates coverage of more services and provides better financial protection against catastrophic illnesses.

While the administration had ample warning of the cancellations, they could become another public relations debacle for President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. This problem goes to the credibility of one of the president’s earliest promises about the health care overhaul: You can keep your plan if you like it.

In the spring, state insurance commissioners started giving insurers the option of canceling existing individual plans for 2014, since the coverage required under Obama’s law is more robust. Some states directed insurers to issue cancellations. Large employer plans that cover most workers and their families are unlikely to be affected.

The cancellation notices are now reaching policyholders, and they’ve been complaining to their lawmakers — who were grilling Tavenner on Tuesday.

“Based on what little information the administration has disclosed, it turns out that more people have received cancellation notices for their health care plans this month than have enrolled in the (health care website),” said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. He cited a news report of 146,000 cancellations in his state alone.

Read More Here

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NPR

New Security Issues Surface For Health Website

October 30, 2013 5:51 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama claimed “full responsibility” Wednesday for fixing his administration’s much-maligned health insurance website as a new concern surfaced: a government memo pointing to security worries, laid out just days before the launch.

On Capitol Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized to frustrated people trying to sign up, declaring that she is accountable for the failures but also defending the historic health care overhaul. The website sign-up problems will be fixed by Nov. 30, she said, and the gaining of health insurance will make a positive difference in the lives of millions of Americans.

Obama underscored the administration’s unhappiness with the problems so far: “There’s no excuse for it,” he said during a Boston speech to promote his signature domestic policy achievement. “And I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP.”

The website HealthCare.gov was still experiencing outages as Sebelius faced a new range of questions at the House Energy and Commerce Committee about a security memo from her department. It revealed that the troubled website was granted a temporary security certificate on Sept. 27, just four days before it went live on Oct. 1.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, said incomplete testing created uncertainties that posed a potentially high security risk for the website. It called for a six-month “mitigation” program, including ongoing monitoring and testing.

Security issues raise major new concerns on top of the long list of technical problems the administration is grappling with.

“You accepted a risk on behalf of every user … that put their personal financial information at risk,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Sebelius, citing the memo. “Amazon would never do this. ProFlowers would never do this. Kayak would never do this. This is completely an unacceptable level of security.”

Sebelius countered that the system is secure, even though the site’s certificate, known in government parlance as an “authority to operate,” is of a temporary nature. A permanent certificate will be issued only when all security issues are addressed, she stressed.

Spokeswoman Joanne Peters added separately: “When consumers fill out their online … applications, they can trust that the information they’re providing is protected by stringent security standards and that the technology underlying the application process has been tested and is secure. Security testing happens on an ongoing basis using industry best practices.”

The security certificate is required under longstanding federal policy before any government computer system can process, store or transmit agency data. The temporary certificate was approved by Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner, the senior HHS official closest to the rollout. No major security breaches have been reported.

The memo said, “From a security perspective, the aspects of the system that were not tested due to the ongoing development, exposed a level of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk for the (federal marketplace website).”

It recommended setting up a security team to address risks and conduct daily tests, and said a full security test should be conducted within two to three months of the website going live.

A separate page stated that “the mitigation plan does not reduce the risk to the (website) itself going into operation on October 1, 2013. However, the added protections do reduce the risk to the overall Marketplace operations and will ensure that the … system is completely tested within the next 6 months.”

That page was signed by three senior technical officials below Tavenner at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. All the officials deal with information security issues.

Republicans opposed to Obama’s health care law are calling for Sebelius to resign. She apologized to people having trouble signing up but told the committee that the technical issues that led to frozen screens and error messages are being cleared up on a daily basis.

Sebelius’ forthright statement about her ultimate accountability for problems with the sign-up rollout came as Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., peppered her with questions about the “debacle.”

Read More here

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Four colors of pills

Author Ragesoss   Photo by Sage Ross (ragesoss.com)

Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

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The Hill

The agency responsible for implementing ObamaCare erroneously paid out millions of dollars on behalf of dead people in 2011, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) paid $23 million to providers, suppliers, Medicare Advantage organizations and prescription drug plan sponsors on behalf of beneficiaries who died between 2009 and 2011, the OIG found.

That’s less than one-tenth of one percent of total Medicare expenditures, and the report says CMS “has safeguards to prevent and recover” those payments.

The OIG offered a handful of recommendations, such as taking action against providers and suppliers that had high numbers of claims with service dates after a beneficiary’s death, as a way to minimize further inappropriate payments.

Read More Here

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Medicare paid $23 million for dead patients in 2011 and $29 million for drug benefits for illegal immigrants from 2009 to 2011, according to a report Thursday from the Health and Human Services inspector general.

