Saturday, August 04, 2007

Big Journalism: Today's Example of its Wretched State

Good old Barron's goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, not necessarily in that order.

Delusional or deliberate lying:
SOME READERS HAVE ASKED WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS for Barron's now that its parent company, Dow Jones, has agreed to be bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. We are hoping that it someday could mean, among other things, a Barron's TV show on the soon-to-be-launched Fox Business Channel, perhaps more distribution of Barron's content in places like India and China, and greater investment in Barron's Online, so that, for instance, readers can more easily exchange views about their investments.

What it will not mean is any change in the standards of accuracy, fairness and authority that underpin our journalism. Readers rely on Barron's to give them a front-row seat on Wall Street, so we can let them know what the pros are thinking -- and let them know when we feel the pros have got it wrong or pushed a trend too far. The latest example: this week's cover story on overlooked opportunities in the junk-bond market.

Readers depend on our judgment to help them invest, whether for their children's education or for their own retirement. Any undue influence on these judgments would damage our relationship with readers and damage our business. Rupert Murdoch knows this.
Yes, sure. Too bad News Corp.'s track record gives the preceding absolutely not even a scintila of support. In other words, again, it's either naively wishful or a deliberate lie.
A few weeks ago, in discussing journalistic ethics with members of the Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal for more than a century, Murdoch said: "Any interference -- or even hint of interference -- would break the trust that exists between the paper and its readers, something I am unwilling to countenance. Apart from breaching the public's trust, it would simply be bad business."

Toward this end, News Corp. and the Bancrofts agreed on standards that will apply to all Dow Jones publications and are modeled on the longstanding Dow Jones Code of Conduct. Among them:

• Facts are accurate and fairly presented.

• Analyses represent the publications' best independent judgments, rather than their preferences, or those of their owner, sources, advertisers or information providers.

• Opinions represent only the applicable publication's editorial philosophies, based on the core principle of "free people and free markets."

• There are no hidden agendas in any journalism undertakings.

• Accuracy and fairness extend to coverage of any real or perceived business interests of News Corp.
The above will in fact remain operative until it doesn't.

And this ceaseless dishonesty from first-class big journalism is why they're losing readers, their audience and money. First clue: the readers/audience wants information, not horseshit. If I want lies, I really don't need to buy the Journal.

The sublime: my neighbor, Alan abelson writes also in this week's Barron's:
Take, by way of example, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's testimony before a House committee looking into what prompted the Pentagon, when Rummy was still its boss, to issue a false report on the death of Pat Tillman. Cpl. Tillman, a celebrated enlistee who had abandoned a lucrative contract in professional football to sign up, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. The initial report was that he had died in combat and he was awarded a posthumous Silver Star. A full five weeks elapsed before the Army informed his family of the actual circumstances of his death.

Mr. Rumsfeld indignantly told the inquiring representatives that their assumptions were not only base but baseless and there was no attempt at a cover-up on his watch. After a little reflection, even the most skeptical soul would have to acknowledge the logic of his denial. "Cover-up," after all, connotes deliberate lying, as distinguished from routine lying. And in Washington, of course, lying is nothing if not routine. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Rumsfeld, an old Washington hand, properly resented the idea that he or anyone under him ever lied in any way but routinely.

We might view, in like forgiving vein, another unfortunate case of miscommunication, involving Attorney General Gonzales and his role in the dismissal of a clutch of federal prosecutors. Mr. Gonzales claimed executive privilege when questioned by a Senate committee probing the firings, but while refusing to discuss sensitive details, stoutly provided an overarching defense by insisting he doesn't know anything. Which happens to be the literal truth, so why, pray tell us, do those hideous legislators continue to badger the poor fellow?

George Bush, of course, bears the ultimate responsibility for commanding his underlings to invoke executive privilege, which boils down to not having to blab about what they may have told the president or what he may have said to them in the privacy of the Oval Office. His grounds for ordering them to remain silent is that his trusted aides might otherwise be deterred from offering him their unfettered advice. Which, alas for his argument, considering the kind of advice Mr. Bush has been getting, might be something devoutly to be wished for.

To be sure, even without the dubious excuse of executive privilege (is the nation's security really at risk if it's revealed that Karl Rove played his usual seamy role in the canning of the prosecutors?), it's traditional in Washington, no matter who happens to be running the show, to avoid an unpleasant truth. Wall Street's prime gift to this administration, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, when he can spare a few moments from busily bashing China for its strong currency, tells anyone who will listen that the subprime credit crisis is contained.
Jeez, that's awfully supportive coming from something of a conservative. A "liberal" couldn't be so critical of Our Leaders. (OTOH, I'm sure the comrade will be one of the first to go once the new regime truly takes charge....)

A Place to Surf

Warren Ellis swears by Greg Palast -- as we should too (and do).

Thank You, Diebold, For Your Continuing Efforts to Destroy Our Right to Vote

Essential reading:

Diebold continues to attempt to ensure that the nightmare of 2000 will never be repeated where a national election comes down to the votes of five partisan hacks with no respect for a system of law. Diebold plans to do this by ensuring that elections are easily rigged:
Digital Daily
AccuVote? Bit of an Oxymoron, Don’t You Think?
Published on August 3, 2007
by John Paczkowski

The access panel door on a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine–the door that protects the memory card that stores the votes and is the main barrier to the injection of a virus–can be opened with a standard key that is widely available on the Internet. The exact same key is used widely in office furniture, electronic equipment, jukeboxes and hotel minibars.”

–Princeton professor Ed Felten

With the presidential primary approaching, Diebold Election Systems is finally developing a voter-verified paper trail–of bad press. Earlier this week, the company made headlines when a team of investigators found fundamental security vulnerabilities in its touchscreen voting machines (as well as those of rivals Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic).

Now it’s back in the news again, thanks to another government-ordered study that found its optical-scanning machines to be flawed as well. According to a report released by Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Diebold’s AccuVote OS optical-scan voting devices could compromise the upcoming presidential primary elections in which they’re to be used. The machine’s “memory card can be preprogrammed to redistribute votes cast for selected candidates on that terminal, including swapping the votes for two candidates,” the report explains. “The attack can be carried out with low probability of detection, assuming that audit with paper ballots are infrequent and that programmed cards are not detected before use.”

An unsettling revelation for anyone concerned about this whole idea of “election integrity.” But never fear, Diebold has vowed to patch the vulnerabilities identified in the report by the Aug. 17 deadline given it by the state. If it doesn’t, it risks decertification, which some would argue might not be a bad idea at this point. Remember, Diebold is the company that designed its widely criticized electronic-voting systems, to be opened with a hotel minibar key and then posted a detailed photograph of that key to its online store.

It’s the company that can’t seem to safeguard its source code. It’s the company that evaded election transparency laws in North Carolina. And it’s the company that modified its machines without notifying election officials. Twice.

But there's much more (and let's remember that's it also pretty much applies to all e-voting machines):
Diebold Election Systems Inc. voting machines are not secure enough to guarantee a trustworthy election, and an attacker with access to a single machine could disrupt or change the outcome of an election using viruses, according to a review of Diebold's source code.

"The software contains serious design flaws that have led directly to specific vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit to affect election outcomes," read the University of California at Berkeley report, commissioned by the California Secretary of State as part of a two-month "top-to-bottom" review of electronic voting systems certified for use in California.

The assessment of Diebold's source code revealed an attacker needs only limited access to compromise an election.

"An attack could plausibly be accomplished by a single skilled individual with temporary access to a single voting machine. The damage could be extensive -- malicious code could spread to every voting machine in polling places and to county election servers," it said.

The report, titled "Source Code Review of the Diebold Voting System," was apparently released Thursday, just one day before California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is to decide which machines are certified for use in California's 2008 presidential primary elections.

