daily news

Baby, Fat

Image: Bored Baby @ PanicButton

AFP: Start obesity prevention in the cradle, study urges:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A team of US doctors has urged that obesity screening start in the cradle after a study they conducted showed that half of US children with weight problems became overweight before age two.

Oh good christ. What next? Miniature treadmills? Probably. It's America, and the "O's" are involved: Obama, Oprah, and Dr. Oz.


Image: Robin Allen - Sheriff of Nottingham © BBC.co.uk

Duke Helfand/LAT:

Anthem's parent company defends health insurance rate hike

Company executives said that less than a quarter of affected Anthem customers in California will see rate increases of 35% to 39%. The average will be about 25%, while some customers will see rates fall, they said.

WellPoint is trolling for dollars for the same reason the legendary Sheriff of Nottingham demanded ever-higher taxes from the peasants: they lost the money on whores and gambling. Or more accurately, investment banks and derivatives.

Money For Nothing

Image © Pricks of the Trade Tattoo Supplies

Duke Helfand/LAT:

Congress opens probe into Anthem Blue Cross rate increases

Congress opened an investigation Tuesday into Anthem Blue Cross' impending rate increases in California as President Obama cited the premium hikes -- some as high as 39% -- in his bid to pass national healthcare legislation.

For the last couple of days this has been writ large in the nation's print, yakked to death on the 24/7 news, and has finally resulted in bi-coastal government demands for the CEO of WellPoint to appear before Committees of Import.


21st Century Tribal Warfare

Karl Malakunas/AFP: 197 people charged with murder over Philippine massacre:

In total, 197 people were charged, including other senior clan members, local government officials and policemen who allegedly helped organise the killings, as well as thugs accused of abducting and shooting the victims.

Power corrupting absolutely in a very small pond indeed.

How Low Can You Go?

Commercial Construction (Sacramento, CA)

Are you looking for an amazing long term opportunity with an eco-friendly expanding company? We are looking for candidates with Commercial Construction or Glazing experience to work in the Sacramento area. All candidates interested in this opportunity must be able to pass a pre-employment drug screen and background check.

Compensation: $10.00/hr

'Eco-friendly' in the description usually means energy retrofits, which usually means Federal Stimulus, which means prevailing wage, which means fair value for labor. So at a base wage for apprentice laborers of $18+/hr, plus benefits, these guys missed the mark by half. Makes you wonder where the labor compliance people are, eh?

Gone. The Republicans wouldn't stand for monitoring. I mean, they hung Katrina funds out to dry until the Dems bent over forward and removed labor protections. And today they're hanging up the appointment of one more labor commissioner to enable a quorum at the NLRB, because, well, they *can*.

Change we can count on? None.

So if you're a local contractor getting federal cash filtered through a State contract for retrofits, no worries. Pay the poor bastards whatever you think you can get away with.

Those Magnificent Men & Their Lying Machines

Lipstick on a Flying Pig[Minor edit: added lipstick on flying pig image. CM1]

We can no longer afford to pay more for - and get less from - our government. The answer for every problem cannot always be another program or more money. . . We must reward the people and ideas that work and get rid of those that don't.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore, National Performance Review, 1993

Andrew McIntosh/sacbee: Lawmakers lash out at EDD (9 Feb):

The latest overruns come on top of a five-year delay and $80 million more in cost increases on other computer modernization projects at EDD, according to a report produced for the Assembly Insurance Committee.

Change we can count on.

Some Plans

Image @ CompareNow.com

Duke Helfland/LAT: California cracks down on discount health plans:

In 2001, the former director of the Department of Managed Health Care decided that the agency had no jurisdiction over the discount outlets because they did not [meet] the state's definition of health plans.

Four years later, however, the department's current director reversed the policy, arguing that the discount firms met the definition by arranging for services in exchange for fees.

Ain't that America.

The Value of Things

Zillow Home Value Index


Just a reminder about the fluctuations in value being dependent on geography, date of purchase, and projected life of the of the product. Begs the simple question: how much is a particular *property* worth? A particular *mortgage*?

