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Why We Reform by Paul Krugman

Posted by: ogenec

Op-ed by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman, New York Times

Paul Krugman, New York Times

NYT~One way or another, the fate of health care reform is going to be decided in the next few days. If House Democratic leaders find 216 votes, reform will almost immediately become the law of the land. If they don’t, reform may well be put off for many years — possibly a decade or more.

So this seems like a good time to revisit the reasons we need this reform, imperfect as it is.

As it happens, Reuters published an investigative report this week that powerfully illustrates the vileness of our current system. The report concerns the insurer Fortis, now part of Assurant Health, which turns out to have had a systematic policy of revoking its clients’ policies when they got sick. In particular, according to the Reuters report, it targeted every single policyholder who contracted H.I.V., looking for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, for cancellation. In the case that brought all this to light, Assurant Health used an obviously misdated handwritten note by a nurse, who wrote “2001” instead of “2002,” to claim that the infection was a pre-existing condition that the client had failed to declare, and revoked his policy.

This was illegal, and the company must have known it: the South Carolina Supreme Court, after upholding a decision granting large damages to the wronged policyholder, concluded that the company had been systematically concealing its actions when withdrawing coverage, not just in this case, but across the board.

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Molly Williams

Posted by BuellBoy

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through snow storm

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through a snow storm in 1818

A slave named Molly Williams was the first known female firefighter in the United States. Little is known about her life, but female firefighters know her heroic story.

Owned by a New York merchant named Benjamin Aymar, Williams became part of the Oceanus Engine Company firehouse in 1815 and would be known as Volunteer Number 11. The members of the house credited her for being as tough as the male firefighters. She would fight amongst them in a calico dress and checked apron.

Besides the bucket brigades, Molly pulled the pumper to fires through the deep snowdrifts of the blizzard of 1818 to save towns. On December 27, 1819, the Fire Department reported that the fire buckets were rapidly being superseded by the use of hose, so the era of fire buckets ended.

Even as a slave, Williams had gained the respect of her fellow firefighters. Her story and strength paved the way for other women, including one the first paid Black female firefighters and the most tenured in the country – Toni McIntosh of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who served for over 11 years.

Today there are many African-American women working as career firefighters and officers in the United States, along with a number of counterparts in the volunteer ranks. The African American Fire Fighter Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, conserving and sharing the heritage of African American firefighters.

The Museum is housed at old Fire Station 30. This station, which was one of two segregated fire stations in Los Angeles, between 1924 and 1955, was established in 1913, to serve the Central Ave community.

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Breaking News: Bill Clinton Hospitalized for Chest Pain


4:23 CST~President Bill Clinton was rushed to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan today after experiencing chest pain.

Douglas Band, a counselor for the 63-year-old former President, says he is in “good spirits” and released the following statement:

“Today President Bill Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of NY Presbyterian hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest.

Following a visit to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place 2 stents in one of his coronary arteries.

President Clinton is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti’s relief and long-term recovery efforts.”

The statement continues, “In 2004, President Clinton underwent a successful quadruple bypass operation to free four blocked arteries.”

UPDATE: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has announced that she’s on her way from Washington to be with Bill.

Story developing…

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    Filed under Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), Politics, Uncategorized, William (Bill) J. Clinton

    NYC Oscar® Party to Shine at GILT at the New York Palace Hotel

    Posted by: Audiegrl

    On Oscar Sunday, March 7, 2010, New York-area members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate the 82nd Academy Awards® at GILT at The New York Palace hotel.

    Since 1990, the Academy has hosted a New York Oscar celebration for its East Coast members, many of whom are previous Academy Award® winners and nominees.

    We’re delighted to be holding this year’s Oscar Night® party at this historic venue,” noted Bud Rosenthal, chairman of the Academy’s New York Events Committee. “The blending of old and new is a perfect expression of the tradition and innovation that we celebrate with the year’s films. And our celebration will only be enhanced by the artistry of GILT’s culinary team.”

    The evening’s festivities will begin with a reception in the GILT Bar, renowned for its selection of signature cocktails. Following the reception, the invited guests will adjourn to the restaurant for a multi-course Oscar-themed dinner and live viewing of the 82nd Academy Awards telecast. Executive Chef Justin Bogle and Executive Pastry Chef David Carmichael will create a special menu for the occasion.

    The New York Palace hotel incorporates the landmark Villard Mansion, which features elegant cathedral ceilings, gilded walls, carved moldings, and mosaic tile floors. GILT opened in 2006 and has since earned international acclaim. In 2009 the restaurant received two Michelin stars under Executive Chef Bogle, who at 28 was the youngest New York City chef to ever earn this distinction.

    Highlights From the 2009 Celebration

    Academy members got a chance to eat, drink and be merry while taking in the live telecast on February 22, 2009 at The Carlyle. Award-winning actress Elaine Stritch welcomed two 8-foot golden statues as part of the advance preparation for the Academy’s official New York Oscar Night Party. Guests included Geoffrey Rush, Patricia Neal, Rip Torn, Shirley Knight, Denis O’Hare, Burt Young, Celia Weston, Sylvia Miles, Amy Wright, Elaine Stritch, Tovah Feldshuh, Lisa Eichhorn, Tina Louise, Cynthia Wade, David Rasche, Sid Ramin, Nathaniel Kahn, Richard Barclay, Jimmy Picker, Robert Richter and Ken Ascher.

