Archive for December, 2009

PolitiFact chooses Palin death panel comment for ‘Lie of the Year’


St. Petersburg

In a recent poll, Politifact, the fact-checking website for the St. Petersburg Times, has dubbed Sarah Palin’s claim about “death panels” as Lie of the Year.

If you’re unfamiliar with Politifact, it is a fact checking site associated with the St. Petersburg Times that takes comments made by politicians from around the country and fact checks the truth of the comment.

St Petersburg Times:

Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

“Death panels.”

The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really?”

The list of runner-ups in the Lie of the Year poll can be found at Politifact.com

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Senate votes on health care bill, passes 60-40

Washington

Breaking News: The U.S. Senate voted shortly after 1:00 A.M. on the health care reform bill. This bill, which must pass through other votes, the last scheduled for 7:00 P.M. Christmas Eve, passed Monday 60-40.

The New York Times:

The 1 a.m. Monday vote was on a motion to cut off debate on Mr. Reid’s manager’s package. A simple majority vote to approve the package is scheduled for roughly 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

The middle-of-the night session had a surreal quality to it. The chaplain, Barry C. Black, who opened the contentious Sunday session of the Senate with a prayer, did so again at 12:01 a.m. to officially begin a new legislative day.

For many Democrats, the landmark vote summoned the memory of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a champion of universal health care for his entire career, but who died in August before achieving that goal.

“Health care in America ought to be a right, not a privilege,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut. “Since the time of Harry Truman, every Congress, Republican and Democrat, every president, Democrat and Republican, have at least thought about doing this. Some actually tried.”

Republicans said that the bill was fatally flawed and that voters would retaliate against Democrats at the polls in November.

Senate set to vote on health care bill 1:00 A.M. Monday

Washington

The Senate will conduct the first of three votes concerning the health care bill at 1:00 A.M. Monday. The Senate continues to push for a Christmas Day deadline.

House legislation has passed and a Congress compromise is set to begin after Christmas.

From the Huffington Post:

Under Senate rules, Democrats needed 60 votes on three separate occasions to pass the measure. The first and most critical test was set for about 1 a.m. Monday. Democrats said Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson’s announcement Saturday that he would vote for the bill gave them the support they needed.

Nelson came in for strong criticism from Republicans in Washington, who complained that he had won favorable treatment for his home state’s Medicaid program. In a bit of political theater, they sought to open the bill up to extend it to all 50 states, but Democrats objected.

Nelson’s agreement to an abortion-related change in the bill drew criticism from Nebraska Right to Life, a longtime supporter, and the state’s Catholic bishops, who issued a statement that they were “extremely disappointed” in him.
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Asked if Republicans could prevent the bill’s passage, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said: “Probably not. But what we can do is continue winning the battle of American public opinion.”

This is what the bill entails:

The Senate legislation is predicted to extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans who lack coverage and would ban industry practices such as denial of insurance on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The Congressional Budget Office said it would reduce deficits by about $132 billion over a decade, and possibly much more in the 10 years that follow.

At its core, the legislation would create a new insurance exchange where consumers could shop for affordable coverage that complies with new federal guidelines. Most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, with subsidies available to help families making up to $88,000 in income afford the cost.

In a bow to Senate moderates, the measure lacks a government-run insurance option of the type that House Democrats placed in their bill. Instead, the estimated 26 million Americans purchasing coverage through new insurance exchanges would have the option of signing up for privately owned, nonprofit nationwide plans overseen by the same federal agency office that supervises the system used by federal employees and members of Congress.

How do you feel about the bill? Is it everything the Democrats that elected Obama had hoped for, or does it not measure up?

What did McCain mean by the statement, “…what we can do is continue winning the battle of American public opinion” ?

I want to hear from you.

Debate over posting a woman’s abortion info online in Oklahoma postponed

Oklahoma

A law that would require personal information about a women who receives an abortion in the state of Oklahoma to be posted on the internet for public view, is a debate that was post-poned Friday until a further hearing to be held Feb. 19.

The law would allow private information to be posted online about a woman receiving an abortion collected from a 10 page survey required to be filled out by each patient.

From CommonDreams.org:

The law requires doctors to fill out a 10-page questionnaire for every abortion performed, including asking the woman about her age, marital status, race and years of education.

One section of the “Individual Abortion Form” says the woman must state her reason for seeking an abortion and answer this checklist. “Having a baby:

• Would dramatically change the life of the mother;
• Would interfere with the education of the mother;
• Would interfere with the job/employment/career of the mother.”
A Democratic former state legislator calls the law “abusive and invasive.”

“Nosy neighbors with some effort could identify or, even worse, misidentify these women who answer these questions,” says former state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton, one of two Oklahoma residents on whose behalf the Center for Reproductive Rights brought the lawsuit against the measure.

