Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recession Worse 30 Years Lost 20% Wealth Pew Poll Blacks Hispanics Most Optimistic Republicans Least

Tags: Recession Worse 30 Years Lost 20% Wealth Pew Poll Blacks Hispanics Most Optimistic Republicans Least

Recession Worse Off Democrats More Optimistic Economy than Republicans

Rather than rely on the corporate polls whose main purpose is to both exaggerate bad news for President Obama and influence polices beneficial to corporations. The poll by Pew http://people-press.org/ from a non-profit foundation supported organization gives polls which are more complete and give a balanced view of what people think instead of asking only a few questions corporate polls influence us by both what they ask and the sequence and intonation they use to ask them. Also many times they skip cells phones because they are more expensive to call because younger Americans have cells phones as their only phone and increasingly all Americans, especially those who use smart phones.

Obama is providing money to expand coverage of cell phones so at some point we do not have to go to consumer unfriendly Verizon which I now have. I may or may not get the i-phone when Verizon gets it, my contract will have expired.

... While nearly all Americans have been hurt in one way or another, some groups have suffered more than others. Blacks and Hispanics have borne a disproportionate share of both the job losses and the housing foreclosures. Young adults have taken the biggest losses on the job front. Middle-aged adults have gotten the worst of the downturn in house values, household finances and retirement accounts. Men have lost many more jobs than women. And across most indicators, those with a high school diploma or less education have been hit harder than those with a college degree or more.

Whether by choice or necessity, many Americans have already significantly scaled back their pre-recession borrow-and-spend habits. According to government data, household spending has gone down, savings rates have gone up, consumer credit has remained stable and mortgage debt has plunged during this recession. ...

The survey finds that the public is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. More than six-in-ten survey respondents (62%) say they expect their personal financial situation to improve in the coming year—the most optimistic reading on this question since before the recession began. Likewise, about six-in-ten (61%) say they believe the damage the recession has inflicted on the U.S. economy will prove to be temporary rather than permanent. ... http://pewsocialtrends.org/pubs/759/how-the-great-recession-has-changed-life-in-america#sdfootnote2sym

How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America

A Balance Sheet at 30 Months

BY WENDY WANG AND RICH MORIN, PEW RESEARCH CENTER


Complete Report

Of the 13 recessions that the American public has endured since the Great Depression of 1929-33, none has presented a more punishing combination of length, breadth and depth than this one. ...

Rather than rely on the corporate polls whose main purpose is to both exaggerate bad news for President Obama and influence polices beneficial to corporations. The poll by Pew http://people-press.org/ from a non-profit foundation supported organization gives polls which are more complete and give a balanced view of what people think instead of asking only a few questions corporate polls influence us by both what they ask and the sequence and intonation they use to ask them. Also many times they skip cells phones because they are more expensive to call because younger Americans have cells phones as their only phone and increasingly all Americans, especially those who use smart phones.

Obama is providing money to expand coverage of cell phones so at some point we do not have to go to consumer unfriendly Verizon which I now have. I may or may not get the i-phone when Verizon gets it, my contract will have expired.

... While nearly all Americans have been hurt in one way or another, some groups have suffered more than others. Blacks and Hispanics have borne a disproportionate share of both the job losses and the housing foreclosures. Young adults have taken the biggest losses on the job front. Middle-aged adults have gotten the worst of the downturn in house values, household finances and retirement accounts. Men have lost many more jobs than women. And across most indicators, those with a high school diploma or less education have been hit harder than those with a college degree or more.

Whether by choice or necessity, many Americans have already significantly scaled back their pre-recession borrow-and-spend habits. According to government data, household spending has gone down, savings rates have gone up, consumer credit has remained stable and mortgage debt has plunged during this recession. ...

The survey finds that the public is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. More than six-in-ten survey respondents (62%) say they expect their personal financial situation to improve in the coming year—the most optimistic reading on this question since before the recession began. Likewise, about six-in-ten (61%) say they believe the damage the recession has inflicted on the U.S. economy will prove to be temporary rather than permanent. ...


Jim Kawakami, June 30, 2010, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com



Experts Trouble With So-Called Authoritative Blogs on the Internet

Tags: Expert or Not Blogs on Everything Medicine Science Political Blogs from So-Called Authoritative Sources

I have long had the peeve of bloviators in blogs on the Internet expound on topics which their knowledge is very limited, especially in the area of science and health using a google search to find information which “supports” their views by corporate scientists or those paid to consult with corporations such as Big Pharma, Oil Producers, or Medical specialists who have an ax to grind.


We got Vioxx, a host of deadly diabetes drugs, deadly drug interactions, and routine use of antibiotics and hormones to produce beef, chicken, and pork which has led to dangerous MRSA http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mrsa/ID00049 and C. Difficile bacteria resistant to many or even all drugs http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/c-difficile/ds00736


Even though the research has been done to show that the indiscriminate medical treatment of animals for our food supply has caused MRSA to form, we continue to treat animals with these drugs. For decades I have concluded just based on scientific common sense that putting Antibacterial soaps on the market would increase resistant bacteria.