The source-code review identified four main weaknesses in Diebold's software, including: vulnerabilities that allow an attacker to install malware on the machines, a failure to guarantee the secrecy of ballots, a lack of controls to prevent election workers from tampering with ballots and results, and susceptibility to viruses that could allow attackers to an influence an election.

"A virus could allow an attacker who only had access to a few machines or memory cards, or possibly to only one, to spread malicious software to most, if not all, of a county's voting machines," the report said. "Thus, large-scale election fraud in the Diebold system does not necessarily require physical access to a large number of voting machines."

The report warned that a paper trail of votes cast is not sufficient to guarantee the integrity of an election using the machines. "Malicious code might be able to subtly influence close elections, and it could disrupt elections by causing widespread equipment failure on election day," it said.

The source-code review went on to warn that commercial antivirus scanners do not offer adequate protection for the voting machines. "They are not designed to detect virally propagating malicious code that targets voting equipment and voting software," it said.

In conclusion, the report said Diebold's voting machines had not been designed with security as a priority. "For this reason, the safest way to repair the Diebold system is to reengineer it so that it is secure by design," it said.

Speaking of more, the report cited is here.

And as for not just Diebold, it's even worse:
This has not been a good week for e-voting companies. First came the report out of California that the security had problems on every machine tested by independent security experts, followed quickly by security experts finding problems with other machines in Florida. This should come as no surprise. Every time a security expert seems to get a chance to check out these machines, they find problems. What was odd, though, about the announcement on Monday coming out of California, was that the state had only released some of the reports. It left out the source code review. However, late Thursday, the source code reports were finally released and things don't look much better. Apparently all of the e-voting machines are vulnerable to malicious attacks that could "affect election outcomes." The report also points out: "An attack could plausibly be accomplished by a single skilled individual with temporary access to a single voting machine. The damage could be extensive -- malicious code could spread to every voting machine in polling places and to county election servers." This, of course, is what others have been saying for years, and which Diebold always brushes off. Ed Felten has gone through the reports and is amazed to find that all of the e-voting machines seem to have very similar security problems -- and that many problems that Diebold had insisted it fixed in 2003 were still present. Remember how Diebold had used the master password "1111" in their machines? Now their machines use hard-coded passwords like "diebold" and (I kid you not) "12345678." At some point, isn't it time for Diebold (and the other e-voting machine makers) to stand up and admit that their machines aren't secure and, in fact, were never secure? At the very least, the company owes the world a huge apology -- but somehow, given its past behavior whenever its machines are shown as insecure, that seems unlikely to happen.

But having just given Diebold a partial pass, that is, showing that they're all bad, just not Diebold, let me point out that Diebold has done far more to push this vile e-voting than anyone else. So yes, Diebold is the worst among equals.

Truth in Blogging: Al Qaeda Lies like Partisan Political Hacks

Should be no real surprise but here's the story. And posting this confirms my fair + balanced creds.

Friday, August 03, 2007

What They Saw on Their Summer Vacation

So from China, some of us went home to the New York metropolitan area while the wife and child spent nearly two weeks in and on the road from San Francisco.

And up in true hippie country, this what they saw....

The Triumph of Republican Small Government

Small means ignoring matters for which not enough "campaign" contributions are not attracted. Like infrastructure maintenance, inspection, etc.

Not saying it's the case here but it too often is.

So this lack of respect, let's say for mundane things like ensuring that s bridge would actually stand longer than the short term....
Minnesota officials were warned as early as 1990 that the bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River was "structurally deficient," yet they relied on a strategy of patchwork fixes and stepped-up inspections.

"We thought we had done all we could," state bridge engineer Dan Dorgan told reporters not far from the mangled remains of the span. "Obviously something went terribly wrong."

Questions about the cause of the collapse and whether it could have been prevented arose Thursday as authorities shifted from rescue efforts to a grim recovery operation, searching for bodies that may be hidden beneath the river's swirling currents.


In 1990, the federal government gave the I-35W bridge a rating of "structurally deficient," citing significant corrosion in its bearings. The bridge is one of about 77,000 bridges in that category nationwide, 1,160 in Minnesota alone.

The designation means some portions of the bridge needed to be scheduled for repair or replacement, and it was on a schedule for inspection every two years.
Dorgan said the bearings could not have been repaired without jacking up the entire deck of the bridge. Because the bearings were not sliding, inspectors concluded the corrosion was not a major issue.

During the 1990s, later inspections found fatigue cracks and corrosion in the steel around the bridge's joints. Those problems were repaired. Starting in 1993, the state said, the bridge was inspected annually instead of every other year.

A 2005 federal inspection also rated the bridge structurally deficient, giving it a 50 on a scale of 100 for structural stability.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said while the inspection didn't indicate the bridge was at risk of failing, "if an inspection report identifies deficiencies, the state is responsible for taking corrective actions."


"There was a view that the bridge was ultimately and eventually going to need to be replaced," [Gov. Tim Pawlenty] said. "But it appears from the information that we have available that a timeline for that was not immediate or imminent, but more in the future."

And see this too

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It's True: Rudy is a Nightmare

Rudy: Worse Than Bush?
By Jon Wiener,
Posted on August 1, 2007, Printed on August 2, 2007

In recent polls, Rudy Giuliani leads his rivals in the Republican primary race by about ten points. That's surprising, since he's been a supporter of gay rights, abortion rights and immigrant rights as well as gun control. It suggests that a President Giuliani would be better than Bush. I asked Kevin Baker -- he's author of the well-known City of Fire trilogy of novels about New York City -- Strivers Row, Dreamland and Paradise Alley. He also writes for the New York Times, Washington Post, and Harper's, where his essay, "A Fate Worse Than Bush," leads the magazine's August issue.

Giuliani's main claim to fame is his conduct immediately after 9/11. Many still remember his TV press conference the night of the attacks, when a reporter asked how many casualties there would be. Giuliani had a magnificent answer: "More than we can bear." Compared to what President Bush was saying, that was Shakespeare.

But what about the rest of his performance around 9/11?

"Most of 9-11 was actually a debacle for the city government," Baker told me in an interview, and "Giuliani bears a great deal of the responsibility." The World Trade Center had been attacked in 1993, but Giuliani had "learned none of the lessons that could have been learned. There was no serious attempt to coordinate the radios between the police and fire departments, or even to insure that the fire department had its own communications that would work inside buildings." The consequences? "Probably hundreds of unnecessary deaths that day."

The second failure: Giuliani insisted on locating his emergency control center in the World Trade Center complex, even though that had been the target of the 1993 attack. "He did that against the advice of virtually all the security experts he consulted," Baker explained. "He put it on the twenty-third floor of a forty-seven-story building, World Trade Center Tower 7. It included an unprotected, 7,000 gallon fuel source on the seventh floor, a sort of a fuse to set the building off. When the building was hit by debris on 9/11, that did indeed bring the whole building down."

What if Giuliani he had been in his new command center on 9/11?

"He was within a few minutes of dying right there that day," Baker said. "Instead he ended up having to spend most of the 102 minutes between when the first plane hit and when the second tower came down simply walking around the area with staff members, looking for someplace to set up a new command center."

What should he have been doing?

"Other things badly needed to be done," Baker said. "Realizing there was no communicating with the firemen who were in these towers, maybe they could have set up a trail of runners or something to tell them they should get out of there, the towers are coming down. Nothing like that was done."

Giuliani told the 9/11 Commission that the firemen in the towers died because they refused orders to come out. He said they wanted to save lives of people trapped inside.

"That's a demonstrable lie," Baker told me. "The firemen in the buildings were simply waiting for orders. They never got the word. It's easy to second-guess people in such a traumatic event, and anybody could be forgiven for not making the right decisions in the middle of everything. But to go to Congress months later and lie about this -- I find that despicable."

The workers at Ground Zero in the following months, we now know, were exposed to significant health hazards. How much of that is Giuliani's responsibility? "He made no real attempt to determine the safety of working there," Baker said. "That was also the responsibility of Christie Todd Whitman, was the EPA Administrator at the time."

