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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Morning News and Views

Tomorrow night, Monday, Nov. 23 at 11:35 p.m.,  ABC's Nightline news program devotes its show to interviews with Doug Hampton. Details of the interviews are already trickling out. In the interview, Hampton will insist that it was "crystal clear" that what has been spun as a "gift" of $96,000 from Ensign's parents was, in fact, illegally paid severance, according to ABC. And Hampton will also revive and expands upon claims that Ensign knowingly helped Hampton violate a revolving door ban on former senate staffers doing lobbying work, including setting up meetings with White House officials.

A study by the National Academy of Science found that those who are conservative feel that a darkened skin photo for Barrack Obama while those who are liberal felt a lighter skin photo was the true skin tone of the president. This occured accross race, although most of those in the study were caucasion or non-African American.

Wikipedia is losing volunteers, which could further endanger their efforts to stay up to date and improve accuracy. Could this mean the end of the empowerment of the amateur?

Say it ain't so? Free and non-commercial access on search engines could come to an end. Fox's parent company, Newscorp, is going into an exclusive content agreement with Mircosoft, in exchange for MONEY.  Why shouldn't a bias service go with a bias company, getting in bed to limit what we the people can see, hear or know without paying for it or being routed to those who pay for search engine priority?


NPR Sr. News Annalist Daniel Schorr is 93 and still working. He says that one thing about his Depression Era upbringing he is very fearful of not working. He stood up against the House Anti-American Activities Committee and against employers on principal, but each time he says he was scared of not working again. Like me, each time he was out of work he feared he would never work again as a broadcaster or a journalist. He is the last surviving member of the “Murrow Boys”, the journalist trained and influenced by Edward R. Murrow.

 Should we have gone into the war in Iraq? Were we prepared? Did we have a long-range plan? These are the questions an official inquiry of the British Parliament will ask next week as that country looks at its rush into war under former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Documents have been uncovered in Washington and London showing that the US and Britian were planning an invasion of Iraq as early as five months following 9-11, with Bush and Blair having dicussions on how to prove that the "bastard" Saddam was behind the World Trade Tower and Pentagon attacks. Of course this was later shifted to the "weapons of mass distruction" justification. British troops went in under armed, under trained and without enough supplies, with no plans for either the US or Britian for post invasion strategies.

Bad news…and shout“Leggo My Eggo” at the to of your lungs! We are entering an Eggo Shortage. Flooding at one plant and power problems at another have led to a shortage that may last until 2011. I am not making this up, it was on both NPR and BBC news. Their official message:
You may have noticed that some of your favorite Eggo® Products are out of stock. We are working hard to get all of our products back into grocers’ freezers as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support. If you are interested in receiving periodic updates from the Eggo® brand about your favorite products, including news about when they will back on shelf, please click here. Thank you for your patience. Learn More"

On this date in 1989, twenty years ago, the Mirage opened, launching a new growth spurt for the Las Vegas strip and accelerating the growth of the city, or the boom years.

Today floods taking out bridges and roadways in the United Kingdom, while brush fires continue to devastate Australia.

The BBC focused on the US Senate vote last night just to allow debate on something they consider a human right, universal access to affordable health care. The party line vote was not lost on the Brits.

Disasters covered by the BBC this morning include a ferry lost at sea and a tragic fire in a Chinese coal mine, for the first time a mine wholly owned by the Chinese government. China has given a higher priority to mine safety in view of the disaster occurring at a mine that met Chinese safety standards.

Dissidents in the Irish Republican Army left a 400-pound car bomb outside the police headquarters in Dublin. Luckily it did not explode.

NPR reported on the decline of African Americans as an identity, since multi-cultureless has forced us to rethink who we are. Barrack Obama is not African American, yet he would be classified as such. Latinos come in all colors, yet they must choose between which boxes to check, which identity to choose. America is no longer black and white or any single group against another, yet identities depend on those divisions, as does political party. Where you live impacts on how you look at race, racial tension and racial identity. In Washington DC and the deep south, the issue remains black and white, while here in the west it is “black, brown, red and white.” Even among Native Americans there are deep divisions based on tribe, geography and mixed ethnic backgrounds.

Republicans are in full attack mode against the Health Care Reform bill. Both sides twist numbers, but independent watchdog groups point to how Republicans take numbers of context knowing they are doing to, simply to raise political smoke, a smokescreen meant to reinforce well financed propaganda to convince the American people that the bill is bad. The parallel language can be traced to press releases and talking points form three lobbying firms, all paid by the insurance industry. Every point can be countered with less questionable numbers, however the truth is no one really knows what will happen or what the cost will be.