The evolution of drug-resistant bacteria is not just the result of prescription neglect. Antibacterial and antimicrobial soap, and other cleaning products you have in your bathroom and kitchen, are also responsible. Just as antibiotic prescriptions can be misused, so, too, can antibacterial products. When was the last time you washed your hands for the full 20 seconds that the national Centers for Disease Control suggests? Twenty seconds may not sound like much, but that's as long as it takes to belt out a full version of the ABCs.


Antibacterial and antimicrobial agents were created to prevent the spread of infection in hospitals. But companies began marketing these products to everyday consumers, too. As a result, more microbes are exposed to and develop resistances to these agents. … http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/cleansing/myths www.DiscoveryHealth.com

Unfortunately almost all the journalists who write about science and medicine do not have the knowledge or intelligence to differentiate whether research coming out a reputable journal or from Harvard or similar school is actually based on confirmable evidence. We are often fooled by studies where they combine many studies (Meta Research) which combine many studies not examining a particular ailment, but somehow extracted from these studies by making simplifying assumptions which could be right many times and wrong many times.


One such study done on whether Hot Flash prevention hormones are safe for women? Two meta studies from reputable schools gave the opposite conclusions. I picked the right one based on both logic and my experience as a scientist. Stop using these hormones.


Scientists and doctors often disagree about research results that contradict their long held assumptions and research. So reading contrary opinion from well vetted sources is the best way to make a decision. Note I often send columns that disagree with what I tell you what I think. Whether oat bran lowers cholesterol is one where I picked the Minnesota over the Harvard study which said no based on how they did their research. The more thorough University of Minnesota study was correct.


Yes, prestigious medical journals often get it wrong because they are humans and fall victim to what we call Expert Opinion. If you think that the Wall Street Journal and/or New York Times provide only accurate news on the front page, read “Trust Us, We’re Experts,” http://prwatch.org/ Weekly analysis of the New York Times and Washington Post propaganda.



Books by staff of the Center for Media and Democracy:



Orac Surgeon/scientist Blog http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/


Feature — July / August 2010

The Trouble With Experts

The Web allows us to question authority in new ways

By Alissa Quart http://www.cjr.org/feature/the_trouble_with_experts.php?page=all


As long as I can remember, “the expert” arrived through news articles, inevitably a guy at that smart-sounding think tank, a famed professor of social science, a renowned author. The expert quote arrived toward the second half of most pieces, wafting out of some glorified institution, as iconic and predictable as Colonel Mustard in the board game Clue.

Structurally, the expert quote is supposed to act as the inarguable voice of reason, getting rid of any doubt left in our minds or splitting the difference between extremes. As the poet Philip Larkin writes of such voices, “Ah, solving that question / Brings the priest and the doctor / In their long coats / Running over the fields.”

But the mystique around expertise has always troubled those who bothered to think about it. The philosopher John Dewey expressed irritation over the unquestioned expert a long time ago, chiding that experts were but “a class” with “private interests and private knowledge.” As the British critic Adam Phillips writes in his book on the nature of expertise, Terrors and Experts, expertise carries with it some troubled assumptions—that “because a person has done a recognizable or legitimated official training they are then qualified to claim something more than that they have done the training.” Phillips points out that it is almost always a feeling of uncertainty that drives the non-specialist—the reader, the patient, the investor—into the arms of experts.

For journalists, this uncertainty is at the center of every traditional news story. Journalists have long gathered expert quotes, secretly hoping to have our angles confirmed and our fears of imposture put to rest. But also because many journalists believe there’s a Platonic truth out there, a definable explanation for everything under the sun—and the experts can tell us what that is.

But with the rise of the Web, as well as changing ideas of authority in general, “the expert” has come to mean something different from what it once did. There’s the rise of what the Brits call “experts by experience”—people like Jenny McCarthy, and also like Orac—who have emerged online because they write well and/or frequently on their subjects, rather than becoming an expert by acclamation of other experts or because of an affiliation with a venerated institution. The worst part of all of this is the thicket of false expertise available on the Web, mistaken by Google-search enthusiasts or, sometimes, na├»ve reporters, as real expertise. These fauxperts are not entirely new, but not many years ago they had a somewhat harder time getting their point of view presented as coming from an “expert.” ... http://www.cjr.org/feature/the_trouble_with_experts.php?page=all

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Venezuela Film South of the Border Trashed by NYT Showing Bias

Tags: WSJ Murdoch Takeover Ellison Film South of Border NY Times Bias News Should Be Accurate

Last night I watched a http://booktv.org presentation by Sarah Ellison formerly of the Wall Street writing about the Murdoch takeover of the Wall Street Journal.








Murdoch wants to put the New York Times out of business by competing in New York. But it seems just like he did in the Times of London, he did not in spirit stick to the agreement to leave the news reporting along. By selectively firing and hiring people he was able to transform it more to his conservative bent. But he does put profits first so he had to proceed carefully.