So what did Giuliani do after 9/11?

"He very quickly took the disaster of 9/11 as a great opportunity," Baker told me. "He proposed that his term in office be extended to give him more time to deal with things, and he tried to put his mistress of the time, who later became his third wife, Judith Nathan, in charge of a fund set up to give money to survivors and victims' families. Right from the beginning he was trying to exploit this. The words he said on TV were wonderful, but they weren't backed up by any actions at all."

Before 9/11, one of the things that made Giuliani famous, in New York at least, was his success at getting the "squeegee-men" off the streets. Baker explained that "The scourge of the squeegee-men involved a couple of dozen homeless black guys with buckets and squeegees who would come up to cars at red lights near the tunnels and bridges and offer to clean your windshield, expecting some kind of tip in return. They were not terribly threatening people. Usually you could deflect them by tapping on the window and shaking your head. End of story.

"But these guys were seen as another sign that the social order had broken down in New York. Right-wing institutions like the Manhattan Institute said they were a 'symbol of disorder' that encouraged crime, along with graffiti and turnstile-jumping and broken windows. So Giuliani made a big part of his 1993 campaign a promise to clear the squeegee-men off the streets. In fact by the time he took office in 1994, almost all of them had been cleared off the streets, by the police department. But nonetheless he got credit for this."

Giuliani as mayor said he would reduce crime -- and the crime rate did go down while he was mayor. But, Baker argued, "It had already dropped dramatically before Giuliani took office, under Mayor David Dinkins. Under Dinkins the murder rate dropped 14 per cent, robbery 15 percent, burglary 17 per cent -- the first time major crime dropped in New York City in all seven major felony categories in nearly four decades. This was before Giuliani ever came to power. It did continue to drop once he was in City Hall, but of course it also dropped dramatically throughout the country."

New York had real problems when Giuliani ran for mayor: deindustrialization, the disappearance of blue collar jobs, white flight, and then the plagues of heroin, guns and AIDS. But it was Giuliani's "insidious political genius," Baker said, to take these real problems and turn them into an argument that "the city was out of control because a black mayor was letting blacks in this town get out of control." That argument, Baker said, got him elected.

A lot of us would be delighted to see the Christian right lose in the Republican primaries. Baker agreed that Giuliani is indeed a real threat to the Christian right. But, he argued, "the problem with Bush is not so much his religious ideology, crazy as that can be. It's the arrogance emanating from this man. It's the cronyism, the incompetence, and the frightening authoritarian impulses. Giuliani embodies all the worst of that, and maybe more."

How Rudy Uses 9/11: By Exploiting it and its Victims

Here's an alternative; maybe he can do something for the victims instead of, you know, for himself.

Activity for the Day: Rupert-Bashing

Go here and here to vent.

Of course the best revenge is to just not give Rupert any money; stop buying the Journal.


Smarter kids (or kids more involved in schoolwork, I suppose) have less sex than the others.

See this and this.

On the other hand, boredom and free time often results in, um, some sort of sexual activity. So obviously hard working kids have less available time. That is, if I recollect correctly.

And, aw nuts, this is a post about sex, so here's a little iCandy....

A Little M$ Bashing

So there's two kinds of companies. One just markets the hell out of crap. And then there's the mutant version of that, Microsoft which, without it's monopoly would be nothing and it's God-awful OS forced on us all. I mean who by choice would really want to deal with the high maintenance mediocrity of the Win OS?


According to International Data Corporation’s 2006 white paper, “The Economic Impact of Microsoft Windows Vista in the United States,” Windows Vista was supposed to generate 100,000 new jobs and $70 billion in revenue for U.S. companies in 2007, revitalizing and advancing the long mutualism between the tech industry and Microsoft’s near-monopoly on desktop operating systems. For every dollar of Vista-related revenue pocketed by Microsoft, $18 was to be generated for the technology industry as a whole. “If you add up all of the spending on hardware and software that run on Microsoft operating systems as well as all of the services around installing and maintaining Microsoft applications and solutions, you quickly come up with a number much bigger than Microsoft’s revenues,” the report claimed. “It grows even larger and more significant when compared to the subset of Microsoft revenues for operating systems.”

Quite a claim and one that should, perhaps, be revisited in light of news that fewer businesses plan to adopt Windows Vista than did seven months ago. According to a client survey by patch-management outfit PatchLink, only 2% using Windows have upgraded to Vista. Nine percent plan to roll it out in the next few months. And 87% have no plans to roll it out at all–at least not yet. Windows XP pretty much works and, unlike Vista, it plays well with the hardware and peripherals you already have.
Link. And the report is here.

And the people speak on the subject. (Consensus seems to be reaching a point that without a monopoly and being entrenched, M$ is on track for a little heartbreak.) Myself, if I was starting a small business wouldn't even think of a Win system but would go straight to Mac and avoid all the IT crap on top of all the necessary business activities. Why waste time maintaining a high maintenance system when I can have a low maintenance one? and FYI: yours truly spends more time working in Windows than Mac so my dislike of Windows is very well-earned....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Black Day for the Wall Street Journal, a Great Opportunity for the Times

Well, great if Pinch and family have the brains and the balls, and history doesn't give one hope.

The Times and the Journal were the two pre-eminent newspapers in the US, notwithstanding the Times' frequent water carrying for the wingnuts (paper still has a major hard-on for the Iraq fandango) and a few other idiosyncrasies.

But with Rupert's great victory, that number just got cut in half.

Now if the Times can just expand the business section to something on a par with the main news section and focus on Journal-quality journalism in the latter... people will snap it up. Hello, there are a lot of disaffected WSJ readers ready to switch to the Times.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Something New to Worry About

This is really scary when you think about it....
Every child left behind?

By Rick Perlstein on July 29, 2007 - 1:55pm.

The part that worries me most about the Foreclosing of America's new home abandonment phenomenon is the effect on our schools. American public schools are largely financed by local property taxes. That's bad enough on its own—one of the most savage inequalities in the entire system: it means that if you can't afford to buy into a nice neighborhood, your child's "equality of opportunity" gets strafed. Now, a spiral unto apocalypse: what happens to the school systems in communities where the net assessed values of the homes has tanked?

Is anyone in Washington prepared to do something about this? Anyone?

(And I'm sure that's a rhetorical question....)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Freedom on the March; Bloomberg to the World: "Drop Dead!"

Coming to New York? Leave the camera and camcorder at home:
Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.

Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers.

Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union says the proposed rules, as strictly interpreted, could have that effect. The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.

“These rules will apply to a huge range of casual photography and filming, including tourists taking snapshots and people making short videos for YouTube,” said Christopher Dunn, the group’s associate legal director.

Mr. Dunn suggested that the city deliberately kept the language vague, and that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the rules. In a letter sent to the film office this week, Mr. Dunn said the proposed rules would potentially apply to tourists in places like Times Square, Rockefeller Center or ground zero, “where people routinely congregate for more than half an hour and photograph or film.”

The rule could also apply to people waiting in line to enter the Empire State Building or other tourist attractions.

The rules define a “single site” as any area within 100 feet of where filming begins. Under the rules, the two or more people would not actually have to be filming, but could simply be holding an ordinary camera and talking to each other.

The rules are intended to set standards for professional filmmakers and photographers, said Ms. Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, but the language of the draft makes no such distinction.

“While the permitting scheme does not distinguish between commercial and other types of filming, we anticipate that these rules will have minimal, if any, impact on tourists and recreational photographers, including those that use tripods,” Ms. Cho said in an e-mail response to questions.

Mr. Dunn said that the civil liberties union asked repeatedly for such a distinction in negotiations on the rules but that city officials refused, ostensibly to avoid creating loopholes that could be exploited by professional filmmakers and photographers.