Astronaut Randolph Bresnik is in space for the first time. He took his first ever spacewalk yesterday and a few hours later became the father of Abigail. It is his second child, since he and his wife have a 3-year-old adopted son. He is only the second astronaut in NASA history to become a father while orbiting the earth in space.

Israel sent fighter-bombers against an arms factory and smuggling tunnel in the Gaza strip, raising the issue of Israel as a “terrorist” state. On the BBC this morning speakers on both sides of the issue debated. Those claiming Israel as being “terrorist” point to the conditions caused by forcing Palestinians to live in crowed condition then limiting supplies to the area, to bombing of Palestinian territory and Southern Lebanon, to treatment of prisoners and other alleged “atrocities.” The counterpoint points to the number of rockets indiscriminately landing on Israeli neighborhoods, on Palestinian terrorist targeting civilians, on the funding of Palestinian and allied attackers by other terrorist groups and countries, and on good faith efforts by Israel have always met with abuse and even been turned against them.

Patrick Kennedy is being banned from receiving communion at mass. The Bishop of Road Island has no official comment on the ban. Kennedy says it is to punish him for his pro-choice views.

The Fort Hood shooter is paralyzed from the chest down, with the paralysis diagnosed as permanent. He will remain hospitalized and in custody until his trial.

Iran is in four days of war games, designed to protect their nuclear facilities from attack. Israel and the US have not ruled out military strikes, but both say there is no immediate plan to do so.

Face the Nation, like all of this morning’s talk circuit programs, focused on last night’s health care vote in the US Senate. Guests included Republican Minority Whip Senator Jon Kly of Arizona Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Dr Jennifer Ashton.

Senator Harry Reid may have signed his career death bill by being as good at his job as he is. If Health Care passes, the mid-term election conservative and libertarian swing of our state could lose him his senate seat. His ratings in polls are sitting around 38%, against any Republican candidate. The Republican PR machine and the number of people who have moved here without any real ties to Nevada could very well sink him for his national success. Such is the risk of being majority leader in the US Senate.

Remember when a billion dollars here and a billion dollars there added up to real money? Bob Schieffer’s commentary spoke about how the cost of living, of business and of government is skyrocketing, but for a reason. Are we being made to accept astronomical numbers as simply the norm?

The primary issue on this morning’s program was health care reform.

Senator Kly says Americans are saying that we need to do everything we can do to stop the bill. He says the American people would rather have it done right than quickly. The object is not to delay for delays sake but to control costs, make sure it does what it needs to do and that the impact on people’s lives will be positive.

Senator Shumer says the Democrats are a diverse caucus, a party of the people not top down. He says we have debated this for long time, for a decade and a half. This bill has been debated all year. He says there are a lot of Republicans who do not want health care reform in any way, regardless of the rhetoric of party leaders.  Democrats want health care but have differing needs perceived from their constituents.

Kly says people in the Democratic caucus have very real problems with the bill. He says the American people do not want this bill, and every poll says Americans do not want it. When confronted that polls say the majority do want health care according to all polls, Kly responded “but not this health care”, site polls against the single player plan, against the government spending as much as he alleges the plan will cost, and against “forcing them to change insurance.” He claims that people will lose insurance as employers force them to go on the public option.

Schumer says that this is a modest public option. He countered that people with private insurance are not allowed to push their employees into the public option. The opt out for states is there to make this a reasonable pill to swallow.

Kly says states with public options have the highest insurance premiums in the nation. He says he has read “good portions of this bill” and that the government has tremendous power over this bill, making this a government controlled national insurance plan. Kly says that people will end up paying more. Schumer says the will pay less.

Schumer says that the average American will not be taxed any more than they are now and that costs will go down. He sited specifics that no increase occurs at under $250,000 income. But Kly says other “hidden” costs amount to taxation of everyone, including the poor.

Neither discussed the need to immediately end pre-existing conditions. They are both rich and buried under the fight, forgetting that basic change cannot wait for Republicans to stall or Democrats to agree. Pre-existing conditions, skyrocketing prescription costs, portability of insurance and mandated employer insurance cannot wait. I believe there is an exemption for very small business, so the excuse that it would crush small business is bogus.

As the British reported, access to health services should be a right, not a purchase

Dr. Jennifer Ashton of CBS news came up next on “Face the Nation”. She is a practicing OBGYN. She spoke on the mammogram ruling that women under 40 should not get regular mammograms, and 50 to 70 every other year. Younger women are told not to do their own exams. She says that everyone should continue with whatever they have been doing, and not to change just because of a report.  She feels that self-exams should continue because while they do lead to larger medical bills over false alarms, they also lead to successful intervention before it is too late. Life is too important to cut corners.