He is doing the same at the Wall Street Journal. He has expanded the coverage at the WSJ to topics other than watching corporations mainly. So far it is not as biased as the New York Times in its reporting which Ellison did not seem to see. She simply says the WSJ is conservative and the New York Times is liberal.

I don't read newspapers for opinions, but for great accurate news reporting. So far the WSJ is winning. I also rely on McClatchy News http://www.mcclatchydc.com/economy/ which does not have newspapers in New York, but everyone interested in getting accurate news should consider going to their website.

Normally financial newspapers such as the Financial Times tend to be more accurate than the NY Times so I read it every day about financial matters. http://www.ft.com/home/us Non-subscribers have limited access by registering. The http://www.huffingtonpost.com has some great columns, but it takes trial and error to find what you want no matter your political bent.

Note that the NY Times reporting on Venezuela by Romero is really distorted and misleading about what is actually happening. In spite of Venezuelan Media by the Wealthy trashing President Hugo Chavez everyday, he is still very popular. Our plan is to put the wealthy friends back in power to help us secure the oil supplies. That is why we now have military bases in adjacent Colombia.

Jim Kawakami, June 29, 2010, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com

Venezuela Film South of the Border Trashed by NYT Showing Bias Huffington Post Robert Naiman June 28, 2010 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/nyt-attacks-border-with-f_b_627984.html

No reasonable person would have bet serious money that news editors at the New York Times would be huge fans of Oliver Stone's new documentary about South America, "South of the Border." A key point of the film is that mainstream U.S. press coverage of South America in recent years has generally followed State Department priorities more than objective news standards. The New York Times comes in for specific criticism in the film, which notes that the paper editorially backed the short-lived US-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela in 2002. (Key evidence on the U.S. role in the coup can be found here. After the coup collapsed, the Times half-apologized for its pro-coup editorial, as also noted in the film.)

But still, accepting that no-one likes to be criticized, there are supposed to be rules for newspapers like the Times. In an editorial, they can express any opinion they want. But news articles are supposed to be accurate, and if a reporter has a direct interest or bias in a situation, the paper should assign another reporter or at least disclose the interest or bias. ...

From much past experience, I know that many will respond cynically to yet another attempt to raise the alarm about bias at the Times. "So the New York Times is a stenographer for the State Department. Tell me something new!" But this glosses over the fact that the New York Times' biased reporting is an ongoing source of major social harm, because the Times continues, whether we like it or not, to be a leader in US media from whom others take cues. What appears in the New York Times appears to many to be holy writ. We swim in a sea of false information that the Times helps propagate, and frequently many - including many who count themselves cynical - aren't aware of the false things that they believe that can be ultimately traced to a "report" in the Times. ...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vitamin D: Financial Times: Why governments are not acting on vitamin D

Tags: Vitamin D 2000 IU Prevents Cancer osteoporosis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, depression and rheumatoid arthritis, among other diseases Financial Times


Pretty good article. Similar to why sunscreens with only UVB protection was on the market so long while UVA which most likely causes often fatal Melanoma ignored. Also ignored is that sunscreens with UVB prevents our skin from producing Vitamin D.

Remind you again why the corporate Republicans and Democrats do hurt your health. Sunscreens came into widespread use in the 1980s which resulted in a huge upsurge in melanoma until several years ago when UVA sunscreens were introduced and melanoma did not increase each year for the first time in decades.

The big secret is that dermatologists and surgeons will lose a lot of money if there is an increase in the use of vitamin D. I convinced at least two of my three doctors to greatly up vitamin D to their patients. The third is a dermatologist whom I haven't seen since I started taking more vitamin D a few years ago, but did send the scientific papers. It cured several autoimmune skin diseases I had, mostly the result of my kidney failure.

Don't forget to read the The Sugar Fix by Dr. Richard J. Johnson who did peer review work on the harmful effects of high fructose corn sugar. Getting rid of high glycemic foods as one diet does results in weight loss. The Johnson diet does not require you to get rid of lots of fiber containing carbohydrates after two week fast of fructose containing foods to reduce the fructose enzymes in our cells which makes us crave fructose.


Financial Times: ... EDITOR’S CHOICE

More from Reportage - Nov-24

In recent years, vitamin D has been going to some exciting places. Reports of new and promising studies seem to emerge almost weekly. A 2007 analysis of vitamin D studies found that individuals with higher vitamin D levels are significantly – as much as 50 per cent – less likely to develop colorectal cancer. Another 2007 study found that women who took 1,100 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day together with a calcium supplement reduced their overall cancer risk by 60 per cent. And the excitement is not only about cancer prevention.

Low vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, depression and rheumatoid arthritis, among other diseases. Perhaps not surprisingly, in light of the other studies, one recent review of the health records of more than 13,000 Americans found that individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels were 26 per cent more likely, in an eight-year period, to die than those with the highest levels. ... the best research suggests that to achieve the higher vitamin D blood levels associated with disease prevention, most adults in the US would need to take 1,000-2,000 IU a day: five to 10 times more than the current official recommendation for adults. ...