City officials would not confirm that yesterday. But Mark W. Muschenheim, a lawyer with the city’s law department, which helped draft the rules, said, “There are few instances, if any, where the casual tourist would be affected.”

The film office held a public hearing on the proposed rules yesterday, but no one attended. The only written comments the department received were from the civil liberties group, Ms. Cho said.

Ms. Cho said the office expected to publish a final version of the rules at the end of July. They would go into effect a month later.

The permits would be free and applications could be obtained online, Ms. Cho said. The draft rules say the office could take up to 30 days to issue a permit, but Ms. Cho said she expected that most would be issued within 24 hours.

Mr. Dunn says that in addition to the rules being overreaching, they would also create enforcement problems.

“Your everyday person out there with a camcorder is never going to know about the rules,” Mr. Dunn said. “It completely opens the door to discriminatory enforcement of the permit requirements, and that is of enormous concern to us because the people who are going to get pointed out are the people who have dark skin or who are shooting in certain locations.”

The rules were promulgated as a result of just such a case, Mr. Dunn said.

In May 2005, Rakesh Sharma, an Indian documentary filmmaker, was using a hand-held video camera in Midtown Manhattan when he was detained for several hours and questioned by police.

During his detention, Mr. Sharma was told he was required to have a permit to film on city property. According to a lawsuit, Mr. Sharma sought information about how permits were granted and who was required to have one but found there were no written guidelines. Nonetheless, the film office told him he was required to have a permit, but when he applied, the office refused to grant him one and would not give him a written explanation of its refusal.

As part of a settlement reached in April, the film office agreed to establish written rules for issuing permits. Mr. Sharma could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Dunn said most of the new rules were reasonable. Notably, someone using a hand-held video camera, as Mr. Sharma was doing, would no longer have to get a permit.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Okay, Have a Cheap Laugh....

The laffs are here.

So Much for the Liberal Judiciary in Liberal New York

These guys are, at least in this case, whacko enough to be Supreme Court justices. First the choice bits, then the explanation.
After two separate Bronx juries awarded a man more than $50 million for the confrontation with an off-duty police officer that left the man paralyzed from the waist down, an appellate panel has thrown out the plaintiff's complaint in its entirety.

The underlying incident took place in August 1988, when off-duty policeman Franz Jerome shot plaintiff Darryl Barnes, piercing his spine.

Ten years later, a Bronx panel awarded Mr. Barnes $76 million. A judge later reduced that award to $9 million, before the Appellate Division, First Department, vacated the verdict and ordered a new trial.

In 2003, a second jury awarded Mr. Barnes $51 million, which was again reduced by the trial court, this time to just under $10 million.

Yesterday, the First Department again vacated the award. This time, however, instead of remanding the case for another trial, the appellate court dismissed the complaint.

The controlling issue was Mr. Barnes' attorney's decision to read his client's testimony from a prior hearing rather than producing his client to testify at the second trial.

"By avoiding his obligation to testify at a trial in which he was seeking millions of dollars, plaintiff was able to frustrate the City's fundamental common-law right to cross-examine a witness," Justice Joseph P. Sullivan (See Profile) wrote for the unanimous panel in Barnes v. City of New York, 9969.

"That the trial court contributed to plaintiff's shortfall in proof by erroneously allowing his counsel to read his 50-h hearing testimony does not justify a remand for a new trial. It was counsel's choice, deliberate and calculated, to withhold his client from the rigors of cross-examination - an understandable strategy, given plaintiff's unsavory background and conviction of attempted assault in the first degree for his actions in the very incident in question."

This 50-h hearing where the City is deprived of the opportunity to cross-examine the claimant... is conducted by a City-retained attorney. So the responsibility for failing to question properly is... the City's, not the claimnt.

But reflecting our times, these guys needed to rationalize making the decision they wanted to make -- no reward for a scumbag -- like the admittedly illegal decision in 2000 appointing Our Beloved Leader POTUS because five Supremes wanted him appointed, not the guy who was elected.

Scary! Our Leaders Really Seem to Know Less than Us!

Yeah, yeah, we knew that....
In reviewing Ian Shapiro's new book, Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy Against Global Terror, Samantha Powers emphasizes a point that has been completely lost on Republican presidential candidates (and the man they hope to replace):

Shapiro is at his most persuasive when he argues against lumping Islamic radical threats together. He points out that at the time of the cold war, George Kennan, the formulator of the containment policy, warned against treating Communism as a monolith. Policy makers, Kennan said, ought to emphasize the differences among and within Communist groups and "contribute to the widening of these rifts without assuming responsibility." The Bush administration, by contrast, has grouped together a hugely diverse band of violent actors as terrorists, failing to employ divide-and-conquer tactics.

Although it is tempting to feel overwhelmed by the diversity of the threats aligned against the United States, Shapiro says that very diversity presents us with opportunities, since it "creates tensions among our adversaries’ agendas, as well as openings for competition among them." To pry apart violent Islamic radicals, the United States has to become knowledgeable about internal cleavages and be patient in exploiting them. Arguably, this is what American forces in Iraq are doing belatedly -- and perilously -- as they undertake the high-risk approach of turning Sunni ex-Baathists against Qaeda forces.

Kevin Drum notes that this is "the serious side of dumb gaffes from people like Rudy Giuliani, who seem unable to distinguish between even simple divisions like Sunni and Shia." That's absolutely true, but it's not just Giuliani who's confused about the basics.

For example, in the first Republican presidential candidates' debate in May, Mitt Romney tried to explain how he perceives threats to the U.S. from the Middle East: "This is about Shi'a and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate. They also probably want to bring down the United States of America."

It seemed to impress the Republican faithful, but it didn't make a lot of sense. Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, for example, have nothing to do with one another. The latter is a terrorist organization; the prior has renounced violent jihad and, in some countries, participated in elections.

At a subsequent debate, Wolf Blitzer asked Mike Huckabee whether he has confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Huckabee responded with a semi-coherent argument about the Taliban in Afghanistan. The connection to Maliki was unclear.

Giuliani, running on a foreign-policy platform, has been more confused than anyone, conflating every possible rival in the Middle East as one dangerous entity. At a recent debate, he connected Iran to the Fort Dix plot for no apparent reason. Around the same time, he gave up appreciating the nuances of Middle East politics altogether, concluding that the region is filled with those who "have a similar objective, in their anger at the modern world." In other words, Giuliani said, they all hate America.

Maybe we should chip in and buy a copy of Shapiro's book for the GOP candidates. It sounds like they could use a refresher.

Yet Another Truth Our Leaders Feel Necessary to Ignore in Order to Promote their Programs

Lies, lies, lies; an endless river with nary a single island of truth....
Was Pat Tillman murdered?

Stunning as it is to contemplate, the Associated Press obtained Pentagon documents through the Freedom of Information Act showing that investigators looked into whether the athlete-turned-soldier might have been deliberately killed in 2004 by members of his Special Forces unit in Afghanistan. Nothing the AP obtained is definitive, and ultimately the friendly-fire ruling withstood a criminal investigation.

But, according to the AP, medical examiners questioned the close proximity of three bullet holes in Tillman's forehead, fired from ten yards away. There are questions -- which will be difficult to hear, considering Tillman's heroism -- that Tillman was not well-liked within his unit. Other elements of the circumstances surrounding Tillman's death appear difficult to reconcile with the friendly-fire ruling -- which came after the Army announced that Tillman died in combat:

In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

_ Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

_ The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

_ No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene _ no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

Almost every aspect of Tillman's death has been surrounded by official obfuscation. The head of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, General William Wallace, is in charge of issuing reprisals to Tillman's commanders. His recommendations, according to Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times, are for administrative punishments and not criminal ones. The general who told investigators 70 times of his faulty memory, now-retired Lieutenant General Philip R. Kensinger Jr., will be stripped of one of his stars and lose approximately $900 a month from his retirement package.