Aye, there's the rub. Not one of the 'experts' who invested in a 1/10000th share of my mortgage has a f*cking clue. And because of that battle between bullshit and bearshit, the entire planet is suffering? More or less, yes.

Clean Energy: 'We suck'

Martin Lamonica/CNET: In clean energy, U.S. needs more steel in ground:

"We're still pretty good at invention or discovery but in terms of deployment, we're losing ground. In fact, you could say we suck," said Mike Davis . . Pacific Northwest National Laboratories . . "Our ability to throw sand in the gears in terms of development in this country is just phenomenal. We've perfected it."

Guy must be a holdover from the Reagan years. Or be a Norquist fanatic. Yes, we're very good at invention, but it isn't "we" who suck. The problems arise when big development truly believes in "forgiveness is easier than permission" as a business plan. Like Love Canal, Three Mile Island, half the military bases in the Country, virtually all of our major cities, Bhopal . . .

You get the idea.

The remedy for development delays is simple: get those multi-million and multi-billion dollar multinationals to cough up the money to pay for enough professional staff to review, analyze, and advance the projects in less time.

After all, it's only money. They have it. "We" don't.


Kevin Bullis/TR: Biofuels from Saltwater Crops:

Researchers at the Masdar Institute in the United Arab Emirates are starting a two-square-kilometer demonstration farm that will combine fish and shrimp farming with the cultivation of mangrove trees and salicornia, a plant with oil-rich seeds that can be converted into fuel.

The *real* systems engineers. (Image linked to source).

Redone: YJCMTSU - O'Thief Story

[Note: I've removed the original as being a bit too far over the edge, even for me. Below is CMan1's rather more rational irrationality-of-the-day. -rba]

How about this one from Raw Story:

Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence community

Two of the three men arrested on Monday along with "ACORN pimp" James O'Keefe
for "maliciously tampering" with Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) phones in
her New Orleans office have ties to the United States intelligence

The three accused by the FBI of "aiding and abetting"
O'Keefe are Stan Dai, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel. O'Keefe is 25,
and the other three are 24.

Dai's links to the intelligence community appear to be particularly strong. He was a speaker at Georgetown University's Central Intelligence Agency summer school program in June 2009, and is also listed as an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity in D.C.

Parsing Reform

Noam Levey/LAT: Soaring cost of healthcare sets a record

CMS actuaries estimated that the Senate healthcare bill would boost total healthcare spending by less than 1% over the next decade, in large part because the legislation includes initiatives to make Medicare more efficient.

Well, at least the information got into the piece - in the last paragraph. Above that graph are cites to the Republicans (no fact check, just a 'said/said'); the Prez' of the Commonwealth Club ('they are experts in health care policy'); and - surprise - the Heritage Foundation rep, who garnered the most print after CMS (who generated the report).

Aided and abetted by a compliant, unquestioning media, the republican '41-59 majority' rolls on.

Franchising OBL

Image © Mike Luckovich/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Today the U.S.'s numba one ter'rist probably got up, had breakfast, did a short walk-about in the cave, read the morning's newspaper, and later in the day might have tended a small garden. In between, quite naturally, he would be plotting the demise of the Western World as we know it.

And in the 'greatest nation' of the Western World, all 300 million people have altered the way we live, work, and even play; created a 'mega-agency' devoted (ostensibly) to hunting he and his cohorts to extinction; and invaded two countries killing hundreds of thousands of people. As a bonus of sorts he's successfully turned the nation's Righteous Right into depends-wearing, shit-they-pants, torture-them-till-they-die, paranoids.

Not a bad decade for a single act of terrorism. And I read somewhere he managed all of it on less than 500 grand, while we - the 'greatest nation' - have expended somewhere North of a trillion chasing his scrawny ass all over Central Asia. No wonder he has no problem franchising. A little pre-investment in, say, any part of the 'military industrial complex', and all the little 'Ladens are rich for life. Of course that huge piece of the poppy trade doesn't hurt.

Evil? Oh hell yes. In a morally relativistic, Wall Street kinda way.