June 28, 2010

Vitamin D Council website being improved now http://www.vitaminDcouncil.org

Below is an excellent article on why governments are not acting on vitamin D and are not likely to act anytime soon:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/11180df8-beaa-11de-b4ab-00144feab49a.html

John Cannell (He hired an expert make his website much more user friendly. It is still in progress. Jim)

Vitamin D Council

1241 Johnson Ave.., #134

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Obama: President Should Be Cool Under Crisis, Not What Fox and NY Times Say

Tags: Obama NYT Dowd FOX News Emotion Not Cool JFK Cuban Missile Cool Saved Us


Los Angeles Times June 22, 2010 Jonathan Zimmerman http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-zimmerman-cool-obama-20100622,0,4270194.story Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University.

Consider the New York Times and Fox News, which are typically at loggerheads about Obama's policies …

In 1965, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. published his now-classic tribute to John F. Kennedy. "A Thousand Days" recounted the triumphs and tragedies of Kennedy's brief presidency, but the book was primarily an exploration of his character, which Schlesinger summed up with a single word: cool.

"Cool" was an emotional style, emphasizing detachment and self-control. A cool person had feelings, of course, but he didn't wear them on his sleeve. Instead, he drew a firm line between his inner and outer worlds. …


(President John F. Kennedy's Cool saved us from nuclear annihilation. We were actually within seconds of a nuclear war because our Armed Forces who wanted war with the Soviet Union so our Navy attacked three nuclear missile armed Soviet subs in international waters outside Cuba. The sub commanders thought that World War III started and voted whether to launch the missile which they were authorized to do if all three commanders agreed. Two immediately said yes, and third more thoughtful one wanted to wait and said no. As many as 100 million American lives were probably saved by the coolness of this commander. Jim)


Wikipedia: ... Arguably the most dangerous moment in the crisis was only recognized during the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana conference in October 2002. Attended by many of the veterans of the crisis, they all learned that on October 26, 1962 the USS Beale had tracked and dropped signaling depth charges (the size of hand grenades) on the B-59, a Soviet Project 641 (NATO designation Foxtrot) submarine which was unknown to the U.S. was armed with a 15 kiloton nuclear torpedo.


Running out of air, the Soviet submarine was surrounded by American warships and desperately needed to surface. An argument broke out among three officers on the B-59, including submarine captain Valentin Savitsky, political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and Deputy brigade commander Second Captain Vasiliy Arkhipov.


An exhausted Savitsky became furious and ordered that the nuclear torpedo on board be made combat ready. Accounts differ about whether Commander Arkhipov convinced Savitsky not to make the attack, or whether Savitsky himself finally concluded that the only reasonable choice left open to him was to come to the surface.[56]:303, 317 During the conference Robert McNamara stated that nuclear war had come much closer than people had thought. Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, said, "A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world."

The crisis was a substantial focus of the 2003 documentary The Fog of War which won an Oscar. ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Missile_Crisis


By demanding that Obama show his emotions in public, the critics reinforce the very worst parts of our political culture. We can never know what the president is "really" feeling, and — most of all — we shouldn't want to know. So why do we? The answer lies in three broad and mutually reinforcing trends in contemporary American life: confession, celebrity and cynicism. Together, these "3 Cs" threaten to bury our politics in a shallow, superficial gauze. And we should laud President Obama — not lambaste him — for trying to resist them. …

Consider the New York Times and Fox News, which are typically at loggerheads about Obama's policies. But when it comes to the president's feelings — or his apparent lack thereof — they stand united: Obama should be our emoter-in-chief, and he's falling down on the job.


Times columnist Maureen Dowd called Obama "bloodless," while her colleague Charles M. Blow urged him to "openly empathize with the anger of others." Over at Fox, meanwhile, Sean Hannity was also squealing for some presidential feeling. He said that some say, "[Obama's] so cool under pressure that he hasn't been able to show enough emotion to the American people." Hannity said, "I don't think it's going to fly." … http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-zimmerman-cool-obama-20100622,0,4270194.story

Friday, June 25, 2010

Uric Acid Fructose Sugar Fruit Juice Soda Dangers BP Obesity Diabetes Aging Kidney Failure Heart Disease Cancer Spread

Tags: Uric Acid Fructose Sugar Fruit Juice Soda Dangers BP Obesity Diabetes Aging Kidney Failure Heart Disease Cancer Spread

Inflammation of either blood vessels or organs will make it easy for cancer to spread and also leads to heart disease. The metabolism of fructose by our liver yields about 25 percent the most deadly form of low density lipoprotein or LDL. It also forms uric acid by killing our cells by draining its ATP energy component from fructose metabolism. The DNA and similar purine components convert to uric acid. The current safe levels of uric acid are not correct. It has to be much lower. Asians are prone to diabetes so we must be especially sensitive to fructose metabolism.