On Wednesday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) will hold a hearing about what and when the Pentagon leadership knew about Tillman's death. Kensinger has been invited to testify, as has former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Central Command chief General John Abizaid, and former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers. They're not likely to appear, but the AP's revelations will surely figure prominently in the committee's exploration of what exactly happened to a national hero.

And there's more here.

And the dead has the last word, I suppose:
Pat Tillman famously said, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal.” Kevin Tillman’s piece might be cast as I have frequently paraphrased Pat’s quote: “You know, this administration is so fucking illegal.”

Ah, So We're Arming the Sunnis in Iraq with our Best Friends, the Saudis, Covering for Us

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration sold fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, sparking a considerable controversy about Israel and a regional arms build-up.

In 2007, just as we're learning about the aid Saudi Arabia is giving to Sunni militias in Iraq, the Bush administration is planning a large arms deal with the president's long-time allies.

The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.

The proposed deal, which includes advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, has raised eyebrows, but administration officials hope to resolve concerns by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, which would represent a significant increase over the assistance Israel received over the last 10 years.

But the amusing part of the news is this: "The Saudis had requested that Congress be told about the planned sale, the officials said, in an effort to avoid the kind of bruising fight on Capitol Hill that occurred in the 1980s over proposed arms sales to the kingdom."

In other words, what does it take to get the Bush administration to communicate with a Democratic Congress about matters of foreign policy? Directives from the Saudis.

Good to know.

Today's Awareness Message


Apparently There Maybe is a Zionist Conspiracy and if so, Maybe this is it

(Jivester News, Lmtd.) In a breathtaking announcement today, Rabbi Soyvitch Goldberginsky told a slightly confused gathering of End Timers at a How to Dress for the Rapture: Boxers, Briefs or Dangler’s Puffery seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada that the basis for their religion, the founding gospels of the New Testament were in fact part of an elaborate gag perpetrated by “…a few wisenheimers back in the day. The guys were sitting around, tossing shrimp at pigs for who-knows-why, when one of them says “Hey, what if we say that God shtupped a zaftig and Jr. will give everyone a Get Out of Hell card? And they will have to sing ass-kissing songs and feel bad a lot of the time, just like us.”

The audience, who stopped breathing as they scratched their heads, were a bit confused by the announcement. Added Goldberginsky, “What, you didn’t know that? You didn’t maybe suspect a little something was up with all the David Blaine stuff? Millions of people in the “I’m With Stupid” line and still you don’t know? It was a giggle. A zoo. We made it up. What, you thought Yawheh was real too? If I slap your face does wind come out?”

Ed Handlebarb of Grunting, West Virginia, who was attending the conference as part of God’s Plan to place him “…near tall, naked white women” did not understand what Goldberginsky was saying. “Did he say Jesus was a Jew? Everybody knows he was a Christian—I mean, yeah, He was a Jew, but His dad was a Christian. Well, His dad was a Jew—no, He did business with the Jews and made a baby with a Jew, but then he became a Christian. He was baptized and everything…they made that shit up? Holy mother of daddy, what the hell am I supposed to pray to now?”

A slight digression vis a vis the Punking of the Gentiles Story: after his stunning public admission to Jewish complicity in the World’s Longest Running Gag, a crowd of angry men in long coats and hats began to taunt Soyvitch upon his arrival back in Los Angeles—the Orthodox men wore hats that had been blocked with an attention to detail that should shame anyone who ever tried to block a hat and then charged someone else—i.e. the paying customer for what was obviously substandard work…I mean, so many so-called haberdashers charge for work that is garbage—their so-called craft should stumble and die and rot in a dump. Lousy work that should be loudly condemned and people should dance and laugh at how dumped it all is. But I digress. You would too, if you paid for a hat to be blocked and then it came back like a rhombus. A rhombus. I kid you not. Anyway…

Well, I’ve had my say. The crowd of Orthodox Jews gathered around and started yelling and making those loud grunting sounds they are famous for. One man with a beard like a wolverine with a mouthful of bear fur who just ate a hair pie during a full moon in a barbershop called out, “Shut your trap, Soyvitch. What, you want the gentiles to get wise? Are you a crazy person? Everything was fine. They were sending cash to the Likkud with great regularity, and now you want they should feel stupid? We should stone you where you stand. Wait, move a little to the left…not my left, your left. Good: that is where we should stone you.”

Spokesmen for various Christian groups responded to this story, each adding a unique perspective. Pope German Guy With a Weird Rat Like Face seemed resigned to the whole brouhaha. Pausing while loading gold bars into his VW van, the Pope told this interviewer, “I knew this day would come. I had it in the pool. Das tut mir leid.” After loading the van up the Pope jumped in the back as his driver started the engine. It lunged a little, made a grinding sound, stopped short, and then was blown apart by normally cautious bazooka-wielding Bishops who were concerned that the gold bars might not be used for God’s Greater Glory or whatever.

“We felt the Holy Spirit,” said one Bishop who asked that we don’t ask any questions about the Holy Spirit’s age. I’d say the lad was eight or nine, ten tops. And I’m sorry, but those were tears in that little boy’s eyes. Big Catholic tears.

American Christian Fundamentalists remained non-plussed by the announcement. “Look-the Jews control Hollywood, know what I mean?” said Reverend G. Happy “Doc” Doolittle of the Very First Baptist Church in Little Vapors, Mississippi. “Hollywood is Entertainment, you understand? Show folks a good time, maybe make them think a little—maybe not. And if they invented Christianity the way Soyvitch contendeth, they must have had a good reason for what they have done. Surely, they will die and reside in everlasting fire, but where will that fire come from? I ain’t gonna pay for it. You gonna pay for it? They made up Satan, too—think he’s gonna pay for it? I don’t think he’s gonna pay for it. Hallelujah. Lost at last, lost at last, thank them Jew Boys, we are lost at last!”

CNN, unsure of just about everything except how many pharmaceutical companies are coming to their summer picnic, has decided to not cover this story. Wolf Blitzer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said (anonymously, of course), “Dick Cheney doesn’t give a shit about God. Why should I? Dick? Anyone? I got a situation here. Which is good, because I’m in the Situation Room. I’m dying.”

Deepak Chopra has been giggling incoherently for about a week and could not be channeled for comment.

Well, that does it for tonight. Tune in later this week when Jivester News goes undercover to reveal the truth about some other once sacred, now discarded, pile of utter nonsense.

Go with God.

The World's Greatest Nation has the World's Greatest Health System

Joke, haha!

Michael Moore is a target for the wingnuts who, understandably, have a need to claim that he's always factually challenged. (Well, they're experts in distortion, dementia and paralogic....)

So, the factsheet on "Sicko". Hint: even if a couple shots miss, everyone knows he's pretty much right on target.
'SiCKO' Factual Backup

SiCKO: There are nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually reported that 54.5 million people were uninsured for at least part of the year. Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 2006. Centers for Disease Control.
The amount of uninsured is rising every year, as premiums continue to skyrocket and wages stagnate. From 2004 to 2005 the number of uninsured rose 1.3 million, and rose up nearly 6 million from 2001-2005. Leighton Ku, "Census Revises Estimates Of The Number Of Uninsured People," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 5, 2007 With 44.8 uninsured in 2005, in 2007 the number will be much higher. Professors Todd Gilmer and Richard Kronick, in "It's The Premiums, Stupid: Projections Of The Uninsured Through 2013," Health Affairs, 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.143, "project that the number of non-elderly uninsured Americans will grow from forty-five million in 2003 to fifty-six million by 2013." According to these authors, by now the number of non-elderly uninsured by this date clearly would be nearly 50 million.
SiCKO: 18,000 Americans will die this year simply because they're uninsured.