    Please click on the images to enlarge.

    44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars® Main PageBack to 44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars® Main Page

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    The Death of U.S. Political Democracy For The People

    Posted by: LibbyShaw

    Will the Senator from Wal-Mart please yield to the Senator from Halliburton? The Congressman from Black Water has 5 minutes remaining before the Congresswoman from United Health may speak.

    Mark your calendars, folks. January 21, 2010 is the day the radical and activist Supreme Court of the United States delivered the U.S. Democracy into the hands of the corporate sector and special interests groups. According to an article in the New York Times corporations, lobbyists and unions can now legally purchase their candidates of choice.

    “We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you – whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

    The decision yesterday will usher in unimaginable numbers of Swift Boat attack ads. Corporate fat cats can now threaten and bully politicians to do their bidding or else.

    “It will put on steroids the trend that outside groups are increasingly dominating campaigns,” Mr. Ginsberg said. “Candidates lose control of their message. Some of these guys lose control of their whole personalities.”

    “Parties will sort of shrink in the relative importance of things,” he added, “and outside groups will take over more of the functions – advertising support, get out the vote – that parties do now.”

    Front row: Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Back row: Associate Justices Samuel A. Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.

    Some have called the SOTUS decision a power grab that is intellectually dishonest.

    In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty.

    Many of those commenting on the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission have focused on the power-grab part. I agree with them. It was unnecessary for the court to go so far when there were several less-radical grounds available. It was audacious to seize the opportunity to overrule precedents when the parties had not pressed this issue and the lower courts had not considered it. It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process.

    “If it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more,” a wise judge once wrote. That was Chief Justice John G. Roberts — back when — and dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens rightly turned that line against him.

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    Republicans naturally and predictably love this recent ruling. But of course they would. Republicans embrace and fully support authoritarian forms of government. And the sad truth of the matter is the GOP has always worked for the corporate sector.

    It is devastatingly unfortunate that Republican voters have never been able to understand the hard, cold and mean reality of those they elect into office. Politicians take an oath to serve the people in their districts but many merely give their constituents nothing but empty rhetoric. If one were to closely examine one’s Republican lawmakers’ voting records one would find who their elected officials really work for.

    My guess is the teabaggers will wraps it head around the reality of the SCOTUS decision like we progressives have, for the only one imperative we do share in common is a collective outrage over the corporate takeover of the U.S. government and its legislative process by special interest groups and corporations.

    But unfortunately teabaggers, unlike progressives, are far too easily led astray by the likes of Dick Armey, one of the numerous behind the scenes leaders of the teabagger movement. Armey’s main mission is to promote the interests of the health care industry. He and his organization, Freedom Works, uses teabaggers as its tools.

    Republicans and teabaggers alike have been led to believe that the government is the root of everything evil while progressives know that government is the only force that can and will protect us from the evils of self-serving greed mongers of the corporate sector.

    We are where we are today b/c the corporate sector has been enabled to run rough shod over the American people. We are broke. There are no jobs. We lost homes. We lost retirement savings. Meanwhile on Wall St. the fat cats who can now purchase politicians get richer by the minute.

    Elections have consequences. The nice guy or girl candidate with whom to have a beer could very well be an anti-political democracy devil in disguise who has every intention of throwing the middle and working classes to the lions.

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    Oh, and Prince Alwaleed, grandson of the King of Saudi Arabia and the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup and second biggest shareholder in News Corp (Murdock’s FOX “News”) doesn’t like Obama’s tax on the banks.

    Who would have thought?

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    Michelle Obama Wax Figure Unveiled on The Wendy Williams Show

    Posted by: Audiegrl

    ChicagoNow~“How you doin,” Williams uttered her trademark into a new wax figure of the first lady. Viewers of “The Wendy Williams Show” got the first look at the figure, which will debut at Madame Tussauds New York on Tuesday as part of its Black History Month events.

    The Obama figure is dressed in a replica of her inauguration gown, Williams showed. She then rattled off some fun facts about the statue, including that its hair is human and individually inserted into the scalp. The hair is washed regularly.

    The statues are almost true-to-size. “They take three to six months to create,” she said. “They make them all about 2 percent bigger than the actual bodies of the people that they do because wax shrinks.”

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    Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” Video highlights

    Thanks to everyone who joined us for a night of great music and a show of support for the people of Haiti

    Posted by: Audiegrl

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    President Obama Signs Legislation

    President Obama Signs Legislation Providing Immediate Tax Deductions for Haiti Charitable Contributions January 22, 2010.

    President Obama Is Making It Easier for Americans to Support Haiti
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    In the days since the earthquake in Haiti, Americans have shown their generosity with millions of dollars in donations. Tonight, President Obama signed a bill into law that makes it easier to give. This legislation will allow taxpayers to receive the tax benefit from donations made to the Haiti effort in this tax season, rather than having to wait until they file their 2010 tax returns next year. Specifically, cash donations to charities for the Haitian relief effort given after January 11 and before March 1 of this year may be treated as if the contribution was made on December 31 of last year so that the contribution can be deducted from 2009 income. This measure applies to monetary donations, not goods or services.


    Clinton Bush Haiti Relief FundUNICEFAmerican Red Cross

    WFP:  World Food ProgrammePartners In Health Oxfam America
    Yéle Haiti

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