Although I lost 10 pounds and am keeping it off and lost 3 inches off my belly, my uric acid is still at the high level recommended by Dr. Richard Johnson. My blood is especially acidic with a pH = 5.5 so I plan to try the two week fructose fasting diet at the end of the month after I get another comprehensive blood test. Kidney blood floor calculation should be included if you are middle age and older. Depending on how many medications you take or have had a MRI or Cat Scan, you kidneys may be degraded. Uric acid harms our kidneys.


Anytime we change our diet, weight, blood glucose, or any other change in eating and exercise habits, if you can afford it go see your primary care doctor to get both comprehensive and metabolic blood tests including a urine test and a blood uric acid level determination which is both cheap and covered.


J.


Uric Acid Fructose Sugar Fruit Juice Soda Dangers BP Obesity Diabetes Aging Kidney Failure Heart Disease Cancer Spread Dr. Richard Johnson is the chief of the division of kidney disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, and author of The Sugar Fix, ($10 Amazon.com) one of the best books on the market on the dangers of fructose. (Hired good writer for book. Easy reading.


As one of the physicians on the cutting edge of sugar metabolism research today, his focus is on how the overabundance of sugar in the American diet -- particularly fructose -- is causing obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and a number of other health problems.


Richard J. Johnson Interview by Dr. Joseph Mercola June 19, 2010,


… Uric Acid as a Marker for Fructose Toxicity

One of the surprising facts discussed in our first interview was how detrimental the impact of fructose is on your uric acid levels. It appears as though that process is essential to the damage that fructose causes, and it’s actually an excellent marker for toxicity from fructose.

According to the latest research in this area, the safest range of uric acid is between 3 and 5.5 milligrams per deciliter, and there appears to be a steady relationship between uric acid levels and blood pressure and cardiovascular risk, even down to the range of 3 to 4 mg/dl.

Dr. Johnson suggests that the ideal uric acid level is probably around 4 mg/dl for men and 3.5 mg/dl for women.

This is actually the only major biochemical marker that I need to optimize at this point in my life, which most likely suggests that I am particularly sensitive to fructose intake and that it’s best for me to keep my levels as low as possible.

This is most likely due to genetics and would explain why most of my paternal relatives have, or have died from, diabetes. That side of the family is most likely particularly sensitive to fructose.

So I would STRONGLY encourage everyone to have their uric acid level checked to find out how sensitive you are to fructose. (I’ll discuss this strategy further, in just a moment.) ... http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/06/19/richard-johnson-interview-may-18-2010.aspx Video



Medicare Pay Cut Rescinded in House 417-1 Heavy Pressure by Voters

Tags: Medicare Cuts Rescinded Republican Political Delaying Tactics Hypocrisy Bush Vetoed Bills to Prevent Cut and Republicans Did Not Pay $2 Trillion Spending

After extended delays by Republicans to stop this bill to prevent a 20-30% cut in payment to doctors, voters prevailed. Unfortunately all the delaying tactics by Republicans will not be emphasized by the corporate press and media. Unfortunately Americans have a very short term memory because their brains are filled with so much junk that there is no room to remember facts that will make their lives better.


Republicans refuse to allow a vote on the unemployment continuation bill needed to prop up the economy. It has nothing to do with the deficits since these same voters Bush to conduct Wars, Health Advantage, and especially the two tax cuts benefitting primarily the wealthy without paying for it, which increased deficits by Two Trillion Dollars or $2,000,000,000,000!


... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) loudly balked, calling the bill a "great disappointment." She blasted Republicans for not supporting the overall legislation. "I see no reason to pass this inadequate bill until we see jobs legislation coming out of the Senate." ...


J.


From Medscape Medical News

House Passes 6-Month Delay in Medicare Pay Cut

Mark Crane

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/724170?sssdmh=dm1.623587&src=nl_newsalert&uac=26057PR June 24, 2010 — After another week of tough political wrangling and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, a 6-month "doc fix" that rescinds a 21.3% cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians passed the House of Representatives tonight, 417-1.

The bill, which is retroactive to June 1 and also provides a 2.2% rate increase, was passed by the Senate on June 18 and will now be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Because Congress had not acted by last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told its contractors to start paying claims at the reduced rate a week ago. It had held up the claims until then, expecting Congress to act.

The claims are being processed on a rolling, first in/first out basis, said the American Medical Association. Claims submitted earlier are now being paid at the reduced rate, while newer claims will continue to be held for a 10-day period until the president can sign the legislation into law.

CMS has acknowledged that uncertainty about the fee cuts and delayed processing may present cash-flow problems for some physicians, but it expects the delays to be resolved soon. Claims that have already been processed will be adjusted automatically without physicians having to resubmit them, the AMA said.