According to the Institute of Medicine, "lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. Although America leads the world in spending on health care, it is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage." Insuring America's Health: Principles and Recommendations, Institute of Medicine, January 2004.
SiCKO: Richard Nixon and John Ehrlichman are heard discussing the concept of a health maintenance organization in Oval Office Recordings.

On February 17, 1971, Richard Nixon met with John Ehrlichman to discuss the Vice President's position on health maintenance organizations, as heard in the film. The Miller Center of Public Affairs has this audio recording (conversation number 450-23. "Richard Nixon - Oval Office Recordings,"
The next day, Nixon called for a "new national health strategy" that had four points for expanding the proliferation of health maintenance organizations, or HMOs. "Special Message to the Congress Proposing a National Health Strategy," February 18th, 1971,
The term "health maintenance organization" was coined by Nixon advisor Paul Ellwood. Patricia Bauman, "The Formulation and Evolution of the Health Maintenance Organization Policy, 1970-1973, Social Science & Medicine, vol. 10. 1976. After Congress passed Nixon's HMO Act in 1973, HMOs in America increased nine-fold in just ten years. N. R. Kleinfield, "The King of the HMO Mountain," New York Times, July 31, 1983.
SiCKO: The American Medical Association distributed a record featuring Ronald Reagan discussing the evils of socialized medicine.

Ronald Reagan's recording was widely available in the 1960s, and was a part of the American Medical Association's "Operation Coffee Cup," a coordinated rebuttal to Democrats' push for Medicare. Max Skidmore, "Ronald Reagan and Operation Coffee Cup: A Hidden Episode in American Political History," Journal of American Culture, vol. 12. 1989.
SiCKO: $100 million spent to defeat Hillary's health care plan.

"Even before debate began in Congress, a powerful coalition had been cobbled together to fight Clintoncare, as opponents labeled it - congressional Republicans, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Business Roundtable, the Christian Coalition, the conservative radio talk show network. Those groups spent between $100 million and $ 300 million to defeat it. And the battle was fought like a presidential campaign - with a TV advertising campaign, a network of field operatives and public relations experts to lobby members of Congress back in their districts." Rob Christensen, "Who killed health care reform? Answer: Everyone," News & Observer, June 19, 1996.
"In 1993-94, the Health Insurance Association of America, a trade group, spent about $15 million on advertising to defeat Clinton's proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system." John MacDonald, "Proponents, Opponents Join Battle Over Drug Price Limits," Hartford Courant, June 21, 2000.
"'We spent $1.4 million to fight President Clinton's plan,' [Mike Russell of the Christian Coalition] says." Harold Cox, "Business will spearhead Health Reform II ; Old enemies of Clinton's plan in lead," Washington Times, December 27, 1994.
"A study by Citizen Action, a consumer group, reports that doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and other providers of medical services made campaign contributions of $ 79 million during the 1993-1994 election cycle. The insurance industry passed out $16 million. The American Medical Association, which objects to cost-control measures, contributed $ 3 million." Froma Harrop, "The big lie about health reform," Rocky Mountain News, August 20, 1995.
"According to [Citizens for a Sound Economy] spokesman Brent Bahler, the group has not bought any airtime for commercials but has 'tentative plans' for a grassroots advocacy effort that would include an advertising component. Last year, Bahler said, the CSE spent more than $2 million on print, radio and television advertising to defeat Clinton's health care reform plan." James A. Barnes, "RNC Turns To TV Ads On Budget," National Journal, 5.16.95.
SiCKO: The United States is ranked #37 as a health system by the World Health Organization.

"The U. S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance, the report finds." "World Health Organization Assesses The World's Health Systems," Press Release, WHO/44, June 21, 2000.
SiCKO: Health industry companies accused of wrongdoing in Sicko.

Aetna: "Aetna Inc. … settled with the plaintiffs, which include the medical associations of California and Texas. Aetna agreed to pay the plaintiffs $120 million." Milt Freudenheim, "Class-Action Status Is Upheld for Doctors Suing Insurers," New York Times, September 2, 2004. See also, Susan Beck, "HMO Postmortem," American Lawyer, October 10, 2003. Settlement Agreement,
Blue Cross/Blue Shield: "Sixty-seven Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies across the nation have paid the United States a total of $117 million to settle government claims that Medicare made primary payments for health care services that should have been paid by the Blue Cross/Blue Shield private insurance companies, the Department of Justice announced today." "Blue Cross/Blue Shield Companies Settle Medicare Claims, Pay United States $117 Million, Agree To Share Information," Department of Justice News Release, October 25, 1995.
Cigna: "Cigna Corporation, [has] settled with the plaintiffs, which include the medical associations of California and Texas. … Cigna agreed to pay $85 million." Milt Freudenheim, "Class-Action Status Is Upheld for Doctors Suing Insurers," New York Times, September 2, 2004.
"HCA Inc. (formerly known as Columbia/HCA and HCA - The Healthcare Company) has agreed to pay the United States $631 million in civil penalties and damages arising from false claims the government alleged it submitted to Medicare and other federal health programs, the Justice Department announced today. … Previously, on December 14, 2000, HCA subsidiaries pled guilty to substantial criminal conduct and paid more than $840 million in criminal fines, civil restitution and penalties. Combined with today's separate administrative settlement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under which HCA will pay an additional $250 million to resolve overpayment claims arising from certain of its cost reporting practices, the government will have recovered $1.7 billion from HCA, by far the largest recovery ever reached by the government in a health care fraud investigation." "Largest Health Care Fraud Case In U.S. History Settled; HCA Investigation Nets Record Total Of $1.7 Billion," Department of Justice News Release, June 26, 2003.
SiCKO: Executive Compensation

Michael B McAllister earned $3.33 million in compensation as CEO of Humana. "Forbes 2006 Executive Pay list," April 20, 2006.
John W Rowe earned $22.2 million in compensation as CEO of Aetna. Rowe has since left Aetna. "Forbes 2004 Executive Pay list," April 21, 2005.
Bill McGuire has stock options worth $1.6 billion at the end of 2005, as CEO of UnitedHealth Group. Robert Simison, "SEC Investigates UnitedHealth Over Stock-Options Practices," Bloomberg News, December 27, 2006; Michael Regan, "Business 2006: Who Won, Who Lost," Associated Press,December 26, 2006.
SiCKO: There are four times as many health care lobbyists as there are members of Congress.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (, in 2005 there were 2,084 health care lobbyists registered with the federal government. With 535 members of Congress, that's 3.895 lobbyists per member.
SiCKO: Hillary Clinton became the second largest recipient in the Senate of health care industry contributions.

"As she runs for re-election to the Senate from New York this year and lays the groundwork for a possible presidential bid in 2008, Mrs. Clinton is receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from doctors, hospitals, drug manufacturers and insurers. Nationwide, she is the No. 2 recipient of donations from the industry, trailing only Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a member of the Republican leadership." Raymond Hernandez and Robert Pear, "Once an Enemy, Health Industry Warms to Clinton," New York Times, July 12, 2006.
SiCKO: Drug industry money to members of Congress, and the president, who led the effort to pass the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

"The health industry gave $14 million total to the eleven elected officials largely credited with negotiating the bill. Pharmaceutical company PACs, employees, and their families gave more than $3 million in campaign contributions to (those) eleven elected officials." Buying A Law: Big Pharma's Big Money and the Bush Medicare Plan, Campaign Money Watch, January 2004.$_1-15-04.pdf
SiCKO: The Medicare Part D plan will hand over $800 billion of our tax dollars to the drug and health insurance industry.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, for the ten-year period, 2006 through 2016, the projected spending is $848 billion. "The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2008 to 2017," Congressional Budget Office, January 2007.
SiCKO: The elderly could end up paying more for their prescription drugs than they did before under Part D - and a majority of senior citizens could still pay over $2000 a year.