The investigators said Medicare has safeguards to try to stop payments to dead patients, but it still ended up sending out the $23 million anyway.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — the same agency that is struggling to fix the broken Obamacare website — acknowledged the problems and said it will try to take steps to fix them.

“We agree that in cases where the information indicates an individual is not lawfully present in the United States, that individual should not be permitted to enroll or to remain enrolled in a Part D plan during the period where he or she is not eligible to receive federal benefits,” Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of CMS, said in response to the report about illegal immigrants getting benefits.

The payouts aren’t large — they amount to just a fraction of a percent of what Medicare pays each year in benefits. Still, the investigators said the agency should take steps to crack down.

In one of its reports the inspector general said 4,139 illegal immigrants were able to make 279,056 drug benefit claims.

Read More Here

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Dead farmers reap millions in subsidies, GAO audit shows

The federal government is still paying out millions of dollars a year in subsidies to dead farmers, according to a government audit released Monday that said the Agriculture Department doesn’t do the routine checks required to make sure it is paying benefits to the right people.

The Government Accountability Office said one agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, made $10.6 million payments from 2008 to 2012 on behalf of more than 1,100 people who had been dead at least a year. Another arm of the department, the Risk Management Agency, paid out $22 million to more than 3,400 policyholders who had been dead at least two years.

Some of the payments may have been legal because they were for work completed before the farmers died, but the GAO said the problem is that the two agencies don’t perform routine checks — such as looking at the Social Security lists — to verify their information.

“Until and unless NRCS and RMA develop and implement procedures to have their payment or subsidy data records matched against SSA’s complete death master file, either through coordination with FSA or on their own, these agencies cannot know if they are providing payments to, or subsidies on behalf of, deceased individuals; how often they are providing such payments or subsidies; or in what amounts,” the investigators wrote.

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By Ari Phillips on October 31, 2013 at 10:08 am

A Sierra Nevada reservoir.

A Sierra Nevada reservoir.

CREDIT: Shutterstock: Katarish

California is known for its massive water infrastructure in which northern reservoirs, which fill up from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, supply the populous southern and coastal regions of the state. However going into a third year of dry winter conditions, many of these northern man-made oases are at precariously low levels, hovering between one-third and one-half capacity, far less than the average for October.

More than 20 million Californians and many farmers in the state’s crop-intensive Central Valley depend on northern reservoirs for their water.

“Both the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project heavily depend on the Sierra Nevada snowpack,” Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, told The Fresno Bee. “We are now facing real trouble if 2014 is dry.”

Cowin said that dwindling reservoirs should be a wake-up call to Californians, and indicate that it’s time to prepare for additional water-conservation measures.

Pete Lucero of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, owner of the Central Valley Project, told the Fresno Bee that January through May 2013 were California’s driest in about 90 years of recordkeeping.

Currently the San Luis Reservoir, which gets water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is only 22 percent of its historical average for this time of year.

At a recent workshop that brought together leaders to hear about California’s water challenges, Cowin said that decades of disagreement among environmentalists, farmers, water agencies, and other interests in various parts of California has “resulted in gridlock.” And that with “environmental laws, climate change, and population growth intensifying the conflict, there’s simply no time to waste.”

 

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By Tom Kenworthy on October 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

Merrily Mazza, right, asks Lafayette, Colorado voter Kat Goldberg to support a ballot question that would ban drilling for oil and gas in the community.

Merrily Mazza, right, asks Lafayette, Colorado voter Kat Goldberg to support a ballot question that would ban drilling for oil and gas in the community.

CREDIT: Tom Kenworthy

LAFAYETTE, COLORADO — On a recent Saturday, buoyed by picture-perfect autumn weather, Merrily Mazza was knocking on doors in her adopted community on Colorado’s booming Front Range north of Denver. The Chicago transplant and retired McGraw-Hill executive is running for city council in next week’s city election and she’s looking for votes.

But her own campaign was not her first priority that day. Her primary assignment was chasing down potential supporters of a ballot measure that would establish a “Community Bill of Rights” in Lafayette — and ban oil and gas drilling within city limits.

Mazza and volunteers like her in Lafayette and three other Colorado cities that will next week determine the fate of ballot initiatives to block oil and gas drilling are at the forefront of what is fast becoming an epic battle. At issue is whether communities have the authority to regulate drilling and fracking within their borders or whether that power rests solely with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

co frack ban-01At one of Mazza’s first stops, on South Carr Avenue, Kat Goldberg answered the doorbell. Hearing Mazza’s pitch against the oil and gas extraction technique known as fracking, Goldberg said: “I’m not keen on it. I have three kids and I’d like the environment to be sustainable for my kids and their kids. I don’t think fracking is a good thing to be doing.”