The ups and downs of the doc fix were remarkable, even by Washington standards. Today's vote almost didn't happen. The Senate had passed the 6-month delay last Friday after having rejected a 19-month delay the day before. In addition to that version of the doc fix, the previous measure included jobless benefits, cash assistance to state governments for their Medicaid programs, and dozens of tax breaks for businesses. All Republicans plus 1 Democrat and 1 independent opposed it because the total $118 billion package wasn't paid for and would add to the deficit.

While many expected that the House would quickly pass a similar 6-month delay, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) loudly balked, calling the bill a "great disappointment." She blasted Republicans for not supporting the overall legislation. "I see no reason to pass this inadequate bill until we see jobs legislation coming out of the Senate."

That was last Friday. After initially saying this week that she would not schedule a vote until the Senate passed the overall "extenders" bill, Pelosi relented at her news conference today. "It's clear that the Senate will be unable to pass the larger bill," she said. Therefore, she decided to allow a vote on the 6-month doc fix as a stand-alone measure.

The $6.4 billion measure was offset by changes in Medicare billing regulations, antifraud provisions, and the tightening of some pension rules. That dealt with GOP objections that it would add to the national debt.

Before the vote in the House, members of both parties accused each other of negligence for not enacting a permanent fix of Medicare payment cuts, required under a decade-old formula called the sustainable growth rate. Reimbursement rates for Medicare would have been cut on a yearly basis, but Congress has deferred the cuts 9 times since 2003, almost always just days before they would take effect.

Medical organizations expressed their disgust with Congress.

"This squabbling is intolerable," said Lori Heim, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "Political infighting over the Medicare physician payment fiasco has gone on far too long. It threatens access to care for elderly and disabled patients and for members of our armed services and their families. It seriously undermines physician confidence that Medicare will reliably pay for the services already rendered. It undercuts the foundation on which health care reform is to be built."

The American College of Physicians (ACP) expressed similar warnings. Unless the cuts were reversed, tens of thousands of physician practices were "facing the real possibility that they will have to lay off staff, miss payrolls, limit how many Medicare and military families they can accept, or even close their doors," said ACP President J. Fred Ralston Jr, MD, an internist in Fayetteville, Tenn.

"It is past time for politicians from both political parties...to stop blaming someone else for the impasse," Dr. Ralston said. "Physicians and patients don't want to hear that it is the Democrats' fault, or the Republicans', or the President's, or the Senate's, or the House's. "They want to hear that members of Congress have agreed on a long-term solution to replace the unworkable SGR."

Even when it appeared that the 6-month delay would pass earlier this week, the AMA condemned the temporary fix as inadequate and blasted Congress for "kicking the problem down the road."

"Congress is playing Russian roulette with seniors' health care," said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD.

The delay expires November 30. New payment cuts will then be imposed unless Congress reverses them.

In December, Medicare reimbursement will be cut 23% and increasing to nearly 30% in January, the AMA said in a statement.

Financial Bill Likely to Pass Hurting Banks and Wall Street

Tags: Finance Regulation Bill Stronger than Expected Lincoln Swaps Seize Banks, Volker Rule, Risky Derivatives Including Food Energy Metals Affiliates States Stronger Regulation Power

Victoria McGrane of the WSJ had a well written summary of the Campaign Finance Bill which involved compromise, but still came out much stronger than I had hoped. The third Republican vote for the Bill, Scott Brown (R-MA), is proving to be a Senator that can win a full term for re-election.

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) retained the major components of her derivatives spin-off provisions! Here is a brief summary of the important provisions in the over 1,600 page bill.

Because most bills are extremely complex, very few people can even partially understand the full implication of bills so we need a reliable and honest reporter to tell us what is important. People on the left and far-right have often advocated or argued against provisions of the bill without really understanding what it really was or its implications.

Remember that I warned you months ago that since about 62% of our GDP is the financial sector in our slow economy, we must be very careful what bills we pass to regulate the financial industry. But the full implications of the bill can only be recognized after it comes into effect over the next year or two.

1. Regulatory authorities (FDIC) can now seize troubled large banks and then sell them off without a taxpayer bailout. A fund paid by the banks would be accumulated over time to provide money to do this.

2. A Financial Stability Council will continuously monitor our total financial system to try to determine systemic risks to our financial system and in extreme cases can seize banks.

3. Volker Rule: A maximum of 3% investment of Tier 1 capital would be allowed and the Hedge Funds would not be bailed out by the bank.

4. Extend comprehensive regulations of derivatives including the trading of derivatives and companies that are selling them. Customized Swaps could still be used but are required to report what they are doing to the Central regulators so the overall trading of Swaps could be monitored.

5. Banks would have to spin-off their riskiest derivatives in trading operations to affiliates, a less draconian modification of the Senator Lincoln's bill provision. Banks would be able to retain currency swaps, foreign exchange swaps, and gold and silver swaps.

Including those that will be in affiliates would be trading in agricultural commodities which led to the incredibly high price of Red Wheat that goes mainly into bread. Thankfully, energy and most metals will also have to be spun off. Sob sob to Goldman Sachs.