"For all patients, Medicare covers 75 percent of the first $2,250 worth of drugs. But after that, coverage drops to zero - and doesn't resume until the patient hits $5,100 in expenses. Then Medicare kicks in again, paying 95 percent of costs. But it's this gap - of almost $3,000 - that many sick and disabled seniors call unaffordable." Medicare's 'Donut Hole,' CBS News, July 26, 2006.
"Nearly 7 million seniors and individuals with disabilities who purchased stand-alone prescription drug coverage are now at risk of falling into the 'doughnut hole.' According to a report released today by Senior Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee… nearly 88 percent of new drug plan enrollees, roughly 7 million individuals, are at risk of losing coverage for their medications while they continue to pay monthly premiums to their insurers. The report further details how few individuals have enrolled in plans without doughnut holes, presumably because of the prohibitive cost of such plans." "88% Of New Medicare Drug Program Enrollees At Risk Of Falling Into The 'Doughnut Hole,'" Joint News Release From Representative Charles B. Rangel, Ranking Democrat, Committee On Ways And Means, Representative Pete Stark, Ranking Democrat, Subcommittee On Health, Committee On Ways And Means, Representative Sander M. Levin, Ranking Democrat, Subcommittee On Social Security, Committee On Ways And Means, September 21, 2006.
"Over the past year, Part D drug prices have increased several times faster than the rate of inflation. Families USA analyzed the prices for 15 of the drugs most frequently prescribed to seniors. We examined prices for each of the plans offered by the largest Part D insurers, which together cover about two-thirds of all Part D beneficiaries. We then compared the lowest available Part D price for each drug in April 2006 with the lowest available price for the same drug in April 2007. The lowest price for every one of the top 15 drugs prescribed to seniors increased, and the median increase was 9.2 percent." Medicare Part D Prices Are Climbing Quickly, FamiliesUSA, April 2007.
SiCKO: Fourteen Congressional aides went to work for the industry; Billy Tauzin left Congress to become CEO of PhRMA for a $2 million annual salary.

See, e.g., The Medicare Drug War: An Army of Nearly 1,000 Lobbyists Pushes a Medicare Law that Puts Drug Company and HMO Profits Ahead of Patients and Taxpayers, Public Citizen Congress Watch, June 2004,
"Retiring Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., who stepped down earlier this year as chairman of the House committee that regulates the pharmaceutical industry, will become the new president and CEO of the drug industry's top lobbying group…Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, called Tauzin's hiring 'yet another example of how public service is leading to private riches.' Tauzin gets a pay package reportedly worth at least $2 million a year, making him one of the highest-paid lobbyists in Washington." "Tauzin switches sides from drug industry overseer to lobbyist," USA Today, December 15, 2004..
SiCKO: Canadians live three years longer than we do.

The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5, and the life expectancy in Canada is 80.2. Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283.
SiCKO: Tommy Douglas, who pioneered Canada's health care system, was heralded as the nation's singular most important person.

"In November 2004, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas the Greatest Canadian of all time following a nationwide contest. Over 1.2 million votes were cast in a frenzy of voting that took place over six weeks as each of 10 advocates made their case for the Top 10 nominees in special feature programs on CBC Television… . From his first foray into public office politics in 1934 to his post-retirement years in the 1970s, Canada's 'father of Medicare' stayed true to his socialist beliefs -- often at the cost of his own political fortune -- and earned himself the respect of millions of Canadians in the process." "The Greatest Canadian," CBC, 2004.
SiCKO: Canadian "wait times" not nearly as long as some try to allege.

According to Statistics Canada, the official government statistical agency, "In 2005, the median waiting time was about 4 weeks for specialist visits, 4 weeks for non-emergency surgery, and 3 weeks for diagnostic tests. Nationally, median waiting times remained stable between 2003 and 2005 - but there were some differences at the provincial level for selected specialized services.… 70 to 80 percent of Canadians find their waiting times acceptable" "Access to health care services in Canada, Waiting times for specialized services (January to December 2005)," Statistics Canada,
A recent study of emergency care in Ontario found that overall, "50% of patients triaged as CTAS I [most acute] were seen by a physician within 6 minutes and 86% were seen within 30 minutes of arriving at the [Emergency Department]. In contrast, the 50% of patients triaged as CTAS IV or V who were seen most quickly waited an hour or less, while 1 in 10 waited three hours or more. Understanding Emergency Department Wait Times: How Long Do People Spend in Emergency Departments in Ontario? Canadian Institute for Health Information, January 2007.
"Gerard Anderson, a Johns Hopkins health policy professor who has spent his career examining the world's healthcare, said there are delays, but not as many as conservatives state. In Canada, the United Kingdom and France, 'three percent of hospital discharges had delays in treatment,' Anderson told The Miami Herald. 'That's a relatively small number, and they're all elective surgeries, such as hip and knee replacement.' John Dorschner, "'Sicko' film is set to spark debate; Reformers are gearing up for 'Sicko,' the first major movie to examine America's often maligned healthcare system," Miami Herald, June 29, 2007.
SiCKO: Drugs in England only cost $10.

For much of 2006, the standard charge for a prescription was £6.65. "The cost of an NHS prescription in England is to rise by 15p to £6.65 from the start of April." "Prescription charge to rise 15p," BBC News, March 13 2006.
From April 1 2007 to present, the charge is £6.85. "There are many unacceptable inequities and anomalies in the present system. Although around four out of five prescriptions are exempt (see below for list of exempt categories), the price of a prescription (£6.85 from 1 April 2007) often hits those who cannot afford such charges. There are many people with chronic conditions who are not exempt and those on low incomes find it very difficult to pay. This causes a disproportionate levy on a limited section of the population." British Medical Association, "Funding - Prescription Changes," March 2007.
SiCKO: After losing 42,000 civilians in eight months during a vicious bombing campaign during World War II, Britain pulled together and instituted a National Health Insurance program in 1948.

"The Blitz was September 7, 1940 through May 11 1941. "42,000 civilians are estimated to have died during the campaign, with over 50,000 injured, and around 130,000 houses destroyed." See, "Remembering the Blitz,"; "Living With War; Air Raids," The Discovery Channel,
"The NHS was set up in 1948 and is now the largest organisation in Europe. It is recognised as one of the best health services in the world by the World Health Organisation but there need to be improvements to cope with the demands of the 21st century." "About the NHS," NHA website,
SiCKO: In a study of older Americans and Brits, the Brits had less of almost every major disease. Even the poorest Brit can expect to live longer than the richest American.

"The US population in late middle age is less healthy than the equivalent British population for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, lung disease, and cancer. Within each country, there exists a pronounced negative socioeconomic status (SES) gradient with self-reported disease so that health disparities are largest at the bottom of the education or income variants of the SES hierarchy. This conclusion is generally robust to control for a standard set of behavioral risk factors, including smoking, overweight, obesity, and alcohol drinking, which explain very little of these health differences… Level differences between countries are sufficiently large that individuals in the top of the education and income strata in the United States have comparable rates of diabetes and heart disease as those in the bottom of the income and education strata in England." (See also Table 1 - for example, prevalence of diabetes among high-income Americans is 8.2 per thousand, while it's 7.3 among low-income Brits.) Banks, Marmot et al., "Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and in England," Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006;295:2037-2045.
SiCKO: A baby born in El Salvador has a better chance of surviving than a baby born in Detroit.

According to the United Nations Statistics Division, Population and Vital Statistics Report, the rate of infant deaths per thousand in El Salvador is 10.5. "Table 3, Live births, deaths, and infant deaths, latest available year, June 15, 2007."
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, the rate of infant deaths for Detroit is 15.9 per thousand. "Number of Infant Deaths, Live Births and Infant Death Rates for Selected Cities of Residence, 2005 and 2001 - 2005 Average," Michigan Department of Community Health Web Site,
SiCKO: Around 65 percent of young Americans can't find Britain on a map.