Lamb, who is running for lieutenant governor, rejects that notion. How can it violate women’s privacy, Lamb says, if their identity is kept confidential?

The measure specifies women’s identities will be protected. “Nothing in the Individual Abortion Form shall contain the name, address or information specifically identifying any patient,” it says.

“Nobody’s identity will be made known,” Lamb says.

It almost seems as if proponents of this law see the women who receive abortions as criminals and, like criminals, these women should give up their rights and have the details of their “wrong doings” plastered across the internet. This law would be a basic invasion of the right to privacy. When a patient gets cancer, their doctor isn’t required to post the patient’s information on the internet. Why the standard for abortion, which is simply another medical procedure?

Women in Oklahoma need to stand up against this motion to expose their lives at their most private. Information like this is not a public right.

Florida unemployment rate soars, bay area even worse

U.S. unemployment rate history. -Wikimedia.org

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Florida unemployment rates reach 11.5 percent and 12.3 percent in the Tampa Bay area.

Among lowlights revealed Friday:

• In shedding 16,700 more jobs last month, Florida not only lost more jobs than any other state, it exceeded the net loss of jobs for the entire country (11,000 jobs).

• Florida’s unemployment rate rose to a 34-year high of 11.5 percent, up from a revised 11.3 percent in October. The state rate is now running a full 1.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate. For much of the recession, the gap had been one percentage point or less.

• The Tampa Bay area’s jobless rate jumped half a percentage point to 12.3 percent, making it the most job-challenged major metropolitan area in Florida. The region’s most sluggish county remained Hernando, which saw its unemployment rate rocket to 14.7 percent, up from 14.0 percent the prior month.


County-by-county unemployment rates

County Nov. 2009 Oct. 2009 Nov. 2008
Citrus 12.6 percent 12.1 percent 9.3 percent
Hernando 14.7 percent 14.0 percent 10.2 percent
Hillsborough 12.1 percent 11.7 percent 7.5 percent
Pasco 13.2 percent 12.6 percent 8.8 percent
Pinellas 11.7 percent 11.3 percent 7.7 percent
Flagler (highest) 16.8 percent 16.2 percent 11.1 percent
Liberty (lowest) 6.1 percent 5.4 percent 4.5 percent
Tampa Bay area* 12.3 percent 11.8 percent 7.9 percent
Florida 11.5 percent 11.3 percent 7.2 percent
Nation 10.0 percent 10.2 percent 6.8 percent

* Combines Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Note: County and Tampa Bay area numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Florida and U.S. numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Source: Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation

Auschwitz ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign stolen

'Work Sets You Free' sign that hangs above the entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp was stolen early Friday.

Poland

The famous sign reading “work sets you free” that hangs above the Aushwitz Nazi death camp in Poland was stolen early Friday morning from the camp turned museum.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

The 16-foot sign bearing the German words “Arbeit Macht Frei” – “Work Sets You Free” – spanned the main entrance to the Auschwitz death camp, where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed during World War II.

Working under the cover of darkness and timing their theft between regular security patrols, the culprits unscrewed the 90-pound steel banner on one side and tore it off on the other, then carried it 300 yards to an opening in a concrete wall.

The opening, which had been left intentionally to preserve a poplar tree dating back to the war, was blocked by four metal bars, which the thieves cut. Footprints in the snow led to the nearby road, where police believe the sign was loaded onto a vehicle.

…The slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” appeared at the entrances of other Nazi camps, including Dachau and Sachsenhausen, but the long curving sign at Auschwitz is the best known.

What do you think this act suggests?

Crist signs bill to get SunRail moving

Florida

Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill Wednesday that marks the beginning of the construction of the first commuter train system in Central Florida.

Crist says that the SunRail “is about jobs, jobs, jobs. If ever there was a time that we needed an infusion [of jobs] … this rail project makes our statement loud and clear.”

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer predicted at least 8,000 jobs would be created to build the $1.2 billion train system, which eventually will run 61.5 miles from Deland in Volusia County through downtown Orlando to Poinciana in Osceola County. Thousands more jobs could result from related development along the corridor, he has said.

Construction could begin in June, once a funding agreement with the federal government is made final and the tracks are purchased from the CSX railroad company in Jacksonville. In total, CSX will be paid $491 million.

Trains could begin to run along the first 30 miles — from DeBary in Volusia to Sand Lake Road in south Orange County — in late 2012, though that could slide into 2013. The second half of the system could open two years later.

When the SunRail is finally up and running, will it provide an efficient service? Will it connect to enough major cities and prove to be something that is needed in Florida, ultimately setting the stage for a high speed rail system in the future?