As I said before, the high price of oil resulted from speculators as happened with the high price of bread in 2008. The price is now between $70-$80 dollars. Mentioned by Rachel Maddow last night http://rachel.msnbc.com (Need to copy this link to use). She also pointed out as I alluded to in previous blogs that only a relatively few exploratory wells (33) were shut down and none of the production wells were shut down. (3,000). In order to make Obama look bad the corporate press/media including the New York Times have not emphasized this point which I am sure they knew. The editors take out stuff that helps Obama.

The Consumer Watch Dog provision has more teeth than I expected. Except for the auto loan provision, credit cards, all Mortgages, all banks and credit unions over $10 billion, payday lenders who prey on the poor, check cashers, and certain other non-financial firms.

6. Allows states to have laws that are more restricted than this financial legislation. As long as we keep the Republicans out of power, the provision to allow certain National Banks to operate differently if he Federal law prevents them from doing "business." State attorneys can enforce rules if these national banks try to go back to their old habits of bilking customers.

7. Our country is run by the money corporations with the help of the Federal Reserve. So every two years they have to reveal how much money they provided and to whom. Hope this helps. There will be a one time audit of where the Federal Reserve "loan" at zero interest went and how much in this emergency.

8. Would try to make Credit Rating Agencies less subject to conflicts of interest as we saw which led to this financial crash. Again we know that Reagan and the Bush's ignored regulations by not enforcing them.

9. Wall Street tends to sell customers stocks they want to get rid up after huge profits. The technology stocks are an especially egregious example as were the CDOs on mortgages sold by Wall Street Banks. Caution, they are still selling stocks or recommending them after a great run up. The smart and connected guys sell stocks with large profits gradually to the naive public or hype sectors after they have gone up sharply. More rules to reduce this, I hope.

10. Some of the secrecy of Hedge funds operations will become more transparent.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Swaps Regulation Frank (D-MA)Passage Uncertain Combined Swaps with Commodities in ’56 Law

Tags: Swaps Regulation Frank (D-MA) Passage Uncertain Combined Swaps with Commodities in ’56 Law Emanuel Obama Ratigan Bush Cheney


Ryan Grim of the http://www.huffingtonpost.com wrote an easily understandable column on the status of the current Financial Regulation Bill. The key provision holding back the bill is the Senator Blanche Lincoln provision which forces Banks to spin off the Swaps Trading division accounting for about 10 percent of the profits of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. (Bloomberg) Barney Frank (D-MA) whose Finance committee has a large number of conservative Democrats placed there by former Wall Street very successful trader, Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff for President Obama when he was the top advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi made a donation of $23 million to the Democratic Campaign Contribution Committee which helps, but corporate contributions will overwhelm all races. Bills to soften the Supreme Court's blatant attempt to stack our elections in favor of corporations and the wealthy even more, Roberts is showing his true radical right color with the unfortunate gift of gab and fake comradeship.

We already know that all the troubles that President Obama is trying to solve mostly came from the policies of the Bush Cheney 8 years damaging both our economy where job growth was slow except for the financial sector, lobbyists against regulations were put in charge of all the Regulatory Agencies including the FDA, FCC, SEC and Minerals Management. Bush and Cheney also place many of the boys and girls into the Civil Service so if a Democrat is chosen President, they could serve to gum up the works.

With essentially 100 percent of the Senate Republicans preventing a vote on all bills of consequence has made it quite difficult for Obama to institute reforms. We also have a crooked corporate Supreme Court which broke 100 years of precedent and now allow the well financed corporations to openly or not put any amount of money into both Republican and Democratic candidates which explains many of the contents of the finance bill.

Even though the Republicans are working behind to scenes to kill the bill, if the 60 votes can be “bought”, I suspect more Republicans will have to vote for the bill if they are up for reelection in 2010.

Dylan Ratigan who worked on Wall Street, Bloomberg, and CNBC before his MSNBC stint has been the most virulent opponent of the Obama administration from the far left. So he used selective data fro the Grim column to condemn the Democrats. Isn’t propaganda wonderful. Hitler used it well, Wilson used it well, and corporations have used it the best ever.

Wikipedia: "Orwellian" describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" — a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments. Often, this includes the circumstances depicted in his novels, particularly Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Orwell's ideas about personal freedom and state authority developed when he was a British colonial administrator in Burma. He was fascinated by the effect of colonialism on the individual person, requiring acceptance of the idea that the colonialist oppressor exists only for the good of the oppressed person and people.

There has also been a great deal of discourse on the possibility that Orwell galvanized his ideas of oppression during his experience, and his subsequent writings in the English press, in Spain. Orwell was a member of the POUM militia and suffered suppression and escaped arrest by the Comintern faction working within the Republican Government. Following his escape he made a strong case for defending the Spanish revolution from the Communists there, and the misinformation in the press at home. During this period he formed strong ideas about the reportage of events, and their context in his own ideas of imperialism and democracy.