"About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. couldn't even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean's location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent." "Survey Reveals Geographic Illiteracy," National Geographic Today, November 20, 2002.
SiCKO: Companies that no longer offer pensions to new employees.

These can be found on a list prepared by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Pension Change Fact Sheets, In addition, the Pension Rights Center has also compiled a near-comprehensive list. Companies That Have Changed Their Defined Benefit Pension Plans,
SiCKO: Like Canadians and Brits, the French live longer than we do.

The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5, the United Kingdom is 78.5, France is 79.6, and Canada is 80.2. Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283.
SiCKO: The productivity rate per hour in France is higher than in America.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, France has a higher labor productivity (GDP per hour worked) than the United States. "OECD in Figures 2005, 2005/Supplement 1 at 84.
"Britain has yet to catch up with its rivals on productivity. Gordon Brown, the chancellor, has long wished to close Britain's productivity gap with other countries. It is proving a long haul. In 2004, output per hour worked was 19% higher in France, 15% higher in America and 5% higher in Germany than it was in Britain." "Poor show; International comparisons," The Economist, January 21, 2006.
SiCKO: French policy on childcare and household assistance for new parents.

According to the French-American Foundation comprehensive review of child care, "For non-working parents or parents who work part-time, haltes garderies (drop-in centers) provide part-time, occasional, and drop-in care. Haltes garderies are also subsidized (by municipality and the National Family Allowance Fund), with parents paying a portion of the costs based on a sliding scale (parents pay an average of $1 per hour). … For working parents [there are] licensed family day care providers (assistants maternelles), licensed babysitters at home (social security costs and salaries subsidized by the National Family Allowance Fund)." Peer, Shanny., "The French Early Education System," French-American Foundation, November 13, 2003.,
SiCKO: There is a company in France, SOS Medecins, which will perform doctor house calls at any time.

SOS Medecins has an English website, viewable here:
SiCKO: The government initially refused to pay for the health care of 9/11 volunteers, because they were not on the government payroll. It remains difficult for the volunteers to access the $50 million fund that has been appropriated for their care.

The Department of Defense and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States Act provided a total of $175 million for workers compensation programs - $125 million to NYS Workers Compensation Review Board, and an additional $50 million to reimburse the NYS Uninsured Employers Fund, including for benefits paid to volunteers. However, there have been major delays in getting money to volunteers. See. e.g. "Statement of Robert E. Robertson, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues," "September 11, Federal Assistance for New York Workers' Compensation Costs," United States Government Accountability Office, (GAO-04-1068T) September 8, 2004.
"With strong advocacy from New York's Congressional Delegation and labor leaders, a portion - about $52 million - of the $125 million in federal funding that had been allocated for administering workers compensation claims was re-allocated to provide some funding for medical treatment programs, but it will only meet a fraction of the need. Congress approved the legislation authorizing this funding in late December 2005." Devlin Barrett, "Congress Gives New Life to 9/11 Programs," Newsday, December 22, 2005.

A $52 million fund for volunteers was eventually established, but experts agree it's inadequate. The New York Times reported on September 6, 2006 that "Dr. John Howard, who was named the federal 9/11 health coordinator in February, has already said that the $52 million the federal government has appropriated for treatment late last year is inadequate. He said in an interview yesterday that the new study will very likely mean that the gap between funds and the need for them is going to grow." Anthony DePalma, "Illness Persisting in 9/11 Workers, Big Study Finds," New York Times, September 6, 2006.
SiCKO: American officials claim that detainees at Guantanamo Bay receive excellent health care.

"There is still acute care 24 hours a day, in which surgical procedures, everything, can be performed right there in the detainee camps, but as those wounds healed and as the detainees got further and further away from acute injuries, there has been increasing emphasis on preventative care. Indeed, the immunization rate there is higher than in the United States of America…. Things such as screening for cancer have taken place there. Colonoscopies--a procedure which, as we all know, is used commonly in this country to screen for colon cancer--are performed there on a routine basis. The health personnel-to-detainee ratio is 1 to 4--remarkably high. That is all health personnel who are there. And I guess, as I left this briefing and the opportunity to talk to the doctors and the nurses and the psychologists and the psychiatrists, I left with an impression that health care there is clearly better than they received at home and as good as many people receive in the United States of America." Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), remarks on Guantanamo Bay, U.S. Senate, September 12, 2006.
"They go out, they do sick call on the blocks three times per week, care for them there, if they can… We have diabetes. We have high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Those detainees -- we've created a population health database so that we can track those detainees to make sure we're seeing them frequently, monitoring their labs and their overall health." Statement of Navy Commander Cary Ostergaard. "Hearing Of The House Armed Services Committee Subject: Detainee Operations At Guantanamo Bay," June 29, 2005.
"Detainees receive medical, dental, psychiatric, and optometric care at U.S. taxpayers' expense. In 2005, there were 35 teeth cleanings, 91 cavities filled, and 174 pairs of glasses issued." "Ten Facts About Guantanamo," Department of Defense, September 14, 2006.
SiCKO: Cuba is one of the most generous countries in providing doctors to the third world.

"WHO statistics show that the incidence of AIDS in Cuba is the lowest in this hemisphere, and there are now more than 800 Cuban doctors in Haiti alone working to control the AIDS epidemic. President Castro has offered an almost unlimited number to be sent to Africa, to be paid by the Cuban government with only a small stipend from the host countries." "President Carter's Cuba Trip Report By Jimmy Carter," May 21, 2002.
"The close friendship between Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has netted Venezuela a loan of 20,000 Cuban health workers -- including 14,000 doctors, according to the Venezuelan government -- who work in poor barrios and rural outposts for stipends seven times higher on average than their salaries at home. Castro has vowed to send Chavez as many as 10,000 additional medical workers by year's end." "As Cuba Loans Doctors Abroad, Some Patients Object at Home," Boston Globe, August 25, 2005.
"President Evo Morales on Friday heeded the wishes of six visiting U.S. senators by acknowledging the positive effects of American aid in his country - but added that Cuban doctors had had a greater impact on Bolivia than their U.S. counterparts… [I]n a Friday interview with Bolivian radio network Fides, Morales said the assistance of Cuban leader Fidel Castro - who has sent Bolivia some 1,700 doctors and paramedics this year alone, setting up free hospitals and eye clinics throughout Bolivia -- outshines the United States' own medical aid." "Morales Says Cuban Doctors top U.S. Medical Aid," Boston Globe, December 29, 2006.
SiCKO: In the U.S., health care costs run nearly $7,000 per person. But in Cuba, they spend around $251 per person.

United States health spending per capita is $6,697 per person according to Catlin, A, C. Cowan, S. Heffler, et al, "National Health Spending in 2005." Health Affairs 26:1 (2006). As with the number of uninsured, the number continues to increase and is projected to be $7,092 per capita in 2006, $7,498 per capita in 2007 and reaching $12,782 by 2016, according the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures, National Health Expenditures Projections 2006-2016,
The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report says Cuba spends $251 per capita on health care. (Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006.
SiCKO: In Cuba, access to health care is universal.

"Cuban dissatisfaction with their personal lives does not mean they are negative about the revolutionary government's achievements in health care and education. A near unanimous 96 percent of respondents say that health care in Cuba is accessible to everyone. Gallup polls in other Latin American cities have found that on average only 42 percent believe health care is accessible." Gallup/ Consultoría Interdisciplinaria en Desarrollo, "Cubans Show Little Satisfaction with Opportunities and Individual Freedom Rare Independent Survey Finds Large Majorities Are Still Proud of Island's Health Care and Education," January 10, 2007.
SiCKO: Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate and a longer average lifespan than the United States.

The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5, and is 77.6 in Cuba. Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, Population and Vital Statistics Report, the rate of infant deaths per thousand in Cuba is 6.2 per thousand, and in the United States is 6.8. "Table 3, Live births, deaths, and infant deaths, latest available year, June 15, 2007."