The recent unprecedented flooding in Colorado, which resulted in oil and gas spills totaling more than 40,000 gallons, has intensified concerns among residents and activists about the impact of oil and gas drilling and the state’s ability to safely regulate it.

Less than a year after the Colorado oil and gas industry’s trade association sued the city of Longmont over a similar ban on fracking, and only a few months after the state government run by Gov. John Hickenlooper joined the association in suing that city, activists in four communities in Colorado are nonetheless pressing ahead with ballot initiatives that would ban or impose moratoria on drilling and fracking.

The looming November showdown in those communities reflects mounting concern over a boom in oil and gas development closing in on suburbs and cities along Colorado’s Front Range, the heavily populated region that abuts the foothills of the Rockies stretching from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins. In Weld County, to the east of the four communities that will vote on anti-fracking ballot measures, there are now more than 20,000 oil and gas wells, about 40 percent of the state total.

 

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File:Puft pup (2957648516).jpg

Image Source :  Wikimedia . Org

Puft pup

istolethetv from Hong Kong, China

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File:Old timey dog (1701659064).jpg

Image Source  : Wikimedia . Org

Old timey dog

stolethetv from Hong Kong, China

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File:Jurassic bark (1701195351).jpg

Image Source :  Wikimedia. Org

Jurassic bark

istolethetv from Hong Kong, China

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File:HK Sheung Wan Parkn Shop Halloween decor bones Oct-2013 02.JPG

Image Source  : Wikimedia . Org

HK Sheung Wan Parkn Shop Halloween decor bones

Cheumngoyiam

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File:An old butler halloween ornament.jpg

Image Source  :  Wikimedia. Org

old butler halloween ornament

Luke  PD

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VIncent Price does The Monster Mash

mrprice07 mrprice07

Uploaded on Jan 25, 2012

After 170,000 hits here’s a new version, hopefully with better resolution, of Vincent Price’s 1977 version of the Boris Pickett song, mashed up with clips from The Monster Club and the lovely Pan’s People dancers.

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Halloween! – Bobby Pickett – Monster Mash – (HD Stereo)

garfieldcat5 garfieldcat5·

Uploaded on Oct 15, 2007

Like the facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/star104radio

Find this stereo version here:
http://www.amazon.com/Wacky-Favorites…

Many other novelty hits in true stereo as well!

from Wikipedia:

“Monster Mash” is a 1962 novelty song and the best-known song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. Pickett was an aspiring actor who sang with a band called The Cordials at night while going to auditions during the day. One night, while performing with his band, Pickett did a monologue in imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff while covering The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'”. The audience loved it and co band member, Lenny Capizzi encouraged Pickett to do more with the Karloff imitation.

Pickett and Capizzi composed “Monster Mash” and recorded it with Gary Paxton, Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae and Rickie Page, credited as “The Cryptkickers”. This song was partially inspired by Paxton’s earlier novelty hit “Alley Oop”, as well as by the Mashed Potato dance craze of the era.

The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes a hit when the scientist throws a party for other monsters. The producers came up with several low-budget, but effective sound effects for the recording. For example, the sound of a coffin opening was imitated by a rusty nail being pulled out of a board. The sound of a cauldron bubbling was actually water being bubbled through a straw and the chains rattling were simply chains being dropped on a tile floor. Pickett also impersonated the horror actor Bela Lugosi as Dracula when he said, “What ever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”

On October 20, 1962, eight weeks after it was recorded, “Monster Mash” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart just in time for Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since. The single was re-released twice, the first re-release was in 1970, and the second re-release resulted in the single peaking at #10 in early-May, 1973. The song remains a staple on oldies radio.

“Monster’s Holiday”, a Christmas-themed follow up, was released in December 1962 and peaked at #30 on the Billboard chart. The tune was penned by the renowned novelty song composer Paul ‘Oops! upside ya head’ Harrison.

The Bonzo Dog Band released a version of “Monster Mash” on their 1969 album Tadpoles.

Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers charted with “Monster Mash” in the UK in 1973 where it peaked at #3 in the early October. The BBC banned the record in 1962 on the grounds they thought the song was “too morbid.” Hence part of the reason why the record failed in the UK.

In 2005, “Climate Mash”, a version with re-written lyrics about global warming and new vocals by Pickett, was released on the Internet by the organization Clear the Air. “Monster Mash” was written by Pickett and Leonard Capizzi.

Stereo remix from original 3 track master.

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