This often brought him into conflict with literary peers such as W.H. Auden and Stephen Spender[1].

In 1940 he engaged himself in the practise of supporting mis-information for a revolutionary purpose with the The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius. A counter-point to his previous work, immediately after his return from Spain, Homage to Catalonia. Homage was elementary in Orwell's definition of the process of truth-power connection and its relevance to ideas of freedom versus authority, whereas Lion & Unicorn was a formative piece of 'propaganda'. The narrative of the two is one that informed Orwell's later works such as Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm. … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orwellian

Jim Kawakami, June 24, 2010, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com

The long-awaited showdown between banks and Sen. Blanche Lincoln over her derivatives reform section of the Wall Street bill begins Thursday. The conference committee will consider an offer made by the House to amend Senate legislation that forces banks to spin off their swaps desk and separately capitalize that operation, while also bringing the business out into the open, requiring derivatives to be cleared and traded on exchanges.

However, one analyst identified an end-run the House may be attempting. Section 754 of the offer advanced by House Financial Services chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says that "the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 is amended by striking 'commodities activities' each place it appears and inserting 'commodities and swap activities,' which would make the swaps desks a 'functionally regulated subsidiary.'"

That would mean that a bank getting taxpayer assistance through the Federal Reserve window would still be required to spin off its swaps desk, but it could maintain it within a separate section of the bank holding company that isn't getting government assistance. "This is not as strong as a complete spinoff, but it still will have positive implications for the derivatives markets in the medium to long term," Adam White, director of research at White Knight Research & Trading, told HuffPost. White is a backer of Lincoln's original language.

The improvement would come because the big banks currently have a major competitive advantage in the swaps business: Everyone knows that they're "too big to fail," so that if they don't have the capital to pay off a losing bet, the government will step in and their counterparties will be paid. The smart move, then, is to trade with such banks. If the swaps desk were no longer part of the bank itself, but rather part of the bank holding company, the chance of a bailout is diminished, White said.

The Senate, however, has the upper hand, because its derivatives section is in the base bill. Both chambers would need to agree to the changes in order for the base bill to be tossed out.

If the Senate accepts the House changes, however, one of two things will happen, said Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland professor and the former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Division of Trading and Markets. "Either we're going to have a bill that's regulation in name only or we going to have no regulation, which means no consumer protection infrastructure, no resolution authority and the whole of the benefits the reform provides," said Greenberger, who said he generally concurred with White's overall analysis, which can be found at the bottom of this story. Greenberger reasoned that if the House goes to far in weakening the derivatives portion, progressives in the Senate will vote against the bill on final passage, dooming it and the reform within it.

The House weakens the Senate legislation in a variety of ways that would lead to fewer trades being cleared and lower capital requirements. In many ways, said Greenberger, the House offer is even weaker than the version passed in December by the lower chamber.

Heather Booth, the head of Americans for Financial Reform, which is fighting for a strong bill, said that her organization believes Frank and Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) do want tough reform, but are battling against the power Wall Street wields in the House. "We think Chairman Frank is trying to fight for strong reform and Chairman Collin Peterson is trying to fight for reform and they understand the riskiness of these speculative trades, and are very knowledgeable and very committed," but, she added: "For a variety of reasons, we think the Senate offer is much stronger than the House."

The House effort to gut Lincoln's reform is so extreme, said Greenberger, that enough progressives in the Senate would abandon the bill on a final vote and bring down reform altogether. Progressives often cave to centrist compromise under the reasoning that something is better than nothing. Covering some people with health insurance is, for instance, better than covering no people. But when it comes to Wall Street reform, something isn't always better than nothing. If the reform isn't tough enough and the same practices are allowed to continue through a variety of loopholes, the risk to the system and the size of the financial catastrophe that could occur may be no greater and no less with reform than without. The shame, said Greenberger, would be to lose valuable reforms such as the consumer financial protection bureau. But without real derivatives reform, he said, the country could experience another financial panic, leading to taxpayer bailouts, in as little as six months.

"It's one issue after the other where loopholes are created in an attempt to make the system unworkable and overly lax," Greenberger said. The argument that tough reform will send the derivatives business overseas is a false one, said Greenberger, speaking by phone from London where, he noted, our allies are crafting legislation much tougher on derivatives than the U.S. is even contemplating. "Germany is outright banning these risky products. The Asian countries, since the financial crisis in the nineties, are adamantly opposed," he said. "There's no place for Wall Street to go." He added that traders would pay a much higher tax rate anywhere else.

And if they do find somewhere to take explosively risky activity, he said, that's all for the better. "Better to have that kind of nuclear explosive activity take place abroad than the United States. The Europeans and the Asians are on to this and they're simply not going to allow it," he said. New York Democrats who worry about lost tax revenue are experiencing the "phenomenon of amnesia," apparently forgetting the huge holes slashed in state revenue by the 2008 financial crisis and the economic devastation it left in its wake. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/23/final-derivatives-showdown_n_623573.html